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Best New Albums | July 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

Best New Albums | July 2023 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Anohni, Antony and the Johnsons - My Way Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

My Way Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross

by Anohni, Antony and the Johnsons

Released 6 July 2023

Rebis Music / Rough Trade

*****

Anohni stepped away from her group the Johnsons to make 2016's Hopelessness, an album that honed the activism in her music to a sharp point with bladelike electronics and lyrics delivered with the frankness of someone at her breaking point. She brings some of that directness to My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross, her first album with the Johnsons in over a decade. Emblazoned with a portrait of gay liberation activist -- and the band's namesake -- Marsha P. Johnson on its cover, the record draws on politically minded 1960s and '70s soul, an elegant strain of protest music that meets difficult times with beauty, dignity, and humility.  It often feels like she's grappling with her emotions in real time (several songs are first takes), and this spontaneity underscores that the freedom gained by giving heartache a name is just as important as calling out injustice.

A powerful return, My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross reaffirms that Anohni & the Johnsons' ability to confront the hardest issues and moments is as eloquent and relevant as ever.

Read more... AllMusic

PJ Harvey - I Inside The Old Year Dying

I Inside The Old Year Dying

by PJ Harvey

Released 7 July 2023

Partisan Records

*****

On Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project, PJ Harvey documented troubled times in the world; on I Inside the Old Year Dying, she presents a spellbinding world of her own. The album expands on Orlam, her epic poem about the coming of age of Ira-Abel, a young Dorset girl whose companions include the bleeding, ghostly soldier Wyman-Elvis and Orlam itself, a lamb's eyeball that serves as the village oracle. As complex as this sounds, there's a lightness to I Inside that's especially welcome following the scope of Harvey's last two albums. Like Orlam, I Inside the Old Year Dying weaves the old Dorset dialect Harvey grew up hearing into its songs, and the local idioms only heighten its bewitching strangeness.

A triumph in its own right, I Inside the Old Year Dying's lively exploration is also a rekindling of something vital in Harvey's art in general. Though its whispers and shadows may not reveal everything, they're more than enough for a fascinating listening experience.

Read more... AllMusic

Lankum - False Lankum

False Lankum

by Lankum

Released 24 March 2023

Lankum / Rough Trade

*****

Dublin four-piece Lankum, made up of brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch, Cormac MacDiarmada and Radie Peat, have gained worldwide acclaim for their first two albums and captivating, often euphoric live performances.  False Lankum, the band's third outing for the Rough Trade label, is a nihilistic, almost comically bleak trek into the dark heart of folk music. A wounded backwash of dissonance plays throughout most of the set, creating a sense of unease as songs spill into one another in a gapless sequence. False Lankum sounds like industrial music from the 19th century and provides all the comfort of a late period Scott Walker album. And yet, the road of Lankum's career has resolutely led them to create this: a difficult but defining statement made at the height of their powers.

Read more... AllMusic

Naissam Jabal - Healing Rituals

Healing Rituals

by Naissam Jabal

Released 31 March 2023

Les colours du son

*****

Naïssam Jalal is a flautist, vocalist and composer born to to Syrian parents in France. Keen to explore her musical roots, she studied at the Higher Institute of Arab Music in Damascus, and also later with a private teacher in Cairo before returning to France.  Her music brings together an attractive mix of Western chamber music, jazz and Arab classical music.  


The music of her latest album, Healing Rituals recorded with a quartet featuring Clément Petit on cello, Claude Tchamitchian on double bass, and Zaza Desiderio on drums develops the theme of imaginary healing rituals that address a suffering body: silence that calms and cools the body down, trance that deals with pain and anxiety, and beauty that fosters hope and the desire to live. Thus we have the rituals of ‘vent (wind)’, ‘soleil (sun)’, ‘collines (hills)’, ‘rivière (river)’, ‘terre (earth)’, ‘forêt (forest), ‘lune (moon)’ and ‘brume’ (mist)’.

The music itself has the feel of chamber music with added vocals, plus a strong element of Arab music.  It is essentially structured, but has an improvisatory and rhythmic aspect to it. 

Read more... London Jazz News

Liv.e - Girl In The Half Pearl

Girl In The Half Pearl

by Liv.e

Released 10 February 2023

In Real Life Music / AWAL Recordings America

*****

“Thematically, it’s about the rebirth of myself and allowing myself to be who I am,” Liv.e has said of her second album. For the Los-Angeles-based artist, Girl in the Half Pearl represents a new era of musical expression, one that is about far more than just a progression in sound or the finessing of one’s craft. Across seventeen songs which track the complexities of love, heartbreak and womanhood, Liv.e paints a picture of liberation, depicting the maturity needed to piece together fragments that have been previously broken down by emotions like anguish and hurt. In its emphasis on reclamation and growth, Girl in the Half Pearl portrays Liv.e at her most authentic and honest, which in turn allows her the space to continue her avant-garde explorations of genre and form.

Since her 2017 EP FRANK, Liv.e has been effortlessly blending neo-soul with experimental production, eclectic R&B and chopped up jazz, thriving on the unpredictable and unexpected with each release.
Girl in the Half Pearl is a metamorphosis in many ways, encapsulating the stress, deep introspection and eventual acceptance that goes hand in hand with the desire to access a complete sense of freedom. It’s an album that is hard to categorise but its methodical beats, otherworldly production, intriguingly chaotic clashes of melody and hazy vocals all inexplicably mesh together, with Liv.e leaning further and further towards that vital point of breakthrough.

Read more... The Quietus

Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy - O Yinne!

O Yinne!

by Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy

Released 2 June 2023

Philophan

****-

Alogte Oho is the number one Frafra gospel artist from within the explosive music scene of Bolgatanga in Northern Ghana. He is accompanied by his powerful female choir, the Sounds of Joy, comprised of Lizzy Amaliyenga, Patricia Adongo and Florence Adooni - all fantastic gospel performers in their own rights.

