Music for 1/14/23!!!! Yasuaki Shimizu

@@@ YASUAKI SHIMIZU | Kiren (Palto Flats, 2022) I got to this recording as it stands #44 on Gorilla Vs. Bears best records of 2022. I sometimes think the records at the bottom of a best of list are more interesting than the top of the list records. I thought I might have heard this record earlier in the year but the first track doesn’t sound familiar to me. It’s an electronic record with some kraut-y rock feels using mostly ’80s sounds. Big pillow-y synths smashed into processed metal percussion in this second track Momo Na Hana. Shimizu also has some weird human vocie samples lined up and played back to sound a lot like a duck. There are moments when Asain string motifs come in and I’m finding these arrangements pretty hip as there’s forward motion and change but not jarring changes (which I like as well). I’m feeling the weird funk of the third track Assate so I would start there and head deeper if you feel it. This third track features a looped sax part which sounds a whole bunch like a train and a bluesier sax carrying the melody. Accompanied by some nice metallic tinkles, an awful old school snare sound, it’s a weird ass and pleasurable hot dog to munch. There’s a sort of Devo style whip sound that breaks through and creates a dominatrix funk sitch, this track slaps. From what I’ve heard I sense a tongue in cheek approach lurking here. It’s well done and feels like it’s focused mostly on fun, I dig that.

Music for 1/9/23!!! Systema Solar, Amaru Tribe

@@@ Systema Solar: Comer de Verdad (Self-released, 2022) This is the #1 single for ’22 at WRIR in Virginia and there’s no disputing it’s a hellacious track for accordion lovers, fans of a big stew of rhythm and all music lovers actually. Fat drummer, banging accordion and a call and response vocal section that just breaks your shit down. Even has turntable scratching. You gotta peep this shit and if you don’t like it well yer not very bright.

@@@ Amaru Tribe: Candela Viva (Vibrating Planet, 2022) Another rhythmic banger off WRIR’s best singles of 2022 list. An accordion on this one too, but a bit more an electro feel with big diva vocals instead of the mature gents in the video above. It has some stylish disco aspirations and they take those and smash them into a world music framework. I like the first single a bit more but this one will get you high steppin’ for sure.

Music for 1/4/22 Zeal and Ardor

@@@ Zeal and Ardor: Zeal and Ardor (MVKA, 2022) I got to this record blending hard rock, heavy metal and black gospel music influences via a best of 2022 list. There’s a lot of shit to listen to. I checked out the first few tunes yesterday and my draft blog post got smacked around and lost so today I start with the rave up fourth track, Emersion. It goes from poppy, looped sections to full on smashed thrash, a classic relax and release program that’s been run for decades. I like this, it’s uplifting and extreme in its way. Maybe the younger crowd doesn’t hear the cowboy hard rock of Bon Jovi and Bad Company but I sure do and I don’t love it, it’s needlessly macho. To be honest, this record does jump around quite a bit, it has electro influences as well as arena rock, hard rock, thrash, I have no problem with the mashing it’s more the end results. I really felt the fourth track Emersion, that hit me the most. I would like this more if it upped the black music quotient and took down the cowboy rock but hey that’s just me.

Music for 12/1/22!!! Blood Incantation, Rosalia

@@@ Blood Incantation: Timewave Zero (Stargate Research, 2022) This is a top metal record of the year if you believe the website Vulture. I’m not sure so I’m listening. I may have heard this earlier in the year as it has a distinctly dark ambient feel to it and I remember hearing a metal record like that earlier in the year. Yeah, I’m clicking through the first three tracks and I’m hearing dark ambient stuff and it’s okay but I’d rather hear a dark ambient smashed into metal feels to be honest. I’m guessing the composers of this list do not know of the plethora of great ambient music out there.

@@@ Rosalia: Motomami (Sony, 2022) Some Spanish language electro dancefloor banging off this Vulture list which I think I’m done with. It’s got a little Prince to it, some chanting/piled vocal hooks and I would like it more if it had a groove. Ooops that was quick and we’re onto a tinkly ballad thing. The next track, Diablo, is more fun with a stripped boombaton beat, some glitched/pitch shifted vocals and a clearer funk intention. I like the keyboard vamp, it’s awesome. There’s some creativity at work in this record for sure. I don’t think it’s a best of 2022 bomb for me but I recognize freshness even if it comes from a major label.

