Music for 4/12/21!!! Cha Wa, Ryley Walker, Dry Cleaning

@@@ Cha Wa: My People (Single Lock Records, 2021) Off the Twatter specifically Ted Gioia’s timeline/feed though I have heard and really dug this outfit before. These guys (unless I’m mistaken are the keepers of the New Orleans funk flame). This track, the title track, is a celebration of the staying power and strength of black folks with a division into rich people, poor people, and my people. In the lyrics that is. Big hornlines, lots of energy with hand drummers augmenting the rhythmic energy of the kit drummer. The player clicks through and it moves into a grittier old school funk with a dual guitar attack. I appreciate these guys keeping this funk style alive.

@@@ Ryley Walker: Rang Dizzy (Husky Pants, 2021) This listen and the next are a coupla rock/post punk kinda things off last week’s All Music notable release email. Rawk! I had to get that out of the way. The tune opens much more like a slightly proggy, literate fusion-y rock, there’s no rockin’ per se to be found here. Rocking defined as a release of energy related to defiance, alienation and dissatisfaction, sometimes cathartic in nature. The singer is a sensitive gent and he’s certainly not worked up and he wants you to listen to his words. I’m sure he’s a fabulous dude but I’m not super into his style. This is a dehydrated Pearl Jam typa thing, yikes! You even get a cello here in the background it’s just that classy.

@@@ Dry Cleaning: Strong Feelings ( 4AD, 2021) I don’t find much on the 4AD label as they really cater to the square ass white rock folks out there and they’ve gone to the bank on it. A bit of kraut rock mixed with some art school feels, female singer and a detached delivery style. Classic. If you’re gonna go this route as a listener which is your God given right I would give the Pixies a spin (another 4AD band) cuz they do this with a lot more irony and humor and straight rockin’. This is a bit too stylized for me to get involved with.

Music for 4/9/21!!! Navy Blue, Orbain Unit, Slow Molasses

@@@ Navy Blue: Durag Anthem (Freedom Sounds, 2021) I got to this via following Pitchfork on the Twatter. Opens up with chill keyboards and soft chattering hihats. It’s a black culture celebration channelled slightly through the metaphor of the durag, durags get mentioned but it’s about more than a piece of headwear. Lyrically I caught impressions of it and I like it but the main point here is the vibe. The vibe is firm and laidback led by the keys and the tone of the MCs. I dig it. The very ending of the song throws a small shift in there and I like that as well.

@@@ Orbain Unit: Xerai (Gnowot, 2021) European electric improv plus other sounds that I got to via the label that put this out. It has a bit of Pharaoh Sanders soprano sax chirping away, but the other component I dig is the multi-part drone using voices, possibly a bowed electric bass, and other bits. I really liked the stack of vocals and how they fit in with the rest of the instruments. The drum sounds is a tasteful big rock sound that gives some firmness to this big wall of sounds. The record consists of four fairly large pieces. There is also some electric guitar and electronics (I think) or that could be processed electric guitar. The droning vocals continue into the second piece and I will be peeping this for a few minutes before tipping out to my next victim. I skipped ahead to the third tune Powerhouse as I thought the second track was a bit slow to get going, standard for a 12+ minute banger. I’m feeling the sounds they have going here and if you’re into ambient improv with whatever they feel like rockin’ check it out.

 

@@@ Slow Down Molasses: Street Haunting (Self-released, 2021) Some ’80s-90s influenced post punk I got to via a music publicist email. Excellent guitar tones and a brisk beat. I feel like I like the singer but he seems to have trouble keeping up with the band. Two blustery guitars and a drummer cranked up on Red Bull or some such stimulant. I’m repeeping this the next day as I had a headache yesterday and that can effect one’s reviewing commentary. I stick by most of what I put in here before. There’s a chance they featured the band in the mix more than the singer and I think that’s the right way to go.

