@@@ Nkom Bivoue: Zeun Ya Yop (Rebel Up, 2021) I’m on the mailing list for this small UK world music label and they just released this dancefloor banger by a producer out of Cameroon. As you would expect the rhythms are superior (not hard!) to standard mainstream dancefloor bangers with the first tune Alert relying on your classic arpeggiated synth tones and big rush fills. The second track of this three track single (clipped below) is less cheesy on the synth tip and rhythmically hipper. Kinda hypnotic with drum machine taps. I like it better than the first track but I’m not super into the chosen synth sounds and the tunes feel like they could be fleshed out a bit more. I love African electronic music, it really works for me but this one is off the mark a tiny bit.
@@@ James Brandon Lewis: Jesup Wagon (TAO Forms, 2021) All three of today’s listens are from an All Music notable release email from a few weeks ago. I’ve heard Lewis’ music before and have liked it. He’s got a strong tone, a little black church in his playing, and what I would call an upredictable and rebellious flow on his instrument. After a mellow sax intro the cornet player leans in with the rhythm section. I love how the bass player sounds on this record. The energy here is high and righteous. He’s not about sheer skronk. To my ears he’s riding a fine line between straight jazz and the wildness of free jazz but that’s just my ears. I urge folks to check this out, the record is really well recorded and these guys are putting some energy and soul into this music. I just checked the lineup here via the bandcamp page clipped below and he has William Parker on a couple of tracks and the fine drummer Chad Taylor so this is a team effort and a really good one at that.
@@@ TEKE::TEKE: Meikyu (Kill Rock Stars, 2021) This is the second to last track on this record from Kill Rock Stars. Outside of the track titled Serenade it’s all Japanese language titles and the lyrics are sung in Japanese which is very far from a no deal for me, I’m fine with it. This track clipped below is blustery with a jumpy guitar part, tom heavy drumming, some fairly intricate synchronized melodies, and a flute! Fuckin’ A, a flute! I dig the weird rock vibe here, it’s pleasantly art school, a bit weird but plenty of rocking to be had. A quiet flute solo, then a horn solo, then the rockin’ maelstrom returns and respect for mixing it up here. Another track here opens with a surf guitar guitar, then into a drum break, then a horn vamp.
@@@ Trevor Powers: Capricorn (Fat Possum, 2021) I chose the track on this record that is not a nature related title. So Ghosts of Shanghai it is, and it’s pleasantly lo fi with a piano, some swellings up and down, some flute action, and even an electric guitar working in and out. I will peep another track but this doesn’t have that certain slow hypnotic thing that draws me into an awesome ambient track, this sounds more like a song or a series of sounds. I clicked over to the second track Earth to Earth and the combination of the sounds chosen and the arrangement of the chosens sounds, that formula isn’t super working for me.
@@@ Japanese Breakfast: Be Sweet (Dead Oceans, 2021) All three of today’s indie listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. Unlike a lot of other ’80s influenced synth rock this sports higher drums and a bit more rock punch than other specimens in the category. Ms. Breakfast does a good job working the microphone, flavorful but not primping and posing. The chorus explodes a bit into a higher melody and an aspirational sentiment where she asks her special someone to be sweet to her and she needs something to believe in. I don’t usually like this formula but this sports high energy and works well. The next tune Kokomo, IN is slower and more indie so maybe it’s going to have it both ways. Slack and indie and rocking, things that are hard to go together.
@@@ Rostam: Changephobia (Matsor Projects, 2021) More indie, yes! I guess this is a former member of Vampire Weekend, an outfit I’m mostly agnostic on, but my impression here is this is intended to be a mathy yet friendly effort for the music nerds out there. Washed out chorus guitars are a big drag for me personally, but Rostam has a friendly if not a bit cloudy voice. Big ups for a sax solo in the middle of this bad boy — a nice break from the standard guitar solo. Think Death Cab for Cutie in a car accident with Yes. Not my thing but I’m a freak.
