Music for 11/13/22!!! Rihanna, Margo Price

@@@ Rihanna: Born Again (Def Jam/UMG, 2022) I’ve never really understood why Ri Ri is such a big deal musically. I understand she’s a cultural and business force but I find her music to be pretty unremarkable. This is slow piano jam, a tearjerker but she brings it mostly with a strong powerful vibe so it’s a blend of sadness and empowerment which I think works for the new Black Panther movie. There’s a strange break where she’s sort of grunting/chanting and I think it signifies struggle. Points for weirdness. That’s actually the end of the song and it’s a strange end to a track. I think it’s an alright track, nothing to special so my perception is reinforced.

@@@ Margo Price: Lydia (Loma Vista, 2022) This is another slow jam, this time with strummed acoustic guitar and cello. Price comes in almost mouse-y and I dig that as the epic vocalizations can get tiresome. There’s alot to like here — the plainness of the production and the sparseness of the arrangement really emphasizes the lonesome nature of the lyrics which I believe is an ode to a woman who’s having a rough go. Addiction, aloneness it’s in that neighborhood. It’s a 6 minute banger so I hope it morphs a bit to keep me interested. It’s not an all time track for me but I like it.

Music for 6/7/22!!! Ivan Cornejo, S.G. Goodman

@@@ Ivan Cornejo: Danado (JSF Delux Music Group, 2022) We keep on with out Apple Music front page listening sesh. This is Mexican pop music, sung in Spanish (duh) with some traditional Mexican music elements but also soaring Celine Dion style reverb patches, and a lot of stringed instrument playing (a plus for me). I’m on the second tune and it’s been a torchy vibe so far. Cornejo’s voice is not textbook but it’s good. He’s considered a key player in the ‘sad sierreno’ sound (via the Apple Music blurb) and I appreciate that. I don’t like the reverb and the mopey-ness I denounce in indie music but since I just listen to his melodies and not the lyrics it’s far more palatable than sad indie.

@@@ S.G. Goodman: Teeth Marks (Verve, 2022) This record is slotted as rock on Apple Music but it’s out on Verve Music which doesn’t really traffic in rock music as I know it, this is an alt country record and it’s also a run on sentence. It’s very very influenced by Emmylou Harris with a spacious production style, lots of yodel-y vocal melodies that she pulls off well. The second tune is coming out rocking but in a very red wine, polite manner, which is fine but it’s manicured and restrained for sure. I don’t like many singers so it means something to me to say I like her voice and her delivery. The third tune, Heart Swell, is a blend of country with some distorted electric guitar that comes in for the second half of the tune. Track 4 is the best of the four tracks I heard — solid groove with a good bassline and her doing her vocal thing on top of it, best of both worlds.

Music for 2/12/22!!! Jeremy Pinnell

@@@ Jeremy Pinnell: Red Roses (Sofaburn, 2022) I really liked Pinnell’s debut record in 2014 so I thought I would check out this release. It’s more of a straight ahead country rock thing when I remember his debut record being a master class in lonesome country business. The second tune, I Wanna Do Something, is also very straight in beat as well as guitar and bass. Pinnell’s voice has always been a draw for me, he’s got a soulful thing going for sure. The third track (clipped below) is a slow burner and while I dig him, this is just a bit too straight and pickup truck for my taste. I thought I was being a picky bitch but I just put on his debut called Oh/Ky and it’s some slinky country badassitude, it works for me bigly. It’s a funky extension of the country music tradition folks should check out.

Music for 10/14/21!!! James McMurtry, —__–___

@@@ James McMurtry: Canola Fields (New West, 2021) I got to this record via music business honcho Bob Lefsetz. His taste is often janky. This is the first track of the record and he looks set to grab in this moment the mantle of poetic country music. The band is pretty standard with nice tones and pretty straight playing, his voice is certainly many notches above Bob Dylan but the focus here is on the lyrics first and then the melodies. I don’t know how old this cat is but he’s doin all right on the microphone. I skipped to the third track Operation Never Mind cuz I liked the title. There’s more rock in this album than I initially caught on. I like this record without jumping up and down. The tones are great, especially the guitars. I don’t get fully off on the lyrics and the songs are good without making me jump up and down. I was raised on rock and I find it tough to listen to now.

