NEW MUSIC FRIDAY springs into action with a plethora of releases for all moods and modes.
While the net always gets bigger, but we only slip you the best catches of the day.
LIA PAMINA & OS PEREGRINOS - Lua Descolorida: Tributo A Rosalia de Castro [7”](Elefant ESP)
Pamina has already released several heavenly Pop singles that cement her status as a throwback to the Sixties European chanteuse. On this tribute to poet Rosalia de Castro and with the aid of Charlie Peregrinos and Roger Arias of Os Peregrinos, they find a beautiful nexus between traditional Folk retelling and cocktail Pop. The toy instruments on “Por Que?” actually add resonance to its Brazilian sway. Then they add trumpet, guitar, and keyboards (from Posies member Ken Stringfellow) to put the boss in the bossa nova that is “Lua Decolorida” before swimming to some faraway beach for the simmering close “Paz Desexada.”
Therapie TAXI - Rupture 2 Merde [LP](Panenka FRA)
This French trio finds an enterprising new way to be Pop Moderne. The mixture of deep male voices with their chanteuse singer Adélaïde Chabannes and very breezy music gives the Therapie TAXI the contemporary draw of Saint Etienne. Songs are sunny and bright (“Rupture 2 Merde,”) beautifully layered with melody (“Friendzone,”) and even danceable in that Phoenix-esque manner (“Blesse-moi.”). The evocative R&B/Hip-Hop Pop of “Ete 90” would make a great surprise single in the US this summer. With only acoustic guitar, synths, and drum machines, Therapie TAXI quickly establishes themselves and stays consistent on “Rupture.” Sadly, it appears they have split and “Rupture 2 Merde” marks their farewell. Still, what a way to go.
COOL GHOULS - At George’s Zoo [LP/CD](Empty Cellar/The Orchard)
These Bay Area indie rockers have been at it for nearly a decade. “At George’s Zoo” shows just how fresh their summery but relaxed songs can be. Cool Ghouls know how to build tension without making it feel tense (the swell on “Helpless Circumstances” leads to a double-guitar solo that would make Rolling Blackouts proud.) With their glimmering Sixties garage production, the bass is always pounding and the beat never leaves. That rhythm section leaves a lot of room for the Ghouls to inject some twang into Power Pop (“The Way I Made You Cry,”) while “Surfboard” starts like the Beach Boys before descending into a Todd Rundgren groove.
LINDA SMITH - Till Another Time: 1988-1996 [LP/CD](Captured Tracks)
Smith’s ghostly four-track Power Pop feels a bit like the missing link some forty years later. Here is Smith in the heyday of both candy-colored multi-layered MTV Pop and dirty-haired Amerindie rockers slicing a huge swath of the growing College audience through incessant touring and roughhewn self-made records. So Linda rebels with a subdued but confident attack at where the lonely people take refuge in songwriting and hours of layered recording. Her bass playing occasionally sounds like beats of anguish. Her keyboards carry that naivete where melodies magically appeared from tinny Casios. Finally, music in general for Smith was to have no real rules. “Till Another Time” is a testament to singer/songwriters who scribbled down some ideas and simply made writing and recording a singular flight of fancy.
CORY HANSON - Pale Horse Rider [LP/CD](Drag City/Redeye)
Cory Hanson of Wand takes his Rose City Band moment on “Pale Horse Rider” with a beautiful set of delicate, highly melodic Cosmic American Music. The Country influence only seems to sneak out of these elegantly written songs. “Pale Horse Rider” should be a killer Americana radio track. Written to lope along like the equine creatures in the song, Hanson builds it majestically with haunting strings and piano. While the Gene Clark-esque changes and looseness of “Pale Fog” hang in the air above a rudimentary drum machine groove. If this is Hanson working with limitations, we cannot wait to hear him run rampant in the studio with everything at his disposal. “Pale Horse Rider” should serve notice to Americana radio that Folk-Rock was born on the streets and in the canyon of Los Angeles.
