Music for 9/28/22!!! Eerie Wanda, Sundub

@@@ Eerie Wanda: Long Time (Joyful Noise, 2022) I got to this outfit via this week’s All Music notable release email and I like this label, they put out interesting stuff. It opens with a merry go round vocal round, a bowed cello, and then into slack full spaced out indie rock vibe. This is a pretty tried and true formula, not one I love a whole bunch but it’s popular for a lot of reasons — you can buy your coffee to it or you can have a brunch and everybody can feel influenced but not overwhelmed by the music. I will say that if there was any sort of unique rhythm in here I would shit my diaper, it’s just so straight rock and boring that it undoes the spaciousness of the other sounds which are pretty decent. Ah well, another case where I’m in the minority. I’m giving a quick listen to another track called Confess and it looks set to be more mope. It’s even slower than the first track, oy.

@@@ Sundub: Jump and Dance (N/A, 2022) The production of this roots reggae track is a bit too clean for my taste but this tune burns well, especially in the rhythm section. Also there’s a lot of energy contributed by the female and male singers who take turns on the microphone. I don’t know if reggae music will ever return to that murky, blunted sound that drove it across the international brain pan, but somebody’s gotta keep the train running and these guys bring the energy. I got to this via a music publicist email.

Music for 7/12/22!!! Gonora Sounds, Richie Spice

@@@ Gonora Sounds: Hard Times Never Kill (The Vital Record, 2022) This is a father son effort out of Zimbabwe that I got to via a WRIR weekly playlist email from a few months ago. The guitar playing is sick and the drumming (when it’s there) is quite fine with the overall level of musicianship quite high. I will not lie, I would love to hear a full band here, especially a bass to anchor the guitar playing and the soaring vocals. Oh Lord, my dream comes true on the fourth track, there’s a great melodic bass player and some female background vocalists that elevate the whole thing. How I wish the whole record flowed like this as it’s beautiful when a full band gets behind this music.

@@@ Richie Spice: Distance (Not Nice, 2022) Some super creamy loverboy reggae I got to via a WRIR playlist email from 4-5 months ago. It’s cheesy, it’s a love song about a man trying to get over his wounds to love again and his appreciation to the woman who is helping him. That’s the dilly and the vocal melodies are quite epic. Maybe a little less reverb but that’s a small ongoing peeve of mine. Impassioned vocals/melodies work much better for me when presented in a thick, rhythmic reggae environment than in an electro pop arrangement for example.

Music for 5/12/22!!!! Kirsty Rock, Muito Kaballa

@@@ Kirsty Rock: Slow Burn (Easy Star, 2022) Both listens are off this week’s WRIR playlist email. Opening with the sonics of a big draw on a weed smoking device this is roots reggae with some synth horns and firm yet laidback groove. The female vocals have been recorded and mixed very intimately and it ends up being a very rub a dub track, super comforting. I don’t usually dig the big bucket of vocal tracks but I like it here. I also really like the tempo and feel of the groove here. I believe Ms. Rock is from the lighter side of town and that doesn’t matter at all but you can hear it in places. Just sayin’.

@@@ MUITO KABALLA: Little Child (Rebel Up, 2022) This is slotted as a funk record by Apple Music and it’s released by a small UK label that does a lot of world/electro/funk type stuff. This is the fifth track of the record and it opens with a bit of a guitar solo, not Funkadelic style, then it moves into a strummed guitar part, minimal piano and a loping bassline. Also plenty of ooh and aah female vocalizations. The star here is the horn section and the melody that put on this softer groove. About 2.5 minutes in a female singer comes in and it has proggy/smooth/fusion-y jazz flavor to it. It’s an almost 10 minute banger and I’m going to check another track to see if there’s more funk to it. More funk energy that is. I’m checking out the first track and it has a distinctly Fela-esque spoken word Afrobeat thing. I’m liking this third track Dansez!, Dansez! with it’s highlife guitar line and firmer groove. All three of the tracks I checked out were pretty different so you gotta get up in this record and dig for what you like. I would start with track 2 and go from there.

Music for 1/19/22!!! Dubmatix, Bacao Rhythm and Steel Band

@@@ Dubmatix: Kingdom Dub (Renegade, 2010) Both of today’s listens are off WRIR’s weekly playlist email. Well, color me a bit stymied as I saw this on a recent WRIR playlist but the record is dated 2010. Reissue? Regardless it’s some tasty ass dubwise business, old school thick and with a drummer. I’m not philosophically opposed to the drum machine dub but it does change the situation. This is the 13th track on the record and it is sticky, I recommend it. There are a lot of guest vocalists up on this record so I will click around a bit and then wrap up this pocket review. I’m checking out the fifth track and it is sweet so I’m giving a green light to the record, check it out for some sweet ass dub. I’m checking out a drum machine dancehall track that pumps pretty good so there is high quality variety going here.

