Music for 5/29/23!!! Shirley Collins, Jealous of the Birds

@@@ Shirley Collins: Hares on the Mountain (Domino, 2023) A coupla listens off this week’s Line of Best Fit and this is some folk/singer songwriter music from an 87 year old. The record opens with the track Fare the Well My Dearest Dear and it’s a guitar/mandoling driven ditty with distinctive UK/Irish flavors to the melodies. Traditional and modern at the same time, I dig it. I’m on the third track now and my main observation revolves around how this is music just focused on being music and not music designed to sell or be popular and having that as a main motivation makes it very enjoyable to me. In addition to her soothing voice the varying instrumentation from song to song keeps the show fresh.

@@@ Jealous of the Birds: Cynic’s Song (Atlantic, 2023) The video below is the third tune on the record and it’s a steady slow banger with acoustic guitar, some ringing piano chords, and a wee bit of shaker. The arrangement is manicured and Ms. Birds can surely sing, but I’m not sure the impact the track is having on me. The fourth track brings more of rhythm section into the proceedings which instantly turns it into Starbucks music to buy coffee by. I’m giving the opening track a quick listen after checking out other tracks and it’s a spacious fingerpicked guitar part over a simple and delayed drum machine before it rocks out by quickly clicking through to track 2. I prefer the record above to this record, this one’s trying too hard.

Music for 5/28/23!!! Groundation

@@@ Groundation and Brain Damage: Dreaming from an Iron Gate (Easy Star, 2023) I got to this record via a music and I almost never like what the publicists are selling but this is a cool record. It’s a hybrid roots reggae/dub record with a medium schmear of jazz/improv and a unique sounding singer. I was listening to stretches of the record yesterday while I was doing some shit around the house and it has an interesting flow to it — the jammy, jazz-ish slice of the pie usually doesn’t work for me but it does on this record. Some nice horn playing as well as keyboard feels. If you don’t like the opening track, Between Earth and Zion then you’re probably not going to like the rest of the record but in my opinion it’s a great example of taking a longstanding sub genre and pushing it a little while honoring the original spirit of it.

Music for 5/25/23!!! LCY, Midwife

@@@ LCY: He/Hymns EP (Fabric, 2023) The first track off this dance record is a thick ass hot dancefloor banger with a stylish arrangement and healthy amounts of dub sounds. It has a chopped feeling that a lot of dance remix records have but I don’t think it’s a dance record. Let’s peep more. The Apple Music blurb uses the word brooding but I think it’s more thick, funky and substantial. A lot of dance music is extremely shallow but I don’t think this is, it has intelligence to it. The contrast between the skittering beats, the chopped female vocals, and the bass pulsing on the second track is borderline exquisite. Someone spent a long ass time hooking these beats up and I appreciate their effort. This is wickedness and folks should check it out.

@@@ Midwife: Orbweaving (The Flenser, 2023). Another listen off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums on Pitchfork. Unfortunately it doesn’t bubble over with the creativity and energy of the record above. The intro to the first tune is an extended guitar arpeggio and whispery female vocals that you can understand but you have to try to understand. I had to click through to the second track The Hounds of Heaven which opens with a drum machine rock beat (maybe played by a drummer) and some medium and melancholy distorted guitar. The same whispery, angel vocals so it looks to be the formula from here on out. I’m pretty much done with the sad white people rock unless it’s done in a new way. And it is somewhat new with the way the vocals are framed but I’m agnostic on the record.

Music for 5/24/23!!! Blawan

@@@ Blawan: Dismantled Into Juice (XL, 2023). From the opening bits of the first track Toast, I felt the rush of Blawan’s distinctive sonic formula. Ultra composed but with a healthy ass, more than a healthy ass heaping of grit and muscle. Homie got it going on. The second tune, Panic, heads out into a different direction with a whispery vocal sample and thicker car bouncing vibe but the same excellent arranging skills on display. The EP is only 18 minutes long composed of five tracks and it’s got strong feels, it’s focused and I think if folks dig really well put together music this is right up there. The idea that electronic music is somehow a replacement for musicians playing music is a ridiculous notion and a record like this shows how electronic music can produce a really great listening experience using a completely different set of tools. It’s a cut above.

Music for 5/23/23!! Cusp, Mandy Indiana

@@@ Cusp: You Can Do It All (N/A, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums via Pitchfork. I see the video clip below is You Can’t Do It All and the title of the record is You Can Do It All and it’s confusing but that’s where we are at. The record opens with a lopsided loop and a long tone and a small piano figure and it’s mesmerizing and then the guitar goes and ruins it. Ha, not really, now it’s a band with a female singer. Then the band takes it down while the strings come in and that’s always a move towards the epic, at least partially and that was all a bit of a head fake intro because it clicks through to the second tune and it’s all indie rock, bright and guitar-y and it’s ’90s clean guitar indie time all over again!! It’s way more than competent and it’s a question of whether folks are into it. On the tune Limited Edition they bring out the distortion pedals and it’s cool except I’ve heard it a whole bunch. And when I say a whole bunch I mean it. This one all depends on the listener.

@@@ Mandy, Indiana: I’ve Seen a Way (Fire Talk, 2023) Another listen off the Pitchfork 10 Most reviewed albums of the week and this is epic, arpeggiated stuff on the opener, not particularly square and not particularly funky. The second tune (clipped below) opens quite differently with a fast, blasting kick drum before the techno-ish hi hats hit with some wooden mallet action to go with it. Vocals, arrgh, vocals!!!! I’m giving the fourth track, Injury Detail a quick peep before I post this post and it’s clearly half frat boy electro with a schmear of arena rock and a tad of Nine Inch Nails. It’s pretty well arranged but you’re gonna need to be hungry for a bit of cheese to enjoy this sandwich.