@@@ White Flowers: Daylight (Tough Love, 2021) More ’80s inspired guitar tones, it’s an all you can eat buffet. Then a dreamy female vocalist and straight drumming. All of today’s listens are off this week’s All Music notable release email. Oy, the mope, lots of mope here. I get it, I would never deny anybody their right to mope but I don’t have to like it! As I listen to the track and surf a bit I do get pulled in by the vocal swirl, it’s like shoegaze packed into a singer’s performance, the other parts are pretty standard. This recording seems pretty directly tied to Roxy Music, for better or for worse.
@@@ Susie Ibarra: Talking Gong (New Focus, 2021) This is the title track Ibarra’s recently released record and it’s a 16 minute improvised banger. I’ve heard Ibarra’s music before and have liked it. Here the track opens softly with some vibe like percussion before giving way to a piano and drum kit drumming. The pianist is Alex Peh who I have not heard before and I’m liking his playing. The trio is rounded out with Claire Chase on flute in this track. So back to the track which had a more rocking part before moving back into ambient business. Energetically the piece is all over the place which I’m fine with. I did, however, enjoy the beginning part of the track more than the midde and the latter third.
@@@ St. Vincent: Daddy’s Home (Loma Vista, 2021) I may be mistaken but St. Vincent appears to carry some sort of torch for white people. It’s interesting to hear this after Ms. Mulgrew’s record as this is similar but stripped of the thickness and is a skinnier stick. It’s rockier and I like it more than I expected but I don’t love it. I think she’s heard a lot of Prince records and she’s done all right digesting them but I don’t think I can see my way to feel the same as those who really are into her. From the image below and the sounds presented to me she’s going for a post hippie, ’70s sleazy rock with a few pubes of funk up in there.
@@@ Georgia Ann Muldrow: Mufaro’s Garden (Epistrophik Sound, 2021) We’re gonna start our listening from bottom to top today because, because. This is track 10 off her new album and it sounds a bunch like chilled out Parliament. Not a copy, just reminds me of that music. Certainly a thick stew with vibes, bass that punches through and drums up in the mix. Let me peep around a little more to see if there is any vocalizations going on here but this could be a strong album for the summer season. I’m checking out track 4 Slave Revoltalleway Boom and it’s thick instrumental funk though this is slotted as r&b/soul. This track is trippier with some spring reverbed sounds and a lot plinking. I dig this and think folks should check this out, it’s quality. Interesting, energetic, creative.
@@@ Greentea Peng: Man Made (EMI, 2021) Off this week’s Line of Best Fit. I know various parts of the UK music press are trying to hard to make Ms. Peng a big star. She has a jaunty vocal style and she gets a lot of backwards sounds to go with her vocals. Funky and downbeat rhythms. Very nice production, elaborate and lush. Let me peep a few other tracks. The first track Make Noise is more sparse and a well framed arrangement. I’m right on the cusp of really liking this but there’s something about it that isn’t moving me. I’m on the third track and it’s the corporate packaging and the cool temperature of the sounds, lyrics and message keeps me from jumping up and down. If you feel cool about your stuff I hear it that way, if you’re worked up I get worked up.
@@@ Martha Skye Murphy: Found Out (Self-released, 2021) A fragile, bedroom indie guitar thing sounding as if you look at Ms. Murphy she might swoon and fall over! Then comes some ugly electro washes/sounds and I like those. I didn’t like the beginning of the tune but I’m more into what she’s built it into. Regular readers know how I struggle with indie music and its conceits but the electro boom bap and other unusual sounds are nice, though the the double tracked vocals are a bit downer-y for me as a listener. I will survive so don’t be too concerned. It’s darkly dramatic and appealing in places.
@@@ Chief Ghoul: That Was A Lie (Chief Ghoul, 2021) I got this dirge-y country business via a music publicist email. While the guitar jangling is tried and true I dig the strings panned out to the sides and I find the shuffle beat to be a nice touch. Halfway through we are lucky to get some tambourine, the tambourine only surpassed by the cowbell in its percussive virtuosity. In general the formula and the vibe is pretty standard but it’s executed well here. I checked out other tunes and there’s a punky rocker but mostly backwoods, deep mosquito country.