@@@ Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band: Dirt Off Your Shoulders (Big Crown Records, 2021) At first blush I thought this was a Brazilian outfit as my brain jumped at that after seeing the word ‘bacao’ but it’s a german band that sports a steel drummer featured prominently. It’s a mash of styles, a little funk, a few chill Afrobeat feels, and obviously the steel drum references Caribbean music. The fourth track, My Jamaican Dub, comes out with a few dubwise echoes but it also sports a classic funk flow including a cowbell (regular readers know I like anything with a cowbell). I’m finishing up with the track clipped below and I appreciate the inclusion of the steel drum but it’s pretty tight funk, it could use some wildness and some swing. Maybe others feel this differently but that’s my perception. Somebody did some great work on the drum sounds here.

Music for 12/3/21!!! Arca, Jonquan/Kelly Di Filippo

@@@ Arca: Musculos (XL, 2021) I got to this via this week’s All Music notable release email. I’m a bit concerned about the music given the artwork that’s below but you never know. This is the ninth track on the record and this is a record in a series I would called Kick (Kick i, Kick ii, etc) and I’ve heard excepts from the i one with the weird cyber horse. The track is percussive with sad vocals over the top and an occasional resonant piano. Kinda prayerful. The vocals become more emotional and I’m into the rhythmic arrangement and the singing. It remains in its odd groove without sectioning itself much if at all. I’m giving the third tune Chiquito a quick run and it’s differentiated by a pitch shifted vocal but it retains the piano and decreases the rhythmic presence. It’s very good without making me jump and down.

@@@ JonQuan/Kelly Di Filippo: I’m Trying (Easy Star, 2021) I got to this retro flavored reggae track via a music publicist. It’s got a mellow but firm groove with a piano melody and pretty chill vocal performances. The groove and the vocal vibe reigns supreme with a vocal hook intoning ‘you’re all for one, it’s not fair, it’s not fair, it’s not fair’; so an implied social justice message. I thought it was a bit of a throwaway when I first hit it but the vocal melody grew on me and I’m checking out the dub of the single and that’s quite enjoyalbe as well.

Music for 11/16/21!!!! New Age Doom/Lee Scratch Perry, Mortiferum

@@@ New Age Doom/Lee Scratch Perry: Holy Wings (We are Busy Bodies, 2021) I guess this will go down as Lee Scratch Perry’s last recorded work. Or one of them. I don’t know anything about this New Age Doom outfit but the overall effect of this track is if a Radiohead had a baby with a classic dub record. I like the vibe here, I’m not sure I super love it. It’s got a very swirly feel to it, with guitar feedback, horn snippets and Lee going on about his things that he goes on about. I like the bass and wouldn’t call it super dubby bass. I’m giving a quick listen to another track Holy Dub and it’s most likely a dub of Holy Wings. It’s dubbier than the previous track which makes sense as it’s called Holy Dub. There’s also a little undercover jazz feel up in here.

@@@ Mortiferum: Eternal Procession (Profound Lore, 2021) Today’s listens off this week’s 10 most reviewed Pitchfork releases. The video clipped below is the first track of the record and it opens up with big drums, a caveman on the microphone and threedly guitars. I like the guitars but the drums, oy the drums, this guy (or gal or they) is all hopped up on Red Bull of some such. This is an almost 7 minute banger with sections and an overriding and pleasant epic aggro feel. The outro goes full epic with a big guitar shred but they’re all guests in the drummer’s world. The second track, Incubus of bloodstained visions is pretty sweet.

Music for 8/27/21!!! Malawi Mouse Boys, Carlton Livingston

@@@ Malawi Mouse Boys: I’m so Tired of Evil (Toy Gun Murder, 2021) I got to this track via the fine folks at WRIR in Virginia. I couldn’t find the tune I”m listening so I clipped another track up here. As African musicians continue to outperform in unexpected ways this is a reggae tinged vocal tour de force in a native tongue. I have no clue what he’s actually singing but it must be related to the title. These guys are called the Malawi Mouse Boys so either we’re hearing a dude and his guitar or they’ve misnamed themselves as it’s a stripped down tune. He just keeps digging this acoustic guitar/singing groove through the course of the 6 minute track. I couldn’t agree with this sentiment more.

@@@ Jon Quan & Carlton Livingston: Accidental Badman (Easy Star, 2021) Bounce it up classic reggae feels in this story of an accidental badman. It’s a full ensemble reggae band including the bubbling organ with a loverboy singer who does some fun brup bup bup bupping on the microphone. Lyrics center around the mistreatment of a man as a chilld that led to a murder and now he’s on the run, he never wanted a life of crime. It’s a great groove, but it doesn’t make me jump up and down the way the track by Kenya Eugene, Bun it! did yesterday. I let the player click through and I’m actually enjoying the dub more than the actual track.

