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 5/17/22!!! 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 5/11/23!!! 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 4/20/23!!! Nathan Fake, Larkin Poe

Nathan Fake: Crystal Vision ( , 2023) I don’t smoke weed but happy 4/20 to motherfuckers out there! This is some dark dancefloor banging and I’m feeling this second track, The Grass. Get it? Grass, 4/20, 4/20 meet Grass! The third track, Vimana, opens up with the thick oscillating bass and I like the intro but we will see what the body of the track does. Some dancefloor banging is very bubbleheaded, all upbeat sounds because dancing but not this and Mr. Fake is getting respect from me for choosing this formula. I’m gonna finish up my listening with the fourth track here, Boss Core, and I might like this track the most of the three I’ve heard. It’s got a more funky and bubbling feel to it. I’m going to circle back on this record as all three of the tracks I’ve heard are pretty banging.

@@@ Larkin Poe: Blood Harmony (Tricki Woo, 2023) I got to this blues revivalist record via music blog honcho Bob Lefsetz. Apparently we’re going to have a mini blues revival without changing anything about this sub genre. This shit is straight out of a time capsule. I can see how this would be absolutely banging live but as a record I could use something from this century. You gotta make some attempt to connect with the youth or acknowledge and update your shit. I thought this was going to be better.

Music for 4/19/23!!! Tim Hecker

@@@ Tim Hecker: No High (Kranky, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums on Pitchfork. I’m a huge fan of Hecker’s record Konoyo and not a fan of other Hecker records. He’s a talented ambient musician, top shelf, even when I don’t love what he does. The first tune here is titled Monotony, and it has a subtle orchestral feel as there are a lot of layers combined and separate. It is the next day and I have finished my taxes and am listening to track 4, Lotus Light, on my high end studio monitors. Tim Hecker stands apart and what I like the most is his ability to not go for New Age sounds, there are some here but he’s not overboard with them, and while that seem like nitpick the balance of dark sounds and light sounds (problematic words I know) is important to me as a listener. I’m currently tripping out on track 6 and my overall impression of the record is mixed — there are passages I find insanely transcendent and find myself strongly pulled in by and then there are other spots where I don’t feel that way and it’s not leaving as strong an impression on me. For example, I don’t think the sax playing works that great in track 7 but it works in places where it gets manipulated and chewed back out. However, the next track, track 8 explodes into a bunch of moving clouds and particles and I’m on that like stink on a monkey. High end mixed bag is where I’m at.

Music for 4/10/23!!! Wednesday, Scree

@@@ Wednesday: Rat Saw God (Dead Oceans, 2023) It appears there were piles of guitar indies lying around waiting for the moment when everybody thought it was time for rock to make a comeback. Don’t put me amongst those yearning for the various versions of punk, grunge, and sad white people rock. I do like the dual guitar squall going on here, it’s pretty wild in places and lends an unhinged vibe to the proceedings. I’m all for unhined vibes cuz our society is coming apart at the seams. I’m agnostic to slightly negative on the female singer here. Cheer up maam, there’s a lot of other folks got it way worse than you I’m guessing.

@@@ Scree: Jasmine on a Night in July (Ruination, 2023) Apple Music has this slotted as jazz, and it does have an upright bass but to me it sounds like a Doors jam record with a little bit of surf rock up in it. It’s got a very chill vibe to it. I guess the reason I’m downgrading the labelling is because I don’t think the players are engaging enough in their performance, outside of the bass player they sound like rock musicians.

Music for 4/8/23!!! Ruston Kelly

@@@ Ruston Kelly: The Weakness (Rounder, 2023) This release is off this week’s All Music notable release email and the first tune is surprisingly indie rock-ish so let’see if this plays out for the whole record or Rounder Records is trying to scrounge up some streaming money to survive in this dark ‘post’ pandemic era. I’m on the second tune and I don’t want to split hairs but this is not really roots music. To my ears — I’m not in charge of these designations and I’m just informing my readers but this is rock. I guess he was married to Kacey Musgraves and this is a very confessional record and I’m not super enjoying it. It’s not the lyrics per se, it’s just a pretty straightforward non-sparking set of jams.

Music for 4/5/22!!! Deerhoof

@@@ Deerhoof: Miracle Level (Joyful Noise, 2023) I’ve always liked this outfit as I believe they represent what I perceive to be the weird ass quirky spirit of real indie rock. Controversial I know. I hear classic guitar tones and riffs in places, and weird filler meandering guitar tones in other places, and while I don’t remember the full lineup of Deerhoof I have always found the vocalist charming. The songs are songs with a pretty reasonable amount of weirdness, it’s just the vibe here and I’m not one to usually traffic in recommendations based on vibes. This is what rock sounds like when freaks try to play it but they just can’t be full normies and make it completely predictable and epic. I like this, I can’t believe I’m saying this because I’m opposed to 99% of indie rock that’s out there.

Music for 4/3/23!!! ICECOLDBISHOP, Yaya Bey

@@@ ICECOLDBISHOP: Generational Curse (Sony Music, 2023) This is some major label rough side of town hip hop. The MC who I might refer to as Mr. Bishop or Mr. IceCold is energetic and entertaining on the microphone as he pursues his various deals and scenarios. First off, there’s some really nice arranging here as well as some standard trap stuff. If I can disqualify the lyrics on the new boygenius record I can get past the lyrics here that focus a lot on black on black violence which is regrettable because some folks think this shit is real and not a bunch of songs. Mr. Bishop and his energy is what makes this album stand out. It’s not the best hip hop I’ve heard but it does show what an impassioned MC can do.

@@@ Yaya Bey: Remember Your North Star (Big Dada, 2023) Off this week’s 10 most reviewed albums from PItchfork. I like a lot of what’s going on here but I’m especially feeling the guitar player and certain stretches where Yaya Bey really hits the microphone rhythmically. It does have a super familiar vibe which I don’t love but that’s me, I’m always looking to hear new sounds. Stylistically the tunes jump around with some lounge-y stuff, a reggae-ish track, a wee bit of hip hop flavor, and then your standard r&b/dance feels. Big respect to the engineer who tracked and mixed this record, the sonics are ridiculously high quality.

Music for 3/30/23!!! Demonstealer, Gel

@@@ Demonstealer: The Propaganda Machine (Demonstealer, 2023). I got to this record via Invisible Oranges upcoming releases section. It’s a quickie record with three medium sized bangers and the star here is the guitarist, both the tone and the performance. That’s not to put down the drummer or the singer it’s just where my ear is pulled. The pace is breakneck and while the second track opens up with a big melody it’s just as brutal. A second layer of guitar comes in over the jank melody and it’s very melodically three dimensional and really nice. If you’re up for some metal these guys bring it fo sho. It’s a quick review because I’m frightened:)

@@@ Gel: Violent Closure (Atomic Action!, 2023) This is off the same list in the non-metal sections. This hardcore comes off as positively poppy after the Demonstealer release above which dives right in with the sonic beatdown. I’m on the second track, the title track, and while it blazes as hardcore the bouncy ass pogo factor is high which might get more listeners involved. Who am I kidding, hardcore scares the normies. It’s just music, ya normies. Loud, distorted music but just music. These are all right around 2 minute tracks, small medium chunks of distortion, I would recommend starting with Bitchmade and going from there.