@@@ 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.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Park Hye Jin: Before I Die (Ninja Tune, 2021) A self admitted mashup of many different music styles — techno, hip hop, dance business sung and rapped in English and Korean. The first tune, Let’s Sing Let’s Dance has a really nice feel to it when Jin hits the mic with her vocals. Her English is way better than my Korean and the plainness of her style contrasts well with the beats and the piano/keys. I think if you’re looking for a huge statement record you might find different statements here — from the opener of Let’s Sing Let’s Dance to I Need You to Good Morning Good Night to Can I Get Your Number. I like the beats here, they’re lively and tend to the skittery. Both of the tracks I’ve checked have fully fleshed out piano chord progressions at their core. I’m not usually a fan of that but I dig it here. I like this, I’m not jumping up and down but it’s interesting and fresh.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Scorpion Kings X TRESOR: Folasade ( , 2021) Off a list of best songs of 2021 via Esquire. Weird, right? Those musc PR people will stuff every hole! Oy, I can’t find this track on Apple Music so I will be forced to check it out via the GooglePimpTube video below. It opens dancefloor unt-tsss with some lush keyboard vamping. The Scorpion Kings are from South Africa and they have a Congolese on the mic for this 14 track effort. The parts are pretty straight techno but between the additions and the more intangible rhythmic influences it ends up a blend of techno and world music. Ye ol’ Google refers to it as amapiano. I’ve switched from the GooglePimpTube to Apple Music where the audio is better and it’s a 2019 effort. I like the smoothness of the keys in contrast to added rhythms. If you’re looking for some slightly different fanny shaking music, well then check this out.
@@@ Scratchcard Lanyard: Dry Cleaning (4AD, 2021) The opening track off the record and it comes out….krauty, rocky, sonically 1980s and angular. Oh, this is gonna be a test of my hard drive — this track bites an old track, what is it? A little bit of ‘I might like you better if we slept together’ from the Motels — it’s got that vibe to it. It’s a bit of a midway track — using rock sounds, but not really rocking, it comes off as art school rock preening. Ironically I would pay more attention to the lyrics if the band was more compelling and played with more urgency. This one looks set to go right into rotation at the supermarket.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Marcus Gad meets Tamal: Tempo (Easy Star, 2021) I got to this smashup of dub and Asian flavors expressed mostly through electro sounds via the weekly playlist at WRIR. Lush productions with well constructed walls of vocals harmonized while Gad toasts it up on the microphone. This is booty shaking bass to be sure, with a funkier than a reggae-ish beat but overall I appreciate the mix of elements. I like it without jumping up and down, if there was a concious message I’d be much more into it. Pretty excellent sounds.
@@@ Susana Baca: La herida oscura (N/A, 2021) This is a pre-release track from a record coming out in October and for some reason Apple Music doesn’t want to cough the track up so I’m reduced to the GooglePimpTube. Ah well. Ms. Baca is an almost 80 year old woman from Peru and they’re presenting the track with lush and spacious Daniel Lanois types of feels. She sings midtempo and is accompanied by a nylon string guitar and a hand drummer. I love her voice and all the subtlety she brings to her craft but the main demographic here is people with really good paying jobs trying to bring a bit of flavor to their brunches. When you make epic the sounds it’s a complicated decision, I think. I like the violin part that comes in for the second half of the song and that’s where I’m at. I would listen to more of this when it comes out in October while recognizing that the way these sounds are put together is not the only way to put those sounds together.
@@@ Taqbir: Victory Belongs To Those Who Fight For a Cause (Taqbir, 2021) I got to today’s listens via a list from Pitchfork looking back at the hot jams of spring 2021 when shit was just a bit less Covid-y than now. And optimistic! Here we have some revved up Japanese riot grrrrrl punk, sizzly and dirty as fuck. Female singers shouting out mostly individual words, this is a highly concentrated blast of a branch of the punk rock tree. I like the second track Aisha Qandisha the best of what I heard and the overall effect here is to scrape the inside of your skull to break up any congestion building up in there. I can get down with that mission.
@@@ Maria Arnal i Marcel Bagés: CLAMOR (Fina Estampa, 2021) I thought this was an ambient record, but it’s not and I don’t know where I got that fake news from. It’s ambient production with drum machine beats, synth centric arrangements and very earnest female vocals sung in Spanish. Production is quite arch with large reverb patches and overall a bit of an epic feel. More than a bit of an epic feel. I like the production, but I don’t like the overall mission going on here. It’s a bit self-serious and art school-y and I’m not a big fan of that, it’s like a big ol’ U2 arena rock jam. I know tons of folks like that flow, that big statement, but not me!
@@@ 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.
@@@ QUANTIC AND NIDIA GONGORA: Balada Borracha (Tru Thoughts, 2021) I got to all three of today’s listens from WRIR’s weekly playlist email. A Latin music track fully realized with a large ensemble and multiple voices, percussion, the whole schlemiel. Even an electric guitar with fx for a modern feel! This is a stew and one that I have very few if any objections. I like that the singer is not the most epic and soaring performer — she has a bit of gravel and real world in her voice. They do an interesting thing where it sounds as if they slow the track down en masse and slightly and then bring it back up to speed. Check this out and I hope the rest of the record is as good as this.
@@@ DAG TENERE: Tihoussay Tenere (Nomada, 2021) Some west African guitar centered music presented in a pretty intimate manner. This style is centered around long serpentine guitar lines and call and response vocal lines. Hand drumming too! All of these features are on display here with at least three electric guitar tracks and brisk hand drumming. Ooh, in addition there’s some subtle showing off turned in by the bass player and I hear you doing that and I am enjoying it. The tune goes out with the distortion box on and plenty of energy. The player clicked through while I looked up my last listen and a female singer gets the microphone really changing up the energy and vibe of this track.
@@@ Celia Wa: Over (Heavenly Sweetness, 2021) Opening up with shaker, flute and a large stack of vocal tracks. Ms. Wa hails originally from Guadalupe but she lives in Paris mixing up all manner of sounds into a world music dancefloor style. This is another stew similar to the first track but mostly all electro sounds. I appreciate how this track (to my ears) is evenly split between electro and world music elements so that lack of tilt really yields something fresher because it’s neither this with a splash of that nore that with a splash of this. I like it.