Music for 1/19/23!!! Earthkry, Gabrielle Aplin

@@@ Earthkry: Soon Come (Wash House, 2022) Old school reggae in the more retro ’60s flavor pre the Bob Marley international reggae explosion. Super sweet singer, super sweet over a sticky foundation. Not a lot to say here as this stuff imho is about catching a vibe and these guys hit it hard and out of the ballpark though I was very skeptical when I saw their band name. Eeesh, Earthkry? Great track.

@@@ Gabrielle Aplin: Anyway (Never Fade, 2023) I got to this via this week’s Line of Best Fit. It’s a breathier slightly more energetic version of Norah Jones piano driven adult alternative business. Not a carbon copy but in the neighborhood. This is not my favorite flavor of mainstream normie music but I listen to everything and there’s a distinct pop sensibility swirled into the piano rock here. Drums higher than usual, more energy in the mix and melodies that escape the slackness. It’s not the most aspirational thing going on here, it aspires to listeners and not necessarily to a deep feeling. Keep it familiar and she does that. I like some of the vocal melodies and I like the drums up in the mix.

Music for 8/26/22!!! Bitch, Tiken Jah Fakoly

@@@ Bitch: Pages (N/A, 2022) I got to this queer musician via a music publicist email. My Apple Music players sucks ball so we’re stuck with the GooglePimpTube. It’s a pretty mainstream track sonically and lyrically but it’s less cheesy than a lot of what mainstream electro pop. It’s got a nice small keyboard figure that anchors the track and the arrangement has a fair amount of freshness to it. The lyrics are pretty trash, very cliche but hey it’s pop music and this is America and we a shallow ass bunch of fuckers so what do you expect? If you can deal with the hook and the lyrics then you’ll probably dig the track.

@@@ Tiken Jah Fakoly: Francafrique (N/A, 2002) Off this week’s WRIR playlist email. I guess maybe this record has been remastered or reissued but it’s a happening roots reggae done out of Africa and sung in French. It’s both slick and heartfelt, this is no Burning Spear from the mid ’70s when reggae was in its infancy and the sounds were gloriously murky but it’s rootsy. From All Music I see Fakoly is from the Ivory Coast which explains the French singing. I like not knowing what he’s singing as I can just groove on his melodies. I also see on All Music’s website that Tuff Gong in Jamaica is listed as a studio and the Bob Marley feels here are super strong. It doesn’t sound straight up like a Wailers record but it’s clear they wanted the background singers, the full horn section. I have this marked and will come back and chill to it when I have more time. Maybe I’m an ass not to have seen this record before or it’s an obscure record trying to resurface, regardless it’s got vibrations both Caribbean and African.

Music for 8/16/22!!! Hempolics/Macka B, George Ezra

@@@ Hempolics Meet Macka B: One Law Fi Dem (N/A, 2022) I got to this collaboration between Macka B and the Hempolics via this week’s WRIR email. It’s an old school reggae track with Macka B’s classic energetic microphone bounce. Also it’s a political track as it rightly points out the hypocrisy of the law being applied differently to different folks. Sonically it’s a thick stew with horns, reggae ka-chunk guitar and tasty drumming. Have at it, Macka B is a machine for really high quality old school Caribbean music, check it out.

@@@ George Ezra: Green Green Grass ( , 2022) I see from the GooglePimpTube that this gent Ezra has had some bigly hits, but I don’t know diddly squat about him as I’m not particularly interested in mainstream music. Oh lord, I believe we are in for some mainstream white boy dancefloor banging. I am most definitely falling into this dude’s story halfway through as he’s described as a guitarist when you google his ass. There is a lot of janked clean guitar here but it’s a dance track and a shit one at that. I shouldn’t say that, it’s not to my taste, I can’t abide by this level of lyrical cliche as well as arrangement cliche. I shoulda realized something was up when I saw the title Green Green Grass as this is not a well manicured lawn for me. He’s got a Rick Astley flow that I don’t dig.

