@@@ Vory: Lost Souls (UMG, 2022) Well it does beg the question when hip hop fans will realize their genre has morphed into a rock star showcase highlighting their lifestyle, their drug use, their women, their decadence and then not much more. Oh Lord, what a big record company will do to your message and your soul!!! Big reverb patches, dramatical lyrics, a smell of cheese in the air, it’s really not great and I’m not here for it.
@@@ 070 Shake: Medicine (Def Jam, 2022) Our mainstream listening streak continues and as expected there’s a lot of trash to be found here. This is the fourth track on the record and it’s a dark sci fi/sawtooth synth centered ballad with plenty of vocal processing. It’s a serpentine vocal melody that gives way to a piano chord progression and an epic vocal approach. The beat comes in just shy of two minutes and the beat improves the song and the listener experience. It’s a bit of a sleepy cheesebomb with a struggling for love flavor to it. Strictly for the shopping mall romantics I would say.
@@@ Ed Sheeran: Bad Habits (Asylum, 2021) I never have recognized that Ed Sheeran transformed himself from coffee shop balladeer to some sort of sexy dancefloor banger kinda guy. Oh man, this is just crazy, this morph job. Falsetto vocals, synth bass, four on the floor and a wee bit of guitar or a synth part that sounds like it was first written on a guitar. Oh Ed! I guess if you feel like rubbing knobs with a hobbit then is some sort of fetish heaven but I don’t find Ed Sheeran sexy and I find this extremely unconvincing. I made it 2:12 minutes through the song which I think is a miracel.
@@@ John Carroll Kirby: Blueberry Beads (Stones Throw, 2021) I can’t remember how I got to this track, shoot me! It opens as a combo platter of chill jazz and lounge groove with both retro drum kit sounds and a drum machine. I like the doubling up of rhythms. Instead of a horn line you get a nice, fat synth patch. So electric bass, two sets of rhythm, a synth, piano, and a little flute-y percussive type thing in the back of the mix. It’s mostly a groove and a farily comples one at that, thought the pianist gets a bit out there but still chill. Like the bass player, love the cymbals in there, like the piano less, the synth hornlines are all right, and could use a bit more action.
@@@ CHIKA: Cinderella Part 1 (Warner, 2021) All three of today’s listens are from this week’s Line of Best Fit email. The odds are pretty high that a hip hop track called Cinderella is gonna have an annoying shit in it. It’s a hip hop trappish/dancefloor banger about pursuing an exotic woman while they smoke weed, of course they’re smoking! I like the rhyming, it’s very quick and precise with the verse outshining the chorus in my mind. It looks like Part 1 is more active and that track segues right into Part 2 but I’m not feeling motivated to hang for Part 2.
@@@ William Doyle: And Everything Changed (Tough Love, 2021) Comin’ on with a mopey 1980’s influenced synth/guitar combo platter the voice is applied like a yellow cheese to a Philly cheesesteak. A bit goopy and syrupy but integral to the formula. I like the chorus when he goes high vocally but it’s sounding a bit like Roxy Music on Oxy and I could barely take Roxy Music without the oxy. I love energy myself. A lot of fat synth chords and a pleasantly mangled guitar solo that comes off like a bowl of sticky rice noodles in a good way. Good parts: voice in the chorus and the guitar solo, the bad parts: a boring beat, a deficit in energy and the voice in the verse. That’s the view!
@@@ dodie: Hate Myself (doddleoddle, 2021) My first thought here is don’t hate yourself dodie, I’m sure you’re awesome when you don’t wear that awful hat shown in the video below. The production enforces the idea of confessional young woman’s pop music. Intimate and catchy at the same time. More stuff shows up for the chorus and it definitely trends mainstream with a half funky beat — that’s where the vocal hook hate myself shows up. Don’t hate yourself dodie! As the tune progresses more tracks of dodie’s singing show up and that’s a big turn off for me. I’m at the end and she’s practically a choir here there’s so much dodie to be had. It’s also a bit New Age-y and while I wouldn’t want to contribute to dodie’s self hatred I kinda hate the ideas behind constructing a song in this manner.
@@@ girl in red: serotonin (AWAL, 2021) It was a matter of time before somebody took trap bass sounds and smashed ’em into big rock sounds. Female singer, it’s international women’s day, finger snaps and lots of pretty cliche lyrics about doubt, self harm, shitty feelings all put up on the background of the aforementioned formula. it seems odd and a little conflicted to present such internal drama against a pretty backdrop, it doesn’t seem accurate or genuine. Maybe diluting those feelings make it more acceptable to let them out? It would be more powerful for me if the sounds had more impact. This is a pre-release tune, album out whenevs.
