@@@ Raven Chacon: Overheard Song (Innova, 2021) I got to this indigenous artist’s track via the somewhat hip and somewhat pretentious Brooklyn club National Sawdust. Slotted as classical music this track opens with a solo drum beat. Almost 2 minutes in the metal bell percussion comes in and a whooshing wind sound which might be electronic in nature. It took a long time to build to this point and I was going to dencounce it but she has a pretty good percussion storm brewing. An electric guitar comes in 1 minute from the end and gets distorted in the left channel. Third tune kicks in and it’s a mass of squealing guitar feedback that I’m enjoying. I like this without loving it and think it would be an impressive set of sounds for a live performance.
@@@ Black Pumas: Colors (ATO, 2020) I got to this band via an email from the home recording magazine Tape Op. It’s not really a home recording magazine, it’s a magazine about recording and it’s outstanding toilet reading. Slotted as soul it opens with a descending acoustic guitar arpeggio melody accompanied with a swelling organ before it goes pretty full Al Green flavored soul. Sonically wide across the stereo field which I think works really well, oh my this is really Al Green flavored business, ah well whatcha gonna do? The lyrics are concious which I associate more with Curtis Mayfield. Very stylish kicked in keyboard solo as the tune ramps up for the last minute. Well recorded, great energy, could use a new sound or two but otherwise solid business.
@@@ Diana Burco: La Negra Del Sur (SOMOS, 2021) Latin music off this week’s WRIR playlist email. Epic production here, especially on her voice, but the mix is fully pimped. There’s an MC in English saying ‘black from the south’ and she’s got a little cumbia accordion up in here and it’s a pleasant mash of pretty established sound. But again pimped sonically which is interesting and a bit performative. Ups for the accordion player, he tears it in the solo though he/she/they could be a bit higher in the mix. The MC returns for a full rhyme sesh and I’m not a huge fan, it’s all right. It goes through my ears as a song that straddles the line of fully stuffed business sometimes with good results and sometimes not.
@@@ ENNY: Peng Black Girls (FAMM, 2020) Off last week’s Crack Magazine. Today’s post is a draft post from the end of February that I’m using today as I’m busy as fuck and I don’t make loot doing this blog so I gotta get shit done and right this blog. This is UK hip hop with a female MC and female singers. I like the sung parts a whole bunch and the rhymed sections much less so. The beat is very close to something you would hear from a kit drummer and the keyboard vamp is also quite engaging and catchy. I think from the use of the perjorative term bloodclot that this these are some British folks with Caribbean roots. The second half of the tune really heats up and overall the track is just underneath jumping up and down for me.
@@@ The Los Sundowns: Los Angeles (Lechehouse Music, 2020) Off this week’s WRIR playlist email. It’s a world music tinged surf type tune that opens up the record. A bunch of minimalist leaning guitar tracks over straight rock drumming with occasional vocal stabs that punctuate the proceedings with a bit more direct humanity. The guitar playing is only surpassed by the arranging skills here, this is tightly focused and arranged and I give respect to that. The player clicked through to the next track titled ‘Endless Bummer’ which features some pretty stylish interaction between the organ player and the rest of the band. I’m pretty sure a band call Los Sundowns is not designed to make you jump up and down but these guys do a really good job accomplishing what they set out to do. These guys do a really good job of infusing surf with Latin feels.
@@@ YAADCORE, JAH9 AND SUBATOMIC SOUND SYSTEM: Police In Helicopter (Yard Birdz-Subatomic Sound, 2021) All three of today’s listens are off this week’s WRIR weekly playlist email. Sticky roots reggae with thick bass and old school drum sounds. The vocal hook is ‘if you continue to burn down the herb, we’re gonna burn down the cane field’ so I’m guessing these folks are in the Caribbean. I did some googling and see that sugar cane is grown in Florida, Louisiana and Texas so maybe they’re growing collyweed alongside the sugar cane and the police are chasing down the weed farmers. Regardless of location the sounds are tight and the vibe is all right. Check this out for some dubwise flavors.
@@@ Ben Aylon: Hulem Belibe (Riverboat, 2021) Some world music in the Israel area that manages to capture an epic rock vibe. It’s a pretty restrained and grooved out track til there’s a distorted traditional stringed instrument solo they run through a distortion box, a move I’ve heard before and whole heartedly approve of. The vocal arrangement gets stacked up and widened out as the track progresses and a swell-y keyboard is introduced. I’m torn on the epic rock vibe.