Music for 6/8/22!!! Horace Andy, Big Thief

@@@ Horace Andy: This Must Be Hell (On U Sound, 2022) A coupla listens off the Guardian’s best of 2022 list which you can Google and whatnot. It’s not a stretch to say that Horace Andy is one of the sweetest and soulful singers to have ever emerged out of Jamaica. Right out of the gate (video clipped below) waves of roots reggae wash over you with concious roots flavors the priority with the vocal hook ‘this must be hell, because there’s no peace down here on Earth’. With the second track you get more percussive beat and thicker stew of reggae sounds including a fairly wicked melodica solo. I like it a whole bunch, Mr. Andy’s voice is has weathered with the passing of time so it’s got less sweetness and more grit but he still brings the passion, and I’m in it for the passion. I thought the track Materialist stood out and I will be checking out more of this record when time allows.

@@@ Big Thief: Blue Lightning (4AD, 2022) I liked Big Thief’s last record but I didn’t quite agree with the pant shitting that went along with the marketing. It’s my humble opinion that indie music gets an undeserved premium in the marketplace due to its proximity to the ruling class. The first track is quite simple, great drum sound, and sort of a turned down Emmylou Harris vocal style performance. It’s a big banger weighing in at 80 minutes but I’m just gonna be able to scrape the surface. These guys are above average and great in the studio. The second track, Time Escaping, is more interesting, at least in the sonic area. Lately I’ve been really enjoying anything spontaneous and unusual in music as it feels like an escape from our post Covid suffocated feeling, naimsayin’? These guys are extremely measured and it works for them, their music is polished and accomplished but it doesn’t produce much of a visceral feeling in me. I checked out three tracks, the first three, and I liked the third track ‘Spud Infinity’ the most. I’m pretty sure I don’t need 80 minutes of this but if you’re into that then have at it. It’s really in the gray area as they are very close to being in great territory, they have a lot going on, but it’s just missing a coupla elements for me.

Music for 2/11/22!!!! Black Am I, 3Head

@@@ Black Am I: Jah in My Corner (Ghetto Youth Int’l, 2022) Some modern, drum machine reggae with a pumped up vocal arrangement. 2 dudes leading the singing with additional background vocalists. Thick thick bass, bass is not an issue and what you don’t get with a drum machine you get with a rootsy uplifiting vocal performance. The rest of the arrangement is pretty standard to my ears.

@@@ 3Head: Afnaz (Dubmission, 2022) This track is also off the WRIR weekly playlist email and it’s a Dennis Bovell remix of a track by these guys 3Head I’ve never heard of. The tune appears on a compilation of dubs called Sub Signals Vol. 2 and it contains work by some pretty well known names other than Dennis Bovell including Adrian Sherwood and African Head Charge. The production is pretty modern but gets into sticky dubwise echo action. This particular track sports an epic almost rock feel without including almost any rock sounds to it. There is one spot where they have synth going off like a guitar power chord sequence (maybe it’s a processed guitar) but that’s it. I’ve peeped excerpts of a couple of other tracks and there’s some variety here, some dancefloor sounds snuck into the dub arena, more modern sounds reworked into the dub spirit of things. Check it out if you roll that way, if you’re on the variety tip.

Music for 1/10/22!!!! Earl Sweatshirt, Wesley Bright

@@@ Earl Sweatshirt: Titanic (Warner, 2022) I saw on a Crack Magazine email that Earl Sweatshirt has a new single out, and c’mon it’s Earl Sweatshirt. I hope things are all right with Earl Sweatshirt and I don’t know if this is his first release on Warner Brothers but I hope he does well there. Sweatshirt works in a low key manner, and his voice is complimented with some high frequency synth squiggling and some classic drum sound machines. I give a quick peep to another pre-release track and he’s got the synth arpeggiator going and it bumps the energy and provides plenty of contrast to his stay in the groove vocal tone. I like this track 2010 more than the one clipped below.

@@@ Wesley Bright: Goodbye (Colemine, 2021) I got to this reggae track via a music publicist email. Some old school sweet reggae with the vocalist swathed in reverb and the chunking guitar high in the mix. Maybe a bit too high and the drums could be more present. I like the elements that are here but find the balance to be a bit off, if the beats were higher it would groove harder, imho.

Music for 11/6/21!!! The Black Seeds, Alborosie

@@@ The Black Seeds: Let the Sunshine Through (East Star, 2021) I got to this via the WRIR weekly playlist. With a title like Let the Sunshine Through I was expecting some shiny ass pop reggae but this is pretty murky sonically. I enjoy that, the murky, the Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry dark funk. The lyrics are still pretty uplifting. It’s a beautiful day outside so the light sun through. Like the sounds and the small dubwise flavors but the lyrics, meh.

