Music for 2/28/23!!! Mi’gmaAfrica, Don Letts

@@@ MI’GMAFRICA: Run Buffalo Run (Nikamo Musik, 2023) A couple of listens off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. When I checked their bio these guys mix West African music with indigenous Canadian music and they’re from Montreal. Female singer and violin/fiddle over multiple drum tracks, hand drums, and kora! Oy, that’s a mouthful. It’s a groove track with a vocal hook revolving around running like a buffalo. I’m agnostic on it, I like parts of it and I’m not super moved by it at the same time.

@@@ Don Letts: Outta Sync (Cooking Vinyl, 2023) This is a pre-release single off a release coming out on Cooking Vinyl. It’s an interesting blend of reggae with a drum machine beat and a wee bit of spoken word and pop/r&b flavors in there. The UK area has a long tradition of easily mashing different styles and this is an example. I believe the hornline from ‘Low Rider’ is most definitely repackaged here. I like the verses more than the chorus but that’s just me. I’m not sure I would peep a ton more of this. I’m checking out the second pre-release track, Wrong, and I like it a bunch more as it’s stickier with some of the same sounds and I think the hornline from the other track bummed me out.

Music for 2/27/23!!! @, Wesley Joseph

@@@ @: Mind Palace Music (Carpark, 2023) Off this week’s Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. It’s a tad minstrel-y, a bit folk-y, and a wee bit indie. Big wall of female singers, strummed acoustic guitars. It’s chill and a bit huggy, a variation on folk music with a schmear of indie music. Not really my thing.

@@@ Wesley Joseph: GLOW (Secretly Canadian, 2023) Also off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums of the week. Slotted as hip hop the first track is much more an r&b thing with syrup-y crooning over mostly keys. Mr. Joseph is from London, and he does have some nice sounds going but a decidedly un-American flow. The keyboard action is sweet, not the arpeggiator but the vamping. Oh, he heads into rhyming territory on the second track and I’m having that uncomfortable feeling when I hear British rap. Oy why is it like this, I just can’t reconcile the accent with the musical style. Would you expect Paul Hollywood from the Great British Bake Off to rock a few bars on the microphone. No, that’s right.

Music for 2/24/23!!! Skech185

@@@ Skech185 & Jeff Markey: He Left Nothing for the Swim Back (Backwoodz Studios, 2023) I got to this underground hip hop album via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. Last year I was super into Billy Woods’ record Aethiopes and I believe this record is on Woods’ label and it does indeed share the same intense lyrical energy as that record. What I like here is the union of sound and lyrics as the arrangements really push the lyrics up and the other way ’round. Mr. Skech is upset and I wouldn’t say it’s entertaining that he’s upset but when I hear someone expressing themselves in this manner, I’m into it and cheer it on. Especially in this zombie cybersociety where the vibe is chill on an energetic day, folks have trouble getting upset. Not so with Skech185. There are multiple MCs on this record showing up for a guest spot and I’m on the fourth track and feeling like this shit slaps. It’s worth the energy to follow the lyrics here, this is not some Gucci and guns theater show, these folks are talking about their reality and it’s interesting and compelling af. Great sounds all over this record, reall high end rhyming, straight up sonic art on this here record.

Music for 2/26/23!!! Shame

@@@ Shame: Food for Worms (Dead Oceans, 2023) Some energetic medium gnarly guitar based indie I got to via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. I like the singer(s) as they get some big sloppy choruses going. Dual guitar attack and a good drummer. The second tune Six Pack is a straight rocker, is rock truly coming back in style? Only time will tell. The third track Yankees is a slow one, at least it starts out slow and then spills some distorted guitar into the space before the rhythm section comes in. I like what they have going on, it takes an awful lot for me to jump up and down for an indie rock record but this has some different flavors and they aren’t just cloning 10 tracks and calling it a day.

Music for 2/22/23!!! Beacon, Polyphia

@@@ Beacon: Along the Lethe (Apparent Movement, 2023) Oh boy, this isn’t for me. Soft vocals and big piano all up in my electronic music. The beats are okay, a bit retro but the pillow-y fresh softness is wild and not for me. Big thick bass in track 3 but it’s just not enough for me to get over what I consider cardinal sins.

@@@ Polyphia: Bloodbath (BMG, 2022) I got to this and the above listen via the best bathroom dumping magazine, Tape Op and their best of 2022 lists from staff. This is the best large ensemble later Prince like r&b swirled up with a very Prince like guitar that I’ve heard in a long ass time. The nerdy proggy guitar playing sits right by the funky rhythm section and I mostly like it while recognizing it’s mad nerdy. It is also reminiscent of a metal record where the shredding for the sake of shredding is most welcomed with open arms. I liked the distorted electric guitar of the opener more than the nylon string of the second track but I still like it. I’m on track 4, I think this will be the last peep of this record but they’re back on the shred and it’s a wee bit proggy and dialed down a bit on the Prince flavors but it’s still up in there. This gets points just for smashing these two things together and I like big chunks of it.

Music for 2/21/23!!! Screaming Females, Index for Working Musik

@@@ Screaming Females: Desire Pathway (Don Giovanni, 2023) I started streaming their 2018 and it was a formal, kinda goth-y guitar rock formula, and this record opens up with some distorted synth action before going into a punkier and messier space which I dig. I like the singer’s flow much more on this record than on their 2018 work. It’s got some classic rock, a wee bit of metal, and plenty of punky fresh energy. We will peep a bit more cuz we thorough and this second track Desert Train lifts off at a super brisk tempo. These folks bring it. It gets a bit more mainstream and tuneful around track 4-5 but some folks like that. Me I like the roughness.