@@@ Body Meta: The Work is Slow (Hausu Mountain, 2021) I seen this on the Twatter pumped out by the Pitchfork, by the Pitchfrank, etc. It’s proggy slack rock with a little alt country in it. I’m feeling this drummer, he/she/they is active and I like the guitar in my left ear that’s more ambient. Oh Lord, this first tune is an almost 15 minute banger, I got shits to do I may have to peep a bit and then move on. Oh my, they’re all big bangers, oy. The second tune lets up on the prog and goes more aggro with a delicious bass tone and some distortion pedal on the guitar, I’m feeling this big banger. I’m not a huge buyer of this style but these guys rock the instrumental prog business well. It’s thoughtful, varying in tones and moods. Maybe a bit too nerdy for me but that’s just me, I like a hot mess. Not hot dog mess but a hot mess so maybe I’m a bit overburdened by the restraint shown here.
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@@@ Anz: Morphing Into Brighter (OTMI, 2021) I got to this artist via Crack Magazine and the tremendous transmission of low end/low frequency material in this track is impressive. Shades of old school drum ‘n bass business but also hip hop pitch shifted voices it’s a celebration of percussion and energy. As well as some thinly disguised Prince style funk. It takes about 90 seconds but it surely does morph into a long melody supported by another stew of thick rhythms. I also checked out the first track of the single Unravel in the Designated Zone and it’s different but stronger with that long melody that gets punched up underneath. Tight tight snare sound and bass that just pushes your ass around.
@@@ Breland: Throw it Back (Atlantic, 2021) In the wake of NAS black cowboy smash hit which I didn’t feel at all, a black dude brings the drum machine and the rhyming and swirls it in with the country redneck business. I’m all for mixing shit up, but why these two things are getting smashed is a bit beyond me, it seems extra. I got to this via music honcho Bob Lefsetz who claims this should be a hit. Breland (the MC) can indeed put a lot of energy into the microphone so I give respect to that but the rest….meh. Especially the banjo solo, oy.
@@@ Soul Glo: Songs to Yeet at the Sun (Secret Voice, 2020) I have a regular reader with a screen name of Mr. Whirly and he sent me a note asking what I thought of this punk EP. What I originally concluded was a messy hardcore shitshow indeed has a lot of threads to it — a little Rage Against the Machine, a little Bad Brains, and some mathier bands I can’t pull of my hard drive at this point. Maybe a schmear of Fugazi, but the special gold star goes to the singer who is absolutely losing his nut. He sounds both sped up, pissed off, having a good time, and generally taking a well deserved shit on society. I don’t know what ethnicity the singer is, but he does have a HR thing going on where he gets worked up but maintains a tight rhythmic flow on the same time. The third tune flips it to a hip hop and ambient flow alternately where somebody is going rando spoken word and then into a drum machine with some trash ass 808 beats. The Bad Brains aspirations come to a head on the fourth tune Mathed Up, where the rhythm is tight as shit while the sound is just spillin’ up all over the place. I’ve always been a sucker for some hardcore shit that is tightly rhythmic and exploding. If you’re a young person, check this out, if you’re a crusty old fuck check it out too!
@@@ VAUDOU GAME: Bella (Hot Casa, 2021) One of my favorite African bands appeared on the WRIR weekly playlist email but a different single showed up on GooglePimpTube and the Apple Music. The first track (clipped below) is some breezy and funky Afro-disco complete with cowbell. Regular readers know of my undying love of cowbell, there’s no track out there that doesn’t benefit from a generous helping of cowbell. In addition to the cowbell there is a lot of call and response vocals going on, a funky drumkit beat and a spaceship synthesizer. Make sure to check out the B side which is entitled ‘Be My Wife’. Be My Wife sports the same vocal approach but a brisker tempo and a more driving set of components. Big ups for the distorted synth organ sound. This might be an appetizer for an upcoming full length but check out the two previous Vaudou Game for some overpowering African funk.