PUPIL SLICER - Mirrors [LP/CD](Prosthetic)
On their debut, this London hardcore/scream core band serve up some real surprise with almost Thrash-based changes and Industrial accents. “L’ Appel Du Vide” is the closest to qualifying as a single. However, that is only because it best summarizes Pupil Slicer’s breakneck changes and dense song structure. The pummeling “Wounds Upon My Skin” tackles both a slamming repetitive groove and a very Nineties bass/drums breakdown that really tacks the darkness on the bleakness coming. That leads us to the 1:16 grindcore assault (with Math-ian guitar squalls) on “Interlocutor.” Pupil Slicer uses their debut to not only prove what they are worth but raze the walls of these subgenres into one pulverizing Doom/Grind/Scream exorcism.
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN - Pick A Day To Die [LP/CD](Three Lobed/Redeye)
While this Free Rock/Acid Rock/Experimental group has been making records (volumes of them as well) since 2002, “Pick A Day To Die” marks their first recording in eleven years. “Flex” comes on a like Krautrock wet dream with its bass loops, Amon Duul II-ish guitar, and the sickest synth you may hear this year. Over the course of the record, the group toy with biker rock, acid rock in full-flower, Folk, and even danceable music. “Pick A Day To Die” makes its mark on mixing music you would never find together and in turn may never want to separate again.
GOTTS STREET PARK - Volume Two [LP]
From that new spate of British Soul collectives, Gotts Street Park takes on both a Daptone-esque instrumental standing and a sinuous Sault-like position with vocalists. The band has that tight, Spartan Colemine feel in place from the close-miked snare to the sweet growl of plate reverb on the guitar. As they switch between instrumentals and vocal cuts, Gotts Street Park shows their depth. Cuts like “Sugar” and “Favourite Kind of Girl” start in that dark Portishead territory before staking their claim on more Pop choruses. However, it is the closer “Change My Ways” with vocalist Pip Millett that really leaves you smitten with GSP. It comes just in time to want to flip the record and start again.
NUHA RUBY RA - How To Move [12”](Brace Yourself)
Indie Rock has quite a few fantastic females who know just how to use rudimentary machines to create a backdrop that almost speaks for them. However, Nuha Ruby Ra may be out to subvert all of that. The four songs on her debut are all very forward and almost sexual. Ra’s real diamond-like facet is her ability to lead you to the edge of knowing and quickly turn back. The serpentine single “Sparky” is like an acting monologue pieced together over a Pet Shop Boys four-track. Her grooves are punchy, but her enunciation can be intoxicating. The drowsy draw of “Erase Me” is in her subtle changes. She sings “My heart is heavy, heavy, heavy” with a helium lightness almost like she lacks the breath to even push it out of her lips. Then proceeds to put all her other verbs in triplicate until you are hypnotized enough to later catch her trio of cooing mentions of the title - where she slips in a “Don’t Erase Me” that leads you back to the analysis of this startling debut.
MENAGERIE-Many Worlds [LP](Funtime UK)
This mid-60’s to early 70s traditional (think Blue Note) Jazz group has some real potential to showcase on their album. The glimmering funk of “Hope” is lit up by a vocal choir effect and its serious riff. If that wasn’t enough, the piano solo in the middle (and all of its stops) tangles perfectly with the group leading to a huge renewal of the hook. The horns on “Many Worlds” and the Bob James-esque keys beautifully set up a lengthy trumpet solo that takes you all over the place. Menagerie has a huge sound and this promising Australian nonet needs nearly 10 minutes to encompass the wealth of ideas from their “Many Worlds.”
THUMBSCREW - Never Is Enough [LP](Cuneiform)
On their first album since 2014, the Free Jazz trio Thumbscrew demonstrates how they can loosen and tighten their grooves - sometimes at the same time. Guitarist Mary Halvorson should grow more in stature among jazzers because of her bravura performance with few effects and playing clean. She bends notes at the most unexpected times making these wild arrangements seem less like musicians volleying back-and-forth, and more like juggling chainsaws (effortlessly.) On the pensive but rubbery “Camp Easy,” Thumbscrew slowly builds into drummer Tomas Fujiwara’s slinky groove. Halvorson and bassist Michael Formanek do not really trade licks. Instead, they melodically fill in all the intervals between the notes (the abstract beauty of “Sequel To Sadness”) or battle on two fronts against Fujiwara (the second half of “Never Is Enough.”) Thumbscrew have created a dissonant, atonal, yet fascinating record that could provide even non-Jazzers with an entrance into the mysterious world of Free Jazz.