@@@ Tate McRae: Slower (Sony, 2021) Looks like they’ve taken women’s international day and stuffed it with major label females. Ah well, concentration of power. This is more a teen electro feel with beats way back, fat bass and a somewhat whiny female singer. That’s the tone to my ears, not a judgment, maybe she’s struggling to deliver the tune and it degenerates into a bit whiny. Or that’s just the way she rolls. The vocal hook revolves around taking a romantic relationship slower which is fine and classic. Overall it sounds pretty disposable.
@@@ The Weather Station: Atlantic (Fat Possum, 2021) I saw this artist getting wowsad both in the NY Times and by an indie lover on the Twatter so it’s quite well trumpeted and I’ve heard her outfit before and not been blown away. But I go in with open earholes. I checked out the first track Robber which got a lot of indie hype and this track is a coffee shop rocker with a little guitar processing and a chill but firm rock dance beat. Ms. Weather Station comes in with the lower energy vocal stylings, some ringing piano chords, and hopeful electro garnish to make you feel a bit better. I like that there’s a blend of sounds but I don’t love her singing. I like the electronic bits, I don’t like this beat, I don’t like piano and I don’t love her singing but indie is a self-serious reach of a genre for me.
@@@ SOPHIE: It’s Okay to Cry (Future, 2017) I’m not the primary demographic for Sophie’s music but I saw the outpouring of love when she passed so I thought I would check her music out. My hesitation in listening revolves around the ongoing statements I see saying she demolished boundaries between pop and experimental music. This is the first song from her 2017 record I haven’t really heard anything particularly challenging or new or experimental in this track. It’s very orchestrated synth pop with a fair amount of glitch and production flourishes but it’s got a big hook in the chorus and it’s just pop music. It’s not far from being a Prince tune — delicate, fragile vocals, sweet orchestration, expansive production. I like her voice but I don’t like how she presents it, I don’t like the drum sound and overall it’s a solid track. I’m on the second track and it sounds a lot like late ’80s Prince music.
@@@ Grace Potter: Eachother (Concord, 2020) I’m rocking a few more overlooked songs from 2020 and here we have some post hippie, mellow hippie rock/folk. Oh yeah, they’re going full classic rock with some tasteful rock guitar shredding and a lonesome togetherness vibe — shit suck and we got each other which has proved quite false as a society. Three vocalists thus far with Jackson Browne coming towards the end and it builds to a mellow crescendo towards the end. It’s entirely satisfactory, I always like a unique twist over a faithful performance but that continues to be my solo hangup.
@@@ Tayla Parx: Dance Alone (Atlantic, 2020) Sonically this sounds to me like some early ’80s pop funk with absolutely manicured sounds. A little bit of gristle on the bass which I really dig, a beat I could go the rest of my life not hearing again and Parx’s very capable singing. You gotta buy these sounds to feel the song and these sounds worked when I used to listen heavily to Prince records because he always snuck in some rock guitar for contrast. This is a sweet parfait but I could use a bit of crunch. She doesn’t want to dance alone, who does? Like the singing, not my favorite bucket of sounds.
@@@ Hayley Williams: Dead Horse (Atlantic, 2020) Super fizzy pop dancefloor banger with some techno feels and glitched up vocals. It’s got some trick vocal arrangements that are cool in places and annoying and overdone at other points. It’s a stuffed mix which I would really dig if I dug the sounds more. The song is a coiled nugget of technical achievement but the overall effect is equivalent to standing in a field in the rain in front of a dead horse, rather depressing looking at that huge barrel shaped body motionless. I feel a bit glum when it’s all over which is quite ironical if you think about what the song aspires to.
@@@ Cautious Clay: Dying in the Subtlety (Self-released, 2020) The first three listens today are from last week’s Line of Best Fit email. Friendly coffee shop r&b with a super smooth singer layering up the vocals tracks. Lyrically I’m not sure what dying in subtlety means, I mean I know what the words mean but it’s a literate attempt and it may be too subtle for a simple ape such as myself. It’s a brief tune, about 2 minutes, with user friendly guitar solo at the end and that’s pretty much it. I’m a bit weirded out by the giant face below so Imma tip.
@@@ Babeheaven: Craziest Things (Babeheaven, 2020) I can’t think of a friendlier rock sound that could wash across anybody’s taint. A couple of guitars, soft reggae imitating as well as a single line thing, steady but not pushy drums, and female voice that is a hazy warm blanket. The vocal hook is ‘I’m sorry I can’t lay there anymore.’ I don’t know if that’s a sex strike anthem it certainly doesn’t have a protest vibe to the sounds. There’s a tambourine that makes an occasional shake and for once I don’t insist in demanding a cowbell replacement. A cowbell in this tune wouldn’t work. Cowbells are insistent, a look at me sound, hells yeah and all that. Here we have chips and dip, mostly dip. It’s not particularly cheesy so it’s not cheese dip but it’s dip nonetheless.