Music for 4/7/21 Kate Tempest, Evan Williams, Afro Yaqui Music Collective

@@@ Kate Tempest: Picture a vacuum (Lux, 2016) A friend of mine said he was grooving on this record and then he went to say I had reviewed it but I listen to so much music that I did not recognize the name. Let me peep it again. This is the opening of the track and it’s beatless and dominated by Tempest’s British accent, the region I know not. A gloomy Nine Inch Nails thing starts to emerge beneath her street poetry giving it a distinctly dystopian vibe. I let the player click through to the next track and it’s a more straightforward affair with krautrock feels and it’s a spoken word song. I like her words, they hint at something larger than life while depicting mundane human situations. I’m not sure I feel the entire electro backing for her voice as it gives the whole thing a sci fi feel that works very well in places but an acoustic instrument up in here could help as well.

@@@ Evan Williams: Bodies Upon the Gears (Parma, 2021) A Youtube live show I got to via an email from Parma Records in New Hampshire (one of the great anuses of America). As this is a live, Covid inspired new performance this is a Youtube only thing. Instrumentation is flute, sax and electronics including vocal samples, most notably the words ‘Bodies Upon the Gears’ in the opening section. The improvisation on this is a blend of jazz and classical influenced sounds. I like the voice the most and then my ear is caught by the flute after that and the sax player is my least favorite component of this track. Just personal preference. Overall my feeling is that this is a type of feel good performance for well intentioned boozhy types with more a focus on the concept than the execution of it.

@@@ Afro Yaqui Music: We Refuse to be Used and Abused (Ben Barson, 2021) I can’t remember how I got to this large ensemble jazz with rock feels to it but I dig it. Some awful big horn lines here with slinky bass and some cutting funk drums that could be higher in the mix. I’ve peeped excerpts of two other tunes and they are distinctly more Latin with a female singer featured in both of them. I’m not sure if it’s the same female singer but I like the Latin feels more than the big band flow. I have to go pick my wife up at the food coop so I will have to return to this music but I like this third tune La Cigarra, it gets pretty out there.

Music for 4/1/21!!! Real Estate, The Antlers, Special Friend

@@@ Real Estate: Half a Human (Domino, 2021) Ah Domino, the UK’s leading purveyor of odd, pastoral rock and this fits in though on the more mainstream side. The singer comes in Alex Chilton/detached and chill white guy style. I really like the vibe here and that’s balanced against its very familiar formula and how I feel about that. I guess that brings up the question of what is art, is it a faithful reproduction of what has come before is it okay or even necessary to want something more than a faithful reproduction? I can’t answer these questions for you, faithful reader of my shitass tiny blog but I think it’s a solid question. This track goes out on a jangly 2 guitar jam and it’s quite nice, like a summer wind across one’s taint. Perfectly awesome for those who want the familiar reproduction.

@@@ The Antlers: Green to Gold (Anti-, 2021) The 8th song on this alternative indie thing — loping is how I would describe the beginning section of this tune before the vocals come in. A breathy dude comes in — he’s not bedroom breathy, it’s more macaroni and cheese comforting type of thing. He’s your friend breathy. Mr. Antlers slides a couple of slide-y typed guitars in back of the arrangement and I feel that. And with a swelling organ, it’s just mad sad and there for you up in here. It’s not hippie-ish but it’s a lot of comforting sounds making me a bit sleepy. Think there could be some contrast here, there could be a thing such as too much comfort. Oxycontin for example.

@@@ Special Friend: Ennemi Commun (Sprecial Friend/Modular, 2021) Some old school retro indie guitar business. Two singers, both sort of detached in a Sonic Youth kinda way but the rest of it isn’t as blustery as the Youth. A bit crunchy and a bit smooth, it’s well executed particularly in the vocal stylings, but imho it could use a Red Bull in the band playing. Especially the drummer, get up in there and pump it up. Nice guitar tones with a jammy outro, one guitar holding it down with the distortion pedal and the other going intergalactic white space cowboy.

