Music for 4/30/28!!! Baloji, Garotas Suecas, Andy Mineo, LIMBS

@@@ Baloji: 137 Kaniama (Bella Union, 2018). Off this week’s WRIR playlist email.  Some Congotronic African music via Belgium.  This first tune emphasizes complex vocal arrangements over the grit of Konono No. 1 distorted thumb piano and a generally more driving sound.  The second tune dabbles in the sweeter side of African music with an updated high life sound.  I like it all right but I prefer funk over sweetness in my African music.  It’s also a bit too shiny in the production for my taste.

@@@ Garotas Suecas: Futuro Do Preterito (Vampisoul, 2018). A Brazilian funk outfit I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  It’s an old school funk outing with an emphasis on instruments and not on electronic sounds.  I like the guitar playing and hand drumming as one would expect from a rhythmic powerhouse society such as Brazil.

@@@ Andy Mineo: I the Arrow (Reach/Miner League, 2018)   Some hip hop off the Apple Music hot tracks section.  This first tune opens up with a sung old school vibe though the record is slotted as a hip hop thing.  Ah, there’s the MC and he’s all right.  The arrangements are an interesting combination of organic and glitched up sounds.  I like the sounds a whole bunch and went to All Music to see what’s up with this MC to see that he’s a Christian rapper.  Propaganda is about as much Christian hip hop I can take.

@@@ LIMBS: Father’s Son (UNFD, 2018).  A post hardcore outfit I got to via the Apple Music genre pages.  After a sort of epic first tune, they get into some art school post metallic post hardcore.  The singer is melodic and at the end of his rope which lessens the roughness of the tunes.  On the whole it’s an energetic outfit but it comes off a bit lightweight compared the heaviness of Pig Destroyer or early Converge.  Everything sounds good, I guess I’m tilted a bit against the singer.

YTD recordings listened to: 231
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 122
Not good music: 101

Best: 4
Honorable Mentions: 3

Possibles: 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, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National, Portal, Hernan Sama & Marcelo von Schultz

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Music for 3/22/18!!! Stanford Prison Experiment, Tal National

@@@ Stanford Prison Experiment: The Gato Hunch (Records DK, 2018).  I was surprised to see this band on Apple Music’s new release section.  I wore out Wrecreation from back in the day, the 00s, oughts or whatnot.  They don’t seem like they got all flabby and moody or changed much — they offer a pretty aggro but not hardcore punk experience to those like it.  Really good singer and a very good drummer.   Their young men playing vibe is there because this is a reissue of a 1995 record which was a pretty long ass time ago and they were younger as we all were if you were even here.  This tune below gets a nice grind going, check it out.

@@@ Tal National: Tantabara (Fat Cat, 2018). I had to get a new Mac mini for some live sound work that I’m doing and the version of iTunes it has on it has a new feature where it will make recommendations based on what I have in my ‘library’.  So it coughed up this new record by Tal National, which is an outfit that I’m all over.  They take a classic African guitar centered style and shoot Red Bull up its ass.  Speed up the tempo, stack up the melodies and push push push.  There is so much guitar in these tracks, also off the last record as well, it’s almost post apocalyptic.  This gorgeous spaghetti mess of an arrangement I find to be delicious.  When I hear this band I think that most indie rock musicians can’t even conceive of playing in this quirky, hyper stimulating manner, never mind do it.  These guys can actually record this shit, it’s amazing and I don’t use the word amazing lightly.  Imma circle back on this record but it’s gonna end up on my year end list.  I’m on the third tune and it sounds like an over caffeinated Frank Zappa track, layered with weird melodies and shot through with polyrhythm.  If you think you can handle it check it out, it’s a joy.

YTD recordings listened to: 158
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 82
Not good music: 72

Best: 4
Honorable Mentions: 3

Possibles: 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, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Tal National

Music for 3/19/18!!! Hailu Mergia, Fyahbwoy, Leon Bridges, Jason Aldean

@@@ Hailu Mergia: Lala Belu (Awesome Tapes from Africa, 2018). I got to this African record via the WRIR playlist email.  I don’t find that much jazz in this first tune, it’s more of a soul tune with a little improvised accordion over it.  The instrumentation here is drums, bass, organ, accordion and percussion.  I like it, and I promise I won’t be a genre bitch. I like the accordion player but I want more than mostly straight jazz grooves — I want more funk or more outside playing or both.  It’s pleasant and the sounds are good.

