More hits for you, from this the seventeenth week of 2021. --Spanish
It's a deceptive title. 'Slow' disperses with anything as fanciful as an introduction and launches headlong into a galloping jazz fusion race that keeps going for over five and a half minutes.
black midi now inhabit a space so far removed from any other band. Instead, they sound like they prefer the cacophony of 'Visions of the Emerald Beyond' by the Mahavishnu Orchestra or the more accessible moments of 'Bitches Brew'. And, having scanned the lyrics, I'm not entirely convinced that they tell the tale of '... a young and idealistic revolutionary dreaming of a better world who ends up being shot in the national stadium after a coup d’état.' They're not the focal point here, you just have to hold on tight, it's a frightening but exhilarating ride.
Oh, and the utterly mind twizzling video follows an AI character who creates other AI-generated worlds. It is deliciously disorientating and may even include a moment that takes the piss out of Pink Floyd, which always a good thing.
black midi's second album 'Cavalcade' is released on 28 May --Jason Lewis
It takes balls of steel or the talent of Jimi Hendrix to name a song 'London’s Calling', and not be a cover. I’m not sure either is evident here: this is the type of music best described as earnest, certainly heart-felt. Tyne-James is singing about a friend who has left Australia for London, and his gravelly, rich voice is appealing, to be sure, but there’s a lack of real grit in the lyrics. 'I know this always was your dream...','I guess you want to be someone'... makes it sound like the theme song for a talent contest.
Tyne became well known for YouTube covers of songs by Childish Gambino and the like, and his best known track may be 'Watch You Go', written for his father who lost a battle with cancer. I’m certainly respectful to anyone who can bear their soul in such a way, and this is, indeed, soulful, emotive, in a way which I am afraid leaves me cold. -- John Robinson
(Very Nice Records)
Dayglow, here we go...Sorta soft rock intro, pleading California whine, reminded of the folksy rock of that failure 'Please don't tell them how you found me...' and the line that flicks into my mind is: 'Rock and roll I gave you the best years of my life...' it's that sense of loss, and self-pity, and realization that we all have to move on. It's not unpleasant, but not memorable either. Perhaps it's the pleading voice that grates, perhaps it's the wrong time of the day. -- Toon Traveler
STEVEN VON TILL
The Spiralling Away
(Very Nice Records)
Spiralling away with distant echoes of the night, slow drawn string, mood music for a foggy winter's day, cold light in a freezing dawn, bare leafless trees, and a hard, hard frost. Steven Von Till’s idea of 'chill out music,' music really does chill. There’s an undercurrent of menace, and a coming fearful industrial throb, future's fear and hesitancy, are all here. The Spiralling Away exudes power and fear, and echo's the past's fears. This is bang up to date in themes, but also a desperately plaintiff historic romance. For reference - I constantly had flashes of a great painting at the time of Europe's mini ice age - a good way to listen to Steven - search the web - download "The Hunters' Return" - this is a C21 soundtrack for the emotions, hopes, disappointments, balms and fears the painting portrays, fresh in the 17th Century. -- Toon Traveler
Gold City Ice Age, Ice Age’s archetypally competent Gold City sounds like a cross between that tired, play out, end of the road vibe, the exhausted ennui thing, that's so beloved of bands signalling the end of one stage of their journey. The music sounds cynical, and slightly desperate, as if they've reached 30, been messing in bands, serving in bars, Youtube driving, and struggling love, it has the sound I hear on some 6radio shows, can't quiet place the voice… it’s not distinct it’s an amalgam of rock voices, generic you’re wondering? Tom Petty but rawer, Little Stevie, but not the passion, pleasant, maybe even a 5-00pm festival slot in summer sun, but for me nothing stands out, nothing great, just pleasant 30's something lost youthful dreams rock. It’s a semi beautiful day here, sandals and socks. -- Toon Traveler
PETER COTTONTALE, JAMILA WOODS, RACHEL ROBINSON
Beathe My Name
Oh. Peter CottonTale’s 'Breathe My Name' is the beautiful, layered, understated, sophisticated sound of superior soul. Peter CottonTale is a musical genius precisely for amongst a string of reasons to his bow, he dares to be quiet. And of course Jamila Woods, her voice here, her shining brilliance, her composed, plaintive, “You don’t know me, you’re my best friend...”. That’s the beginning and that’s the end. Searing. --Ancient Champion
Swanky Modes (Dennis Bovell Mixes)
'Swanky Modes' - Cocker's languid reminiscences of Nineties excesses may have been one of the less engaging moments on last year's otherwise lovely 'Beyond the Pale' album. So, it's a delight to find that, however unlikely it may seem, that legendary reggae star Dennis Bovell has made something rather special out of the tune.
