Music for 5/28/23!!! Groundation

@@@ Groundation and Brain Damage: Dreaming from an Iron Gate (Easy Star, 2023) I got to this record via a music and I almost never like what the publicists are selling but this is a cool record. It’s a hybrid roots reggae/dub record with a medium schmear of jazz/improv and a unique sounding singer. I was listening to stretches of the record yesterday while I was doing some shit around the house and it has an interesting flow to it — the jammy, jazz-ish slice of the pie usually doesn’t work for me but it does on this record. Some nice horn playing as well as keyboard feels. If you don’t like the opening track, Between Earth and Zion then you’re probably not going to like the rest of the record but in my opinion it’s a great example of taking a longstanding sub genre and pushing it a little while honoring the original spirit of it.

Music for 5/25/23!!! LCY, Midwife

@@@ LCY: He/Hymns EP (Fabric, 2023) The first track off this dance record is a thick ass hot dancefloor banger with a stylish arrangement and healthy amounts of dub sounds. It has a chopped feeling that a lot of dance remix records have but I don’t think it’s a dance record. Let’s peep more. The Apple Music blurb uses the word brooding but I think it’s more thick, funky and substantial. A lot of dance music is extremely shallow but I don’t think this is, it has intelligence to it. The contrast between the skittering beats, the chopped female vocals, and the bass pulsing on the second track is borderline exquisite. Someone spent a long ass time hooking these beats up and I appreciate their effort. This is wickedness and folks should check it out.

@@@ Midwife: Orbweaving (The Flenser, 2023). Another listen off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums on Pitchfork. Unfortunately it doesn’t bubble over with the creativity and energy of the record above. The intro to the first tune is an extended guitar arpeggio and whispery female vocals that you can understand but you have to try to understand. I had to click through to the second track The Hounds of Heaven which opens with a drum machine rock beat (maybe played by a drummer) and some medium and melancholy distorted guitar. The same whispery, angel vocals so it looks to be the formula from here on out. I’m pretty much done with the sad white people rock unless it’s done in a new way. And it is somewhat new with the way the vocals are framed but I’m agnostic on the record.

Music for 5/24/23!!! Blawan

@@@ Blawan: Dismantled Into Juice (XL, 2023). From the opening bits of the first track Toast, I felt the rush of Blawan’s distinctive sonic formula. Ultra composed but with a healthy ass, more than a healthy ass heaping of grit and muscle. Homie got it going on. The second tune, Panic, heads out into a different direction with a whispery vocal sample and thicker car bouncing vibe but the same excellent arranging skills on display. The EP is only 18 minutes long composed of five tracks and it’s got strong feels, it’s focused and I think if folks dig really well put together music this is right up there. The idea that electronic music is somehow a replacement for musicians playing music is a ridiculous notion and a record like this shows how electronic music can produce a really great listening experience using a completely different set of tools. It’s a cut above.

Music for 5/23/23!! Cusp, Mandy Indiana

@@@ Cusp: You Can Do It All (N/A, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums via Pitchfork. I see the video clip below is You Can’t Do It All and the title of the record is You Can Do It All and it’s confusing but that’s where we are at. The record opens with a lopsided loop and a long tone and a small piano figure and it’s mesmerizing and then the guitar goes and ruins it. Ha, not really, now it’s a band with a female singer. Then the band takes it down while the strings come in and that’s always a move towards the epic, at least partially and that was all a bit of a head fake intro because it clicks through to the second tune and it’s all indie rock, bright and guitar-y and it’s ’90s clean guitar indie time all over again!! It’s way more than competent and it’s a question of whether folks are into it. On the tune Limited Edition they bring out the distortion pedals and it’s cool except I’ve heard it a whole bunch. And when I say a whole bunch I mean it. This one all depends on the listener.

@@@ Mandy, Indiana: I’ve Seen a Way (Fire Talk, 2023) Another listen off the Pitchfork 10 Most reviewed albums of the week and this is epic, arpeggiated stuff on the opener, not particularly square and not particularly funky. The second tune (clipped below) opens quite differently with a fast, blasting kick drum before the techno-ish hi hats hit with some wooden mallet action to go with it. Vocals, arrgh, vocals!!!! I’m giving the fourth track, Injury Detail a quick peep before I post this post and it’s clearly half frat boy electro with a schmear of arena rock and a tad of Nine Inch Nails. It’s pretty well arranged but you’re gonna need to be hungry for a bit of cheese to enjoy this sandwich.

Music for 5/17/22!!! Alex Figueira, Ernesto el Defensor

@@@ Alex Figueira: Mentallogenic (Self released, 2023) This record is #1 at WRIR in Virginia, one of my favorite radio stations in the country. It’s a mash of soul beats, Latin music, indie bedroom stuff and Latin music. It’s all pretty simple stuff in terms of structure but the combination and the arrangements are clear and it’s got a certain vibe that I dig. There’s some quite tasty bass playing on offer, melodic and ear catching. This record has a lot going for it, check it out, fresh sounds and tight arrangements.

@@@ Ernesto El Defensor Remix: Radical (Share it Music, 2023) This is an interesting remix of an Australian punk band’s previous track. With a female singer it tours around dabbling in drum and bass, funk, dub, you know the usual suspects. I’m on a big tour of PR suggestions and this is the only thing I got out of it.

