Music for 12/6/17!!! Les Amazones D’Afrique, Powerdance, Cloud Nothings

@@@ Les Amazones D’Afrique: Republique Amazone (Real World, 2017)  I heard the single from this record but I never peeped it til now as it’s in the top 50 Guardian records of 2017.  This first tune is great with fat bass, trippy vocals and some righteous hand drumming added to the main beats.  I like this second tune as it relaxes into a betwixt slow and midtempo groove.  I don’t usually like the records with tons of guest vocalists but these are all women and the tracks are tight and unified.  I would contrast the funkiness of this record with the African record with the Kronos Quartet strings on it.  This is a mash as well, but it’s less uptight and high end with a high funk quotient.  This record will end up on my year end list, check it out!

@@@ Powerdance: A Safe and Happy Place (Powerdance, 2017)  A white boy disco banger off the Guardian’s top 50 of 2017)  It definitely does not have the funk of the Les Amazones record but it’s aimed at the Wonder Bread crowd.  Four on the floor, big simple vocals and a propulsive guitar line.  It’s a pretty skeletal arrangement and I don’t think the vocalist has the chops to get it airborne.  Check for yourself.  It pumps harder at the outro but that energy should have been moved forward.

@@@ Cloud Nothings: Life Without Sound (Carpark, 2017) Pop punk off the Guardian list.  I usually associate the pop punk with uptempo sing-a-long business but this first tune is not full on and it sports some more reflective chord progressions.  I like it.  The second tune does bring more tempo and classic pop punk but it’s not mindless without going straight to emo.  I’m not a huge pop punk guy but this is a good specimen for the genre.  The singer is pretty straightforward — sometimes the singer is so popped out I want to beat ’em with a 2X4 but this guy plays it straight — neight overwrought, nor too ironic, just songs with no bullshit sauce.

YTD recordings listened to: 779
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 419
Not good music: 322

Buys: 9
Honorable Mentions: 7

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, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, 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, American Lips, Sudan Archives, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Benjamin Booker, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Boubacare Traore, Les Filles De Illighadad, Curtis Harding, Les Amazones D’Afrique

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Music for 12/5/17!!! Trio Da Kali/Kronos Quartet, Lisa Knapp, Mount Eerie

@@@ Trio da Kali & Kronos Quartet (World Circuit, 2017)  The Guardian is out with the beginning of their top 50 records of 2017.  I don’t usually like these mashes of African music with Western music but I’m nothing if not open eared.  And really fun to be around.  I also don’t like chocolate in my peanut butter.  On this first tune the Kronos Quartet plays the role of garnish on a plate of African food, which works but it’s not equal billing.  A few string flourishes in an African arrangement with a female singer.  I’m on the third tune and it remains pretty much the same and the question you ask yourself is the addition of Kronos Quartet string flourishes make this a favorite African record of the year?  Not to me.  It’s pretty staid in tempo and I prefer the burning African music and this appears to be designed to draw non-African music listeners to the genre.  Just as I write that the marimba player takes a burning solo, you shoulda put that tune first fellas.

@@@ Lisa Knapp: Til April is Dead – A Garland of May (Ear to the Ground, 2017) A throwback British folk record updated and bestowed with a modern chopped and looped feel.  It’s a creative aesthetic decision I must say as I’m not very interested in May Day but I’m listening.  The instrumentation is pretty standard for this style of music — hand drums, acoustic guitars, drones,  lots of samples, male co-singers and Ms. Knapp’s waif singing.  I can see how Brits would really get into this fusing of newer musical production techniques combined with their music heritage but check it out on this side of the pond.

@@@ Mount Eerie: A Crow Looked at Me (P.W. Elverum, 2017)  An indie reflection about the death of a musician’s wife.  For once I can say the slack vibe is justified and works well for the mostly raw lyrics and the subject matter.  It’s mostly the singer, the lyrics and an acoustic guitar.  I could have used some drums or other instrumentation just to offset and contrast the slack.  This record is #47 on the Guardian’s top 50 of the year.  Check out the fifth tune Swims for the full misery tour.

YTD recordings listened to: 776
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 418
Not good music: 321

Buys: 9
Honorable Mentions: 7

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, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, 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, American Lips, Sudan Archives, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Benjamin Booker, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Boubacare Traore, Les Filles De Illighadad, Curtis Harding

Music for 11/9/17!!! Jess Abran/Steven Voyce, Boubacare Traore, The Thick Uns’, Thunderpussy

@@@ Jess Abran & Steven Voyce: Sour Cherry (N/A, 2017)  A super lush stripped down tune that is part r&b as well as retro-grunge melodies.  The female singer has her drama on but she’s counterbalanced by the the guitarist who also participates on the microphone duties.  Tasteful arrangement with guitar, simple drums and the breathy singer.