Their single “Mam Yinne Wa”, which was released in 2016 and produced by Max Weissenfeldt (Poets of Rhythm, Whitefield Brothers), and their debut album of the same name from 2019 brought Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy a worldwide audience and meanwhile also a lively concert schedule in Europe.

Gilles Peterson stated after the band's performance at his World Wide Festival: “It was my absolute favorite moment in 16 years at the festival. They were everything that music is for me in 2022." A further album was needed. Here it is!

“O Yinne” is now the second album by Alogte Oho & His Sounds of Joy, on which Max Weissenfeldt has taken over the direction again. The album was primarily recorded in Weissenfeldt's "Joy Sound Studios" in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Kingdom, deep in the tropical rainforest of Ghana.

The gospel choir singing, which is reminiscent of the trombones of Jericho in intensity, is the brand core of the group alongside the melodic brass interjections, the flashing synthesizer accents and the heavily grooving rhythm section. However, anyone who thinks of what is commonly referred to as Gospel when hearing the word will be surprised, because gospel here only refers to the textual content. Musically, it's an Afro-futuristic firework of pentatonic vocal explosions, carried by rolling West African rhythms. It’s Frafra-Gospel, not Gospel.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Kadef Abgi - Diva of Deva Loka

Diva of Deva Loka

by Kadef Abgi

Released 17 June 2023

Kadef Abgi

****-

Kadef Abgi came together in a serendipitous way. Devin Brahja Waldman was walking up St. Laurent borough in Montreal when he heard an otherworldly voice emanating from the venue Divan Orange. He walked in and listened to the singer on stage. When he was done, Devin walked over to him. After a short exchange about playing a house show in a couple of days, Ziad Qoulaii told Devin that he was available for all his projects. Shortly thereafter, Devin and Ziad met up at Mathieu Pelletier-Gagnon’s studio with Anas Jellouf and Hamza Lahmadi. Later on, Anas Hejam, Vicky Mettler and guitarist Sam Shalabi (Shalabi Effect, The Dwarfs Of East Agouza, Karkhana, Land Of Kush…) joined.

The music materialized in a natural, collectively improvised way, without any compositions or ideas discussed beforehand - and without second takes. From there, Waldman began editing and mixing.

Ala Dehghan painted the album’s great artwork.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Christine and the Queens - Paranoia, Angels, True Love

Paranoia, Angels, True Love

by Christine and the Queens

Released 9 June 2023

Because Music

****-

The era Christine and the Queens which began in November 2022 with the release of Redcar les adorables étoiles was all about defying musical expectations and creating a musical world distinct from any of the project's previous work. Chris described the music from this period as "an operatic gesture." That's also a perfect description of Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, an album even more ambitious and overtly theatrical than its predecessor. Like Redcar, it borrows from the mythical, spiritual storytelling of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, (the Pulitzer, Tony and Writer's Desk award winning play) but its explorations of loss (Chris was grieving the loss of his mother as well as a breakup while making the album) as a catalyst for becoming feel notably different. Where Redcar swirled together several different styles, Paranoïa concentrates on spacious songs with lengthy passages that seem equally primed for dance numbers or deep contemplation. Chris' masterful ballads make up the introspective heart of the album and provide many of its highlights. S Though Chris fully commits to Paranoïa, Angels, True Love's sweeping scope, as a whole it doesn't feel as rewarding as the diamond-like clarity and brilliance of 2018's Chris or 2020's La Vita Nuova. Even if it's missing some of the electrifying immediacy of those works, there's a lot of challenging and emotionally powerful music here for fans to appreciate.

Read more... AllMusic

Brighde Chaimbeul - Carry Them With Us

Carry Them With Us

by Brighde Chaimbeul

Released 14 April 2023

tak:til

****-

Scottish smallpipes player Brìghde Chaimbeul is a leading purveyor of experimental Celtic music. Her piping has earned her a BBC Young Folk Award and a BBC Horizon Award. Her second album "Carry Them With Us” is an exhilarating weave of rich textural drones, trance atmospheres and instrumental folk traditions. Acclaimed Canadian sound explorer and saxophonist Colin Stetson is a featured collaborator on the record.

Stories make humanity. They shape us, explain us, give us a solid place in the world. They show us who we are, our myths, our hopes, our past. Everything has its story. Stories can be told in music as well as words, and on her second album, Carry Them with Us, Brìghde Chaimbeul reveals hers. From her heart, from the Scottish tradition that formed her. And every one of them weaves its spell, as a good story should.

The Scottish smallpipes, with their double-note drones, were in danger of falling into obscurity before Brìghde (pronounced Bree-chuh) Chaimbeul, a native Gaelic speaker from the Isle of Skye, became part of their more recent revival. She’s brought the instrument to a global stage, and with this album, she’s taken it beyond folk music, discovering a place where the tradition and minimalism meet, offering her the freedom to experiment in sound and create something completely her own.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Sabrina Bellaouel - Al Hadr

Al Hadr

by Sabrina Bellaouel

Released 3 March 2023

In Fine

****-

Following her EPs 'We Don't Need To Be Enemies' and ‘Libra’, French-Algerian singer-producer Sabrina Bellaouel’s unique r&b-electronica hybrid is in full bloom with Al Hadr, a 13-track album that includes collaborations with producer Basile3, experimental DJ and producer Crystallmess, jazz musician Monomite and pop singer Bonnie Banane.

Sabrina Bellaouel taps into myriad influences: from spirituality, astrology to club culture, romance, the body and self-love. Creating a balance between places, identities and sounds is a huge part of the charm of Al Hadr. As a true Libra, she’s finding a balance between honoring her roots and carving out her future.