@@@ —___–___: Sadness, infinite America (Orange Milk, 2021) Off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums. I don’t know what I thought this was going to be but this track is crazy mash of free jazz, autotuned vocals, vibes, sax, and voice. It’s got a desolate vibe for sure, so we’re far past mope and straight into dystopia. And I’m much more into dystopia than bourgeois mope. The way the teched out voice goes with the jazz elements is fresh and I’m super into it. It doesn’t feel random, it sounds arranged but there’s no way to know for sure. Someone is slipping one past the goalie here as it’s slotted as ambient, and it does have an ambient feel to it but it’s got more going on than a typical ambient record and it’s just not an accurate description of the music. Well done, and I’m listening to my second selection and I’m digging it as much as the video clipped below. Check this out if you’re up for some freshness. A little sweet, a bit abstract, a bit lonely and darker — yadda yadda yadda. There’s also some orchestral classical feels going here.

Music for 10/5/21!!! Public Service Broadcasting, Big/Brave

@@@ Public Service Broadcasting: Blue Heaven (Test Card/Play It Again Sam, 2021) I often listen bottom to top so this is my second listen of the post and I checked out Big Brave first. This is a female lead/driven band but the sonic palette is so much more corporate, polished and ultimately not super satisfying, or satisfying to me not much at all. It’s like Smashing Pumpkins with that annoying fucking geezer doing his stupid shit — big big rawk motherfuckers! Big mamma jamma power chords in the chorus, you can’t fuck with this. Production is epic and as discussed previously smooth and manicured like a porn star’s genitals. I understand millions of people love this kind of business, but not me. I’m sure they’re awesome people, it’s just not my thing.

@@@ Big Brave: Black is the Colour (Thrill Jockey, 2021) Slotted as alternative on Apple Music it’s leaning folk bluegrass to my ears. It’s got a mad old school simplicity of strings and female harmonizing. I’m not sure if we got a glockenspiel here but it’s nice. You catch a vibe and keep it going, that’s the good shit as far as I’m concerned. It’s hard to sing like this, it takes soul and skill. I’m skipping around and giving the opening track a ride — it opens with some pretty tasty solo electric guitar, there’s the whole band, so I guess it is closer to alternative than I thought but it still has some countrified roots and flavors. This is a circle back record for me, Imma check this out more and I think it might end up on my best of list.

Music for 10/4/21!!!! UOKAYE, Ashley Shadow

@@@ UOKAYE: Panda Dreams (Axis Mundi, 2021) I got to this via a music publicist email. Slotted as pop, it is deep electro with some breathy female vocals over the top. We’re talking full jeep, cheek flapping bass and some high end rain tinkly synths. I’m drawn in by the sounds, less so by the singing. Just comparing, that’s the gig. I’m taking a quick listen to the second song and again I think the producer has outdone the vocalist here. She’s all right but…

@@@ Ashley Shadow feat. Bonnie Prince Billy: Don’t Slow Me Down (felte, 2021) I can’t remember how I got to this track, maybe Line of Best Fit. It’s a dirge-y country thing with washy guitar and lonesome vocals. Very large production without slathering it in cheese. I’m not as enamored with Bonnie Prince Billy as much as the rest of indie world but he comes on the mic and drops some soulful business on this track. They sing beautifully together here. It’s very much of a vibe track highlighted by the chorus. I’ve now stuck around for a third track and the opener is a bit less than midtempo rocker with electric guitar and her soothing, reverbed vocals. I’m going to circle back on this record — it’s not my absolute favorite style of music but she’s got something going on here.

Music for 9/25/21!!! The Shivas, Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine

@@@ The Shivas: If I Could Choose (Tender Loving Empire, 2021) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. Oy, this was slotted as garage punk and what I’m hearing is some medium energetic alt country indie business. I’ve been ripped off and deceived, naimsayin’? Nice guitar work and tongue in cheek singing with ironical lyrics it’s well executed and enjoyable, it’s just not garage punk. Garage punk is a label a lot of folks enjoy pimping because it has a rough, macho feel to it combined with the wiseass punk attitude. Due to my music listening thoroughness I’m peeing the first track and it’s got some classic rock in it, a bit of Beach Boys and a bit of Alex Chilton, but alas…..

@@@ Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine: A Beginner’s Mind (Asthmatic Kitty, 2021) I’m a bit prejudiced against Mr. Stevens as he’s a New York Times kinda icon and gets, in my opinion, a level of interest in his music that he doesn’t deserve. This collaboration album is no exception — it’s very literate and very beautiful but also a bit detached and over intellectualized. Instrumentation is mostly piano and voice with a little string action. The Apple Music blurb says they would watch a movie in the evening and write a tune the next day, oy a schoolboy’s exercise in creativity. Let’s just disconnect and issue forth sweet smelling farts for the masses to inhale and admire. My problem here aren’t even the songs but all the ideas and concepts that bring forth these types of songs. Let me conclude this by putting forth the idea of contrast — here we have a strictly beautiful thing here, nothing mixed in there to show the complexity of other things besides beauty.

