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

Music for 3/2/17!!! Aaron Watson, Fruko Y Sus Tesos, Mokoomba

@@@ Aaron Watson: Vaquero (BIG Label, 2017)  Honcho music blogger Bob Lefsetz had a glowing email review of this country record.  This first tune is neither cheesy new school country nor stripped down old time-y old country.  Instrumentation is guitar, drums, bass, slide, acoustic and fiddle.  This first tune is a soldier’s song and it’s all right.  The second tune is an upbeat love song with more bounce.  This third tune These Boots have Roots is the one that’s gonna move me to a new record.  It’s just too epic and arena-ey for my tastes, the lyrics being especially cloying for me.  Now if you’re a Trump-kin maybe you dig this but I can’t really abide it.

@@@ Fruko Y Sus Tesos: A La Memoria Del Muerto (Vampisoul, 2017)  Hard hitting salsa out of Colombia that I got to via the fine folks at WRIR in Virginia.  This is relentless music both rhythmically and melodically with a full ensemble of players and singers.  I’m going to have to hit the interwebz and check out if this is a new recording or a re-issue.  I re-read the review from the radio station and it looks like this album was recorded in 1972.  Wow, this is the business.  Check this record out, it will be on my best of year list for sure.

@@@ Mokoomba: Luyando (Outhere, 2017)  A single from the African country of Zimbabwe and though I prefer the West African music stylings this tune is all right.  It’s got an active singer, a bad ass flute player, a guitar player (I think) bass and multiple percussionists.  High energy, nice arrangement.

YTD recordings listened to: 145
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 79
Not good music: 45

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

Music for 2/11/17!!! Tinariwen, Dirty Projectors

@@@ Tinariwen: Elwan (Desert Blues, 2017)  I dug the most recent Tinariwen record but felt that the two before that were a tad soft especially the one where a record label told them to sing in English.  This first tune appears to be a return to their hypnotic desert blues shit that I can lap up with a spoon.  Brisk hand drumming with circular guitar melodies that will drive you somewhat insane.  Let’s peep more.  After a nice stripped intro on this second tune they dive right back into the groove with the second tune (clipped below).  I’ve peeped portions of about six tunes and they all sound really good — no cheese, nice level of dirt, beautiful performances.  Imma swing back on this record when I have more time but this is going to end up on my year end list.  Check this record out!

@@@ Dirty Projectors: Keep Your Name (Domino, 2017)  One of the three advance tunes up on the Apple Music from an upcoming full length.  After a strange vocal and piano intro it blossoms out into an mildly electro piano ballad with a strange singer.  Maybe this dude is pitch shifted.  I think there are Prince funk aspirations but it comes off as too cutesy indie and true funk is in short supply on this track.  I think this is a strange opening track to a record — I appreciate the daring but I’m not super feeling it.

YTD recordings listened to: 97
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 53
Not good music: 31

Buys: 0
Honorable Mentions: 0

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, Acid Arab, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Aethenor, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Tinariwen