Music for 10/21/22!!! Lil Baby, M.I.A

@@@ Lil Baby: It’s Only Me ( , 2022) I know Lil Baby is a big deal but I’ve been finding a lot of mainstream hip hop these days pretty disposable but I do hear on this first track Lil Baby is a cut above. I don’t know if he’s the king but that’s not my call to make. He’s got a slippery flow, you can understand what he’s rhyming and he still melts it and makes it play doh his style is interesting. It’s a pretty stripped arrangement which works to center his shit. The second track opens with some half cheesy piano and guitar before Lil Baby hops in and starts throwing around strong statements about his lifestyle and what he does when he gets in the joint. I think the key here is how he just rhymes right in the middle of these beats, he’s rhythmically in and out like a boxer. Lil Baby ain’t lazy, he’s a craftsman.

@@@ M.I.A.: MATA (Island, 2022) Off the front page of Apple Music’s new music playlist it opens crazy energetic with big ensemble hand drumming before it gives way to a children’s chorus. M.I.A.’s no fucks given vibe remains undefeated, she really does not give a fuck. The second tune is Freedom is a State of Mind Part 2 and it settles into a slightly ethnically flavored electro track with fat bass and M.I.A. rhymes. It recycles some sounds from the previous track which is Freedom is a State of Mind Part 1. I like this as it rides the fine line between structure and total blown out chaos. I can’t say that I absolutely love the children’s chorus in each track but it’s part of the package and her flow. Tons of energy, plenty of weirdness, a healthy amount of non American sounds and cultures, overall a version of mainstream culture I think is not meaningless.

Music for 9/4/22!!! Rachika Nayar, Mini Roman

@@@ Rachika Nayar: Heaven Come Crashing ( , 2022) A couple of bandcamp albums of the day listens. This is some guitar influenced electronic music and the first thing I think of is that this would work for the Netflix show Stranger Things but one of the more hopeful episodes where the mom finally cures her alien level constipation. I’m not a big of the hopeful electro with the arpeggiated synths and the big U2 guitar washes but I know I’m in the minority. I skipped to the second track Terramorph and it’s a 9 minute banger and I might not make it out of this banger though I like it more than the first. It’s got some sonic collision going on with more of the big U2 guitar sound. This formula doesn’t work for me, I don’t see music as being this openly epic, but hey that’s just me.

@@@ Mini Roman: First of the Brooklyn Cowgirls (Sundazed, 2022) This record is not up on the Apple Music so it may not be on the Spotify and the other big streamers. I don’t like streaming off bandcamp because you can’t hear shit but this is some old school country, female singer, straight guitar playing. The star here is her voice, she works it. All right-y I did some scrolling on the bandcamp page and see that this is a re-issue so it’s not aspiring old school country music, it is old school country music. There are mad tracks on this record, 35 in total, so it’s a big basket of this Jewish New Yorker doin’ it country style. I like it, I really like her voice, it’s not taking me to another world but that’s fine.

Music for 8/18/22!!! 96 Back, Roza Terenzi

@@@ 96 Back: Made Me (N/A, 2022) I got to these two listens via a festival promo email via Crack Magazine in the UK. They got Blawan on the bill, and I’m a huge Blawan fan. It opens spooky and dark with some metallic percussion and eerie synth action. It builds to a groove, not necessarily a hip hop groove, it’s more of a slightly lopsided techno groove. Just when I thought I could use more I got it, a stylish keyboard solo/vamp that threads all the bits of the mix together. This is pretty stylish shit. I’m checking out another track from Mr. 96 as I’m always up for more quality electronic music. I’m listening to a track called Fent66 and it has a distinctly sci fi flavor to it. It’s well constructed but I preferred the other track.

@@@ Roza Terenzi: Stylish Tantrum (N/A, 2022) I could not find this track on Apple Music which is a shame because it opens up filthy and dubby — super low bass pumping with a very nice set of delayed/echoed percussive bits flying around. Terenzi layers a brisk techno beat on top of the dubby bits and it works, melting together to make a world music-y typa groove as well as breaking the classic rigiditiy of techno beats. Around 2 minutes the bassline starts climbing, you get some handclaps/snare blend and it’s reached peak bumptious. You’d have to be pretty red bulled to hit the dancefloor with this, it’s brisk and it will wear you down with its relentless blend of sounds. Good luck out there.