Read more... Bandcamp

Sigur Ros - Atta

Atta

by Sigur Ros

Released 16 June 2023

Van Dur Limoited / BMG

****-

Sigur Rós, as cliche as it may be to say, make magic. Ever since their breakout album, Ágætis byrjun, the Icelandic project has redefined post-rock—and music writ large—uncovering the cool, cathartic possibilities in orchestration. Jónsi Birgisson’s falsetto vocals, often in a self-made language, alongside the cello-bowed guitar give the music a transhuman quality, suggest something more ethereal, more fluid and more atmospheric than what humans naturally manifest. But where ‘90s post-rock often leaned cerebral—beautiful in many ways, but often difficult to embrace—Sigur Rós found a way to maximize the shine so much that listeners forget they’re listening to something novel. Their music is wide-eyed and billowing, careening through valleys and peaks of human pathos with supernatural breadth.

The band has titillated fans over the past year with trickles of news: the return of Kjarri, European and North American orchestral tours and the announcement of a new song entitled “Blóðberg.” It all leads here, to ÁTTA, the band’s eighth studio album and first in a decade. “Blóðberg” is less of a single and more of a snippet. While ÁTTA is split into ten “tracks,” each song encroaches on the next, requiring a continuous listen back-to-front, as if listening to a symphony or an opera. Undergirding the whole experience is a 41-piece orchestra, and while the music is, as one might expect, beautiful, there are hints of torment and desolation that are hard to ignore, even if Birgisson’s singing evokes a certain Planet Earth-type of awe.

For three decades now, Sigur Rós have been one of the most recognizable bands in a grand discourse about what music can do outside of its popular form. How can a couple of bright-eyed musicians conjure the most incredible emotions out of rock fans without using most of the common tools of rock music? What possibilities arise without the use of conventional language or without the strictures of tempo? Sigur Rós’s expansive music demonstrates the breadth of potentialities, and their latest album contributes greatly to their discography. ÁTTA is a welcome return to form and beyond for the band, ten years removed from their last studio release, and their partnership with a 41-piece orchestra is both logical and awe-striking. It’s a significant milestone, a step towards musical immortality that Sigur Rós feel destined for after having blown the possibilities for post-rock wide open.

Read more... Paste

John Carroll Kirby - Blowout

Blowout

by John Carroll Kirby

Released 30 June 2023

Stones Throw

****-

Grammy-nominated keyboardist, composer, and producer John Carroll Kirby's presence has graced dozens of recordings from the current generation of pop hitmakers, but his most compelling work has appeared on his own albums. The restless theme of "elsewhere" ribbons through much of his recorded work (with a succession of albums reflecting wide travel and exposure to exotic locations and musical cultures and brings us to) Blowout, easily the most exotic-sounding album in Kirby's catalog.

In 2021, Kirby visited Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, to film an episode of Kirby's Gold, his web travelogue series with the Kawe Calypso Band. He wrote the album between the early-morning birdsongs of the oropendola, jamming with local calypso legends, experiencing spectacular sunsets, and surreptitiously playing Bob Marley covers and standards in bars.

Kirby recorded Blowout in Los Angeles with a stripped-down core band at 64 Sound Studios.

Taken as a whole, Blowout is Kirby's most adventurous record as well as his most accessible, thanks to hip arrangements, imaginative compositions, and focused, expert musicianship.

Read more... AllMusic

Colin Stetson - When we were that what wept for the sea

When we were that what wept for the sea

by Colin Stetson

Released 12 May 2023

52Hz

****-

Breathing. The first instance of life. The bodily movement that causes existence. An activity that is so potent, it can transform survival into art. Colin Stetson has spent his entire life pushing the musical potential of a seemingly limited instrument like the saxophone way beyond its bounds by mastering the primal capacity to inhale and expel air to an unparalleled level.

Growing up in Ann Arbour, Michigan, Stetson was to all appearances destined to become a painter and a special effects expert for Hollywood sci-fi and fantasy films. But then, at age nine, he took his first steps towards the saxophone, and at age fifteen, he perfected circular breathing. When he demonstrated his mind-bending drone warm-up exercises to his college professor, none other than the chair of the World Saxophone Congress, Donald Sinta, the teacher felt the urge to leave the class before it had even begun. He returned after a week to show his pupil that he had learned to do the same. Along with playing the sax, he pushed the possibilities to their limits. For many years, Stetson trained in wrestling, a sport that may seem unrelated to music but actually calls for much of the same things – discipline, skill, and application of a set of defined rules to be applied differently in various contexts – as the improv he was so eager to accomplish with his instrument; the same might cloaked in a graceful, coordinated movement; the same fortitude and strength to maintain balance. The same unwavering yearning to breathe.

Stetson uses the saxophone in a way that goes well beyond merely playing it. It is an action that both of the bodies—the human and the steel one—participate in. Whereas some artists might struggle to keep their hands as quiet and soft as possible, Stetson's dynamism changes the sound of pressing the keys into an accompaniment for his solo performance. Powerful. Muscular. Elegant.

When We Were That What Wept For The Sea originates from an entirely different place than the previous Stetson album. It is an urgently composed, nearly spontaneous dedication to his father, who recently died somewhat unexpectedly. A disruption in the musician's otherwise systematic and organised creative process. A lengthy piece that lasts more than 70 minutes, it’s divided into 16 tracks without any written introduction or justification.

A methodical listener who frequently returns to Glenn Gould's 1981 recording of Bach's Golberg Variations, as well as Irish and Scandinavian folk, all these inspirations are made very clear by the saxophonist in the album's soundscape, which also features Iarla Ó Lionáird on vocals, Scottish smallpipes by Brìghde Chaimbeul, and guitars and strings by Toby Summerfield and Matt Combs, respectively.

Stetson leads us on a voyage of reminiscence and grief, much like a marine adventure, full of suspended moments, foggy hazy shores, and battles against the stormy sea. A Romantic Sturm und Drang work where beauty and horror, fear and longing can exist at the same in the sublime of nature. Dark abysses open after airy and dilated moments; breathes, touches, and mechanical sounds counterpart abstract movements. The spoken lyrics of "The Lighthouse V," which put the musical images into words and inspired the album's title, follow a crescendo that rises until "The Lighthouse IV"'s explosion, where all the tension and misery find its desperate shout.