Music for 8/26/21 Yargii, Kenya Eugene

@@@ Kenya Eugene: Bun It (SOA Group, 2021) Off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email, where I get a lot of my world music jams. Great station! After a single female vocal opens up the tune you get a full ensemble, modernly produced, roots reggae track. Ms. Eugene is concious and passionate and she starts to work rhythmically on the microphone. Wow, fat track full of righeous sentiments. I’m feeling this. Crab in a bucket mentality, we bun it! Bun it as in we burn it, she’s had enough of a lot awful things happening in the world. This track has it all as far as I’m concerned so if you dig reggae, you best peep it. This was originally the second listen of the day but after hearing the opener I had to boost this up even if it’s racist against white people and shit.

@@@ Yargii: Just Wait (Skill Syrup, 2021) I got to this punk rock track via an Australian music magazine called Happy Magazine, which is bit of a strange name. I thought this was set to be a pumped up punk rawk nugget but I’m greeted with a mopey guitar strum, though it picks up when the tune proper drops. It’s a little twee indie in the vocal melody, a bit punky in its simplicity and a bit poppy in the arrangement. The lyrics are a little melancholy and a bit hopeful at the same time, they kinda pass without a huge impression left, the melody hits harder than the sentiment.

Music for 8/5/21!!! Jahrukus, Marc Houle, Slowdown Molasses

@@@ Jahrukus: Ashes to Ashes (Soul Messin’, 2021) I’ve not heard of Jahrukus but I’m feeling his simultaneously bouncy/laidback old school reggae feels as he covers a David Bowie tune. His ability to take someone else’s tune and then making it his own is impressive. Very impressive and he does it effortlessly. Sounds here are tight and Jahrukus’ flow on the microphone is impeccably stylish, as stylish as the Thin Duke himself or maybe even more so. This is excellent and folks should check it out.

@@@ Marc Houle: Gratiot (Sound of Berlin\Embassy One, 2021) Some techno I got to via a music publicist email. This tracked is blurbed as residing in the both the experimental/minimal techno neighborhood at the very same time. It opens with the classic four on the floor kick drum, a funky brief melody and some clouds floating around. At some point I think we’re gonna get some classic high hat action and oops, there’s the bass. I think I want more out of the bass here as he’s got a great funky melody but the bass is pulsing like it’s a white boy rock track. Shame on ye! I get that this is a dance track and it’s designed to move booty but the experimental label should be removed from this as I don’t hear that. It’s very straight which is fine but let’s be honest here.

@@@ Slowdown Molasses: Some Fine Action (Self-released, 2021) A blend of uptempo indie guitar rock and squally Sonic Youth feels. Very nice drum sound as well as bass tone. Equal measures sweet and noisy, it’s a classic formula that rock listeners have heard dozens if not hundreds of times before. Me personally I can’t get by on a restatement of the classic formula and any addition of any sort would be welcome to me. There’s a stylish dual guitar shredding outro but for me it comes a bit late. I know folks love this formula so check it out if you do, this is for the hardcore shoegaze/punkers.

Music for 7/23/21!!! Natty Jean, Meta and the Cornerstones, Soul Sugar compilation

@@@ Natty Jean: Ready (Little Rock Sound, 2021) A blend of more modern dancehall with roots reggae conciousness. Not only does Natty Jean throw some serious microphone energy he has plenty of help from background singers on this track. Plenty of percussion too. Downside might be limited to a huge cloudy synth that drops a descending melody to open the track and is woven throughout albeit at lower levels. Lyrically, there’s not that much to discuss the dude is ready. Me ready, ready, super ready super ready. He sounds prepared.

@@@ Soul Sugar: Cool Down (Gee Recordings, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off WRIR’s weekly playlist email, those folks have mad style in picking and spinning music. I don’t believe these are retro tracks I think they’ve been made more recently — hold up let me go google that shit. It is not a retro reissue typa thing and this track is quite stylish — solid summertime reggae bounce, lots of melody and a roots sound without descending into the murky Lee Perry depths, which I love btw. I checked out other tracks on this record and it really is a mix of genres — there are a couple of loverboy clunkers in addtion to some ballads and a bunch of rootsy jams.

@@@ Meta and the Cornerstones: Breeze (Self-released, 2021) We finish up today’s listening sesh with more roots reggae. I could listen to roots reggae all day. It’s a right in yer face production style that I find really nice. Meta, I think the singer, has a tight rhythmic approach and a world weary gravelly tone to his voice. It’s concious lyrics all the way including burning Babylon down and love being the only way. Hopefully when he burns Babylon he really uses extra matches and burns it down really completely and thoroughly. There’s a lot of good stuff in here, it’s a tad epic for my taste and there are a couple of rock vibes that I don’t usually enjoy being mixed into my reggae. Anthemic roots reggae with a unique sound.