Music for 5/23/17!!! Sonia Aimy, Ivoryman, Oumou Sangare

@@@ Sonia Aimy: Nigerian Spirit (Self-released, 2017)  An African record that mixes jazz into a large African ensemble.  The vibe is friendly and Aimy’s voice is as well.  There is a classic African guitar sound as well as a nylon string guitar that sounds more jazzy.  There are only four pre-release tunes up on the Apple Music even though the page says the album was to be released in January.  She resurrects fellow Nigerian Fela Kuti’s political conciousness in the title track (clipped below) as she bemoans Boko Harem, juju priests, and materialism.  Check it out.

@@@  Ivoryman: Culturally Rude (Tusk Records, 2017)  Some new dancehall reggae off this week’s WRIR playlist email.  Mr. Ivoryman has a deep voice and a percussive sound as he hits the mic and it produces a bit of a strange effect.  The second tune, Military Gathering, is an anti-war song (I think) as it’s a little rough to hear what Ivoryman says.  I’ve listend to a few songs here and I like a bunch of the sounds, but I’m having a hard time with Ivoryman’s voice.  Maybe there is something wrong with me — that thought crosses my mind pretty frequently.

@@@ Oumou Sangare: Mogoya (No Format, 2017) I heard the pre-release single featuring Tony Allen and now the whole record isout.  This first tune, Bena bena, is off to a good start — a firm midtempo groove with organ and a sophisto vocal arrangement.  The second tune is the tune with Tony Allen so let’s skip to the third tune which has a brisk tempo and some nice hand drumming to go with Sangare’s voice.  Her voice is a blend of beauty and strength with a slight tilt to the strength.  The fourth tune is a slow, beautiful jam with kora playing, hand drumming, some hammered marimba type sounds, and vocals.  Imma swing back on this record as it’s a very interesting and hot record.

YTD recordings listened to: 317
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 184
Not good music: 122

Buys: 5
Honorable Mentions: 2

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Power Trip, Reverend Payton, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Oumou Sangare

2017 Honorable Mention Pick 2

Fofoulah: Bene Bon EP (Loop Records, 2013)

This 29 minute 6 song EP by a band out of London combines hand drumming with elements of Afrobeat and Senegalese singing.  The drumming is really great, the guitar player sounds like he’s listened to a lot of the Edge from U2, but Edge’s long lost black brother from Africa.  The singer is very good but doesn’t stand out as much as the drumming.  The spirit of the music is neither Afrobeat or Afropop.

The second song (the title track) is my favorite, my least favorite is the fourth song but these guys definitely bring a different recipe to their African music.

Music for 4/17/17!!! Las Cafeteras, Somi, Time is Fire

@@@ Las Cafeteras: Tastes Like L.A. (Las Cafeteras, 2017)  A self-released contemporary Latin record also off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email.  Where the record below, which I listened to first, was about an African in New York City, this recording appears to be associated with Los Angeles.  It has some indie quirk to the vocal arrangements.  There is some classic Mexican folk stringed instrument playing and hand drumming going on here.  The second tune (clipped below) is an upbeat number with the continued theme of intricate and poppy vocals over a lot of traditional Mexican instrument playing.

@@@ Somi: Petite Afrique (Sony, 2017)  A pan-African record I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  After a spoken word pastiche it gets into a world jazz piano-vocal vibe.  I skipped to the third tune and this is going to be a highbrow, meaningful African record with a lot of straight jazz influence and fusion-y production.  Not really for me, too polished.

@@@ Time is Fire: Angels EP (Electric Cowbell, 2017)  Also off this week’s WRIR playlist email.  A mash of world music influences (at least they namecheck various genres on their bandcamp page)  but this first tune is pretty Afrobeat, ah no there’s some psych rock guitar and drums there.  This second tune has more rock sounds to it but the rhythm section is definitely not rock (though they rock).  I’m on the third tune and it’s rocking more as it unfolds.  It’s all right, I don’t think I love the singer but that’s just me.

YTD recordings listened to: 248
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 135
Not good music: 92

Buys: 3
Honorable Mentions: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, Zomby, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Power Trip, Reverend Payton, J.I.D., Oddisee, Feral Ohms, Orquestra Baobab

Best of 2017 Pick 2

Tinariwen: Elwan (Anti-, 2017)

Is this the best Tinariwen record in their discography?  I don’t have the time to make that judgment.  Is it going to be one of the best African records of the year?  Definitely.  Nobody gets the hypnotic guitar/hand drumming groove going like these guys.  There are other indisputably great African bands working now but these guys have a slot and they work it hard.

Check out this slow jam below and tell me who does it better:

I like the slower jams the best.

If you’ve heard these guys before you’ll enjoy this record.  The guitar playing is top notch AND world class.  If you haven’t heard these guys before, shame on you.

Music for 4/5/17!!! Mamadou Kelly, Vieux Farka Toure

@@@ Mamadou Kelly: Djamila (Clermont, 2015) Kelly has a new album (I read on the WRIR review email) but his new one is not up on the Apple Music.  I was going to flip to another record but then the female singer came on in the first tune and she’s pretty jarring.  Upper register and contrasting strongly with Kelly’s low voice.  I assume Kelly is singing.  The other instrumentation is pretty standard save the electric organ which I dig and the guitar tones which I don’t love as much.  The band is firm and laidback at the same time.  I really like the female singer on this record and here’s a recent live clip.