@@@ Index for Working Musik: Dragging the Needlework for the kids at uphole (Tough Love, 2023) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. The reference here is the Velvet Underground and literally thousands of other guitar rock bands. When they bring the cello for the second track, Railroad Bulls, it’s not hard to hear the Nirvana and Meat Puppets feels jumping out at the listener. I like the cello player and the drummer, agnostic on the singer and the guitars. Just as I say this, they bring some nice guitar tones and playing on the fifth track Ambiguous Fauna. If you haven’t heard a lot of rock you might really dig this, if you’ve heard a ton of rock this might not be for you.

Music for 2/20/23!!!! Phew

@@@ Phew: Our Likeness (Mute, 2023) Some electronic music off this week’s All Music notable release email. It’s more organic and closer to Laurie Anderson than yer normie electronic music. I had to google this artist to see which Asian language she’s speaking/half singing in (Japanese!) and see this is her first release since 1992. Yikes, it’s been a bit. This first track feels more like a summoning intro track than a formalized composed song. Let’s see where this goes. The second tune is a friendly rocker with electro components– some humor, and a lighter vibe. The third track, Being, is a more angry affair while not being very angry. I have no clue what she’s on about as I don’t know Japanese and honestly I often prefer not being able to understand lyrics. Overall I’m guessing this is more for her hardcore fans, I like it, it’s not exactly my favorite type of electronic music but hey that’s just me.

Music for 2/19/23!!! Land of Sleeper, Kelela

@@@ Land Of Sleeper: Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs (Rocket, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums email via Pitchfork. Major major Sabbath-y riffage with an epic singer on the top. I’m giving a quick peep to the second track, Terror’s Plow, and the same formula is in effect. I like all the players. There’s nothing here that particularly stands out within the pantheon of stoner rock, and that’s okay. It’s for the hardcore fans of the subgenre. I liked the third tune best of what I heard, they really crank it up on that track.

@@@ Kelala: Raven (Warp, 2023) This r&b/soul record opens up gauzy and quasi-epic, this is no slicked back mixed with funk jam show. We’re quickly into big amounts of ooohhing and aaaaahhhing. Maybe it’s just an intro. Tthe second tune, Happy, is a bit more of a banger with some churning rhythms and long tone singing over the top. This is a pretty manicured and solid record, a bit oooey and aaaaweee-y for my taste but that’s just me. Myself I would feel it more if there was a blend of hard hitting and soft sounds but that again is my taste.

Music for 2/16/23!!!! Quasi, Brad Mehldau

@@@ Quasi: Queen of Ears (Sub Pop, 2023) A Northwest duo I got to via I can’t remember, I think last week’s All Music notable release email. Featuring the drummer from Sleater Kinney gives them cred and they come out grunge-y but far from pathetically dour in the first tune, Last Long Laugh. I’ve been blogging for a while that the powers that be or want to be seek a rock/rawk comeback and this record fits into that. Let’s see what track 2 has on offer, this could be a rock biscuit I can get with! There’s more than a bit of classic rock in the riffage here so it’s not a straight up bummer-y grunge thing, it’s got a wee bit of boogie. I did a bit of googling to see that these two have been playing for nigh on three decades so this is no flim flam operation, they know each other and what they can do together. Some of what sounds like guitar is distorted keyboard so that puts a twist on the feel of the record. The vibe of this rock is upbeat without being cheesy and the keyboard riffage and the keyboard arrangements work for me. If yer up for some rock that is not cookie cutter but not oddly slack or pretentious take a whack at this business.

@@@ Brad Mehldau: Your Mother Should Know (Nonesuch, 2023) I go into this listen a bit prejudiced against Mr. Mehldau. I find his playing a bit on the cloying side so when I open this up and see it’s all Beatles covers I am thinking this is aimed at people with high paying jobs who love the Beatles who don’t have particularly well developed senses of taste. That said I like some of the passages of the first track, I Am the Walrus, it’s interesting to hear the vocal melody played back on a piano. I will hang for the second track, the title track clipped below. I think it was quick out of the gate and now on the third tune I’m finding the cover of I Saw Her Standing There to be less than compelling.

Music for 2/15/23!!! Maps, Andy Shauf

@@@ Maps: Thru Lights (Mute, 2023) A coupla listens off this week’s All Music notable release email. I think I heard a few tracks from the last record by this outfit. The record opens with a track called Witchy Feel and it’s an active harpsichord-y patch, then a kick drum and I think it’s a couple of moves away from reaching it’s full thing. A little tinkly percussion, some whooshing, and then snare as the harpsichord patch gives way to a distinctly electro lead sound. It’s not a funky feel, it’s more like a Scottish dance troop feel if that’s how you roll. There’s a bit of dancefloor action happening with the kick drum sound. I dig the second tune, Heya Yaha, as it’s got some funk to it, thought the cascading female vocal syllables is not funky, it’s more angelic. I like the more abstract electronic music and I like it as funky as possible, that’s where I’m at.

@@@ Andy Shauf: Wasted On You (Anti-, 2023) This is the opening track on a record called Norm, and by the initial feels it’s music for normies or making fun of music for normies. It’s got a very Cali soft rock feel to it. There’s a nice synth hook going, it sounds a bit like a harp and a bit like a guitar and Shauf’s voice couldn’t be more chill. Let’s peep a bit more. The second tune Catch Your Eye. The emphasis here is on the melodies but I fear this might be a bit soft, too soft for me. I don’t need tons of grit and whoomph but a little wouldd be nice, I’m not gonna lie. I’m not the hardest of the hardcore but there’s a sort of cloying feeling that comes with ultra soft music as it’s trying so hard to be my friend. He’s got an awful nice, plain retro bass sound working here and I’m feeling the bass player.