Music for 3/24/21!!! Chad Vangaalen, Lido Pimienta

@@@ Chad VanGaalen: Starlight (Sub Pop, 2021) Looking at the titles here we’re looking if not right in the eye of a hippie music record we are encountering a hippie influenced record. C’mon the second tune is called Flute Peace and the record is called Starlight! As the ambient intro fades away it does give way to a hippie drum chug with a midtempo laziness I like. The singer comes in and he’s rocking a quasi detached, somewhat psychedelic vocal style. The song is dominated by the singer and the drummer. There’s a guitar in there but it’s in back. Once they get to chorus involving the word starlight it’s an aspirational hippie thing. Standard non flashy guitar solo with a tearing tone. I sorta forgot about the bass player who does good work, not flashy but quietly melodic. So weird percussion and spacy sounds, a psych sing, a steady drummer, there you have it.

@@@ Lido Pimienta: Eso Que Tu Haces (Anti-, 2021) Off last week’s WRIR playlist email. A Latinx Canadian who has gotten prizes and praise. I dug her last record though there are times where her music flatters a bit too much. This tune is headphone candy with her beautiful voice in Spanish but also sporting a super fat bass sound I’m grooving alongside some shaker. When it gets to the chorus her voice and the synth based arrangement explodes. Some might say it could be too epic, I’m not sure where I stand on that. I like it a lot, appreciate the sounds and her singing but I’m not jumping up and down, I want to jump up and down.

Music for 2/16/21!!! Virginia Wing, Django Django, Roy Montgomery

@@@ Virginia Wing: I’m Holding Out For Something (Fire Records, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off last week’s All Music notable release email. This was described as experimental but to my ears it’s an update on Laurie Anderson’s uplifting concious friendly electro rock. I like but don’t love Wing’s voice, I’m not a huge fan of the lyrics, I like the bass and the beats all right but I’m hearing too many handclaps. They just keep going and I know enough about recording to know that they can be muted and then returned at a later time. It gives the impression of being a grade school singalong and it also wears down my ears a bit. I let the player click through to the next track and it’s just a bit too art school for my taste.

@@@ Django Django: Free From Gravity (Because Music, 2021) What is slotted as experimental rock is really just an upgraded frat boy soft rock biscuit! Oh how disappointing and regular readers know how much I hate being deceived in marketing. It doesn’t sit well with me. Engaging singer, pretty cliche lyrics, a little electro garnish and a little white boy dancefloor action, oy. He does a little hip hop rhythmic vocalizing thing here and there but the mix is dominated by friendly, shiny sounds with absolutely nothing challenging happening here. OY. The tune should be called free from reality not free from gravity.

@@@ Roy Montgomery: Cowboy Mouth (Grapefruit, 2021) Our last listen of the day and it’s been a bit of a rough listening day with mismarketing and art school flavors. This track opens guitar ambient and delayed, sorta spitting guitar fragments out into the, well your earholes! It’s joined by a little slide and also a friendly saw shaped wave, and maybe another synth and it’s cloudy and a bit dark and enjoyable for the most part. The question here is whether beats are required or not for this track. I don’t usually like guitar in my ambient music but this tune while being pretty ambient and pretty noodly is doing all right. It’s an interesting balance of structure and no structure — it feels meandering but doesn’t come off as bullshit to my ears. Maybe I’m full of shit but it works all right. It’s an 8+ minute banger and I’ve made it 5+ minutes and that’s a big accomplishment for me. Beats not required imho.

Music for 2/3/21!!! The Weather Station, Sophie

@@@ The Weather Station: Atlantic (Fat Possum, 2021) I saw this artist getting wowsad both in the NY Times and by an indie lover on the Twatter so it’s quite well trumpeted and I’ve heard her outfit before and not been blown away. But I go in with open earholes. I checked out the first track Robber which got a lot of indie hype and this track is a coffee shop rocker with a little guitar processing and a chill but firm rock dance beat. Ms. Weather Station comes in with the lower energy vocal stylings, some ringing piano chords, and hopeful electro garnish to make you feel a bit better. I like that there’s a blend of sounds but I don’t love her singing. I like the electronic bits, I don’t like this beat, I don’t like piano and I don’t love her singing but indie is a self-serious reach of a genre for me.