Music for 8/14/22!!! Fireboy DML, Kal Marks

@@@ Fireboy DML: Playboy (N/A, 2022) A coupla listens off this week’s 10 most reviewed records from Pitchfork. I’m a tad skeptical on this gent cuz when you go to Youtube to grab a video there he is with Ed Sheeran, and in my world Ed Sheeran is bad juju, bad goofy white guy juju. This is gonna be a mash of Caribbean rhythms swirled up with a heavy amount of cheese. Hence the association of CheeseMeister Ed Sheeran. Big soaring oohs and ahs in the opener change and lyrics about change and I don’t mean spare change. I’m checking out the video below (it’s track 4 on the record) and unfortunately each tune retains the formula. Chill dancehall/roots sounds, big soft loverboy vocals. I think calling something awful music is mean, who am I to say so? I don’t care for this, it’s trafficking in ideas that I don’t agree with. Cheese, easy on the cheese, why so much cheese? As a parting statement if you’re gonna rock a track called Playboy shouldn’t it be sexy sounding, at least a bit. This is Disney playboy action, oy.

@@@ Kal Marks: My Name is Hell (Exploding in Sounds, 2022) The great thing about the Pitchfork email is a lack of genre labels so you never know what yer gonna get. This is some art school rock with heavy lyrics in this opening tune, My Life is a Freak Show. About halfway through he kicks it up and starts to lose his shit. I like that. Mr. Marks has a very gruff and aggro voice which intensifies the bluster of the band. Let’s peep a bit more. The second tune has a more official rock flavor with a buzzy bass and a guitar melody to go with the straight beat. It’s a bit like the Pixies had a baby with Tom Petty and lost their sense of humor. A bit punk, a bit mainstream and literate lyrics, that’s the formula.

Music for 8/13/22!!! Della XOZ, Flaco el Jandro

@@@ DellaXOZ: The Della Variant ( N/A, 2022) I don’t know if it’s my imagination but I’m hearing a bunch of overstuffed manic pop and to my ears it seems to be an attempt to breathe some meaning or freshness into a staid formula. I got to this via the Line of Best Fit weekly email. It’s a bunch of delayed vocals, processed, pieces of synths and guitars all chopped and served up as a salad. That was the first track at least as the second comes out as a brooding synth/guitar rocker heavy on the synth. The singer here, Della, is quite young so it’s titles like Where Do I Belong and a yearning youthfulness. The arrangements are the most interesting element here, the drums are the least compelling element here. It’s a really square drum machine sound.

@@@ Flaco el Jandro: Mi Encendedor (N/A, 2022) I got to this mash of hopped up Latin music and dancefloor banging elements via a music publicist email. It’s both cheesy and pumped up with funky beats, and the beats balance out the cheese pretty well. There are plenty of Latin music snippets processed and recycled here — a classic piano vamp most notably but some other percussive elements. It’s a fun pile of sounds that doesn’t really aspire to much, it’s really about taking the big EDM flourishes and build ups and smashing them into Latin music samples. Lots of energy, not much to say.

Music for 8/3/22!!! Ami Dang, Reuben James

@@@ Ami Dang: Raiments (Leaving Records, 2022) I got to these two listens today via the boozhy club National Sawdust in Brooklyn, they send out a weekly email blah blah blah. This is the opening track and it’s a mashup of world music and electronic music. The question with these mashups is how many New Age feels are we going to get and the answer here is medium. Here it’s centered mostly in the arpeggiated synths that are panned out to the side while a traditional stringed instrument takes the melodic lead in the center. I like this more than I expected as boozhy New Age electro can often annoy me. Often as in almost always. I even kept the Apple Music player rolling into the second track and there’s a rolling dark sound here that I’m actually into. Well kiddies, that’s why you always listen for yourself despite what you might expect or read in a marketing tidbit. Not my favorite shit ever, but this is pretty good.

@@@ Reuben James: All I Wanna Do (Rufio, 2022) I don’t usually go for what I consider to be enlightened boom bap but with this first track Vegan Butter I think they took hooked it up pretty stylishly. You gotta remember normies gonna norm and while this music is pretty straight in its own way, it’s focused and well executed. I’m on the third track and I can confirm this is normie music — big beats, big as in high in volume in the mix which I love, lots of friendly smooth vocals (I like that less) and solid arrangements. Highbrow loverboy r&b, that’s what we got here.