But there is no calm at the end of the journey. Only peace, maybe. And the time to set sail again.

Read more... The Quietus

Bright and Findlay - Everything Is Slow

Everything Is Slow

by Bright and Findlay

Released 9 June 2023

Athens Of The North

****-

Married around a shared love of machine-led funk, outsider soul, 70s-80s nautica and 21st century basement disco, Bright & Findlay (formed of multi-hyphenate James Alexander Bright and Groove Armada’s Tom Findlay) are set to release their debut album ‘Everything Is Slow’ on 9th June via Athens Of The North.

After hearing James’ 2019 single ‘Tigers Roar’ on the radio, Tom reached out to see if they could work together on some new music for Groove Armada’s last studio album ‘Edge Of The Horizon’. While three tracks from these sessions made the album, the two concurrently struck up a friendship in creating a musical language of their own, leading them to form the beginnings of a new partnership tagged Bright & Findlay.

The first Bright & Findlay release, 2021’s ‘Slow Dance’ EP, was Gilles Peterson included it in his tracks of the year, they recorded a Block Party mix for Huey Morgan and it also received support from Don Letts, Tom Ravenscroft, Bill Brewster, Dam Funk (Apple Music), Bluey (STR4RA/Incognito), KCRW, Triple J and beyond.

With a blueprint laid out, the pair began work on more songs, initially exchanging sketches back and forth between their respective studios before adding and subtracting, layering and finessing an album’s worth of music. The pair share production and instrumental work across the record, with James taking vocals and guitars and Tom’s ear for arrangement proving second to none.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Seckou Keita, BBC Concert Orchestra - African Rhapsodies (A Work For Kora & Symphonic Orchestra)

African Rhapsodies (A Work For Kora & Symphonic Orchestra)

by Seckou Keita, BBC Concert Orchestra

Released 26 May 2023

BBC / Seckou Music / Cleaves Records

****-

Nottingham based Senegalese composer and kora player Seckou Keita is proud to present African Rhapsodies: an epic project created in collaboration with Italian composer and musician Davide Mantovani, due to be released via Swiss label Claves Records in May.  African Rhapsodies is an enchanting, kora-led work, enhanced by the power of The BBC Concert Orchestra. In this inspiring blend of African music with orchestral arrangements, the traditional West African 22 stringed harp takes pride of place perfectly where the violin, piano or flute may have been. This rare blend of traditions and the synergy that it achieves makes one wonder if Bach, Beethoven or even Stéphane Grappelli might have composed for kora had they travelled to Africa in their lifetime.

On African Rhapsodies, Seckou Keita is joined by South African star cellist and vocalist Abel Selaocoe, outstanding double bass player Davide Mantovani and up and coming Gambian percussionist / kora player Suntou Susso.  These brilliant, international, special guest soloists are the perfect protagonists to harness the excellence of the BBC Concert Orchestra and generate a new sound that only they personally (alongside Seckou) could create.

A beautiful and engaging narrative is woven throughout the work. Each piece in African Rhapsodies charts its own individual story, cultivating a range of atmospheres and cinematic journeys. With titles as delightfully intriguing as Tamala’s Caravan Trail; Bamba, The Light of Touba; The Shadow Left by the Invisible Man and L’Épopée Mande Arab, African Rhapsodies references some wonderfully diverse tales that add an extra level of enjoyment to the music itself.

Read more... Cleaves Records

Balthvs - Famagusta Port (EP)

Famagusta Port (EP)

by Balthvs

Released 23 June 2023

Cubensis Records

****-

BALTHVS is a Colombian psychedelic funk trio formed in December 2019. Best known for their eclectic style, which fuses elements of Middle Eastern Music, Disco, House, Funk, Psychedelia, Indie Rock, Surf and Cumbia into a cohesive whole.

The band is notable for their energetic shows, live improvisation and prolific output.

Since their formation, the band has released over 26 singles and 2 full length albums, accumulating over 2.5 million streams worldwide.

Starting with SXSW 2022, the group has toured the United States twice and played Main Stage at Rock al Parque 2022, the biggest music festival in Colombia. 

Famagusta is ancient port in Northern Cyprus, BALTHVS was very inspired by a traditional Turkish melody to create this one. 

 

BALTHVS is:

Balthazar Aguirre (Guitar, Vocals)

Johanna Mercuriana (Bass, Vocals) 

Santiago Lizcano (Drums, Vocals) 

Read more... BALTHVS

Nicola Conte - Umoja

Umoja

by Nicola Conte

Released 30 June 2023

Far Out Recordings

****-

Nicola Conte continues on his journey from acid-jazz bohemian to spiritual-jazz sophisticate with this immaculately hip album, fronted on half of its tracks by London-based soul-jazz divas Zara McFarlane and Bridgette Amofah.

Conte began his trajectory with the acid-jazz template Jet Sounds (Schema, 2000), boosted it with Jet Sounds Revisited (Schema, 2002) and, after a brief post-hard-bop detour with Other Directions (Blue Note, 2004), began the spiritual-jazz ascent which has in 2023 reached its new, lofty apogee with Umoja. At all stages, Conte's role has been less that of an instrumentalist and more concerned with composing, arranging, selecting the musicians and producing the sessions.

There is a distinctive, singular thread running through Conte's twenty-three year recorded output. This is a result, in part, of his longtime residence in Bari, an off-the-beaten-track seaport on the heel of Italy's boot on the country's southern Adriatic coast, its location rendering it well placed to shrug off the passing fads and fashions of Rome and Milan. Conte first came to attention in Bari in the 1990s with his Fez Collective, a loose coalition of progressively minded jazz musicians, DJs and cultural activists clustered around the town's alternative club world. Fez was a sort of latter-day musical equivalent of a mid-twentieth century European literary salon.
 

