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 5/19/23!!! 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 5/17/22!!! 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 5/15/23!!!! 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.

Music for 5/4/23!!! Dawit Yifru, Chezidek

@@@ Dawit Yifru: Self titled (Muzikawi, 2023) Slotted as jazz on Apple Music I got to this organ driven world/r&b record via WRIR in Virginia. The lead instrument is organ but there are some tasty hornlines dropped in here and there and a rhythm section lower in the mix. Mr. Yifru is a well known Ethiopian musician and he has big wedding party feels going here. I clicked through to the second tune and it’s super stylish with violin and horn line playing the same long ascending melody. Oh, the organ is joining in on that party in places. This is a pleasant blend of chill sitch and summertime party music, I’m not jumping up and down but I dig it.

@@@ Chezidek: Never Stop (Irie ites, 2023) Another listen off this week’s WRIR playlist. I’ve heard Chezidek’s music before and liked it and he doesn’t disappoint in the opener here as he’s got a very stylish flow on the microphone where he sings at certain points and toasts at other points. His lyrics are concious and he brings the energy on the opener, let’s peep more. The sounds here are pretty up to date with drum machine, some tasty synth basses but it’s all a bed of lettuce for Chezidek to strut his stuff. He’s the star here an he does a really good job with vocalization duties — he has passion, talent, he’s the full package. If you like roots music don’t sleep on this record.

Music for 5/3/23!!!! Bill Orcutt

@@@ Bill Orcutt: Jump On It (Palilalia, 2023) I’ve heard Orcutt before in a noisier improv setting (and I dug that) but that’s not this which is a solo guitar record. It’s pretty mournful but not particularly bluesy or folksy. He’s playing acoustic guitar, not going batshit by any means, but there are flashes here of extremely high levels of skill. Check out some of the runs on The Life of Jesus and tell me Orcutt hasn’t played a fuck ton of guitar. I think I’m partially in the mood for this kind of record today so it’s hitting me right but part of me thinks this is a really good solo guitar record. Check it out!

Music for 5/2/23!!! Jim Legxacy, Esther Rose

@@@ Jim Legxacy: Homeless N***a Pop Music (!, 2023) I got to this record via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. I haven’t googled this musician but I’m guessing he’s not from America because the shattering of the glass wall between pop music and real life is something a good American would do. Ah, there it is, Southeast London, just as I suspected. Mr. Legxacy sounds a whole bunch like a slightly lessed blunted version of 6Lack, a gent whose debut album I really liked. Some of the sounds I like, and some of the vibes of the tunes I like. I can’t really catch what the tunes are about due to accent related issues. When I first heard it I thought I was going to really dig it.

@@@ Esther Rose: Safe To Run (New West, 2023) An alt-folk record I got to via the aforementioned Pitchfork album list. Let’s skip to the second track as I’m not really hearing the alt part. The second tune brings on the full band and it sounds a bunch like early 70s stoned out Dylan but with female feels. I’m not super up for faithful reenactments but if you are, Ms. Rose will hook you up. This is just a wee bit too familiar for me.

Music for 5/1/23!!! Susanne Sundfor, Black Country, New Road

@@@ Susanne Sundfor: Blomi (Bella Union, 2023) I got to this record from a female Norwegian musician via this week’s Line of Best Fit. The first track opens up very Laurie Anderson-y, with cosmic spoken word over process vocals and other electro garnish. I neither love it nor hate it. The spoken word gives way to a piano driven slow banger with equally cosmic feels to it. It’s an orchestral-ish-y thing. I like how expansive the sounds are, but I can’t say I’m terribly moved by the songs. They’re certainly not awful but it’s for folks with jobs. It’s not what Bella Union usually puts out but that’s cool.

@@@ Black Country, New Road: Live at Bush Hall (Ninja Tune, 2023) I vaguely remember when these guys blew up. The marketing blurb is they lost the lead singer and now the rest of the folks sing tunes. It’s a big rambunctious ensemble and that comes across really well with them on stage. I think the decision to record new tunes live is really creative but I find I’m not paying attention to the tracks and they’re just sort of floating by. It’s not my favorite type of music so it would have to be a stellar example to grab my attention. This probably works for fans of the band.

Music for 4/30/23!!! Jessie Ware

@@@ Jessie Ware: That! Feels Good! (Universal, 2023) Some slightly updated disco funk I got to via this week’s Pitchfork 10 Most reviewed albums of the week. It’s pleasantly funky but sports very little of the radical funk Parliament/Funkadelic injected into their music. I could get with this record if there was a freshness or creativity to it but that would involve a different way of arranging these sounds or introducing new sounds. I’m not hearing that. I fully understand that the vast majority of folks don’t care if it’s fresh but I do and it’s my blog. I circled back on this record, partially because I was super into a remix record somebody did of her last week and after giving a listen to tracks 6 and 7, it’s too predictable for my taste.

Music for 4/23/23!!! Kara Jackson

@@@ Kara Jackson: Why does the Earth gives up people to Love? (September Recordings, 2023) This young woman was youth poet laureate in the 2019-2020 period and is a singer/songwriter to boot. I got to this record via the 10 most reviewed records of the week from Pitchfork. Her lyrics here are strange and high quality and honest, I really like them as it’s not often you hear a record where someone really gets into the lyrics. Musically the record is slotted as folk music and it is folk music but there is definitely other stuff floating around in the arrangements, a full band at some points bit flushes of percussive sound etc. Also a schmear of jazz and while she doesn’t go all sing song Swiss yodeller as Joni Mitchell famously did, there is a connection between the two here. She don’t super really give a fuck and is focused more on making a creative record which I think she has really succeeded at. I’m on the seventh track and this will be my last listen for the moment but I’m definitely going to circle back on this record which totally has it going on.