@@@ Fyahbwoy: Cadenas De Oro | (Nacional, 2018).  An urban Latin single that I saw on the very same WRIR playlist email.  Keyboards, guitar, drum machine and a loverboy singer/MC.  I can’t tell if this is a drummer or a drum machine but does it matter that much.  He’s got some pretty nice Spanish dancehall toasting going on.  I prefer that to his loverboy routine.  It’s a solid track, if you don’t like the singer you’re not gonna like the tune.  I’m agnostic on the singer.

@@@ Leon Bridges: Bad Bad News (Sony, 2018). I’ve heard Bridges before and like his music but I’m a little surprised to see such fusion-y track on the Apple Music hot tracks section.  When Bridges starts singing I get why, he really can carry a song.  There is a little blues swirled up in the fusion but it’s pretty mid to late ’70s fusion jazz sounds.  If it had different sounds I would be up on this big time.  The bass sound is great but I can’t abide by the guitar sound.  Listen for yourself.

@@@ Jason Aldean: Rearview Town (Macon/Broken Bow, 2018).  That’s right Aldean is leaving town, probably because of a woman.  God damn, girl what did you do to my man Jason?  Broken hearts and rusted plows so he’s mixing his personal plight with the decay of rural America.  This is going to be a short review as I’m on the verge of tears.  Someone get me a Kleenex!  Power chords, a guitar solo that would make Bon Jovi proud.  I’ve attached the lyric video so you can get your heart torn out.  I have to break away and shed a few tears for Facebook as America discovers what an ill bitch spying machine it is.  Lots of tears over here so make sure you got some self-care lined up, the world is full of sadness.  Ya know, broken hearts and rusted plows!

YTD recordings listened to: 151
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 79
Not good music: 69

Best: 4
Honorable Mentions: 3

Possibles: 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, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, The Oh Sees, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, A Tribe Called Quest, Noname, Gouge Away, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur

Music for 3/5/18!!! Lucibela, Melissa Laveaux, Karavan Sarai

@@@  Lucibela: Laco Umbilical (Lusafrica, 2018) These three records all came from this week’s playlist email out of WRIR in Virginia.  From the first tune and just a quick surf around the interwebz you see this record is a continuation of music from the Cape Verde Islands off the western coast of Africa.  Sung in Portuguese it’s super pretty.  The tempos are laid-back, the rhythms are usually hand percussion and a lot of the instrumentation are strings.  As I said, it’s crazy sweet and pretty.  Myself, I can listen to this for a bit but I get a little stupid with so much pretty as I need other things from music.

@@@ Melissa Laveaux: Radyo Siwel (No Format, 2018). A three song EP from a Haitian music.  Let me check that with the authorities — okay this is a Canadian musician of Haitian descent and that would explain why this tune could be an indie track but so far above the vast majority of indie music in quality.  There’s some really nice guitar playing on this opening track and the bass line is a little reminiscent of Lou Reed’s Walk on the Wild Side.  I hit the play button and I say she has a very nice band working with her which takes the record to another place.  I think of Haiti as an extremely musical place and Laveaux can sing.  Check this out.  And it looks like she now lives in Paris so there.

@@@ Karavan Sarai | Painted Sands (Electrofone, 2018) This music is described as electro-acoustic world music from a musician who lived on the Silk Road for a few years.  Apparently.  Not the Silk Road website where millennials bought drugs with bitcoin, the real one and shit.  This has Carnatic-South Asian flavors, Persian influences and ya know I hear oud and frame drumming and do not know the geographical spread of those instruments.  It doesn’t have a ton of New Age sounds in the production but it has a few epic vibes for sure.  I think of New Age production as huge reverb patches and lush lush production — like Celine Dion.  I listened to pieces of half of the records and the vibe is firm and laidback with high quality hand drumming and playing.  Not a bad cup of tea but not exactly my cup of tea.

YTD recordings listened to: 123
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 64
Not good music: 56

Best: 2
Honorable Mentions: 3

Possibles: 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, 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, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Melissa Laveaux

Best of 2018 Pick 2

Guy One: #1 Best (Philophon, 2018)

A unique large ensemble African record that sports elements of Afrobeat this record smokes from beginning to end.  Great playing, great singing and high energy.

I had never encountered Frafra music which is the music of a small community in the upper eastern part of Ghana.  From a radio show that featured some of Guy One’s music I guess elements of the band are from Germany so this is called frafra ‘made in Germany.’  I’m not particularly interested in the story of a record but in this case the sonic differences made me want to investigate as to why this music is similar to Afrobeat but better, imho.