Read more... Bandcamp

Miya Folick - ROACH

ROACH

by Miya Folick

Released 26 May 2023

Stop Talking / Nettwerk Music Group

****-

For a person comparing herself to the quintessentially loathed cockroach, Folick expresses a lot of joy in her sophomore album. She is finding herself in solitude and community simultaneously, a process of equal inquisition and declaration. On the most confident and brash song on the record “Get Out of My House”, she sings, “I think I wanna run-dance / I think I wanna happy-cry / I think I want sunshine / Streamin' out of my two eyes.” And yet for all this joy, there is still a tinge of something insidious lurking beneath the surface: an ugly breakup, a crying call to her mom, a family secret.
The songwriting on ROACH is significantly more direct than any of Folick’s previous work, especially that of her debut album Premonitions, released in 2018. She leaves little to interpretation on this record, refusing to hide behind flowery lyrics or exquisite production. On the emotional linchpin of the record “2007”, she sings, “I don't wanna be afraid of aging or gaining weight / I want to take up space / I wanna get up real early and stay up late.” These songs acknowledge fear without giving in to it and hold and examine emotions before releasing them. Perhaps presenting the album as a string of realizations reflects this dichotomy of uncertainty and subsequent assuredness that Folick sometimes describes in her writing, or perhaps she’s merely attempting to maintain relevance in the harsh streaming landscape. Regardless, Miya Folick orbits and sometimes grasps something transcendent about living through unprecedented times on ROACH.

Read more... The Line of Best Fit

Phi-Psonics - Octava

Octava

by Phi-Psonics

Released 30 June 2023

Gondwana Records

****-

Cast your minds back to 2022 and in the same Pharoanic slipstream The Cradle that maxed out on the sheer feeling of space engendered on 'First Step' pivoting between the bass playing of Seth Ford-Young of US West Coast outfit Phi-Psonics to the floaty flute-playing of Sylvain Carton who also plays tenor saxophone on the album.

On the upcoming Octava clearly the balladic 'Green Dreams' dedicated to Ford-Young's wife is the best track with the slow tick of drummer Josh Collazo a human metronome that has somehow ceased being an inanimate object to deftly choreograph the dance that develops. But most tracks work in terms of a long play listen. Carton is all over the record and the tasteful Wurly playing is the work of Mitchell Yoshida.

Even more relevant since the passing of Pharoah Sanders last September. And even long before. Again the sax titan was at the heart of the awakening. What goes around coming around all the years on since his classic Karma all the way up to his last great statement, the incredible Promises. It is a circle that remains unbroken and the solar ripples span ever outerwards.

Maybe it says in its best expression a poetic commentary on the malaise of Western society more than any news cycle can even make a motion towards. Manchester label Gondwana is the original spiritual jazz label for the 21st century in the UK and while others may dabble at the style and frequently do, there is always a deep sense of exploration with the Halsalls & Mackness heads at the label even when they change tack.

Read more... Marlbank

Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band - Kings Highway

Kings Highway

by Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band

Released 30 June 2023

Stoner Hill Records and Press

****-

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fellowship as "community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience," which seems to state well what Brian Blade & The Fellowship Band have been doing, cultivating a certain sound for over 25 years. The community is drummer Brian Blade, pianist Jon Cowherd, saxophonist Melvin Butler, saxophonist and clarinetist Myron Walden, bassist and synthesizer player Christopher Thomas and guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. The interest and activity these folks share is playing music, specifically jazz music. Finally, the feeling or experience one gets from the music is one of joy and inspiration. One can only guess at the joy they experience performing together, but the music makes a strong case for it.

Listening to Kings Highway one can feel this fellowship, the solidarity of the musicians, their sense of purpose to achieve a feeling that goes beyond the notes or the technical abilities of the individual players. Not all jazz is like this. Often a particular soloist is forefront, supported by the others driving the leader's vision and solos to express themselves.

Spiritual is a word that comes to mind often when listening to this band. Though this recording feels more fusion inspired at times than previous albums, there is always a return to a sound with a palpable sense of a searching for holiness, for truth, for fellowship, not only amongst the players, but with the listeners as well. The album ends with a spiritual hymn and prayer named "God Be With You," written by William G. Tomer (the only track not written by Blade or Cowherd) and setting a final, beautiful, solemn tone to the record. With this record Brian Blade and The Fellowship Band invite the listener along to join their fellowship on a musical highway of life, and so we should

Read more... All About Jazz

Nora Stanley, Benny Bock - Distance Of The Moon

Distance Of The Moon

by Nora Stanley, Benny Bock

Released 17 March 2023

Colorfield Records

****-

Distance of the Moon, Nora Stanley and Benny Bock’s first album together as a duo, is a deep journey into acoustic, electronic, and improvisatory realms. With a friendship dating back to high school in Berkeley, CA, the saxophone/ keyboard duo has been making music together for nearly a decade. Hikes through the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tam set the landscape for a long friendship that only deepened when the duo found themselves both living in Ohio, attending Oberlin Conservatory. Cross country road trips and weekend excursions through cornfields further solidified a connection both personal and musical that Nora and Benny have continued to build throughout the past four years, despite being situated on opposite coasts. 

For their debut album, the two friends draw on a trove of shared musical, literary, and cinematic influences. Their connection to and love for the natural landscape of the San Francisco Bay Area is also present throughout the album, referenced in songs like “Into The Flats” and “Hawk Hill”, the latter, an homage to the late Pharaoh Sanders. 

Distance of the Moon features the duo on a plethora of instruments, capturing a variety of textures and sounds from pump organ and prepared piano to Oberheim Four Voice synthesizer and baritone guitar. Featured guests include Abe Rounds, CJ Camerieri, Daphne Chen, Doug Stuart, Jacob Richards, Jeff Parker, Mark Giuliana, Myles Martin and Owen Clapp. 

