Music for 9/7/21!!! Zach Phillips, Sally Decker

@@@ Zach Phillips: Feed a Pigeon, Breed a Rat (La Loi, 2021) Today’s listens are off a rando Bandcamp best of July (I think) list. I love bandcamp, promo is a bit janky but what isn’t janky these days? A guest on each song here, and when the player starts it sounds like an indie Frank Zappa fusion-y weirdo flow. It’s nice to hear somebody play a guitar with some intention and power but overall this opening track is a bit too proggy for my taste. I like the second tune, and the guest singer, a bit more. The female singer here fits better into the sounds here. I’m guessing there’s some Berklee School of Music hanging round here. I’ve sampled parts of three tunes here and this one’s for the jazz rock nerds, have at it people!

@@@ Sally Decker: In the Tender Dream (NNA Tapes, 2021) I haven’t grokked a great electronic record for a bit, I’m always in for one. This one opens up with some processed spoken word/breathy crunched up clouds. It’s okay. The second tunes comes in with a statick-y blast, a low thumping sound, and what sounds like a loop! More vocals bitcrushed into bits of all things, suprisingly. Kibble and bits. These come across as chunks rather than as structured pieces. I don’t always need structured pieces, but if the sounds are as abrasive as this, then maybe some would be all right with my ears. I think I’m going to move on as I like some of the sounds here but I don’t need vocals in my ambient electronic.

Music for 9/4/21!!! Turnstile, Helena Hauff

@@@ Turnstile: New Heart Design (Roadrunner, 2021) I got to today’s listens via the UK online music magazine possibly a collective Crack. These guys are blurbed as a super creative hardcore band and they are as this track isn’t even hardcore. I’m guessing, there it is, the mellow in the chorus (a la Bad Brains) and then into a quick chorus crush. I clicked over to the opener as I wasn’t enjoying that track and it opens with a panning swirling, snowflake-y type synth sound, and there’s the growl of the guitar. To me this is more developed musically than hardcore, it’s got more melody and intent so I would dub it post-hardcore. I think of classic hardcore as being intentionally minimalist. If it didn’t have mosh-y parts this could emerge from the mainstream complete with oooh aaaahs. I like it at some points and at some points I think it’s full of shit. I do appreciate them mixing up the pieces for sure.

@@@ Helena Hauff: Qualm (Ninja Tune, 2018) This is the ninth track of a record with the same title and it opens with some classic synth sounds and a sci-fi typa feel. This track is beatless which is fine so we have some blasting/noisy business, some up high action, a synth bass and maybe a bit more. Let me peep another track and see what’s up as this feels like a pig in a blanket. I’m on the first track and the retro sounds appear to be the palette she’s working with though here it’s packaged with a lot of distortion and compression related crunch which changes the feel. The song titles here are fantastic: Fag Butts in the Fire Bucket and It was All Fields Around Here when I was a Kid. I’m listening to Lifestyle Guru (Track 2) and it has a simplicity and urgency that I like. I like some of what’s going on here, other parts not as much. If that sounds vague I don’t really care, that’s where it’s at.

Music for 9/1/21!!! Bendik Giske, Thelia Zedek

@@@ Bendik Giske: Flutter (Smalltown Supersound, 2021) I’m a fan of this Scandinavian music label that puts out electronic music, some jazz and other business so they’ve earned a peep. Both of today’s listens are from this week’s All Music notable release email. It opens with some sax valve-partial blowing business. I don’t love the big reverb patch on this solo piece, and I’m hoping this isn’t a solo sax record as I have trouble with those. The second track, Cruising, is either a looped sax part or sax being played circularly and that takes place over a minimal hand drum beat. It’s smooth and somewhat background-y which isn’t my favorite type of jazz though I can see how the coffee shop folks can feel jazz-like while listening to this. It’s a 10 minute plus track that does start to come out of its groove. It sounds as if they’re feeding part of the saxophone into a huge blooming reverb so that remnants of it start to blossom up and form a huge sonic cloud. Overall I’m pretty agnostic on this.

@@@ Thalia Zedek: Revelation Time (Thrill Jockey, 2021) I’m not sure what’s up with this artist and Thrill Jockey has she has two 2021 releases up on Apple Music. Not sure if they’re current releases or old ones that have been re-released via Thrill Jockey. It’s pretty straightforward guitar rock and Zedek’s voice is one of the most notable elements of the music. She has a limited voice but it has a classic rock weariness to it (partial) that does draw the listener into the music. Medium crunchy guitars with drums high in the mix, I’m always up for drums high in the mix. It doesn’t have a ton of appeal for me personally but it’s well executed rock music.