Music for 5/16/23!!! Tolerance, Bernice

@@@ Tolerance: Anonym (Mesh-Key Records, 2023) I got to this jammy, free-ish alternative record via PItchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. It’s keyboard centric affair with guitars and shakers on this here second track, I Wanna Be a Homicide which I thought would be more energetic given the title. But alas. I like the spaciousness of it to be sure and to an extent I like the devil may care flow but I wish it was doing more, it’s sorta power floundering. There are some spoken word parts and processed chunks of voices in places which adds to the flatness of the proceedings. Flatness as in alienation and detachment, America’s condiments, alienation and detachment.

@@@ Bernice: Cruisin’ (Telephone Explosion, 2023) This is a pear shaped electro pop record where all is not right. I’m on the second track, Second Judy and it’s a blend of abrupt changes and sounds and lounge-y flavors, it’s quite wild. I like the random sounds and I don’t think they are super random. It’s a female singer and for the most part she plays it straight and the instruments are varied and they just dropped into a smooth funk mode, it’s pretty interesting. I like this record, it’s got an interesting spirit to it. I’ve returned to finish up today’s reviews and will be going out on track 6, well maybe not, it’s a sleeper. I clicked through to track 7 and it’s another mostly indie type track. They seemed to have a split record going on with funk and lounge in the beginning of the record and then into the indie business.. Ah well I will remember the good times we had in the early part of the record.

Music for 5/15/23!!!! Bekka Ma’iingan, Overmono

@@@ Bekka Ma’iingan: Zoon (Paper Bag, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed Pitchfork albums blah blah. It’s pretty ambient strummed guitar + serpentine sonic stuff. I think the guitar playing on the opener is pretty staid and the + ambient stuff is interesting but the second track is kicking in and there’s a singer and it’s a bit slack for me. The third tune appears to be the full indie rock monty with reverbed voice, way reverbed voice, straight rock drumming and some statick-y guitar playing. Not really my cup of tea.

@@@ Overmono: Skulled (XL, 2023) More off this week’s Pitchfork 10 most reviewed albums of the week. This is electronic music done within a song structure with vocalists. I’m on the second track and it’s a lot of processed vocals on a slick club rhythm foundation. Not frat boy pumping but more of a gin and tonic bubbling flow. Sophisto, folks with jobs. I like this third tune Good Lies, it’s the funkiest of what I heard. This fourth tune will be my last. Thus far I’m into a fair amount of the sounds, I find the vocal processing a bit much after a while and the tunes are pretty good. Not jump up and down material for me, but not bad.

Music for 5/11/23!!! Billy Woods

@@@ Billy Woods: Maps (Backwoodz, 2023) This record came out last week and I’ve been a huge Billy Woods booster since Aethiopes, which isn’t very long. Dog me out, I could give a shit. I like the guitar in the second tune, it fits into a hip hop framework and somehow adds a sad indie flow to the track. Woods’ lyrics are pretty real and abstract simultaneously, that is one of the things I like best about his music. These tracks are pretty hot with a variety of sounds, I’m just cruising around the web as he rhymes and he did this record with Kenny Segal who I know nothing about. When he starts serving up the broken jazz samples I’m good to go — small melodies, horn blasts, climbing upright bass lines over ride cymbal grooves. He’s got a bunch of guest MCs but it ends up making the tracks more coherent and not all stretched out by each MC. Right around track 5 the tunes start getting weirder and hotter, more urgent and darker, that’s the shit right there. I will be listening to this again especially the first third of the record — sometimes it takes your ears to take a few track to get accustomed to a record, especially fresh biscuits like these from Mr. Woods. It’s Thursday and I’m giving a quick peep to the front of this record and from the thwacking snare sound on the opener ‘Kenwood Speakers’ it’s clear this is a pretty relevant set of sounds and vibes and lyrics that are causing his music to be catching a lot of ears, mine included. He’s a creative person who’s doing some high quality music making at the moment.

Music for 5/3/23!!!! Bill Orcutt

@@@ Bill Orcutt: Jump On It (Palilalia, 2023) I’ve heard Orcutt before in a noisier improv setting (and I dug that) but that’s not this which is a solo guitar record. It’s pretty mournful but not particularly bluesy or folksy. He’s playing acoustic guitar, not going batshit by any means, but there are flashes here of extremely high levels of skill. Check out some of the runs on The Life of Jesus and tell me Orcutt hasn’t played a fuck ton of guitar. I think I’m partially in the mood for this kind of record today so it’s hitting me right but part of me thinks this is a really good solo guitar record. Check it out!

Music for 5/2/23!!! Jim Legxacy, Esther Rose

@@@ Jim Legxacy: Homeless N***a Pop Music (!, 2023) I got to this record via Pitchfork’s 10 most reviewed albums of the week. I haven’t googled this musician but I’m guessing he’s not from America because the shattering of the glass wall between pop music and real life is something a good American would do. Ah, there it is, Southeast London, just as I suspected. Mr. Legxacy sounds a whole bunch like a slightly lessed blunted version of 6Lack, a gent whose debut album I really liked. Some of the sounds I like, and some of the vibes of the tunes I like. I can’t really catch what the tunes are about due to accent related issues. When I first heard it I thought I was going to really dig it.

@@@ Esther Rose: Safe To Run (New West, 2023) An alt-folk record I got to via the aforementioned Pitchfork album list. Let’s skip to the second track as I’m not really hearing the alt part. The second tune brings on the full band and it sounds a bunch like early 70s stoned out Dylan but with female feels. I’m not super up for faithful reenactments but if you are, Ms. Rose will hook you up. This is just a wee bit too familiar for me.