Nora and Benny draw influence from the duo recordings of Charlie Haden and Ornette Coleman as well as the playful and exploratory music of Argentinian composer Juana Molina. Other influences include LA artists Sam Gendel and Sam Wilkes, Keith Jarrett, Pharoah Sanders, composers such as Olivier Messiaen, Caroline Shaw, Arvo Part, and Indonesian Gamelan. 

Read more... Colorfield Records

Eric Reed - Black, Brown, and Blue

Black, Brown, and Blue

by Eric Reed

Released 10 March 2023

Smoke Sessions Records

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Eric Reed celebrates the music of Black and Brown composers on his deeply personal album BLACK, BROWN, AND BLUE featuring a brilliant new trio with bassist Luca Alemanno and drummer Reggie Quinerly

Think of the songwriters whose work comprises the canon of jazz standards, and names like Gershwin, Rodgers, Berlin, and Porter immediately come to mind. On his new album, BLACK, BROWN, AND BLUE, a revision of that canon to focus on Black and Brown composers, songwriters whose work originates within the jazz realm rather than on the Broadway stage. Historically, many of the contributions and works of Black and Brown people have either been destroyed, devalued, or appropriated,” Reed writes in his liner notes.

BLACK, BROWN, AND BLUE features music written by jazz masters like Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, Wayne Shorter, Benny Golson, Horace Silver, Buddy Collette, and Buster Williams, along with jazz-conversant pop/R&B songwriters Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers.

“Where I am now in my life, I'm only concerned about conveying the most personal and heartfelt ideas through my music. BLACK, BROWN, AND BLUE is the culmination of my life thus far.” What shines through on these performances is the deep well of emotion and feeling that Reed mines in his playing, his expression, and his ability to communicate on a profound level with his new trio.
 

Eric Reed - piano
Luca Alemanno - bass
Reggie Quinerly drums
Calvin B. Rhone - vocals on “Lean on Me”
David Dautghtry - vocals on “Pastime Paradise”

Read more... Bandcamp

Zoe Rahman - Colour of Sound

Colour of Sound

by Zoe Rahman

Released 7 July 2023

Manushi Records

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Gathering together an eight-piece band of outstanding musicians, Zoe Rahman has created The Colour Of Sound: the most ambitious, many-hued, uplifting large-ensemble music of her multi-award winning career.

Her choice of collaborators reflects her deep engagement with the diversity of contemporary Britain. Starting with the foundational rhythm team of explosive US native Gene Caldarazzo on drums and long-time scene stalwart Alec Dankworth on bass, she’s built up a frontline of players from across the generations of current UK players. Trumpeter Alex Ridout and trombonist Rosie Turton represent the new wave of young empowered female players: flautist Rowland Sutherland and Zoe’s brother Idris Rahman on saxes and clarinet are joined by guest trumpeter Byron Wallen to bring their wealth of diverse musical heritage, their gravitas as long-time scene leaders, and their undimming passion and commitment to the project. The music paints on a wide canvas in vibrant colours.

Colour Of Sound combines Zoe’s unique and powerful writing with thrilling arrangements and dynamic performances from the whole band to create an album of jazz at it’s highest level that still communicates its message directly to the listener. It’s a splash of colour and a bold statement beautifully realised that is Zoe Rahman’s most compelling work to date. 

Read more... Bandcamp

Billy Childs - The Winds of Change

The Winds of Change

by Billy Childs

Released 17 March 2023

Mack Avenue Records II, LLC

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For his third Mack Avenue Records release, 5-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Billy Childs assembles an all-star quartet with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade. On The Winds of Change, the critically acclaimed pianist/composer offers 5 brand new original compositions alongside exhilarating arrangements of Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” (originally on Corea’s 1972 ECM recording of the same name with vibraphonist Gary Burton) and Kenny Barron’s “The Black Angel” (originally on trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s 1970 Atlantic recording of the same name) to push the creative boundaries of the group and inspire a collective new sound to pay homage to jazz legends and the artistry.
 

Billy Childs — piano
Ambrose Akinmusire — trumpet
Scott Colley — bass
Brian Blade — drums

Read more... Bandcamp

Fritz & Simone - Leaving & Living

Leaving & Living

by Fritz & Simone

Released 23 January 2023

Fritz and Simone Records

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There seems to be vey little public information available for Fritz & Simone, except for their Spotify profile, which informs that the duo (not their birth names) met while working as crew members on a film set in Dayton, Ohio and bonded over their personal music projects and shared interest in letting songs speak for themselves, while staying mostly behind the scenes. In this age of parasocial interactions and obsession over physical beauty, they like to create a following without sacrificing privacy. They approach songwriting from a multi-sensory perspective that pulls from their film background and extends to how they discuss and design their visuals.

Fritz & Simone draw inspiration from other mysterious and unforgettable artists such as Daniel Johnson, Daft Punk, Purity Ring, 0171, Oh Wonder and Gorillaz.

They express their appreciation to their Spotify listeners, as they continue to explore their sound and lives. They promise that "if you stick around, things are bound to stay mysterious and i n t e r e st i n g."

Read more... Spotify

`The Japanese House - In The End It Always Does

In The End It Always Does

by The Japanese House

Released 30 June 2023

Dirty Hit

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It’s been 4 years since the last album from The Japanese House, the indie pop project of Amber Bain. In that time, Bain has been working on this new album, which began its life in 2021. Inspired by her experience moving to Margate, joining a throuple and the eventual ending of this relationship, the album feels deeply personal, honest and beautiful.

Bain doesn’t want us to view the ambiguous album title as positive: “I think a lot of people hear the title and think about it in an optimistic way but that’s not what I mean. I hear the title as sad because things always end, no matter what you think is going to happen”.

It’s a sad thought and it’s a sad album. Each track builds up a soundscape with gorgeous production, never overcrowding Bain’s vocals and her brutally honest lyrics.

This album is a great starting point for new fans. You have the catchy indie-pop of the MUNA-supported ‘Morning Pages’, the devastating sadness of the album closer and the fascinating production from Bain and George Daniel which keeps things always fresh. Despite the mix of sounds and genres, the album feels complete and satisfying.