@@@ Les Filles de Illighadad: Surbajo (Sahel Sounds/Pioneer, 2021) I dont’ go to many shows but I was at this show in Brooklyn! This is a pre release track from an upcoming live record from this female trio out of I can’t remember which country in Africa. My almost 13 year old referred to the guitar as Lil’ Jimi Hendrix because there was a pretty short dude tearing up the guitar at this show. The recording is really nice and if you don’t know this outfit you should check them out as they have flavor. It’s three singers, a guitar (maybe 2) and a hand drummer.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Piers Faccini: All Aboard (Beating Drum, 2021) I got to this world music/guitar hero (Ben Harper!) smashup via a music publicist email. It’s a group empowerment exercise lyrically with guitar, African kora (I think) The artist, Mr. Faccini, is not know to me but on this track he’s flanked by an African string player and Mr. Harper as mentioned. Everybody takes a brief turn on the microphone and the rhythm is provided by a big hand drum with a low tone. It’s a groove track with a positive vibe and I like it all right, not super where I’m at. I like more the slower not guest laden track that comes after this one.
@@@ Antoine Bradford: The Sun (Humble Beast, 2021) I’m on the mailing list of this Christian hip hop/r&b label. This opens as a slow jam but as it’s on a Christian label this is not a booty jam tune. Strummed undistorted electric guitar, falsetto vocals in places. The melody changes in the chorus which is quite beautiful and effective as a chorus hook. A guest female vocalist comes in for more purdy-ness. I dig that any religious connotation is pretty subtle — the hook is ‘there goes the sun, there goes the sun shining again, there goes the sun…’ It’s hard to get your panties in a wad over that sentiment. For a celebration of all the greatness of God, etc it’s pretty good at conveying that.
@@@ Neil Young: Tell Me Why (Reprise, 2021) Music honcho/half time big mouth Bob Lefsetz sent out an email about this reissue of a live show by Neil Young in 1971. I’m no expert on Neil Young’s career but 1971 can’t be far from peak Neil Young in terms of his voice, his popularity and his impact as an artist. This is the first track of this live record and he’s in peak form playing his guitar as well as vocally. Not sure what to say here, peak Neil, young folks who don’t know much about him and what’s good about him should start here and those people who have tons of Neil Young well that’s a different story. I have no clue how many people jump and down over these songs that are great but have been circulated for a long time.
@@@ Roger Fakhr: Had to Come Back Wet (Habibi Funk, 2021) A reissue off of this week’s WRIR playlist email and a weird title with not much indication of what this track might be about. This music comes in as world music due to the fact that it was recorded in Lebanon in the late ’70s. If this was American made music it would be funky rock from the same time period, not the Doobie brothers but something in that neighborhood. With this recording timeframe you get a certain set of sonic attributes — pumping drums and bass and a certain forward mono type sound. I like this, I don’t love this keyboard sound, it’s got that hipster fusion-y sound that I’m pretty allergic to but it’s all right. These are pre-release tracks and the whole biscuit will be dropping soon.
@@@ Lee Fry Music: Wianek (Lee Fry Music, 2021) More off last week’s All Music notable release email. The tune is less murky than old school dub but brings some interesting sounds to the dubwise framework. A chainsawy synth bass, some Asian flavored strings, and an interesting vocal arrangement — multiple female voices off set to one another. I have no idea what she’s singing about but it produces a strong effect. The tempo is brisk and the track is dominated by the drum machine, the bass and the vocals. If I was more connected to the lyrics I would dig this more.
@@@ Florence Adooni: Mam Pe’ela Su’ure (Philophon, 2021) A track from a singer associated with the same label that released the Guy One record in 2017 that is most likely my favorite record of the ’10s. Adooni is a smooth as butter vocalist and she does her thing here over a laidback groove with typical instrumentation but mostly driven by some deceptively trick guitar playing. Other elements include a poppin bass sound that is a bit dubby and pretty funky, but Adooni and the vocalists supporting here as well as her background vocal tracks are the focus here. Oh shit, as I finish up this here blog post the second track of this single comes on and it’s sticky as shit, maximum balance of rhythm and melody and just a super janky feel that other genres can not usually get with. If you have a streaming service please check out this second track Naba Aferda, it is wickedness. If you don’t have a streaming service well then you’re fucked on this one.
@@@ 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.
@@@ Kiazi Malonga: Lomami (Red Tone, 2021) Our last listen of the day bumped to the top of the post as it’s awesome. My first impression is the contrast of the mellow strings and the powerful hand drumming and kit drumming. The kit drummer might be there more for metronome purposes because it’s very low in the mix compared to the hand drummers. The stringed instruments are panned out to the edges and the hand drums are in the middle pounding the listener, it’s a visceral and pleasurable listen. Oh man, I hope this record is straight like this all the way through as I’m feeling this formula. As the tune progresses the string players get a little more intricated and a third one gets introduced in the middle of the stereo field. Let’s cross fingers and check out a couple of other tracks. The drumming here is quite insane, world class to my ears. High energy, intricate and powerful. I’m putting this on my list to check out more thoroughly but my first impression is that it will be on my year end list.
