God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know when to listen and when to press stop on this lot. Record Reviewer confronted by a mountain of music.
RECORD OF THE WEEK
IKLAN featuring Fabio D'Agostino
(Spotlight on the) Fine Young Fox
Alright, this is it then. This is simply so thrilling. This 'Fine Young Fox' is a relentless jolt of hi-energy 70s soul crammed through the dayglo meat grinder, without the tenderness Edwyn Collins used to do that with, that would be too reticent for IKLAN I’d say, but with gonzo energy not heard on dancefloors since Pete Burns stopped Spinning Around Like a Record, Baby. It’s all go. I’d like to steal the lines from the cut-up lyrics. I’d like to chop up all of the synthesizer lines on a mirror with my bank of Patrick Bateman credit card and take them home. Readers, maybe probably Fabio for his dancing. This is music that asks “Are you alive, or what?” Since I am reviewing this in a country where dancing is currently banned - check your local bylaws! Most likely this is already number one in a parallel universe, it’ll be the hit of the summer once we all come back down and share it. Of course, play it very, very loud. --Ancient Champion
Yves Tumor is not without their fans in this parish. The memsering new single, Jackie, is a great, epic, and massive mixture of aching louche loveliness. And tender desire. In anyone else’s hands those “Jackie baby’s” wouldn’t be doing the trick. How they do it of course is by magic. This could sound like the Psychedelic Furs got locked out of their studio and Yves Tumor got in through the backdoor. Always a good way. Making pop important. --Ancient Champion
Chaos! Chaos! Chaos!
The half halting, half sweetly smoothly sweeping you off your feet vibe before you’re even sure that you should be going, there… Too soon, as no one should ever say. Arthur Moon’s insdious, addictive Chaos makes me swoon. Does anyone do this sort of art-meets-medium-tempo-moody-off-kilter-idiosyncratic-electro-pop better than people marooned in New York for a while? What’s in that water? Wait, don’t ask... You’ve seen it before. I’ve watched this and listened to this over and over. Real Champion! --Ancient Champion
ERLAND COOPER, SOPHIA JANSONN & KIRSI IHALAINEN
The Island 1961
Finnish born Tove Jansson was a writer, painter, illustrator, and famously, the creator of 'The Moomins'. More than anything, she was fascinated by the islands where she spent much of her life, and it's apparent in much of her work, including her novel 'The Summer Book' and other books and essays, including 'The Island' which Cooper has interpreted here.
Cooper has wrapped a warm and enveloping orchestral soundtrack around her words (read in English by Sophia Jansonn), with field recordings by Kirsi Ihalainen. Maybe it is because Cooper is an island dweller himself (he is from Orkney), that he understands Tove's work so well.
'The Island 1961' was conceived as the audio accompaniment to 'The Woman Who Fell In Love With An Island' exhibition about Tove. It is, like much of her work, enthralling. --Jay Lewis
One of the vocal superstars of the world, Angelique Kidjo’s new album comes with the de facto cavalcade of accompanying stars, while that’s been her thing for a long time somehow I find it kind of depressing. Sure I want to hear Salief Keita, Burna Boy and Mr Eazi as much as the next shut in… I don’t know that artists wake up and want to work with each other so much as the data analysts wake up and think it’s their next genius idea. There’s just too much of it for it to be organic. Meanwhile, Angelique Kidjo who has been one of the worlds’ cross pollinators forever, rises above the data analysts who despite their own artistry will be eclipsed again and again by godlike humanity and soul of artists as she. --Hamilton High
Sounds like that bit in This is Spinal Tap where our heroes attempt 'Stonehenge.' Of Darkthrone wasn’t considered leaders in their genre (Death metal? Black metal?), I’d swear this is a Halloween parody album. --Alarcon
The Golden Casket
I’ve never given Modest Mouse a fair shake; not when they released 'Float On' in 2004 and not when they roped in Johnny Marr for a couple of albums in 2006. And while 'The Golden Casket' won’t change their position in my hierarchy of favorite bands, it is a strong LP nonetheless. It’s filled with vibrant, peppy songs with a bouncy LCD Soundsystem resemblance to them. A workmanlike effort from Portland’s favourite indie darlings. --Alarcon