@@@ Vieux Farka Toure: Homafu Wawa (Six Degrees, 2017)  A single off an upcoming full length and though I don’t really love the way Six Degrees records sound sometimes (too polished) there’s no doubt Ali Toure’s son can shred.  I thought it was a Rush tune at the opening.  The star here is the guitar playing, he drops a big fat solo in the middle of the track and takes out most classic rockers with the back of his African hand.

YTD recordings listened to: 224
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 120
Not good music: 84

Buys: 1
Honorable Mentions: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, Zomby, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Divanhana, Moken, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Tinariwen, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Power Trip, Reverend Payton, J.I.D., Oddisee, Feral Ohms, Orquestra Baobab

Music for 3/31/17!!! Orchestra Baobab, Pharmakon, Aimee Mann

@@@ Orchestra Baobab: Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng (World Circuit, 2017) African music from stalwarts Orchestra Baobab.  A full ensemble including percussionists, horn players, kora and guitar players and this first tune is sweet but not cloying.  I’m on the fourth tune and I agree with the All Music review that this is not a burning disc but more of a laid-back affair.  Extremely tight but not overpowering grooves, beautiful vocals and fairly long stretching tunes.  I guess the kora player is a first time addition to this band (which has been around close to 50 years) and it’s a nice flavor.  This record will be on my year end list as there aren’t many bands that can get this vibe going.

@@@ Pharmakon: Contact (Sacred bones, 2017)  This noise record opens up sic-fi and more than a bit aggro industrial.  Lots of machine like noises and no discernible song structure emerging straight away.  There’s a female losing her shit in a non-singing kind of way — sounds like she’s having some sort of horror movie break down.  Let’s peep more.  This second tune is unfolding quite slowly with similar metallic synth patches.  I say let’s get down and let it all hang out instead of teasing with bits. The second tune unfolds pretty much the same way — a lot of noise and a lot of female vocal despair.  I don’t 100% require tunes but this is not quite enough for me to get with, it sounds a bit half finished.

@@@ Aime Mann: Mental Illness (Superego, 2017)  I know folks gush over Aimee Mann but I’ve never understood why.  But peep I will as I have an open mind.  This first tune is sweet with arpeggio guitar, a little hand percussion and ’70s era soft rock vocal stylings.  The second tune is a tad less engaging but she’s rocking the melancholy sad song in the B+ range.  I’m on the fourth tune and it continues to be a melancholic, pretty record.  I appreciate it and I certainly don’t hate it, but it’s not something for me to jump up and down about.  This tune below is the first on the record and the best of what I heard.

YTD recordings listened to: 212
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 112
Not good music: 80

Buys: 1
Honorable Mentions: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, Zomby, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Divanhana, Moken, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Tinariwen, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Power Trip, Reverend Payton, J.I.D., Oddisee, Feral Ohms, Orquestra Baobab

Music for 3/13/17!!! Mexican Dubwiser, Ememl Mathlouthi, Frank Ocean

@@@ Mexican Dubwiser: Broder Frequency (Kin Kon Records, 2017)  A funky electro Mexican record off this week’s WRIR weekly email.  Not all lyrics are in Spanish as it bounces back and forth between Spanish and English.  The beats are medium funky, the arrangements are centered around synth hooks, and there are a bunch of guest vocalists which some people like to get more flavors.  I prefer fewer rather than more but that’s me.

@@@ Emel Mathlouthi: Ensen (Partisan, 2017)  Also off this week’s WRIR playlist email. Strongly Arab inflected electronica fronted by a woman.  Sinuous melodies, pretty sparse but not minimalist arrangements.  I’m feeling this third tune, Layem, as it’s got a really nice string part but I was not able to attach it for your sampling pleasure.  I tried!  Overall the production and the tunes are more for folks who like big, dramatic music — that’s not exactly where I’m at but it’s all right.

@@@ Frank Ocean: Chanel (Blonded, 2017)  A single off the hot tracks on Apple Music. I kinda feel like Frank Ocean is overrated but I keep listening.  I dig the simplicity of his arrangements and his ragged vocal delivery, but I’m not jumping up and down.  The vocal hook revolves around him singing ‘I see both sides like Chanel’ which I guess references his bisexuality or some aspect of it.  I’ve always had trouble with slack vibes in music, I could never get into Pavement or Lou Reed so it’s fair to say my no love for slackness does indeed cross racial lines.  It’s not an awful tune it just confirms the he’s either hyped or I’m not very bright.

YTD recordings listened to: 168
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 91
Not good music: 63

Buys: 0
Honorable Mentions: 1

Possibles: Chris McGregor, Dave Arner Trio, Zomby, Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Slidhr, The Chewers, Toxic Holocaust, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Leviathan, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Divanhana, Moken, Juan Atkins, Drone, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Magrudergrind, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Tinariwen, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Power Trip, Fruko Y Sos Tesos