@@@ SOPHIE: It’s Okay to Cry (Future, 2017) I’m not the primary demographic for Sophie’s music but I saw the outpouring of love when she passed so I thought I would check her music out. My hesitation in listening revolves around the ongoing statements I see saying she demolished boundaries between pop and experimental music. This is the first song from her 2017 record I haven’t really heard anything particularly challenging or new or experimental in this track. It’s very orchestrated synth pop with a fair amount of glitch and production flourishes but it’s got a big hook in the chorus and it’s just pop music. It’s not far from being a Prince tune — delicate, fragile vocals, sweet orchestration, expansive production. I like her voice but I don’t like how she presents it, I don’t like the drum sound and overall it’s a solid track. I’m on the second track and it sounds a lot like late ’80s Prince music.

Music for 1/26/21!!! Palberta, Kiwi Jr., ZAYN

@@@ Palberta: Corner Store (Wharf Cat Records, 2021) Old school female guitar indie and I think I got to this track via a recent All Music notable release email. They’re engaging in some Sleater-Kinney style two part vocal harmonizing, maybe even three part! and it’s cool. I do, however, love the Sleater Kinney whipping of the shitty and that’s absent here. The tempo is brisk in places but it’s not boiling over. That’s okay, it’s okay to not whip a shitty. I could use a bit of distortion pedal to be perfectly honest — a little crunch would be nice. Ah well. I let the player click through to the next track and they get into a little Minutemen style business and from that super quickie onto the next one it seems like they’ve listened to a lot of different ’80s and ’90s SST style bands. A little Meat Puppets in here as well so a cornucopia of retro rock music.

@@@ Kiwi Jr.: Waiting in Line (Sub Pop, 2021) More guitar indie, my favorite shit ever! This time more shiny and more emphasis on the vocal melodies and a generally quirky poppy flow. Singer doing a good job with the tools he has, and the drummer does all right but it’s very familiar. Maybe that’s the point!!! Again I could use a bit of muscle in the guitar part of the band but that’s how I roll and how I roll is not how others roll. The vocalist steals the show here and the guitar players could use a small to medium sized flavor pack. A little somethin’ out of the ordinary, naimsayin’? I also like the keyboards here though they’re a bit low they should be emphasized more here.

@@@ ZAYN: Vibez (RCA, 2021) Fuckz there’s nothing sweeter than new ZAYN Malik trackz. He quakez the pantiez fo sho. It’s a loverboy track with a medium funk undercarriage and he just goez off on the mic about what he’s gonna do to his lover. He’z gonna make it realz! The vocal hook is you got the vibez, you got the vibez. He’s gonna do all the thingz, all the thingz that you see in your dreamz, oh man. I let the player roll as I type up this pocket review and the soft top on the early ’80s quiet storm funk formula continuez. I find this kind of music scary as it comes off as a simulation of human emotion and not a heartfelt expression of a real one. Apparently we’re not in a time with the realz.

Music for 10/5/20!!! Nicole Mitchell, The Coral, Bird Streets, Robbie Fulks/Gail Lewis

@@@ Nicole Mitchell: No One Can Stop Us (FPE, 2018) This is a live record from a jazz flutist that I’ve been meaning to check out for a long time. All of today’s listens come from a 2018 All Music notable release email. Instrumentation is flute, cello, and piano with no drums. It’s got the bounce and energy of a live recording with occasional chants of No One Can Stop Us. I like spoken word with jazz, it’s part of a long tradition but I think I’m missing the energy of a drummer. If there was a drummer here I think the music would firm up with a bit of hardness and energy that I really feed off of. I like my tender sentiments with some contrast. That’s just me and I plan on listening to some of her studio recordings as I know musicians who have worked with her and rave about her. I’m halfway through the first piece Warm Dark Realness and think the interplay between the musicians has intensified and I’m finding it much more interesting.