JAY RICHFORD AND GARY STEVAN - Feelings [LP](Be With/Light In The Attic/The Orchard)
Seventies instrumental/library music is not necessarily about names. Only in hindsight do we ooh and ahh over the names now attached to the hallowed KPM library. In the Seventies, Richford and Stevan created a Soft Rock-meets-Jazz-meets-Funk. "Feelings" makes a great score for any of the Shaft or Superfly movies, especially since Richford and Stevan use all of their familiar elements ("Walking In The Dark.") However, this long-sought library record remains fresh because of their themes, not just how campy Seventies albums sound. "Flying High" and "Running Fast" are still rich with detail and liven up any playlist. Richford and Stevan recorded "Feelings" for an Italian label in 1974. To sound more European (and avoid a net of legal problems,) it was originally released under the names Stefano Torrosi and Giancarlo Gazzani. Working with another pair of Italian musicians, "Feelings" remains a standout where loads of other film music and library music quickly fell out of fashion
Now how about..an UNDERGROUND HIP-HOP ROUNDUP
DA BUZE BRUVAZ PRESENT HIM LO AND GIALLO POINT - Ugonmakemekillyoazz [LP/CD](Glitchy Party/Fat Beats)
YUNGMORPHEUS - Thumbing Through Foliage [LP](Bad Taste UK)
JAM BAXTER & SUMGII - Obscure Liqueurs [LP](Blah UK)
Hip Hop circa 2021 is on a mission. The “alternative” ones, the outliers have taken up the habits of early Hip-Hop stretching beats (Giallo Point is a potentially great beatmaker) and hitting their lyrical marks while commercial music continues to mumble, oversimplify and hit the hook more and more. Da Buze Bruvah rolls out hard words like Nineties Wu-Tang while the backgrounds skew Italian cinematic. “Pistol Whippinz” is fearless, then they step it up further with the addition of Clever 1. By the time you include the guests for features (Cappadonna, Roc Marciano, and Kool G Rap,) you realize the Bruvaz want to appear as wild and red-eyed but truly are mastering a balanced attack.
It is a Seventies cinematic tip for Los Angeles’ flow master Yungmorpheus whose “Thumbing Through Foliage” finds a way to be both personal and political often using his potent lyrical juxtapositions to illuminate how interconnected those worlds are. As blunted as West Coast Hip-Hop from the Nineties, Yungmorpheus throws down verses with panache (“Cursive Copybooks” and its mixture of laid-back grooves and tense violins) and ease (bellicose and caustic over the sweet Soul of “The Rat Race.”) However, “Harlem Heat (feat. DMH)” is the standout falling out of East Coast or West Coast motifs to lay down blistering lines over beatmaker ewonee’s head-nodding beats.
With Yungmorpheus coming at you from a UK label, let’s take this chance to illuminate you to a fantastic new voice from England. Jam Baxter’s solo EP is a blazing beat/electronics-heavy mixtape. With Sumgii’s slow gripping-grain style beats, Baxter fires off verses that are ribald storytelling and post-party true confessions. “Salsa Valentina” is simple and sinister, but Baxter keeps the fire going. Later when he takes center stage, the Eighties-synths and skittering beats make you reminisce about those early days of Hip-Hop. Except, Baxter is not playful at all. He does not bat around the grooves so much as try to obliterate their impact. Listen as he competes with his backdrops only slowing down to sneak in a breath and you can hear just how Hip-Hop is about to roar back against the commercial trends of today.
March is roaring past us, but we continue to sow those seeds and find the best new releases and reissues to help your collection grow. Thank you.
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