@@@ Litany: Uh-huh (Litany, 2020) Some upbeat funk with a poppin’ bass and a bit of video game blurp sauce. I like the minimalist arrangement thought the tune does fill up and push in the chorus. She’s got a fair amount of vocal tracks but they didn’t go overboard with the background vocals. I usually do not cotton to the pop funk that is completely electro, I like guitars for contrast, but this works. Not jumping up and down but it’s focused and it makes sense. I tend to enjoy music more when it makes some sort of sense.
@@@ Butcher Babies: Bottom of a Bottle (Blood Blast, 2020) I got to this metal track via a music publicist. Take a bit of glam and showboating and layer it onto some hard rock drumming and blasting guitar power chords. Some might say (me) that this is sports bar hard rock — it’s about getting pumped up and drinking and just hells yeah. Another barrier is down as a pair of women have cock walked through a hard rock track. Hells yeah!
YTD recordings listened to: 930 Good music, not list worthy: 500 Not good music: 397
Best: 7 Honorable Mentions: 7
Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Tarek Atoui, Saicobab, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik, Moodymann, Pharmakon, Alefa Madagascar, Janjao, Luge, Wiki, Mick Jenkins, Jeremiah Jae, Fera, Gambian Griot Kora Duets, Drama, Beatrice Dillon, Mass Worship, mmmonika, Les Deuxluxes, Tony Allen, Fra Fra, Nihiloxica, Hailu Mergia, Pokey LaFarge, Nico Gomez, Nohe and Sus Santos, Pole, Naeem, Mekons, Santrofi, DJ Nigga Fox, Flor do Toloache, Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid, Shy One, Protomartyr, Nnamdi, 25,000 Kittens, Tristan Arp
Catchin’ up on shit I forgot to hit the publish button on!
@@@ Indigo Girls: Howl at the Moon (Rounder, 2020) A single off the latest from the Indigo Girls and more bluegrassy and folk-y than the singer/songwriter coffee shop rock I remember from back in the day. Their classic upbeat harmonizing and songwriting hasn’t ever super resonated for me, but there are folks out there who love their flavor pack. I like the banjo and the beat they chose, but I think there are too many vocals. I, however, am not their targeted demographic, this is more of a clam bake situation and I’m a card carrying sausage monger. Sometimes it goes like that, it’s not that I can’t like music by women, but music by women for women, well it’s not for me. By design.
@@@ Matt Berninger: Serpentine Prison (Concord, 2020) I think this was on this week’s Line of Best fit email and the first related artist I think of is Leonard Cohen. Not nearly as black but this is no Memorial Day BBQ party banger. Lots of pretty guitars arpeggiated, a desolate organ sound, and a shuffle snare tucked in the back of the mix. When I tune in to the lyrics I’m not super grabbed and I think the title is a bit…maybe overwrought would be accurate without being cruel. This kind of stark, sad white folks soft rock has always been a hard sell for me. I’m more comfortable with anger and outrage than this. Helluva nice organ sound though.
@@@ Marie Dahlstrom: Like Sand (Self-released, 2020) Electro singer/songwriter is my guess on this track I got to via Line of Best Fit. Or new style r&b with slick production, some serpentine melodic bass playing and some straight jazz guitar playing. So we’re gonna land on fusion style r&b with electro sauce. Lyrically I’m not sure what’s like sand, but I think it’s a dude which is interesting but a tad curious. Maybe it’s their love, I think it’s their love it’s like sand and shit, not as firm and sliding around like sand and you can’t control it. Okay, it at least makes sense. I like how much guitar playing there is in the tune, I don’t love the fusion-y bass tone. It’s an interesting blend of sounds, not mind blowing but interesting. The last 90 seconds is sorta breaking down into a lot of vocal tracks — oohs and la las, then a quick guitar shred and back into the chorus.
@@@ Lianne La Havas: Paper Thin (Warner UK, 2020) Another pre-release single and more old school than fusion. Opens with a nice tight beat and a lonesome guitar progression that sets the stage for La Havas to sing. I think I remember her from a few years ago, she’s got a very hip voice, soulful, a little raspy, I dig it. Man! Her performance here is quite high end and while I get why they put the band in the back to make space for her voice it would have worked better for me if there was some more interesting playing at certain points in the tune. Less can be more but more can be awesome too. If they switched up some of the sounds to reframe her voice. They went for the adding more vocal tracks over the switching up the arrangement. Man, I dig her singing.