Music for 8/23/21!!! $uicideboy$, Chorusing

@@@ $uicideboy$: Long Term Effects of Suffering (G59, 2021) Off the Twatter! Super dark hip hop I got to via the Pitchfork Twatter feed. The whole 25 minute record is attached below but I will be peeping the first three tunes. Lots of opioid America type titles like If Self Destruction was an Olympic Sport I’d Be Tonya Harding, Degeneration in the key of A minor. Trap beats lend an ominous feel to the opening track, the arrangements are pretty standard trippy focused. Lots of cloudy synths and plucked sounds. The rhyming is team style, usually two dudes at the same time with individual breakouts. Super fat assed bass sounds in this second track Self Destruction. I thought the most fleshed out track was the fourth one 5 grand at 8 to 1. I love the idea of these tracks and what they’re trying to do but I wish they were more exciting and dynamic.

@@@ Chorusing: Watching the Beams (Western Vinyl, 2021) Last week’s All Music notable release email! Slotted as alternative, this is the third track on the record and it opens up fully electronic. Oh no, a rock style singer, that changes things quite a bit. The combination of the vocal delay and the sci-fi-ish electro backing gives moderate to medium Pink Floyd feels. I like one of the synth sounds and I don’t love the arpeggiated synth. There are three at least going here with a drum machine beat. I love the electronic music and I guess this is why I gravitate towards the African electronic music as it tends to be wilder and more imaginative. This isn’t full Republican but it’s kinda staid.

Music for 7/26/21!!! Mashd N Kutcher, Hermitude

@@@ Mashd N Kutcher: Get on the Beers (Brewery Records, 2020) Stupid and brilliant at the same time — some clown ass down Under spliced up some news broadcast footage about Covid and turned it into a celebration of beer and pub culture all served up over trashy dancefloor banging. Take this seriously, get on the beers, you can’t beat that shit. Classic unt-tss drum machine action, an appearance by the Orange Chaos Pig, and some super fat arena style synth action. Very funny and stupid.

@@@ Hermitude: Don’t Forget Me (Nettwerk, 2021) This is a breezy world music infused dancefloor slider with a G rated hook and a loverboy singer. It’s pretty straightforward with it’s boombaton/reggaeton beat and friendly sounds so I’m going to peep a couple of other tracks. Lots of guest vocalists, mainstream electro sounds, it’s a suburban/normie/cubicle dance thing. Not really for freaks like me.

Music for 7/7/21!!! YN Jay, Surf Gang

@@@ YN Jay: Summer Time (YN/Foundation, 2021) Off a Pitchfork tweet of 5 new albums you should peep so I thusly peep 2 of them on this day of our Lord 2021. I don’t know if this is ironic/satirical or if this is a straight, indie version of trap business. Lots of very explicit sexual scenarios and plenty of gun references. The lyrical content is the main course, the sonic part is mostly interesting for it’s crazy distorted bass sound and minimal beats. I’m having a hard time seeing this as anything more than a bucket of shit talking on a microphone. Not that the MCs are a bucket of shit, the record is a bucket of ‘shit talking’, the shit goes with the word talking not the word bucket. Whew. There doesn’t have to be any higher aspirations to any music, I get that, and I’m also not obligated to like something.

@@@ Surf Gang: Vol. 1 (Surf Gang Records, 2021) More hip hop and it’s more sonically developed and decidedly more left field than that last biscuit. I find the video game feel to the arrangement on this first track pretty interesting. Let’s peep a bit more. More dreamy sounds on top of a pretty fat pounding bass. I’m not sure what (if any) lyrical focus is going on here — that’s not a requirement as just the various energies of the MCs strongly effects the music and perception of it. I like later tunes more, especially the fourth tune ‘Don’t Wanna Wake Up.’

Music for 6/14/21!!! India Jordan, GoGo Penguin, The Bots

@@@ India Jordan: Watch Out! (Ninja Tune, 2021) I got to the first two listens today via an All Music notable release email from a couple of weeks ago and the third listen is from a music publicist email. This track opens up modified drum ‘n bass, chilled a bit, served up with a thick carpet of blanket-y synth patches. Beats fade out, you drift on those synth sounds, and then I’m guessing we’re gonna return back to those beats. Boom, and with a siren this time around. I like the beats all right, it could use some funky bass — move some booty with that AND the beats. It feels long unfortunately.