@@@ Boubacare Traore: Dounia Tabulo (Lusafrica, 2017)  Some West African blues music from a 75 year old musician.  I got to this record via the WRIR weekly review email.  Instrumentation on this first track is two guitars, harmonica, fiddle, and Traore’s world weary voice.  It’s very close to being old school American acoustic country blues and I’m aware that it came from Africa to the U.S.  There are three pre-release tunes (including one remix) up on the Apple Music and this first tune, Dis Lui Que je l’aime comme mon pays, has a good shuffle going on.  There is some tasty, ear catching cello shredding on the second tune but the star here is Traore’s voice.  He’s got mad soul.  I’ll swing back and listen to more of this record when it comes out.

@@@ The Thick Uns’: Deadly Bargain (Self-released, 2017) Super slack lo-fi take on late ’70s power rock.  A little bit of Captain Beefheart sprinkled over these proceedings as well.  It’s a solo bedroom production so it gives the rocking a different feel.  I got to this music from the musician himself who followed this here blog and then sent me a note afterwards.  A fair number of musicians follow this blog in hopes of snagging a review but they don’t send the note afterwards.  For fans of weird rock.

@@@ Thunderpussy: Speed Queen (UMG, 2017)  We’ll finish up with an arena/corporate rock single off the Apple Music hot tracks section.  It’s a pretty standard fat rock riff but I dig the way the female singer (who I assume to be Ms. Thunderpussy) comes in with some kitty claws and a short delay on her vocals.   It’s pretty standard double entendre about keeping her engine clean.  It’s an all right track but if you’re gonna bite the Led Zeppelin in this manner you should put a little freak in your guitar playing.  It’s not that the guitarist needs a Red Bull, he’s amped up but he needs some doobie up in his funk.  Solid B yo.

YTD recordings listened to: 726
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 389
Not good music: 304

Buys: 9
Honorable Mentions: 7

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, Anna Hogberg, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, 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, American Lips, Sudan Archives, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Benjamin Booker, Irreversible Entanglements, Converge, Boubacare Traore

Music for 9/25/17!!! Clientele, Joey La Soldat, Baraka Moon, The Expanders

@@@ The Expanders: Old Time Something Come Back Again, Vol. 2 (Easy Star, 2017)  I saw this record on the WRIR playlist this week and noticed from gathering this video from the GooglePimpTube that this appears to be a re-issue from 2012 as there are videos from this record from that time.  Oh fuck off this is Volume 2 and that was volume 1 — damn you short attention span!  There are three pre-release tunes up on the Apple Music and while I don’t dig the title of the first tune Life is a Funny Thing, it’s a pretty sticky roots reggae vibe with a sweet and though vibe side by side.  These guys are skilled at every position with a great singer, solid rhythm section and a spot on guitar player.  I will most definitely check more of this record out when it comes out and it will most likely be on my best of the year list.

@@@ The Clientele: Music for the Age of Miracles (Merge, 2017)  The All Music blurb says this record has a hefty dose of autumnal grace and warmth.  That is some high end PR diarrhea for sure.  The first tune sounds like a slacker Byrds tune — shiny, chiming guitars and an engaging singer.  The second tune opens up with a piano and you know pianos are a meaningful instrument with a lot of emotions attached to it.  I predict a cheese sandwich here ah no, just an interlude.  The tambourine has made its appearance on this third tune and the orchestral slack vibe has continued.  I like this record all right — it’s a bit of a recycling job as this is very familiar in melody and arrangement but people have the memory of goldfish so it will be huge!

@@@ Joey la Soldat: Burkin Ba (Akwaaba, 2017)  I’m going to have to Duck Duck Go this musician as he opens up the record in French and he’s obviously African but I can’t grok much besides that.  Ah, Burkina Faso.  He does a credible gangster trip on this second tune, Microphone.  I’m on the third tune and I like it.  It is African hip hop but it is not so far from American hip hop with synth based arrangements and tight rhymes with call and response vocals.  He is rapping in French so that’s a big difference there.

@@@ Baraka Moon: Bismillah (Baraka Moon, 2017)  A New Age-y world music mash I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  The pre-release single is called Bismillah and I”m having a tough time tying it to a place.  Let me consult the fantastic interwebz.  Ah, they’re from San Francisco and I hear South Asian influences as well as Australian didgeridoo, guitar and percussion.  So this is truly a mash of world music influences and is going for a Qawwali trance vibe.  I like it all right

YTD recordings listened to: 620
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 332
Not good music: 263

Buys: 8
Honorable Mentions: 6

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, 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, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, 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, American Lips, Sudan Archives, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders

Music for 8/21/17!!! Susanne Sundfor, Rafiki Jazz, Pablo Moses

@@@ Susanne Sundfor: Undercover (Bella Union, 2017)  Piano singer/songwriter from an upcoming full length.  I got to this from a Line of Best Fit email so the publicity machine is getting some ‘buzz’ ahead of the full length.  This is between the slight roughness of Regina Spector and the abstraction of Fiona Apple with a pube of Beyonce oversinging.  It’s not solo piano but it’s not full band.  Oh she’s peaking around 3 minutes and it’s a cheesy female multilayered vocal comet shooting across the stereo field.  I think I felt like I had a vagina for just a minute, that’s so great.

