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 1/19/23!!! Earthkry, Gabrielle Aplin

@@@ Earthkry: Soon Come (Wash House, 2022) Old school reggae in the more retro ’60s flavor pre the Bob Marley international reggae explosion. Super sweet singer, super sweet over a sticky foundation. Not a lot to say here as this stuff imho is about catching a vibe and these guys hit it hard and out of the ballpark though I was very skeptical when I saw their band name. Eeesh, Earthkry? Great track.

@@@ Gabrielle Aplin: Anyway (Never Fade, 2023) I got to this via this week’s Line of Best Fit. It’s a breathier slightly more energetic version of Norah Jones piano driven adult alternative business. Not a carbon copy but in the neighborhood. This is not my favorite flavor of mainstream normie music but I listen to everything and there’s a distinct pop sensibility swirled into the piano rock here. Drums higher than usual, more energy in the mix and melodies that escape the slackness. It’s not the most aspirational thing going on here, it aspires to listeners and not necessarily to a deep feeling. Keep it familiar and she does that. I like some of the vocal melodies and I like the drums up in the mix.

Music for 11/22/22!!! Davey Long, The Cool Greenhouse

@@@ Davey Long: Flesh and Blood (N/A, 2022) I got to this piano driven anthem via a music publicist in Ireland. It’s big rock, big piano rock. This is most definitely music for normies. I’m not a normie, I just came out differently but while this sentiment doesn’t super work for me, there are more normies than there are versions of me. Unfortunately. The vocal hook is that we’re all flesh and blood and we’re doing the best. I get the first part but some of us aren’t putting in much effort. This is for the suburban housewife Elton John fans and if they’re reading this here blog, have at it!

@@@ The Cool Greenhouse: Get Unjaded (Melodic, 2022) This artist is namechecked on this week’s Line of Best Fit and it’s related to the first track. We’re somewhat engaged in a battle of earnest vs. jaded, right? This is an art school nerd punk jam with spoken word vocals, circular simple and aggro guitar cycling and rock drumming. I don’t usually love the art school business but this is all right. I like the Captain Beefheart-esque dissonant guitars, the singer I’m agnostic on, and the vibe is cool, not jump up and down but cool. I like the second tune Sod’s Toastie the best of what I heard.

Music for 11/5/22!!! Bill Callahan, Billy Woods

@@@ Bill Callahan: YTILAER (Drag City, 2022) A coupla listens off this week’s Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. The record opens with a track called First Bird and it’s very reminiscent of Leonard Cohen but with a little ambient garnish in the back of the mix. Then the whole band comes in and it’s plain but completely without pretension which is a plus for me. I like the bass player here, he/she/they catching my ear a whole bunch. Both of the songs I’ve listened to thus far have opened with extensive acoustic guitar stretches which makes the record a blend of singer/songwriter and band rock. The record is meticulously produced and I liked the first track the best, that’s where I’m at.

@@@ Billy Woods: Paraquat ( , 2022) Already having put out one of my favorite albums of the year what could I possibly expect from a second Billy Woods record in 2022? Who wants to be the nasty slut wanting too much? I was listening to the back end of this record last night while I rode the exercise bike and while I wasn’t particularly carried away by the rhyming I realized how much I love the murky and gooey sound of Mr. Woods’ records. The video clipped below is the opening track of the record and it has both grit and Halloween feels. There’s a backwards sample here and a female choir sample that work well together, back and forth like the bellows of an accordion. His music is sonically dense and I appreciate that and his rhyming is intense. I’m liking the front end of this record a whole bunch. It’s hard to tell if I like more than his record from earlier this year as it’s a hefty nugget with plenty going on. His music is most definitely hip hop and gritty but with so much more on top of that so it can be consumed in a buncha ways. Whoever does his sounds rocks it.