The last time UB40 were relatively listenable was in 1985 when they released 'Baggariddim', a collection of previously released songs revamped with guest vocalists such as Pato Banton, Gunslinger, Dillinger, Admiral Jerry, and other legit toasters which gave UB40 the important street cred they’ve always needed. Now, UB40 attempts to recreate the magic 26 years later with 'Bigga Baggariddim' and fail miserably, sounding like the band was commissioned to write an album's worth of trite Caribbean shanties by the Jamaica Tourist Board. --Spanish Pantalones
Wary + Strange
Amythyst Kiah’s 'Wary+Strange' is possibly the most critically acclaimed folk record of the year and deservedly so. I can listen to it all the way through. An audacious blend of folk roots and eclectic modernity, its musicality - gorgeous. Amythyst Kiah could sing and play anything. Her backstory is compelling, the record partially documents the racism and othering she has faced for choosing to work in the folk genre. For a while, she told NPR’s Noel King that she thought it best to just shut up and sing! At the UK Cambridge Folk Festival, 500 folk fans did her singing for her during a joyous version of her massively streamed hit, Black Myself. Amethyst says, “Every single English white person under that tent was singing.” It’s easy to hear why. --Lee Paul
GOO GOO DOLLS
Can this collection of songs be classified as rarities if no one was ever looking for them? --Spanish Pantalones (Yes precisely, there's a good reason these are rarities - rare commentary interjection from this weeks' week in music editor)
I am pretty sure that Phil Wilkins, central protagonist in the Capas musical universe, can do anything. So he does. The world is a better place for it. 'City Sunrise' might be lazily described as a soundscape, but it’s way way more than some musical minimalists pressing down the arpeggio button on their synth and setting the midi clock for infinity and beyond. At 40bpm. The scope, precision, and ambition of Capas 'City Sunrise' is Warholian. Each sound describing a moment in light time. Alright. I am into it. Layer upon layer of the day. It’s nothing short of gorgeous. And Phil's Chet Baker-esque back story helps. Can’t help loving tragedy. Redemption. Take your time. This will make your day literally feel less frenetic. A City Sunrise with Capas at the controls is the most amazing thing. --Ancient Champion
An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
(Ba Da Bing)
Let’s cast back, way back, to February when 'An Overview on Phenomenal Nature' came out from Brooklyn based experimental folkie, Cassandra Jenkins. She has played with the likes of Craig Finn, so you know she’s not going to be slack with her lines, and so, opening with Michelangelo, “I am a three-legged dog, working with what I’ve got...” is one of the loveliest lines I’ve heard since, “There is sausage and bacon, And it’s there for the taking.” Cassandra Jenkins creates something unique and beautiful around familiar themes. How does she do it? I don’t know… It’s sort of contemporary Beat-like, workaday-like poetry and I love it. “Daryl’s been teaching me how to drive, I got my license at 35.” I love her writing. Inspiring. And that this was all written in a week in the studio. A subtle act of declarative genius. The album in part unpicks her aftermath, she was to tour with David Berman in 2019. That never happened. This record, an important record, is what we’ve got. --Hamilton High
Soothing Sounds for Baby
It is, of course, not just for babies. Released in three editions in the early 1960s (birth to 6 months, 6 months to 1 year, 1 year to 18 months), these early explorations of electronic music were a beacon of light for Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream et al.
And here are all three works together as one. The 17 minute Toy Typewriter is the most Aphex Twin thing not to be made by Aphex Twin.
After you've all had a sound night's sleep, listen to Scott's 'Manhattan Research Inc' and discover what a pioneer of electronic music he was.
Night night! --Jay Lewis
Main Image: Screen grab from IKLAN'S (Spotlight On The) Fine Young Fox