The skittery drums and dubby piano echoes give the song the extra dimension that it so dearly needed. The reflective soundtrack is further explored on the splendid instrumentals here.
Cocker's lyric's offer up there's the usual mix of oversharing, dark laughs, profound sadness and the occasional grimace (rhyming 'wayside' with 'Teesside'? still rankles), may confound newcomers. But, this is an otherwise unexpected joy. --Jason Lewis
EMMA J THACKERY
From Emma J Thackery’s new LP, 'Yellow', comes 'Say Something' with its great intro, and message, speaks of 80s smooth jazz and new jazz, with echoes of Steely Dan, Brand New Heavies, and chill out. The squeaky synth is so retro it's mostly cool, there's the fabulous crescendo, and a smorgasbord of sounds and instruments.
This could have been recorded in the 80s or 90s. The voices have that 80s jazz-pop crossover, a sound that’s as much about summer breezes as the Isley Brothers, as cool as Sade at her peak, and funky as Soul II Soul. It's a great groove, for dancers, lovers, and lounge lasers. This is real summer music, get it into those so hip it hurts cafes, and catch it while sipping an iced latte, shop window strolling, lover's hand-holding, this REALLY is summer sound moulding. I LOVE IT. -- Toon Traveler
A return for Anika after 8 years, what to say, I’d not heard of her the first time so... So no ideas what being away so long means in terms of artistic development. I love the faraway feel, hits of industry, and fast beat-driven and driving in a 90s sorta way. The song is a pissed-off lover, and one who wants more, but the song darkly hinting at the break to come... Words of dissatisfaction, the wah wah guitar hint of regret, but one that's not unexpected, nor melancholic. The distant voice hints at a love drifting away. Yeah, did she wait for 8 years for this inspiration and creative spark? More artists should fuck off for eight years between releases if it meant coming back with something this good. Anika, it's been worth the wait. I’d prefer an 8 years hiatus for all artists between releases. (Way better than the wait for "Chinese Democracy" release) -- Toon Traveler
Love the intro, underpinned by the throbbing Tears For Fears 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World'… throb. Old instruments, bottom-of-the-range Yamaha gear, and real drums so lazy and natural. This guys’ got something… It looks in the video like he hasn’t got a lot of shirts. But he has something. That something is a great groove, bongos when we need ‘em and we need more of 'em, everywhere... A slinky groove that catches a slow move from lockdown, through parole, a song that whilst not "French Kissing in the USA", is elbow bumps, bump bounces, and whatever replaces handshakes, hugs, and air kisses until we're dancing in the streets of suburban 'hoods, ghettos, and small-town main streets. A cool sound for what I hope is a high temperature, low humidity, cool grooved summer to come. -- Toon Traveler
SONS OF KEMET
To Never Forget The Source
Maybe the most important band in Britain right now, Sons of Kemet serve up a delightful, it is a dee-lite, Neal Hefti-esque piece of brass & percussion-driven pop. Number 1 in the parallel universe where I live. --Ancient Champion
THE WIND UPS
"Dad, do The Wind Ups remind you of anyone?"
"Son, they remind me of me when I was their age."
"How so, pops?"
