@@@ Kero Kero Bonito: Civilisation Fable (Polyvinyl, 2021) Second day in a row listening off this week’s All Music notable release email. I’m checking out a few of the tunes on this record and it opens with Battle Lines, an ’80s anchored tune with plenty of pep in its step. Classic synth sounds with a bit of keyboard shred in between verses. The next tune, When the Fires Come, sports the same classic synth sounds but the tempo and the arrangement is a step down in energy. This more romantic banger is well executed but it’s not a set of sounds I love. Remember it’s my blog and I get to say shit like that. The third track brings up the layered percussion setup again. These guys sure have arranging skills but it’s more for others who dig this flow.
@@@ Pokey LaFarge: Get it ‘Fore It’s Gone (New West, 2021) A pre-release single off Pokey LaFarge’s new record which comes out on October 15. Imma huge Pokey LaFarge fan and I was hoping this single didn’t disappoint. I’m happy to report that this is a catchy and pretty stylish track with Pokey’s trademark humor, sarcasm and partyistic ways. Everything about Pokey’s delivery and body language on the cover says this is all tongue in cheek, he’s both there and not there at the same time. Nothing that LaFarge does really breaks any trails and that’s fucking fine — he’s got smart, super focused arrangements and he sells his songs in a super entertaining manner. In a normal society Pokey LaFarge would be a huge star. Great tune, hoping the rest of the record hangs with this.
@@@ Ayuune Sule: Don’t Be Lazy (Ayuune Sule, 2021) I got to this track via an email from one of the three labels that collaborated on this release. It contains elements from Ghanaian fra fra music and that brings me to my one of my favorite releases from the 2010’s, Guy One. Lots of energy here, lots of rhythm, lots of vocals, lots of everything. The sounds are very nice, the recording is good, but the arrangement is king here. Very sophisticated and complex. I will circle back on this full record when I get the chance and while I think it will not displace Guy One’s record as the king of fra fra for me this is good shit and folks should check it out. I’m on the fifth tune, Fighting Music, and there are a lot of references to Rastafari, which I find interesting, super interesting.
@@@ Hatchie: This Enchanted (Secretly Canadian, 2021) I got to this via a music publicist email and it’s being marketed as transportive, oh really? It’s very 1980’s which isn’t great for me, but after hinting she dives in with a storm of sounds for a bit before the pop vocals hit for that big hit. So big blast of sound and super huge-a-fied vocals and you get the formula. I think of Secretly Canadian as being one of the kings of indie and this is not indie at all, it’s pretty much pop money making. It’s arranged well, I shouldn’t go on for long on this, this is music for normies with a tad of shitstorm thrown in for the hipsters. Meh.
@@@ Maria Isabel: Baby (Warner, 2021) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s Line of Best Fit. It opens up mellow and a bit melancholy as the character in the track is protecting her lover. The lyrics revolve around this idea. A little vocalizing in Spanish at points. Her singing is mostly restrained though in the chorus she gets a very big and rich reverb where she sings baby and then ‘I will die for you’ coming after that. I like the synth that sounds like a guitar that opens the track and I don’t like the chorus that much. It’s musty dark cheese. I guess these major label tracks (I listened from bottom to top today) feel they have to really bring the Avenger style emotional drama to get attention — I just find it hollow. There are some real nice elements to the track, I think the chorus just got a bit out of hand.
@@@ YUNGLBUD: fleabag (Interscope, 2021) Here we have a major label pop punk punker complete with a droopy red schmohawk. I don’t know how the folks who made this track can sleep at night because they bit Nirvana in a shameful manner here. Bits of more than two of their big hits are up in heah, I can’t bother myself to list the instances but it’s true. Shameful. He’s a self-hating fleabag but the presentation is crunchy, Rolls Royce high end. Oy society can be so confusing. I guess some fans of Nirvana might feel this while I think many more would be horrified at the mugging that has occurred here.
@@@ Mankwe & Body MemOri: under inside/climbing (Auspice Now, 2021). I found this free jazz with strong pan-African flavors via a bandcamp best of tweet page. I’ve looked pretty extensively on Apple Music for the record but could not locate it. This track is almost 10 minutes long and while it has a female vocalist these are not standard vocals and the description for the track seems to be an attempt to give all manner of things that come out of the human body — memories, emotions, histories, other bodies (that last one is my add). The instrumentation is bass, cello, drums and vocals and I think it’s an abstract musical approach that’s abstract in the way it connects to very concrete things. There’s a section that seems closer to a jazz scat but it’s still not words and I dig that. It’s not particularly confrontational jazz as some free jass can be quite skronky, this is more piecemeal and internal. Hard to put into words but if it’s something that sounds interesting you could check it out. The last third of the track really percolates.