To my ears this style of music has less macho swagger and more funkiness while retaining large horn lines and polyrhythmic drumming.  This is not a headlining African artist and he’s on a small European label but if you check it out the energy and the funk and the musicality is amazing.  I don’t use the word amazing lightly.

Check it out!

Music for 2/19/18!!! Djeneba & Fousco, Wave Break, Barren Womb, Candy Ambulance

@@@ Djeneba & Fousco | Kayeba Khasso (Lusafrica, 2017) I can only hear a pre-release single on the Apple Music so I can’t make much of a statement about the record but this tune is pretty sparse with a melancholy vocal melody sung by a man and a woman.  It’s pretty epic with some other stringed instruments but not a drummer.  Oops, I’m an idiot, here’s some hand percussion and they’re singing in a full instrumental environment.  Beautiful singing and sounds, it’s not my favorite style of African music but listen for yourself.  I got to this record via the WRIR weekly playlist email.

@@@ Wave Break: Plaster City (Self-released, 2018)  I’ve been listening from the bottom of this post to the top so this is another female fronted rock band.  This is more an emo kind of vibe to the tune with more pushing by the band and more melody from the singer.  I think the lyrics are meant to be listened to but I’m not doing that.  It’s aspires to be a meaningful tune which is fine but it’s not meaningful to me and check for yourself you might love it.  I got to it via the blog Indiepulse

@@@ Barren Womb: Old Money/New Lows (Spartan, 2018)  A Norwegian noise rock outfit that I got to via the blog Indiepulse.  The first tune has a shouting singer over heavy guitar riffs and thick tom drumming.  I wouldn’t put these guys in the noise rock slot, it’s more of a punk rock musical base with a over caffeinated irritated preacher on the microphone.  If you’re looking for some heavy riffage without the societal disapproval of listening to a metal record these guys will hook you up.

@@@ Candy Ambulance: Spray (Candy Spray, 2018)  A self-released female fronted hard rocking outfit.  The singer sounds like she’s almost about to lose it and it’s done over a lot of rock guitars and a pretty straight rock drummer.  The second tune takes it down a notch and they move easily between rock and more manic punk flavors.  It’s a pretty tight outfit and the first tune is my favorite.  The first tune is clipped below.  I got to this record via a music publicist.

YTD recordings listened to: 94
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 52
Not good music: 39

Best: 1
Honorable Mentions: 2

Possibles: 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, 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, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Guy One

Music for 2/13/18!!! Guy One, Calvin Harris, Tiavara

@@@ Guy One: #1 (Philophon, 2018) I got to this record via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  It’s out on an African label out of Berlin and the musician is from the Ghana/Benin area.  After a more traditional acoustic number it gets into some high energy full ensemble funk in the second tune Bengere Tomme.  It’s got a pretty manic guitar part that drives this tune hard with some electronic garnish.  Thus far I hear strands of Afrobeat but there is plenty of other weirdness for listeners to groove on.  That might be a kora and not a guitar, by the way.  I really like what I hear thus far, most notably the arrangements of the tunes — funky and unexpected.  The singing is very good but it’s the sounds that set it apart.  I will be swinging back on this record when I have the time but it sounds like it will end up on my year end list.

@@@ Calvin Harris: Nuh Ready Nuh Ready (Sony, 2018)  Calvin Harris continues his appropriation of black music forms with a dancehall influenced banger and an island accented toaster/singer.  Talk about a motherfucker that puts his finger in the air and then bites it hard.  Super hard.  Super slick production but underneath it has a wooden fakeness that belies Calvin’s copycat soul.  Looking at Drake and Bieber and how they’ve gone to the bank Mr. Harris has moved from his funk thieving to Caribbean heisting. #CorporateTurdery.

@@@ Tiavara: When Silence Reigns (KC/RC, 2018)  I got to this Russian metal band single from a publicist email.  The singer does his thing in English and he sounds a bit like a college professor — somber and dramatical to be sure.  It’s a dual guitar classic metal shredshow with a hard rock drum sound.  It’s not really my thing as far as metal goes but listen for yourself.

YTD recordings listened to: 78
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 43
Not good music: 32

Best: 1
Honorable Mentions: 1

Possibles: 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, 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, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Benjamin Booker, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Open Mike Eagle, Criolo, Billy Strings, Guy One