Music for 9/16/21!!! Kero Kero Bonito, Pokey LaFarge

@@@ Kero Kero Bonito: Civilisation Fable (Polyvinyl, 2021) Second day in a row listening off this week’s All Music notable release email. I’m checking out a few of the tunes on this record and it opens with Battle Lines, an ’80s anchored tune with plenty of pep in its step. Classic synth sounds with a bit of keyboard shred in between verses. The next tune, When the Fires Come, sports the same classic synth sounds but the tempo and the arrangement is a step down in energy. This more romantic banger is well executed but it’s not a set of sounds I love. Remember it’s my blog and I get to say shit like that. The third track brings up the layered percussion setup again. These guys sure have arranging skills but it’s more for others who dig this flow.

@@@ Pokey LaFarge: Get it ‘Fore It’s Gone (New West, 2021) A pre-release single off Pokey LaFarge’s new record which comes out on October 15. Imma huge Pokey LaFarge fan and I was hoping this single didn’t disappoint. I’m happy to report that this is a catchy and pretty stylish track with Pokey’s trademark humor, sarcasm and partyistic ways. Everything about Pokey’s delivery and body language on the cover says this is all tongue in cheek, he’s both there and not there at the same time. Nothing that LaFarge does really breaks any trails and that’s fucking fine — he’s got smart, super focused arrangements and he sells his songs in a super entertaining manner. In a normal society Pokey LaFarge would be a huge star. Great tune, hoping the rest of the record hangs with this.

Music for 8/6/21!!! Yola, Leah Blevins

@@@ Yola: Stand for Yourself (Easy Eye/Concord, 2021) I got to this track via a blurb/feature on USA Today. If it’s in USA Today it’s mainstream and this is a mainstream, update version of old school soul. Big rock guitar. drums high in the mix (I like that!), and to me this sounds like an attempt to draw the rock fans who don’t have to snack on these days. They compressed this track pretty hard to pump the rock feels. I like her voice, she’s got a really strong voice. Of course, I always prefer a little something something to set the track apart from its predecessors but that is not really the trend these days. So I will accept how things are while also stating that putting something unique in your track keeps shit fresh.

@@@ Leah Blevins: First Time Feeling (30 Tigers, 2021) I got to this country track from a music publicist email. This is the title track and the third track on the record and when it opens up it feels more like an indie/country blend as the drums are straight as hell and there are really no signifiers of country music here except a little in her voice. I like the organ while I don’t love how they placed her voice in the mix. I’m mostly wishing it was more country, the world doesn’t need more indie music, it needs less. I let the player click through and it’s much more country with fingerpicked guitar and a more classic country approach. I checked out a bunch of other songs as my wife loves the female country/rock business and overall I feel a bit mixed about it. Moments I like, others I don’t like as much so decide for yourself and shit.

Music for 6/7/21!!! Greentea Peng, Martha Sky Murphy, Chief Ghoul

@@@ Greentea Peng: Man Made (EMI, 2021) Off this week’s Line of Best Fit. I know various parts of the UK music press are trying to hard to make Ms. Peng a big star. She has a jaunty vocal style and she gets a lot of backwards sounds to go with her vocals. Funky and downbeat rhythms. Very nice production, elaborate and lush. Let me peep a few other tracks. The first track Make Noise is more sparse and a well framed arrangement. I’m right on the cusp of really liking this but there’s something about it that isn’t moving me. I’m on the third track and it’s the corporate packaging and the cool temperature of the sounds, lyrics and message keeps me from jumping up and down. If you feel cool about your stuff I hear it that way, if you’re worked up I get worked up.

@@@ Martha Skye Murphy: Found Out (Self-released, 2021) A fragile, bedroom indie guitar thing sounding as if you look at Ms. Murphy she might swoon and fall over! Then comes some ugly electro washes/sounds and I like those. I didn’t like the beginning of the tune but I’m more into what she’s built it into. Regular readers know how I struggle with indie music and its conceits but the electro boom bap and other unusual sounds are nice, though the the double tracked vocals are a bit downer-y for me as a listener. I will survive so don’t be too concerned. It’s darkly dramatic and appealing in places.

@@@ Chief Ghoul: That Was A Lie (Chief Ghoul, 2021) I got this dirge-y country business via a music publicist email. While the guitar jangling is tried and true I dig the strings panned out to the sides and I find the shuffle beat to be a nice touch. Halfway through we are lucky to get some tambourine, the tambourine only surpassed by the cowbell in its percussive virtuosity. In general the formula and the vibe is pretty standard but it’s executed well here. I checked out other tunes and there’s a punky rocker but mostly backwoods, deep mosquito country.