@@@ GoGo Penguin: Kora (Blue Note, 2021) This is a blend of improvisation and New Age sounds that ends up sounding a lot like chill frat boy rock. It always seems to come out sounding that way. Drums, bass, piano, and that may have been a processed guitar sound up in there. As somebody who listens to a lot of jazz this is a bit of a sad statement to see this music out on the Blue Note imprint. Oy. It’s like a big ass bowl of macaroni and white cheddar cheese. Just as an example, I’m listening and just wondering if the drummer knows any variations on this beat. Okay, I’m out.

@@@ The Bots: See It (Big Indie, 2021) I thought this was going to be a punk rave up, and it is, but it’s heavily tilted in the Devo crossed with a video game tradition. I like the chorus much more than verse — I’ll do much better when I see it. It sports a squashed/compressed sound to the mix to raise the pressure on the track, that’s a slight negative, like the singer and the drummer and am a bit tired out by the guitar part.

Music for 6/13/21!!! Nkom Bivoue

@@@ Nkom Bivoue: Zeun Ya Yop (Rebel Up, 2021) I’m on the mailing list for this small UK world music label and they just released this dancefloor banger by a producer out of Cameroon. As you would expect the rhythms are superior (not hard!) to standard mainstream dancefloor bangers with the first tune Alert relying on your classic arpeggiated synth tones and big rush fills. The second track of this three track single (clipped below) is less cheesy on the synth tip and rhythmically hipper. Kinda hypnotic with drum machine taps. I like it better than the first track but I’m not super into the chosen synth sounds and the tunes feel like they could be fleshed out a bit more. I love African electronic music, it really works for me but this one is off the mark a tiny bit.

Music for 5/25/21!!! Heather Valley, kerri

@@@ Heather Valley: Emily (Independent, 2021) I got to this track via an email from the artist herself. I’m always nice to artists who send me listening requests. It starts out with some simple strummed guitar that is pleasantly darker than a lot of guitars in this genre. Valley has a very sweet voice that she’s decided to put in a very large reverbed room. It wouldn’t be my first choice but I would have gone for a medium sized room. I don’t know who this Emily person she’s singing about is but the melodies are very nice. Cello sounds good, background vocals maybe not super necessary and overall a fine track.

@@@ kerri: Moon/Sun (Queen City, 2021) I got to this track from a r&b singer from Montreal via the Australian music magazine Happy Magazine. It opens cloudy and ambient with a pulsating synth. A chill 808 beat comes in with a falsetto singer. It’s a lush, loving sort of thing. There are at least three singers here and that’s the most dynamic part of the song. Different cadence, different ranges, etc. I’m digging the low key singer asking ‘what are you thinking about?’ that’s pretty nice. It’s more about cosmic love than sex and I think the lyrics and the sounds are compelling. I’m checking out more of this record and enjoying it — it seems to reflect a sad, beautiful isolation.

Music for 5/3/2021!!! Burial and Blackdown, BackRoad Gee, cktrl

@@@ Burial + Blackdown: Shock Power of Love EP (Keysound, 2021) Three listens today off this month’s free Crack monthly mag out of the UK. I’ve been turned on to a lot of music via Crack Magazine. I thought this was going to be rock (don’t know why I thought that) but it’s an EP of electronic music with a lot of chainsaw synths and hip hop flavorings. I’m sampling the third tune after the first two and they are all rhythmic variants on classic techno beats. This third one is going full R2D2/StarWars ‘blurpy beep and laser tag’ with some fully reverbed cracked syllables; it’s sonically rich. Two 9 minute bangers and two 4+ minute bangers. I think this is above average in energy and texturing but it’s not making me jump and down. Other folks might feel differently.

@@@ BackRoad Gee: A Yo ( 23 Formation, 2021) UK rap, I love it! Check this flow on the microphone, oh he just asked if he could get some gray poupon. He didn’t, I made that shit up. The sounds here are off high end and manicured; some push and pull trippy synth sounds, and a bass that cuts melodically and impact wise when it pushes into the mix. Beats are funky and distinctly not American which I like. There is more than one MC here, one is doing that fake gunshot bubbling shit which I find weird. Rhyming is brisk but I have no clue what they’re on about and the accent really destabilizes my listening experience.

@@@ cktrl: robyn (Touching Bass, 2020) Opens loverboy r&b with chill keyboards and a sax with a lot of reverb or a high quality sax virtual instrument with a lot of reverb on it. Wow this is slotted as jazz on Apple Music which is weird to me. This is a r&b jam session and not jazz as I define it. I like the keyboard sound, and while this has to be a real sax to even garner the jazz label from the Apple, there’s too much reverb, the playing does not have the spontaneity of fully improvised music and I don’t know what else to say. The keyboard player and then the flute player that comes in for the last third are the best components here.