@@@ HAMDI BENANI, MEDHI HADDAB AND SPEED CARAVAN: Achek Mamhoun (Nuba Nova/Buda Musique, 2021) I can’t recall off the top of my head how I got to this release, oh yeah it was from WRIR in Virginia. A most excellent indie radio station. I read a bit about this artist, he passed from the Covid last year at 77 years of age and on this record he combined traditional musics with more modern sounds. There’s plenty of rock going on in here, even some metal flavors, and this is the best rock track I’ve heard in a bit. The production is pretty exquisite, the arrangement is fully pimped and with most all African and North African the music is a rhythmically exquisite stew. It’s a large ensemble with violin, two electric guitars, drum kit, hand drums, the whole schlemiel. Even some marimba/hammered keyboard typa thing. I say check this shit out, it’s hip as hell. Probably one of the best rock tracks I’ve heard in a long time. Pretty tasty guitar solo at 3:30 so don’t pull out early.
Edited to show my misspelling of the artist’s name which led to my false clain that this record is not up on Apple Music. More of a misstatement than a claim and no disrespect intended regarding incorrect spelling.
@@@ Jared Rabin:Hey Mister Doctor (N/A, 2021) I got to this recently released bluegrass business via a Midwestern music publicist. This particular song, Hey Mister Doctor, is a funny Covid track with lyrics reflecting common Covid struggles during 2020 when Covid was more feared and somehow quainter. The playing here is quite energetic and high quality and Rabin’s voice is a bit ragged (which I like) and he sings in a straightforward style that enhances the playing. I like this a whole bunch and am listening to more of it as I finish up this pocket review. This record is not up on the Apple Music so you will have to head over to the bandcamp jungle. (Reminder a day later — it is up on Apple Music!!!) Don’t get lost and shit.
@@@ Meatbodies: Reach for the Sunn (In the Red, 2021) Oh boy, I haven’t heard fuzzy ass guitars like this for more than a bit. Fillin’ up that stereo field with static and noise they open this track which opens the record. Then some kinda uber white boy soft rock voices in there. Around 1:30 the drums come in with a melody and while I like the stabbing melody the drum part is low in the mix and a tad boring. Sorry drummer dude. The second tune evokes some ’70s era British rock, maybe late Beatles and a bit of the ol’ Led Blimpin’, but overall I think they should sharpen up their chops before running up that steep hill.
@@@ Iron Maiden: Senjutsu (Sanctuary, 2021) A classic metal banger, 8 minutes of classic metal to be exact and the singer, oy the singer! Epicness, soaring moments accompanied by the guitar player and it’s just hot metal spray cheese. I’m about 2 minutes in and I think I’ll be lucky to make it to 4 minutes. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just not for me, it’s not the kind of metal I enjoy. I like the drumming, the guitar is solid, I guess they helped pioneer this super shreddy style, I’m no expert on metal history. The chorus is just so extra, the echo of the guitar and the singer, oy! I made it three minutes and 45 seconds, that’s pretty good.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Little Simz: Point and Kill (AWAL, 2021) Both of today’s listens are off this week’s Line of Best Fit. This is track 15 off the record and it opens with a lot of percussion sounds, an aggressive climbing bassline, and a female singer with two female vocalists, one sounding African and one Brit accented. It’s got a pop accessibility but the sounds are solid and the funk here is not hinted at, it’s right up in yer grill. A little Afrobeat horn action at the end of the track before it goes out with a chorus of voices and funky percussion. I’m checking out the opening track, Introvert, and it’s epic marching beat before settling into a hip hop setup. Meh, it’s all right. The sounds here are trimmed and pumped which makes the tracks enjoyable but I think I happened onto a more African flavored track and that the overall feel is more clearly hip hop. It also dabbles in some soul, Afrobeat, and funk.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Jany Green: Lost in Love (Self-released, 2021) You gotta give it up for the interwebz to be able to present non-stereotypical combinations of music. This is some rock music but it’s got a lot black music feels, including the almost MC rhymes of the singer and the moderate amount of swing swirled into the arrangement. Lots of guitars, plenty of pop elements, even some hip hop as I mentioned. I got to this via this week’s Line of Best Fit email. I let the player click through and he pursues the same formula. I like the mash of different styles while not super connecting to the songs. It’s not quite shopping mall music but it’s not that far off.
@@@ Indigo De Souza: Hold U (Saddle Creek, 2021) Also off this week’s Line of Best Fit and released by Saddle Creek, a home for sensitive white people’s music. I haven’t peeped anything Saddle Creek wise for a long while so here we go. It opens simple drum machine, keyboard and female singer, clipped below. It seems to want to dip a toe in dance type music with the plinky guitar, ooh, there we go as the simple drum machine gets a big addition with a rock beat but upbeat and danceable. It reminds me of a Peter Gabriel type of track where other musics are infused into rock business. Handclaps, sidestick in the break to go with the guitar where the attempted funk is centered. It’s gonna be all right, I want to Hold U. It’s a bit clunky as one would expect from an indie label. Yowsa, the next track up cued the indie guitars and we’re back in rawk-land. I’m outie, but if you feel this have at it, there’s no shame in it.