@@@ The Coral: After the Fair (Ignition, 2018) I’m a big fand of this band, a rare oasis of freakshow in pretty predictable rockland. This is the last tune on the record and it’s a sad goodbye type of thing. Arpeggiated acoustic guitars in both left and right channels, a foot tapping or a drum emulating a tapping foot. The vocals are sweet, pastoral, and UK-ish. This is a straighter track than some of the stuff from their prime (I’m not saying this is not prime). I’m checking out the first track and it’s got some of the stuff I love about the Coral, but I would recommend 2005’s Invisible Invasion, I love that shit. It’s my blog I get to recommend as I see fit.

@@@ Bird Streets: Betting on the Sun (Warner, 2018) I’m always a bit skeptical of major label rock as it tends to slant more towards the smooth and creamy baby food neighborhood and not really rockin’. This opens with frank and sarcastically confessional lyrics which I like but the sounds are pretty manicured. He goes falsetto and tambourine in the chorus so you know where we’re headed here. To Smoothland. I’m hearing at least three layers of guitar — some acoustic, some arpeggiated clean electric sounds, and occasional power chord action. It’s well done, pretty familiar, and not super my cup of tea. Take off the suit and color outside the lines, that’s what I say.

@@@ Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis: Wild Wild Wild (Bloodshot, 2018) Some retro rockabilly flavored twang. With the female and male singer duo it’s pretty reminiscent of X who took this formual and injected some ramped punk attitude into it. The sounds are cool here, I especially like the guitar (then the piano) but I wish the drummer could carry the load more. He sounds like he’s behind the rest of the band instead of driving it. Maybe it’s the mix but more energy would make me more excited. Funny how that works.

YTD recordings listened to: 866
Good music, not list worthy: 467
Not good music: 366

Best: 4
Honorable Mentions: 5

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Tarek Atoui, Saicobab, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik, Moodymann, Pharmakon, Alefa Madagascar, Janjao, Luge, Wiki, Mick Jenkins, Jeremiah Jae, Fera, Gambian Griot Kora Duets, Drama, Beatrice Dillon, Mass Worship, mmmonika, Les Deuxluxes, Tony Allen, Fra Fra, Nihiloxica, Hailu Mergia, Pokey LaFarge, Nico Gomez, Nohe and Sus Santos, Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood, Pole, Naeem, Mekons, Santrofi, DJ Nigga Fox, Flor do Toloache, Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid, Shy One, Protomartyr, Nnamdi, Ekiti Sound, Awa Fall, 25,000 Kittens, Anjimile, Superfonicos, Yves Jarvis, Jonsi

Music for 10/15/20!!! Eartheater, Tawny Newsome and Bethany Thomas, Penny Penny, Cut Worms

@@@ Eartheater: Phoenix: Flames are Dew Upon My Skin (PAN, 2020) Outside of the listen right below this one we’re going to check out the past few Bandcamp records of the day. This young woman has quite a record cover going on as she stands with her buttocks perched high upon the listener and a shower of golden yellow sparks enveloping and I assume shoothing out of her cooch area. With such a brash cover image I’m surprised to see her classified as contemporary folk on Apple Music. Whaaaaa? This first tune rocks more of a mellow prog feel to it, it’s orchestral in places and there are no coochie sparks to be had here. #Shame. The music here is not nearly as remarkable as the cover, unfortunately. It is electro, symphonic quasi-folk with very modern feels. A tad disappointing to be honest. The third brings on some singing and it’s got a bit of that indie slackness that I don’t find appealing.

@@@ Tawny Newsome and Bethany Thomas: You’re Still Up (Alpinist, 2020) I got to this self described desert punk via a music publicist email. Maybe these gals will bring some fire this morning. Very capable rock style singing over a pretty standard rock arrangement and the production is far too clean to call this punk. It’s pretty mannered classic hard rock. Plus the singer is far too good to have this in the punk neighborhood. There’s a sped up double time super arranged part in the middle of the track that shows some real skills before they head back into the not as unique riffed out chorus.