Read more... Clunk Magazine

Pantayo - Ang Pagdaloy

Ang Pagdaloy

by Pantayo

Released 9 June 2023

Telephone Explosion Records

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Pantayo is an all-women ensemble based in Toronto. They combine percussive metallophones and drums from kulintang traditions of Southern Philippines with electronic and synth-based grooves (kulintang is the modern term for an ancient instrumental form of music composed on a row of small, horizontally laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums and related to other Southeast Asian gong-chime cultures including Indonesian gamelan and Thai piphat). They also offer music and cultural workshops to teach kulintang. Pantayo explores the possibility of kulintang through their experiences as queer diasporic Filipinas.   

With Ang Pagdaloy, the Toronto-based collective chart out new ways to imagine the future of kulintang and its relationship to the diaspora.

Read more... Bandcamp Daily

Keely - Summer Vibes & Bad Habits

Summer Vibes & Bad Habits

by Keely

Released 30 June 2023

Keely

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In her Spotify profile, Keely describes herself as a proud Gubbi Gubbi / Gooreng Gooreng / Ni-Vanuatu descendant; a professional, a mother, an activist and artist. Her mana is her music- drawing power from her cultural roots, inspiration from nature and soul from her experiences of love and loss.

Her vocal stylings fuse elements of neo-soul, R&B and modern jazz. She lists Kendrick Lamar, Jazmine Sullivan, Jhene Aiko, Lauryn Hill and Destiny's Child as influences.

"Summer Vibes & Bad Habits" alternates between jazzy, neo-soul ballads and (otten challenging) spoken-word pieces, so is a demanding listen, but this is a noteworthy debut that marks the arrival of an adventurous new indigenous Australian artist who is surely poised to make a huge impact as her career develops.

Read more... Spotify

Jess Hitchcock - Unbreakable

Unbreakable

by Jess Hitchcock

Released 30 June 2023

Jess Hitchcock

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Young First Nations vocalist Jess Hitchcock has us rather flabbergasted; here's our take on her new album, 'Unbreakable.'

Jess Hitchcock may be championed by Paul Kelly (having appeared at the icon's Making Gravy shows and played with him for the entire Red Hot Summer Tour - check out their rendition of Every Day My Mother's Voice here), but she also possesses a magical mezzo-soprano voice sought after by our most prestigious performing arts collectives. The young Indigenous singer is poised on the edge of something big... and Unbreakable could be the golden ticket.

A caboodle of pop, folk, and astonishing ballads (see standout Soak to My Bones, which sounds like something out of a stripped-back Les Miserables, or a song Claudia might sing to Lestat), Unbreakable showcases the fluidity of Hitchcock's talent.

And what does she sound like? Whoever paired the artist with Tina Arena for the latter's Music from the Home Front performance of Sorrento Moon (2020) knew what they were doing; Hitchock could easily be mistaken for a young Tina, as her voice bears similarly effortless accuracy, balmy maturity and an Angora texture.

Read more... JB-HiFi

Pirritu - Pirritu Part 2 Fire When The Sun Goes Down

Fire When The Sun Goes Down

by Pirritu (Brett Lee)

Released 24 March 2023

Pirritu / Brett Lee

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Ngiyampaa man and First Nations singer-songwriter, Pirritu (Brett Lee) has just released his second album, ‘Fire When The Sun Goes Down’, which he is currently taking on the road with his band, performing live at festivals and venues throughout Victoria (including three mesmerising shows at Port Fairy Folk Festival), Queensland and Australian Capital Territory.

 

In this release, also known as ‘Pirritu Part 2’, he presents classic folk storytelling elements connecting the song man’s personal journey of self-discovery to country and culture. A true folk ensemble brings an immersive sound that underscores the strong visual narrative offered through Pirritu's songs. His songlines are informed by the work outside of music that Pirritu undertakes, which is contributing to preserving the ancient language of his people and gaining deeper understanding of their stories and traditions.

Pirritu builds on his debut album with songs of introspection and self-love presented through the lens of what he holds important in life: connections, understanding of one’s culture, and, acceptance. “Fire When The Sun Goes Down” is a warm embrace, generously extended from the songwriter to his listeners in an effort to guide them through to a destination of empathy, of collective compassion. The sophomore album sees Pirritu come further into himself as a storyteller and healer through song, an ancient tradition and role that he proudly accepts. 

Read more... Jameson & Co

Charlie Needs Braces - Saltwater People

Saltwater People

by Charlie Needs Braces

Released 10 February 2023

Charlie Needs Braces

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Proud GuriNgai woman, a descendant of Bungaree and Matora, Charlie Needs Braces finally lifts the veil on her awaited debut album Saltwater People, out since 10 February.

Previewed with singles Daryung, Yanoo, and title track Saltwater People, which combined saw Charlie featured on Spotify’s Original Storytellers, added to PBS FM Top Tracks, RTR FM Sound Selection, Aussie Music Weekly, Triple J Unearthed, Double J, and more, this release celebrates GuriNgai Mob’s stories, history, and connection to Country and Charlie’s journey, amongst her bed of luscious loops and harmonies. Selected as the winner of the Upstart Award 2022, Charlie is also taking her immersive and dynamic live show on the road with dates across the country.

Charlie Needs Braces’ debut album Saltwater People is rich with punchy brass basslines and driving percussion, her layered harmonies and familiar trumpet melodies. Like a river, the history of the GuriNgai people run through all the tracks on this release; the language, the totems, the instruments, and more, opening with welcome song Alla Indore and closing

with Pride – a testament to Charlie’s grandmother’s trauma and hardship through the colonisation in Australia.