Music for 11/2/22!!! Alice Boman, Aoife Nessa Frances

@@@ Alice Boman: Where to Put the Pain (Play It Again Sam, 2022) Looks set to be a coupla sad young female musicians on tap from Line of Best Fit’s weekly email. The track opens with a funk rock beat that gets a little squashed by some piano chords then the female vocals. Now if there was a hipster funk bass going here underneath the layers of feelings I would shit my diaper but it’s not that, it’s a rock thing. It may just be a few too many feelings for me, I know that may come as a shock as Imma feelings based dude but it’s too claggy as they say in the Great British Bake Off.

@@@ Aoife Nessa Frances: Emptiness Follows (Partisan, 2022) This track opens at a lower tempo with a little Alice Coltrane harp action and sulty and slightly slinky feel. It’s got some jank to it but this was blurbed as a psychedelic folk joint so jank is expected with anything psychedelic, that’s my experience. The harp and the flute is welcome to my ears, I like the drum beat and the singer is not your classic dreamy, reverbed female, it’s more the seductress, the stereotype of the seductress. A little more background vocal action at the back end of the track, a little horn action swirled in there with the harp, I can roll with this, it’s an interesting mix of sounds.

Music for 10/8/22!!! Nora O’Connor, Stray Kids

@@@ Nora O’Connor: My Heart (Pravda, 2022). It’s an adult alternative piano driven sitch with a ’70s sounding bass. I got to this via a twat on the Twatter. It’s got more energy than you would expect from ’70s driven piano rock, it rocks pretty good for a piano. The lyrics are internalized, it’s a discussion between her and her heart but it’s not crazy mushy or embarrassing. I like the chorus, it’s a solid boost of energy you look forward to. I’m giving the third track a peep and it’s a midtempo polite guitar centered jaunty bit. Rock tinged with a bit of melancholy and nostalgia I will have to recommend this to my wife.

@@@ Stray Kids: Maxident (JYP Entertainment, 2022). You gotta respect these various Korean pop stars that absorb and then go for it in their own ways. This is some pretty over the top boy band pop with all manner of influences in it. While I respect the attitude I’m not really enjoying the music very much, it’s overwhelming the way a big ass metal song is. This most definitely is for the low attention generation, there’s no way you can’t be dominated and listen to this. Tons of sounds and tons and tons of shifts in the vocals. This is a whole nother world I know a bit about while not reaching for it voluntarily as it’s not for folks like me, this is for the shopping mall suburban clean types.

Music for 9/25/22!!! Jesca Hoop, Marina Allen

@@@ Jesca Hoop: Lyrebird (Memphis Industries, 2022) Opens with a super gentle string arpeggio with a big upright bass underneath then a female singer comin’ in friendly and intimate. This is feel good coffee folk/alternative. Lyrically it’s a descriptive short story typa thing and the hook comes in the chorus with a big multitracked singalong move. I think the multitracked vocals in the chorus are okay but a tad on the cheesy/gimmicky. This is for people with good paying jobs that think human civilization is gonna work out just fine.

@@@ Marina Allen: Or Else (Fire Records, 2022) This is more standard adult alternative rock business, this time driven by piano and just a small bit of tambourine clinking. It’s an old school small drum sound and Ms. Allen goes a bit Joni Mitchell in the chorus, sing song-y all over the place. It’s a friendly arrangement, I like the flute hanging out on the side of the mix. I’m checking out a bit of the opening track and this music is rooted in music from the mid to late ’70s so adult alternative is a slightly mislabelled sitch, it’s more of a hippie folk soft rock biscuit. I’m checking out the opening track Celadon and while this isn’t my cup of tea I appreciate how the track is arranged and executed. Folks of this style should peep this as you may like it.

Music for 9/18/22!!! The Beths, Michelle Branch

@@@ The Beths: Expert in a Dying Field ( Carpark, 2022) These guys are in the All Music notable release email as well as the 10 most reviewed Pitchfork albums this week. Some fuzzy guitars, not too messy, as well as some indie guitar vamping and a female singer rocking some nice melodies and bookish lyrics. This leans a bit more towards the kind of rock record you can play for your grandma this certainly is not a molten Sleater Kinney lava bomb. Boring is a mean word so I won’t call this boring, but it’s too mannered like a Hallmark card. I guess that’s where rock is at and why it’s a bit of a wasteland for diehards at the moment.

