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

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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

2017 Honorable Mention Pick 6

Oumou Sangare: Mogoya (No Format, 2017)

You know a record is bad ass when the sixth track kills it (I’ve clipped the sixth track as the second video below because Tony Allen’s track has to take first place).  She gets into a level of funk on that sixth track that most musicians can only dream of.

This is a full band record with kora, multiple background singers, synth and organ in places.  Sangare’s voice is strong and very pretty but it’s not a heaven sent African Whitney Houston kind of thing — not much soaring but her vocal arrangements are sophisticated, very sophisticated.  It’s not an Afrobeat nor an African power trio rock record like Noura Mint Seymali and her crew but there is some guitar shredding and some large ensemble vibes.

Start with the two tunes I’ve clipped below as they’re my favorites on the record and then go from there.

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.