Music for 5/19/23!!! Salami Rose Joe Louis

@@@ Salami Rose Joe Louis: Akousmatikous (Brainfeeder, 2023) I got to this spanking brand new release via a twat on the Twatter. If you’re clicking play on a brainfeeder jam it’s gonna be proggy, it might be any of a number of genres but there’s gonna be some super intense arranging and progging nerd feelz up in it and if you’re in denial of that well that’s not a good sign for you. This flavor of prog is dreamy, not a ton of jazz, definitely a lot of sectioning and the framing of her voice really colors the record. I’m agnostic thus far. It’s like a Yes record with fewer guitars on a big hit of meth, that’s what I hear. I didn’t really love the second track and the third is the closest to a groove that we’ve gotten but of course it’s required to be a proggy sort of groove. As with a lot of brainfeeder records I respect the complexity but frankly I could use some funk or some crust or some dank, or something that would contrast with the details, something to ground it. It’s certainly not awful but it’s an upcycled fusion with the faults I just described.

Music for 5/18/23!!! Westerman, Beta Librae

@@@ Westerman: An Inbuilt Fault (Partisan, 2023) Off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums. The first tune is an updated Crosby, Stills, and Nash mellow California rock. It’s easy for these kinds of hippy/post hippy big ’70s sound records to collapse into a bogus sense of epicness but so far not here, he plays it pretty straight. Lots of layers of vocals, some harmonized some just doubled. The arrangements are not jumping out at you but there’s stuff in there to listen to and a lot of folks I think could get into this record.

@@@ Beta Librae: Late At Night (Incensio, 2023) Another listen off this week’s Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. It opens up with a pretty funk techno beat but not quite standard techno beat in a track called Penny Universities. It’s got a shade of dub in the break down section and there’s plenty of coming and going in the arrangement as it defies a groove and returns to it. I’m not a huge fan of the 1980’s bits of drum rolls in the opener and I clicked through to the second track. The second tune sports a female vocalist and it’s pretty standard. The third track brings the tempo up with a basket of modulated squiggles and diving tones and it’s wave your hands in the air time, you go boys and girls. I’m stopping my listening at the fourth track, The Dance Class, and it’s the best of what I’ve heard on this record. This is very solid techno really well arranged for your earholes.

Music for 5/17/22!!! Alex Figueira, Ernesto el Defensor

@@@ Alex Figueira: Mentallogenic (Self released, 2023) This record is #1 at WRIR in Virginia, one of my favorite radio stations in the country. It’s a mash of soul beats, Latin music, indie bedroom stuff and Latin music. It’s all pretty simple stuff in terms of structure but the combination and the arrangements are clear and it’s got a certain vibe that I dig. There’s some quite tasty bass playing on offer, melodic and ear catching. This record has a lot going for it, check it out, fresh sounds and tight arrangements.

@@@ Ernesto El Defensor Remix: Radical (Share it Music, 2023) This is an interesting remix of an Australian punk band’s previous track. With a female singer it tours around dabbling in drum and bass, funk, dub, you know the usual suspects. I’m on a big tour of PR suggestions and this is the only thing I got out of it.

Music for 5/16/23!!! Tolerance, Bernice

@@@ Tolerance: Anonym (Mesh-Key Records, 2023) I got to this jammy, free-ish alternative record via PItchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. It’s keyboard centric affair with guitars and shakers on this here second track, I Wanna Be a Homicide which I thought would be more energetic given the title. But alas. I like the spaciousness of it to be sure and to an extent I like the devil may care flow but I wish it was doing more, it’s sorta power floundering. There are some spoken word parts and processed chunks of voices in places which adds to the flatness of the proceedings. Flatness as in alienation and detachment, America’s condiments, alienation and detachment.

@@@ Bernice: Cruisin’ (Telephone Explosion, 2023) This is a pear shaped electro pop record where all is not right. I’m on the second track, Second Judy and it’s a blend of abrupt changes and sounds and lounge-y flavors, it’s quite wild. I like the random sounds and I don’t think they are super random. It’s a female singer and for the most part she plays it straight and the instruments are varied and they just dropped into a smooth funk mode, it’s pretty interesting. I like this record, it’s got an interesting spirit to it. I’ve returned to finish up today’s reviews and will be going out on track 6, well maybe not, it’s a sleeper. I clicked through to track 7 and it’s another mostly indie type track. They seemed to have a split record going on with funk and lounge in the beginning of the record and then into the indie business.. Ah well I will remember the good times we had in the early part of the record.

Music for 5/15/23!!!! Bekka Ma’iingan, Overmono

@@@ Bekka Ma’iingan: Zoon (Paper Bag, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed Pitchfork albums blah blah. It’s pretty ambient strummed guitar + serpentine sonic stuff. I think the guitar playing on the opener is pretty staid and the + ambient stuff is interesting but the second track is kicking in and there’s a singer and it’s a bit slack for me. The third tune appears to be the full indie rock monty with reverbed voice, way reverbed voice, straight rock drumming and some statick-y guitar playing. Not really my cup of tea.

@@@ Overmono: Skulled (XL, 2023) More off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums of the week. This is electronic music done within a song structure with vocalists. I’m on the second track and it’s a lot of processed vocals on a slick club rhythm foundation. Not frat boy pumping but more of a gin and tonic bubbling flow. Sophisto, folks with jobs. I like this third tune Good Lies, it’s the funkiest of what I heard. This fourth tune will be my last. Thus far I’m into a fair amount of the sounds, I find the vocal processing a bit much after a while and the tunes are pretty good. Not jump up and down material for me, but not bad.