YTD recordings listened to: 398
Good music, not list worthy: 206
Not good music: 180
Honorable Mentions: 0
Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, 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, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Tarek Atoui, Saicobab, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik, Moodymann, Pharmakon, Alefa Madagascar, Janjao, Luge, Wiki, Mick Jenkins, Jeremiah Jae, Fera, Gambian Griot Kora Duets, Drama, Beatrice Dillon, Mass Worship, mmmonika, Les Deuxluxes, Tony Allen, Fra Fra, Nihiloxica, Hailu Mergia, Pokey LaFarge, Nico Gomez, Nohe and Sus Santos
@@@ Futuro de Herrio: Paso en el Vacio (Majia Rojo, 2017) I was contacted by this small European label about a review of this release. It opens up with an industrial dance groove, some feedback squalls and a gent somewhat losing it on the microphone. I’m feeling these random sheets of aggro guitar/guitar-like squeals. I like this second track called A veces somos uno as the vocals are made more abstract with processing and they are set lower in the mix. I like the sounds on this record, dark and tough, but I didn’t enjoy the vocal work as much. Check it for yourself, especially the second tune.
@@@ blackbear: anxiety (Interscope, 2017) Off the Apple Music hot tracks section this is an electro pop record with tons of hip hop MCs as guest vocalists. The production is meticulous and occasionally creative but otherwise it surely puts caramel on the rotten apple of any sort of real life anxiety. Lots of chopped and synthed vocals. He’s anxious without her love, blah blah blah.
@@@ Shenandoah Davis: The Wings (Plume Records, 2017) An indie recycling of early ’60s dramatic pop. Davis has a thinnish (not Finnish) voice but the string flourishes are the star here. They are reverbed and panned wide for epic effect. There are drums but placed back in the mix so it’s her sweet voice and the strings and maybe some electro garnish tucked back there. Could be an organ, hard to tell, insert joke here. I got to this via a music publicist email.
@@@ Holy: Heard Her (Pnkslm, 2017) A pre-release single I got to via Line of Best Fit’s tracks of the week. It’s a bombastic, Beatles influenced psychedelic Brit rock track. I have no idea if they are Brits or not. Not the tooth grinding psychedelic business — it has plenty of guitar crunch (and some really nice drumming) with spacious organ to balance shit out. I’m not jumping up and down but it’s a quality tune well put together with really good energy.
YTD recordings listened to: 768
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 411
Not good music: 320
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
@@@ Rattlesnake Choir: The Prospector’s Curse (Cameron Records, 2015) Big roots music off this week’s CFUV weekly email. The singer sounds more than a bit like Johnny Cash mashed with Bob Dylan and he’s accompanied by some stylish fiddle, a piano player, and there’s some harmonica going on. It’s got a loose feel which I dig. These are old school leaning somber tunes, not quite dirges but a fair dollop of dirge. So get out a big ol’ jug of moonshine and drown your sorrows.
@@@ James Hunter Six: Hold On! (Daptone!) Some retro soul off the CFUV playlist email. I dig the organ and the horn arrangements in this first tune, but I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of Hunter’s voice. I’m three songs in and I’ve felt the same about all of them. The band is brisk, I dig the horns and the organ but I don’t feel Hunter’s voice. Of course, others are free to bask in its glory. Myself I prefer Nick Waterhouse’s microphone flow.
@@@ Killing Joke: Pylon (Spinefarm, 2016). Some pretty mainstream heavy music with pretty strong industrial and pop influences to it that I got to via the CFUV weekly email. Some synth action and a pretty bouncy beat in this first tune. It sorta feigns at being heavy, I think this is sci-fi metal for 13 year olds. Maybe I’ve gotten these guys confused with another band with the word ‘killing’ in it, but it’s not really my cup of tea. At all.
@@@ Junior Boys: Big Black Coat (City Slang, 2016) A mash of club music with skittery beats and soft male vocals that I got to via the CFUV weekly playlist email. I’m finding this first tune a bit tiresome — not a good sign but I’ll give a couple more listens. I don’t like the beats and the vocals. This is for fans of the Pet Shop Boys and other pop electronic outfits.
YTD recordings listened to: 241
Good music, not recommended for purchase: 133
Not good music: 88
Honorable Mentions: 5
Possibles: Chris McGregor, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Dave Arner Trio, MAKU Soundsystem, Zomby, Retox, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Bone Dance, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, The Ballantynes, Debruit, Slidhr, The Whammies, The Chewers, Alexander Hawkins, Toxic Holocaust, Equal Stones, Comeback Kid, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, Lenguas Largas, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Fofoulah, Lozen, Erase Errata, Dawn Richard, Mastery, Leviathan, Xibalba, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Akitsa, Janelle Monae, Luther Dickinson, Destruction Unit, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Gentleman Surfer, Satoko Fuji, Mystic Braves, Matt Walker, Divanhana, Troum, Unrestrained, Carrie Rodriguez, Moken, Ghostlimb, Los Hacheros