@@@ Penny Penny: Yogo Yogo (Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2020) A South African singer who doesn’t have sparks shooting out of his crotch area! I’m not the biggest fan of the sweeter South African music but I check music out with an open mind. We’re headed right off into party land with the first track called Ibola Aids!!! This looks to be a reissue as there are videos from this record up on the GooglePimpTube from 11 years ago. I like this all right, more than I expected as it’s pretty rhythmically interesting and not as sweet as I expected. It is pretty electro in its sounds but the singing, especially the female background section is very interesting to listen to in contrast to the arrangement. It’s not super hard hitting music which is my preference but the singing is beautiful, there are some tasty basslines working here and there’s a charm to the tracks.

@@@ Cut Worms: Nobody Lives Here Anymore (Jagjaguwar, 2020) Blurbed as mid century pop on Bandcamp this is supposed to be unironic indie pop from way back in the day. This first tune has that as well as more than a schtickl of alt country melody and sound. It’s an expanded Buddy Holly friendly rock thing, that’s what I think. I like his voice and his melodies, I find the guitars a bit predictable and it’s an interesting sound and feel to explore. This is a tad sleep to be pop or rock so that’s the part of indie I keep getting hung up on. If you go check out That’ll be the Day and the whole thing is much firmer and right on the verge of rocking. If he had put a bit more rock into this indie rock I’d cotton to it.PA

YTD recordings listened to: 796
Good music, not list worthy: 435
Not good music: 336

Best: 4
Honorable Mentions: 5

Possibles: Retox, Defeater, Jonwayne, Okkyung Lee, Slidhr, The Chewers, Susie Iberra/Roberto Rodriguez, The Coral, T.O.M.B., Lozen, Erase Errata, Mastery, Hartley C. White, Weed, Cold Water, Luther Dickinson, Graeme Barrett, Fast Asleep, Goldlink, Cavanaugh, Satoko Fuji, Moken, Juan Atkins, Lantern, Twin Peaks, Djelimady Tounkara, Denny Zeitlin, MILF, Unfun, De La Soul, Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes, Noname, Klara Lewis, Krullur, The Lowest Form, Hard Proof, Yotoco, Jungle Fire, Sandoz, Oddisee, RAM, Fiver, Succumb Succumb, Gloom, Priests, Propaganda, This is the Kit, Roberto Gonzalez, Integrity, Tuba Skinny, The Expanders, Criolo, Billy Strings, Flowers of Sulphur, Portal, Lawaii, Etran De L’Air, Ruby Karinto, Elysia Crampton, Parquet Courts, Moskus, Kendl Winter, Tkay Maidza, Barro, Daniel Khan, Tallawit Timbouctou, Sumac, Tropical Fuck Storm, Harriet Tubman, Ammar 808, Anais Maviel, Chaka Khan, Pom Poko, Fried Egg, Tarek Atoui, Saicobab, General Purv, Shipping News, Big Thief, Mariachi El Bronx, Pour Me a Grog, Sudan Archives, Lakou Mizik, Moodymann, Pharmakon, Alefa Madagascar, Janjao, Luge, Wiki, Mick Jenkins, Jeremiah Jae, Fera, Gambian Griot Kora Duets, Drama, Beatrice Dillon, Mass Worship, mmmonika, Les Deuxluxes, Tony Allen, Fra Fra, Nihiloxica, Hailu Mergia, Pokey LaFarge, Nico Gomez, Nohe and Sus Santos, Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood, Pole, Naeem, Mekons, Santrofi, DJ Nigga Fox, Flor do Toloache, Alexander Hawkins/Tomeka Reid, Shy One, Protomartyr, Nnamdi, Ekiti Sound, Awa Fall, 25,000 Kittens, Anjimile, Superfonicos, Yves Jarvis, Jonsi