Having always played on other people’s albums and in bands for years, Charlie has always wanted to make her own album. “I wanted to celebrate my Aboriginal background, and involve language, tell stories about my mobs culture and traditions in the lyrics and mood of the songs. I also got braces in 2020 and thought it’d be funny to call it ‘Charlie Needs Braces’ and record my teeth movement as they changed and evolved into shape. I feel like the album and my teeth’s journey started at the same time and developed and evolved together, and funnily enough, I finished the album at the same time as I got my braces and plastic plates off.”

Read more... f magazine

Stella Donnelly - Flood

Flood

by Stella Donnelly

Released 26 August 2022

Stella Donnelly

****-

Stella Donnelly approaches difficult topics with grace, compassion and a healthy dose of fury. Boys Will Be Boys, the standout track of her excellent 2019 debut album Beware of the Dogs, was a crash tackle of rape culture, delivered with such sweet earnest that its kicker – “time to pay the fucking rent” – hit even harder. Burning down the establishment never sounded so calm.

Elsewhere on that record, the Western Australian artist exuded a playful brightness that often belied the serious content of the songs – she excoriated toxic masculinity, power imbalances in relationships and the workplace, and institutional racism, through snippets of personal experience and social observation.
Her second album, Flood, is a much more internal affair, focusing instead on the dynamics between people in intimate relationships, and swapping anger for a probing curiosity and sense of acceptance. It’s also more musically subdued, replacing angular indie rock guitars with understated synths, muted horns and a major focus on piano (a popular choice at the moment, it seems – another Australian artist with an album out this week, Julia Jacklin, has also pivoted to writing primarily on piano). But despite turning the volume knob down, Donnelly’s knack for finding the universal in the ordinary persists, as she presents small stories of daily interactions that reveal wider truths.  

Read more... The Guardian

Sachem, Matt Hsu's Obscure Orchestra - The Bigger Picture (EP)

The Bigger Picture (EP)

by Sachem, Matt Hsu's Obscure Orchestra

Released 31 May 2023

Elefant Traks

****-

Presented at QPAC as a one-night-only special performance as part of Reconciliation Week, The Bigger Picture is the truly delicious fruit born from an award-winning body of work of an artistic alchemist and his ongoing journey of self-discovery and reflection. With the colourful ensemble of Matt Hsu’s Obscure Orchestra providing a sonically vibrant depth to Sachém’s poetic innovation from his 2021 debut EP Part of the Picture, The Bigger Picture is explosive but not unstable, complex yet entirely focused, and expansive without ever being overwhelming. Altogether, the experience is simultaneously the manifestation of the incredible skill and ambition of one man while also being an unreservedly proud celebration of a rich, inclusive community. 

Through music, film, and spoken word, The Bigger Picture takes us on a journey of pleasure and pain. As a story about finding one’s place in the world, it is both universal and specific, told from the front-line perspective of a First Nations and African American experience. Broken into three chapters, from the very beginning we’re taken on a deep dive into vulnerability, only coming up for air in the brief interludes between pieces. Sachém is an expert emotional cartographer, able to map his experiences across familiar topics in ways that incite the sensation of discovery as well as traverse new landscapes so keenly observed that the audience feels intimately at home.

Read more... Nothing Ever Happens In  Brisbane

Ubunye - Ubunye

Ubunye

by Ubunye

Released 8 April 2022

33 Jazz

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Ubunye is a seven piece ensemble featuring the instrumental talents of Leeds based musicians David Evans (keys), Kenny Higgins (electric bass), Alex Wibrew (drums) and Nik Rutherford (guitar). It is fronted by three vocalists from the Kwa Zulu Natal region of South Africa, Xolani Mbathe, Thandanani Gumede and Nokuthula Zondi. The group’s music fuses jazz with Afro-pop and traditional ‘Isigqui’ Zulu music.

The band name can be loosely translated as ‘Oneness’ or ‘Unity’  and the group has its origins in a festival collaboration between co-leaders Evans and Mbathe at a festival in Leeds. The success of the Festival project resulted in Evans and Mbathe recruiting musicians and vocalists from their individual musical circles to create a unified working band.

As a collective Ubunye have acquired a considerable reputation for the quality and energy of their exciting stage shows. They have headlined at the Manchester and Lancaster jazz festivals and performed a sell out show at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho, London.

The band’s début album features eight original songs written by members of the group both past and present. The album credits thank previous members of the collective these being; Bongi Gwala, Jonah Evans, Barry Rickaby, Jason Dandeno and Sean Hunt. Gwala remains a highly influential figure, having co-written two of the songs that feature on this début album. Produced by Sam Hobbs with the assistance of David Evans and Kenny Higgins the album also features the distinctive artwork of the inimitable Gina Southgate.

With the exception of one song all of the pieces feature the singing of all three vocalists, the South African trio working as a team alongside their instrumental counterparts from the UK. The mood is mostly upbeat with the lyrics promoting the kind of racial and musical unity that is implicit in both the band’s name and its multi-cultural line up.

Read more... The Jazzmann

Sultan Stevenson - Faithful One

Faithful One

by Sultan Stevenson

Released 24 March 2023

Whirlwind Recordings

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It is rare for a debut album by a young musician to merit four stars, but Faithful One, by the 22 year old London pianist and composer Sultan Stevenson, deserves every shining one of them. An alumnus of the community programme Tomorrow's Warriors, in his liner note he singles out the Warriors' founders, Gary Crosby and Janine Irons, and one of its tutors, tenor saxophonist Binker Golding, for special thanks. Stevenson has been a fast study. For confirmation of that, check the YouTube clip below.

On Faithful One, Stevenson leads his regular trio with bassist Jacob Gryn and drummer Joel Waters. They are augmented on half of the tracks by Josh Short on trumpet and another Tomorrow's Warrior, the great Denys Baptiste, on tenor saxophone—bar Baptiste, the same lineup as on the YouTube (which, by the way, was filmed back in January 2021). All the tracks were composed and arranged by Stevenson.

Stevenson's formative influences McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock are audible, but already his playing has taken on its own character. He has technique to spare but, more importantly, he swings. H