@@@ Rafiki Jazz: Har Dam Sahara (Riverboat Records, 2017)  Mellow string playing and a pretty epic female African singer on the opening track of this record that I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email.  The second track brings in the band but it’s still pretty mellow with hand drum playing and the string playing tight and all right but not rocking.

@@@ Pablo Moses: The Itinuation (Grounded Music, 2017)  The full roots reggae explosion on this record I got to via WRIR.  Mad conscious lyrics with a singer that sounds a lot like the singer from Burning Spear.  Oy, I’m spacing on his name.  Full horn section, percussion, female background singers.  I think I prefer the sound and the roughness of the old school roots reggae but this is a heartfelt effort and if you prefer the more polished modern roots sound this will work great for you.

YTD recordings listened to: 540
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 291
Not good music: 225

Buys: 8
Honorable Mentions: 6

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, 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, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, 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, American Lips

Music for 7/21/17!!! The Grape and the Grain, Umoja, Lafo Taylor and Aabo, Jeremy Pinnell

@@@ The Grape and the Grain: Holy Rollin’ (The Grape and the Grain, 2017)  If you’re looking for some sexy boy classic rock for your hot summer day these guys will hook you up.  I got to this EP via a music publicist.  The singer is feeling his hormones.  I’m not sure about the guitar player as he sounds like he’s been holed up in his room studying great rock differs from days gone by.  Big Foghat/Led Zeppelin/Lenny Kravitz/Bad Company vibes here for sure.  The drummer is pulling his weight or otherwise this trip into very familiar territory would fall apart.  I liked the opening track the best.

@@@ Umoja: 707 (Awesome Tapes from Africa, 2017)  A South African bubblegum disco re-issue I got to via this week’s WRIR review email.  I tend to be a bit prejudiced against South African music as the beats don’t have the heaviness of the West African music.  The reviewer makes the good point that these early synths and drum machines are making a comeback in the tight blue jean indie crowd so folks should check out the African working of these sounds.  They’re not my favorite sounds but they’re deployed in a much funkier manner here than white boys and white girls and their wonder bread funk.

@@@ Lafa Taylor & Aabo: Feel (Mixto, 2017).  Some hip hop influenced club boom/titch I got to via the new release section of Apple Music.  A couple MCs freestylin’, some synth bass and other non bass patches.  The second tune has a less pleasing vocal hook.  This is the kind of music they have on in Wall Street bars — bouncy, low IQ, and faux funky just like the folks listening.

@@@ Jeremy Pinnell: Different Kind of Woman (Sofaburn 2017)  A pre-release singer from a down and out country singer whose debut made my year end list.  I like Pinball’s voice — it’s world weary but not so flat and boring that I want to turn the stereo off.  On top of that Pinnell’s band is pretty top notch, especially the guitarist.  This is not your standard Nashville babyfood, and thank God for that.

YTD recordings listened to: 475
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 260
Not good music: 194

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

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, 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, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Dead Ranch, Priests, Propaganda. This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez

Music for 7/6/17!!! Ifriqiyya Electrique, Mister Mellow, Ezra Furman

@@@ Ifriqiya Electrique: Ruwahine (Glitterbeat, 2017) Sufi trance music out of North Africa mixed with electronic sounds that I got to via this week’s WRIR music charts email.  I’m into the second song and it’s heavy on the hand drumming and the chanting vocals.  This is not beach music, do not listen to this while you’re drinking shitty beer.  I was about to politely step away from this record when they brought in the guitar and get into an epic hand drum/chant/guitar mashup.  I’ll stay longer now, it’s very interesting and I can imagine this being pretty face peeling live.  I’m in the fourth tune and I like it without super loving it.

@@@ Mister Mellow: Burn Out Blues ( , 2017)  Off the Apple Music best of the week list.  Slacker dude voice with a very tasteful bass pulse and some tight twinklesauce.  You even get cowbells, motherfuckers!  That’s what I expect from Trump, more cowbell!  The vocals are a weak point but the rest is pretty spot on for a popular track.  Mister Mellow needs a Red Bull yo, the arranger is cool where he’s at.

@@@ Ezra Furman: Big Fugitive Life (Bella Union, 2017)   I saw the Line of Best Fit has an interview with this modern day rocker.  After hitting the play button I think I’ve heard Mr. Furman’s music before.  He’s got sweetness and glam swirled up into his tracks, most notably in the vocal melodies.  He’s also laying claim to Clarence Clemon’s  sax solos and big American Bruce Springsteen rock.  This second tune gets into Elvis Costello type rock (more mid period Elvis, not the early shit) — the sax player is back on the third tune and I appreciate Furman mixes whatever he wants and lets it all hang out.  No pretension, just get your freak flag on.

YTD recordings listened to: 430
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 238
Not good music: 172

Buys: 7
Honorable Mentions: 6

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, 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, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, James Brandon Lewis, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, J.I.D., Oddisee, Forro in the Dark, RAM, Fiver, Dona Onete, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Dead Ranch, Priests, Propaganda