OLIVIA KAPLAN - Tonight Turns Into Nothing [CS](Topshelf/Redeye)
Having studied ethnomusicology and busy writing songs since she was 13, Olivia Kaplan’s full-length debut is a breath of fresh air. Kaplan knows that arranging is just as much as part of writing (the masterful buildup from quiet vibrato to its emotive ending on “Ghosts.”) The loping “Wrong” (featuring guitar by Buck Meek) is almost like a song written inside out. Kaplan’s one-word title chorus is actually followed by a verse, while the verses themselves are short and sweet - setting her up to put it all into that single word. The elegant “Seen By You” lets you crash into her chorus and emulation, while the quiet “Still Strangers” is a powerful song that needs only her vocals and guitar. “Tonight” is stunning and bursting with crossover potential.
MENTIRA - Sincero EP [12"](Subterfuge GER)
These Madrid kids in their early twenties know a thing or two about making modern synthpop. Their sizzling summer single "Una Puerta" grabs its jet propulsion from Eighties Pop. The buzzy mixture of pensive synth chords and swooping melodic bass blends perfectly with the chorus-ed jangly guitars. However, at the moment, you think have Mentira figured out - they detour into either synthian switches or dig up an emotional cascade for an ending. "Tan Lejos" flirts with R&B balladry (and vocal effects,) "No Se" is straight C-86 guitar Pop with a hint of City Pop and "Divertido" is the big ending. Four songs from a foursome to look out for.
LES PYTHONS DE LA FOURNAISE - L'Orchestre Du Piton [LP](Wax Thematique)
Maloya-ian music traditionally is all about singing in unison. These adept French musicians want to bring that music to life in as authentic (they use acoustic instruments) and as highly original manner as possible. Inspired by the more electronic Sega music, "L'Orchestre Du Piton," is, by design, a dance album. However, the intoxicating rhythms here are to mimic the washing of the sea upon the shore. The melodies ring out like children singing and trading ideas in a circle. Les Pythons seem to be constructing a sort-of musical Merry-Go-Round where it is both quite the ride and those hooks stay with you.
CALAVERA - Espejismos [LP/CD](Lago/Crater ESP)
Calavera makes some dreamy synthpop. The Zaragoza group keeps their songs simple enough that the choruses (“Sayonara” - especially when they just keep playing it in the end) leap out at you. While they are yet another Eighties-sound obsessed band, Calavera manages to have their own take on it. “Secretos” is an emotional, yet odd-metered song built around a single synth wave, and while the guitar is not present through the entirety of “Malas Hierbas,” its two parts contribute to a great mood shift. “Espejismos” really shows the band in command of their writing and recording.
T.HARDY MORRIS - The Digital Age of Rome [LP/CD](Normaltown/New West/Redeye)
On his second solo album, Morris goes back to basics - because nature forced him to. Sitting on twelve demos for a new album, the world turned on its ear in 2020. So Morris simply put down how he felt at the time. "Rome" is eerie, airy and a paean to the loss of time. The songs use lots of space like Morris wanted us to feel his emptiness first and foremost. The stunning title cut slowly draws pictures of those frames of life that we found we missed the most. Morris purposely paces it so you can feel every word and every reverberation of his guitar. "Shopping Center Sunsets" puts a sweet haze on a bad dream, while the Bowie-esque "DirtRocker" asks what this whole incident has taught us and tries to at least put missing someone into perspective. Then Morris unleashes a dinosaur roar of a guitar solo and you weirdly take comfort in knowing oddly that none of us will ever know.
ROSE CITY BAND - Earth Trip [LP/CD](Thrill Jockey/Redeye)
Outside of his time in Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo, Rose City Band must be what Ripley Johnson does to relax. On his third stellar album in three years, he lets us imagine what it would be like if Neil Young played with the Dead. Johnson wants to lead you into his sort of Space Rock-for-Folks fog and then just astound you with his guitar prowess. The mellow "In The Rain" is the opposite of guitar flash, yet just as impressive. "Ramblin' With The Day" even calls back to the standout "Only Lonely" (from "Summerlong") while inserting a bluesy solo that will plant a smile on your face. Even when sedate or subdued, his tone, trills, and turnarounds never distract from the proceedings.
ISLAND - Yesterday Park [LP/CD](Beatnik/Frenchkiss)
UK band Island has that bratty British vocalist hitting all the band’s changes for power (“Everyone’s The Same”) and an off-time Reggae-ish single (“Do You Remember The Times,”) However, aside from the need to rock like they are uncontained, Island’s most astonishing moment is the sweeping Britpop of “My Brother” where MBV-ish guitars do the swelling and singer Rollo Doherty shares the feeling of connection - which happens to be what we are all looking for.
MAPLE GLIDER - To Enjoy Is The Only Thing [LP/CD](Pi Eater/Redeye)
Naarm/Melbourne is worlds away from where we are, but Tori Zeitsch’s warm Lana Del Rey-meets-Nick Drake vocal style makes you feel as if you are right there with her. The elegance of voice, guitar, and piano (and some drums) is impressively laid out here. Zeitsch’s songs are often delivered like a warm breeze. “Baby Tiger” is a handful of chords and a wide palette of emotions. On the piano song “As Tradition,” Zeitsch holds on to her refrain “Love is just a word” like she has been waiting to sing it for years. The folky strum of “Swimming” is the real draw. Like a female Tim Buckley, Zeitsch balances herself against the band and the addition of psychedelic effects. That chorus is about to be heard in every promo and trailer for months. What a grand debut!