@@@ Alborosie: Ginal Dub (VP, 2021) More reggae business this time from the prolific Alborosie. He’s got a guest toaster here, Collie Buddz, who’s got a gruff voice and rough forward flow. I like him. I have to Google up the Ginal is sneaky person tricking other people for their own benefit. There are some more modern flavors here, such as the autotuned background vocals, but overall it’s a roots spirit that floats through the proceedings. Good vocalist, lyrics that aren’t about letting the sun shine and having a baby, and thick sounds, that’s about what a reggae tune aspires to, no?

Music for 10/11/21!!! Artikal Sound System, Eris Drew

@@@ Artikal Sound System: You’re an Asshole (Controlled Substance, 2021) I got to this track via a music publicist email. Ironically it’s a reggae track, well it’s white people Sublime style frat reggae, but the female singer does a good job with denouncing her former partner in a pale rootsy manner. Outside of the medium provocative title it’s pretty standard lyrically and there are some fairly nice sounds here, though on the poppier side of reggae. We not talking Burning Spear here.

@@@ Eris Drew: Level Cowbell (N/A, 2021) I got to this DJ set up on Apple Music via the UK music magazine Crack which I dig. This opens as straight drums and I guess they’re being mixed live furing this set. Just shy of a minute it gets into the cowbell pattern that gives the track its name. It’s a quickie break typa thing so I will hang for another track to get a better sense. The next track brings more instrumentation including some hip hop squiggle scratches and some effervescent synth bubbling. All over the power funk beat with occasional appearances by, you guessed it, the cowbell. From what I’ve sampled from the set the focus here is on brisk grooves with big hip hop influences and club sounds slathered over that. Some big grooves get excavated here.

Music for 9/17/21!!! Spice, Deep Fried Dub & SK Simeon

@@@ Spice: Send It Up (VP Music, 2021) A little Beyonce, a bit of Lizzo, and a whole bunch of Nikki Minaj in yer face strong punani style. The arrangements are all electro and it’s all for the dancefloor bangin’. I’m clicking around the tracks for this record called 10, and it’s a lot of female sexuality and a lot of electro dancehall, and I mean a lot. I think I was most drawn in by the track with the video clipped below, though it’s not for the kids and it’s NSFW. Spice is unapologetically out there throwing her punani around and daring folks to step to it.

@@@ Deep Fried Dub & SK Simeon: Waliwo Abakaaba (Dubmission, 2021) Finishing up our Friday with a last listen off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. Somebody took a pretty lush drum machine dub arrangement and threw some loverboy African singing over it. It produces a pretty interesting listener experience. There’s a tune and a dubbed out version of the tune but the tune itself has plenty of dub elements. This is not your standard old school Jamaican half gangster dub business, it’s super friendly. I like how the voice and the sounds go together and bring freshness.

Music for 6/26/21!!! Erika de Casier, Madlib

@@@ Erika de Casier: Drama (4AD, 2021) Off Gorilla vs. Bears top 10 of the first six months of the year. It’s chill blue eyed electronica with some ironed out indie electric guitars. I guess she texted late at night, and made some troublesome phone calls and now she has regrets about the drama she has called. The beat is my favorite part of the song, I don’t love the glassy vocal style so breathy and Tay Tay-esque. Also once it gets established it doesn’t really evolve which make is more meh for me.

@@@ Madlib: Sound Inventions (Madlib Invazion, 2021) Off the same Gorilla Vs. Bear best of the 2021 thus far. I’ve sample three songs as I begin this pocket review and to me it’s refried soul/funk with retro beats, I mean 15-20 year old style beats. Thwappy snare, vocal harmonizing. To my ears it’s trying to be funkier and more sophisticated than it really is. Really on the snare levels here, I can barely hear the vocals and shit. I wish this was more thought out. I let the player move as I finished up here and I do dig this trick Loose Goose and it’s wacky woodwinds/kazoo, the beats are nice and the way it all locks together. There are probably a couple of other good tracks in here so it’s looking like a mixed bag.