@@@ Michelle Branch: Closest Thing to Heaven (Nonesuch, 2022) Oy more ‘rawk’ from the king of the sleepytime tea record labels, Nonesuch. Big, country-ish guitar sounds, multiple background vocals. It gets a tad aroused with the chorus but don’t worry it won’t produce a sweat by any means. It’s like Madonna and Imagine Dragons had a big sloppy love baby. I don’t know if the folks at Nonesuch think this is the kind of record that makes the car payment but as a record it’s claggy with a bit of a soggy bottom. The player clicked through and it’s the same formula — big production, a medium rock sound with a lot of adult alternative sauce. How about some fire, isn’t that what cooks food? This is most definitely for people with jobs.

Music for 8/27/22!!! J.I.D., Stella Donnelly

@@@ JID: Dance Now ( , 2022) I’ve always been a big fan of JID’s microphone work — playful, tight and a bit nasal. I got to his new record via NPR’s best of the week music. Right now I’m checking out Crack Sandwich and it’s funky sonic arrangement, neither trap nor soft with plinks, janky guitar figures and tight funky beats. I don’t know if it’s the marketing blurb or not but it does appear that JID and the folks who made this record are trying to get him across to a large number of folks. Case in point, the track Can’t Make You Change almost sounds like a modern blues with a background singer and pretty familiar sounds. Irregardless which is actually a fucking word now but the point here is JID is funky as fuck. As I get two mainstream tracks in a row I do think I like freakier more hip hoppy JID but this is cool if people want to peep it.

@@@ Stella Donnelly: Flood (N/A , 2022) Another NPR listen. Talk about the opposite of funky, it’s all right ma we white and shit. Opens up with maybe the straightest drum beat possible, some ringing piano chords, and coffee shop female vocalizing. I mean it’s cool but it’s not really my thing. Donnelly has a nice voice but the playing is pretty stiff and wooden. I get why NPR is recommending this music, oh shit big burn! It’s just crazy tight indie piano stuff here, if you’re uptight have at it.

Music for 5/24/22!!! Moon Tooth, Televeangelism

@@@ Moon Tooth: Grip on the Ridge (Pure Noise, 2022) I’ve seen this record mentioned in a coupla different places. From my extensive listening I think there’s been some action in terms of recasting rock music to get people interested in it again. This would qualify as one of those efforts as it’s rocking, but with the singer doing a very heartfelt thing over a descending riff, it’s most definitely neither Wilco or a metal band. I clicked to the second tune as I thought the guitar player was getting a bith mathy for my taste and he comes out laying down the power chords in this second track. The second and third tracks both sport some Van Halen-y boogie rock flavors which I haven’t heard in these parts in a long ass time. I don’t dislike it, but this maybe a formula that takes a bit of time to adjust to. On the surface it feels a bit contradictory with the non-rock singer — this dude could be in a Death Cab for Cutie cover band, for real.

@@@ Televangelism: Ethel Cain (Daughters of Cain, 2022) A rare miss here as I can’t remember how I got to this track. Most likely a promo email from a music publicist or an online outlet. And it matters even if you don’t care! This track opens with a heavily reverbed and slightly delayed piano intro. It’s kinda cool and annoying at the same time. It reminds me a bit of Prince’s heartbreaking track ‘Sometimes it snows in April’ — if you don’t know that track you should get on that. Now we’re getting into the more openly delayed bit and it’s officially annoying as far as I’m concerned. It’s too explicitly epic for my taste. There are some vocal washes that kind of act as an industrial smoothing agent so there’s that. It dies back down and well it’s gonna go out like this. I’m giving a quick peep to the second track, American teenager and I think somebody shoulda dialed back the reverb as it’s awash.