SOFT WALLS - Not As Bad As It Seems [LP](Part Time DEN)
Dan Reeves has a very different idea for lo-fi Suicide-ian synth Rock. While it remains sliced down to its most elemental (drum machine on Motorik, organ chords high in the mix and Reeves’ detached vocals,) it is the way he adds and subtracts like an EDM artist that makes the ongoing wave of repetition so interesting. “Misperception” is laser focused, guitars double and triple until the cut can only add counterpoint from the highest notes on a synth. Reeves does an awful lot with mostly midrange sounds and recording. The punky “Every Target Can Afford To Wait” brilliantly stops all sound with a snare blast, “As Thin As A Thread” emerges from a ball of noise, while “Ex-King” swishes along like the backroom of Max’s Kansas City was driven through one slightly-blown speaker. Reeves’ ideas about repetitive patterns are brilliant because he never allows them to evolve or change. And well, that is “Not As Bad As It Seems.”
COLA BOYY - Prosthetic Boombox [LP/CD](MGMT/Record Makers)
Oxnard, CA's Matthew Urango makes some infectious Dance-pop on "Prosthetic Boombox." His sounds are all in the right place. He knows just when to bump a piano pattern ("Don't Forget Your Neighborhood.") Exactly when to get funky and silly (the joyous noise of "Mailbox.") Even when to blend some fleet-fingered funky guitar with Eighties sounds and effects ("Roses.") Urango has acquired several serious fans namely Nicolas Godin of Air, MGMT, and John Carroll Kirby - all who help out here. However, Urango's voice and writing carry a bittersweetness that you may not be used to hearing in Disco/Dance Pop. For all his sonic inventiveness, "Boombox" lyrically reflects the uncertainty of his life in Oxnard ("You Can Do It" talks about dancing while "Bullets flying") and "Boombox" shows Urango as a promising future writer/producer.
JOE HARRIOTT QUINTET - BBC Jazz For Moderns EP [LP](Gearbox)
Jamaican-born/British saxophonist and bandleader Joe Harriott made a name for himself overseas with a steady hand at Be-bop before discovering Free Jazz where he wailed at the planets until 1973. After playing with several combos for many years in the Fifties, a hospital stay in 1960 led Harriott to a new way to improvise - much like his idol Ornette Coleman. Truth be told, Harriott was already branching out as early as 1960, mixing bold improvisations with great compositions and still having the good sense to play standards for the Jazz set. With most of his catalog no longer in print, this 4-song 1962 set from Maida Vale makes a fantastic starting point to explore Harriott. The Dizzy Reece-composed opener "Shepherds Serenade" is a textbook study in Hard-Bop. Shake Keene's trumpet solo is all over the place before Harriott comes in with a hint of Charlie Parker-esque soul. After a long note, Harriott really guns the end and perfectly sets up pianist Pat Smythe. A little later on when the group takes on Harriott's own composition "Tonal," the mix of legato notes and a staccato figure perfectly establish just where the group is going. Smythe's chording goes into McCoy Tyner-esque blocks and Harriott plays far outside the lines. It is an eye opening experience. At just four songs, "BBC Jazz For Moderns" is a wonderful find. Hopefully, it will lead to more from this lost British Jazz artist.
Time to get LOUD!
BIRDS OF MAYA - Valdez [LP/CD](Drag City/Redeye)
Before there was Purling Hiss, there was the mighty Stooge-ian driving Garage RAWK of Birds of Maya. In just six songs, the power trio manages to return as the overlords of overload. Drums pound merciless as the bass thunders under it. However, it is the two guitar mix on top that really fries your synapses. “Please Come In” features several moments that are literally guitars not on squeal - but on squelch. The dual high-frequency violations wrap up in a forceful riff off a la Blue Cheer. “BFIOU” is perhaps the closest one could get to hearing Black Sabbath playing Punk, but at a scant 2:47 - it is the single. “Valdez” is howlingly great.
AMENRA - De Doorn [LP/CD](Relapse/The Orchard)
Belgian Death/Post Metal band Amenra finds a method to crush your synapses with Hardcore-style vocals (a/k/a bloodcurdling screams) and slow, Doom progressions that offer no relief either. "De Doorn" steps away from the "Mass" series to take some serious chances. "De Evenmens" is a cruel night mistress whose maximum riffage threatens to lead you deeper toward the abyss. The guitar strikes and swells in the second half are astounding. Amenra works because while meeting all the Metallic hallmarks, "De Doorn" feels like a Swans record. Gloomy and desperate, even in its most quiet passages, it will not let go of you. On the album's twelve-minute closer "Voor Immer," the first eight minutes are so quiet - you are forced to listen more intently. However, the hurricane-level culmination of sludge, noise, screaming, and earth-shattering notes may be the most frightening moment this year.
Well, another week, another list of suggested music for you. Thank you. Share. Comment. Enjoy.
On a final note, T-BONES would like you to know that Record Store Day is coming back for DROP 2 on July 17th. This list of exclusives, reissues, and just awesome products will be invading our time shared here for the next few weeks. However, it is just another guest at the party. There’s no slowing us down. Tell your friends about us.
Enjoy. Share. And check out the entire RSD list and even WISHLIST us if you like. RSD 21 with T-BONES
A mix of the NEW RELEASES from this week!
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