@@@ Lil Baby & Lil Durk: Voice of the Heroes (UMG, 2021) #1 in the Apple Music hot tracks section. It’s mainstream major label hip hop which requires an epic chorus, in this case something about being the voice of the heroes. I have no clue what that’s about, at first I thought might be related to Memorial Day. The sounds are presented well but the synths are cheesy and combined with the hook in the chorus it’s a bit of a Hollywood trap situation. I checked the lyrics on Genius and it’s a mish mash of pill taking, panty quaking, and fast cars and more pills. I’m definitely not the judgy type and I’m also a low IQ gent but if this tune is trying to say something I don’t understand. If it’s a vibe track I get that but I don’t love that big Hollywood rap star lifestyle vibe, I could give a shit.
@@@ Ad Nauseam: Imperative Impercebtible Impulse (Lazy Didn’t look it up, 2021) Some metal off Loudwire’s best metal of 2021. This is punishing mathy business that is unfortunately not on Apple Music so I’m forced to stream it off bandcamp and bandcamp streaming is 128k and thin. These are all long bangers, 8-12 minutes in length, complex and tweedly backed by an absolutely freaked out drummer driving the bus here. I’m on the second tune ‘Inexorably Ousted Sente’ and it’s a hot fucking mess. An enjoyable hot fucking mess, quite possibly hotter than two rats fucking in a wool sock. The best description for this is somebody took Captain Beefheart, shot him with 14 cans of Red Bull into his eyeballs, gave him a bunch of distortion pedals and twinkies and locked him in a studio. It’s very intense and impassioned music and I give that huge respect. This is no reproduction of another record. I might have to swing back on this and I would like to hear it in higher quality but once you get past the initial blasting chaos there’s a lot going on here.
@@@ Ayron Jones: Child of the State (Big Machine, 2021) I’m a bit surprised to see this record on a metal roundup as it’s a black dude rocking a modern blues with a twinge of arena rock. Also surprised to see Taylor Swift’s old label trafficking in this kind of business. I understand there’s a smattering of non white folks in heavy metal, no lectures please. The guitar sounds are epic, huge and noisy and I can’t decide whether I like the production overall. It does seem a bit inflated. I wish also the guitar playing was more adventurous, he seems set on a particular set of classic rock riffs. I’m on the fourth track and I like it all right but it’s a bit of a reproduction of something that came before.
@@@ The Hirs Collective: Affection and Care (Get Better Records, 2021) Herky jerk metal with an ‘at the end of a rope’ singer. Pounding and thrashing in a more desperate than angry way, I dig this. This is a somewhat normal length song off a record entitled the third 100 songs, which funny enough contains 100 fucking songs with irreverent titles like ‘Fuck you Dad’ and ‘Trans Woman Dies of Old Age’. I find this a bit exciting as I don’t get excited for much but 100 songs in 78 minutes is something to look forward to. One sentence from their charter statement is: We are a collective of freaks and faggots that will never stop existing. I’m a freak but not a homosexual or anything but a boring ass straight person (poor me) so I hope I can be a part of this just being just a hetero freak. I dig collectives and I look forward to hearing more of this music. More important than who these people are is the music, it’s quality and passion.
@@@ Midnight: Masked and Deadly (Metal Blade, 2021) Both of today’s listen’s are off Apple Music’s metal section and I’m shocked that something like the above listen by the Hirs Collective ever made it up there. This, on the other hand, is a blend of classic metal, thrash and even a bit of punk and classic hard rock which is pretty standard in its construction and its intent. It’s got a little AC/DC a little Iron Maiden and other ’80s old school bands in its DNA. The singer is pretty standard and you can hear him — in the heat of hell you will fry, that’s pretty clearly enunciated and seems to be a sensible statement about the actions of humans as well as climate change! I know it’s all hippie and shit to discuss the planet’s heating up but in the heat of hell we all gonna fry, motherfuckers!