"Well, they have the kind of sound of a man whose piss is boiling, son, and that's a good thing. They reference The Saints, I can hear that. I can hear Ron & Nancy's Walter The Assaulter in here, and who doesn't want to hear that?" --Ancient Champion
As promised, Los Angeles’ own VR Sex released Cyber Sex, their latest release from indie pillars, Dais Records. The four-song EP sounds slightly more optimistic than 2019’s Human Traffic Jam, but the lyrical content is still as dark as ever. I won’t get into the particulars of Noel Skum’s (Andrew Clinco of Drab Majesty) lyrical content, but put the name of the band, the title of this release, and song titles like “Minor Case” and “Lawyer Up” in the equation, and it doesn’t take Chris Hanson to offer you “a glass of lemonade and a seat right over there” to figure it out. -- Alarcon
GUIDED BY VOICES
Earth Man Blues
In his billionth album, Robert Pollard rescues 15 old, unfinished songs and molds them into an American Gothic rock opera which may be about his childhood, or maybe not. Who knows? Pollard keeps it fast, loose, and left for interpretation. Now that’s a theme, Pitchfork. (See my Marianne Faithfull review below.) I’m not a gambler, but I’m going to predict Earth Men Blues will be mentioned with Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes when future music history professors get to the Guided by Voices. --Spanish Pantalones
(PeMa / Merge)
The following thought might be radical, but Teenage Fanclub were always just second best, right? One of those foppish lad bands that never headlined Glastonbury, Leeds, or Reading. The band that wrote a few catchy songs, and yes, Bandwagonesque was serviceable but overrated..? All signs point to yes. Take Endless Arcade -- it’s fine, but there’s no statement, no essence, no weight. If The Monkees formed in 1991 -- Mickey, Davy, Peter, Michael -- this is the album they’d have made. That’s not bad -- I adore The Monkees -- it’s just that Endless Arcade is fun, but it doesn’t have weight. --Spanish Pantalones
Acquainted with Night
A girl and a Tascam four-track and a Suzuki Omnichord. Lael Neale strums magic out of the plastic 80’s synth-zither into the ether of cassette his, sometimes accompanied by the rum-tum built-in beats, sometimes with just the electrified air around her, but really the stars are 1) her voice, pitched a mile cityward from some mountain holler and 2) her lyric, spectral and honest. The bit
Talking to losers at the stadium
Tellin’ ‘em, ‘That’s alright. Let’s have some fun.”
Why can’t I have some fun?
in the Yo La Tengooey “Every Star Shivers in the Dark” took the wind out of me a little. She is neither overly-introspective, nor is she putting on a brave face. And “Blue Vein” is even better! -- Alex V. Cook
MARIANNE FAITHFULL & WARREN ELLIS
She Walks in Beauty
I take it upon myself to warn you: Do not read Pitchfork’s 750-word-plus review on the new album Marianne Faithfull made with baddest of the Seeds, Warren Ellis; She Walks in Beauty. The contributing writer gives it a 6.7 (out of 7?), explaining that if it “feels underwhelming, it’s because the album doesn’t do a whole lot to transcend this concept.” (Was the writer waiting for a beat to drop?) “The concept” is that Marianne Faithfull decided to record herself reciting the Romantic works of Byron, Kates, Shelley to a hypnotic score by Ellis after she nearly died from COVID-19 last year. If that was her concept, I’d say she achieved it. The writer then makes comparisons to Robert Ashley, but that’s completely wrong; Marianne Faithful is a 2021 version of Sir John Betjeman. It’s a moving album if you know that and you listen to it late at night with headphones when everyone’s asleep, you can feel the depth and weight in Faithfull’s voice and Ellis’s score with assists from Nick Cave and Brian Eno. A moving work. --Spanish Pantalones
(Broken Clover Records)
+OC are an experimental Spanish noise duo - and wow! What a welcome noise. I Love the intro, distant bells, semi deserted city squares, dabble early morning light, Coffee con Leche, Churros, Zumo d' Naraja, perfect days start, reflection, relaxing, watching and being. A perfect Andalusian Sunday, lovely memories, and then the crash, bash, slash of reality, a slap in the deluded tourists’ face, and the traffic lights change, the traffic races, horns roar, and conversation yells. The sound of youth, sold a dream, broken on the reality of austerity, poverty, and COVID, locked, resentful, rebellious, riven with despair. This is the sound of sunrise, hope's fall, the fiesta, the corrida, and the flash mob, everything all in a few minutes. Mad feedback, would I buy it, Nawh, would I see them live, depends on the venue and getting a gig buddy. They’ve got something going on for sure. -- Toon Traveler
Let the Bad Times Roll
In an attempt to boost early chart positioning, it’s rumored every Orange County, California Ford dealership included a copy of Let the Bad Times Roll with the purchase of a Ford F-150 in a shrewd marketing campaign. Let’s see how it pays off for Garden Grove’s favorite sons. (Three days later: And after less than a week, the title track is at number 27 with a bullet. Congratulations, boys.) Spanish Pantalones
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