@@@ Muito Kaballa Power Ensemble: Mamari (Rebel Up, 2021) I’m on this small UK label’s mailing list and this track is out today. My first impression here is that this German musician is taking Afrobeat and smashing it into jazz fusion-y type sounds and I’ve never heard that. So absent here is the driving energy of classic Afrobeat, but the sounds are tightly meshed and I’m enjoying that. I have a conflicted relationship with the classic macho sound of Afrobeat but I could use a bit more fire here. More energy and this level of sonically integrated sounds would be powerul. I like the drummer, the horn solos are a bit meandering, and overall I like it without loving it.
@@@ Baofo Ne Nyame: Baofo Ne Nyame (Hot Casa, 2021) The last two listens today are off this week’s WRIR playlist email. Check them out, they’re an awesome world music radio station in Virginia! I don’t see this record up on Apple Music so we’re stuck with the ol’ GooglePimpTube. My first impression is that this sounds like African Peter Tosh. The vocals are great, I love the single line guitar playing, but the mix is very fried in the higher frequency range and it’s a bit sharp for my ears. I’ve clipped the bandcamp page here below so you can hear the full recording but from my quick peep of the bandcamp page I see this recording is from 1987 which explains the crunchy tape sound. It’s not straight up African reggae as some Africans have run up the hill. I’m giving the second track a quick listen and it seems to take an ’80s Sugar Hill jam sound (or even early Prince) and does some African business on that. It’s interesting. I’m not sure I love it at first blush but I like the vocalist a whole bunch.
@@@ Florence Adooni: Mam Pe’ela Su’ure (Philophon, 2020) All of today’s listens are off this week’s WRIR playlist email and this particular track is getting a listen because it’s the same small label in Germany that released the Guy One record that is pretty much my favorite of the last decade. I couldn’t locate the track on Apple Music so we’ll have to make do with the GooglePimpTube and its shitty audio quality. This is smooth and funky and while I don’t almost ever watch the videos I clip up in these posts for your earholes the video below is so cool for its simplicity and the ease with which these African musicians play at extremely high levels of competency is impressive. I tend to gravitate to the hotter tracks but this track is winning me over for sure. I will check it out once it hopefully shows up on Apple Music (hopefully as part of a larger recording) as Ms. Adooni does a great job here. Check it out!
@@@ Witch Camp: Hatred Drove Me From My Home (Six Degrees, 2021) I’m a bit surprised to see this record out on the Six Degrees imprint as I think of them as the home of smooth, world music. This is more stripped back, retro African folk tune with titles like the one above and others such as ‘When I was ill you didn’t come visit me’ and ‘I trusted my family, they betrayed me.’ Since this is the pre-release track I can only comment based on this one track but I like the simplicity of it and it’s got a sad soulfulness I respect.
@@@ Quetzal: El Rio (Smithsonian Folkways, 2021) I think Smithsonian Folkways puts out some great music and I appreciated how they put out Latin/Mexican music while Trump was in office as I don’t think that was a coincidence. Oh, Orange Chaos Pig, drop fucking dead. Here we have some energetic business with jubilant strumming, rhythms powered by somebody’s feet, and a strong female singer. The tune transitions into a call and response with a chorus of singers and that expands the energy of the tune. It’s got a lot going for it and the old school foot pounding is recorded and executed very well. This is the 11th song on the record and I often wonder why the later tracks are featured as introductory tracks so Imma checking the first track because I thought I might like it more. I like it a lot without loving it so this might work for folks. Check it out.
@@@ DUB PISTOLS V DUBMATIX: Blue Monday [Single] (Cyclone, 2021) Extremely ambient dub reggae I got to via this week’s WRIR playlist. It’s a cover with a more subtle singer rather than your righteous Winston Rodney Burning Spear type of preacher man singer. Very tasty bass sounds but the star here is what you might call the ether, the little bits of delayed fragements and reverbed guitar ka-chunks, extremely pleasurable. Tasty sonic bits for ya earholes.
@@@ Afronaut: Barfight (The Good Times, 2020) The first tune off an EP called Africans from Outer Space. Great title. I don’t know where this band hails from but they sound like an old school indie rock band with a little horn action. I’ve been in this song for 2 minutes and I don’t want to hear the word barfight ever again! Ah, don’t wear it out. Jangly guitar, a lot of toms on the rock drumming and the word barfight. It starts to sound like they’re chanting ‘barf right’ after a bit.
@@@ El Dusty: Sax Riddim (Americano, 2021) Electro cumbia is how I would label this track that I got to via the WRIR weekly playlist email. Drum machine, synth/trap bass sitting under that tasty cumbia accordion, you can’t fuck with the accordion. There’s a synth horn and I like the hip hop connection here but for no reason except I prefer listening to the old school style, I prefer the old school cumbia. No purity test here maybe if it was arranged differently I would like it more.