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YouTube | August 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

YouTube | August 2022 SunNeverSetsOnMusic

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Kokoroko - Could We Be More

Could We Be More

by Kokoroko

Released 5 August 2022

Brownswood Recordings


One of the features of the 2022 alternative London jazz scene is the incorporation of musical styles originating in Africa and the Caribbean, from whence a high proportion of prominent musicians on that scene trace their heritage. Not every band shares this African and/or Caribbean dimension but the majority do and it is one of the factors behind the broadening of the audience base for jazz in Britain that has developed since around 2016. 

For the musicians, this move towards demographic and cultural inclusivity is attended by a binary choice. Is the adoption and fusion of African and Caribbean styles "mission accomplished" in itself, the focus of their music, or is it to be used as a stepping stone toward extending the historical jazz vocabulary? The dividing line is blurred but the distinction is clear. Those musicians who some observers contend are creating what may prove to be the most enduring music have chosen the second path, with tenor saxophonists Nubya Garcia and Shabaka Hutchings and alto saxophonists Cassie Kinoshi and Camilla George leading the charge. Others, such as Kokoroko and Ezra Collective, take more of a mission accomplished point of view. Ezra's upcoming 2022 album May The Funk Be With You (Enter The Jungle) doubles down on that direction, as does Kokoroko's first full-length album, Could We Be More. 

Cassie Kinoshi is a member of Kokoroko, but the band's direction of travel is primarily set by its founder and leader, trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey. In interviews during the early days of Kokoroko, Maurice-Grey expressed impatience with the fact that much of the band's following was drawn from the existing audience for jazz in London, albeit the more adventurous and outward-facing section of that audience, and she was keen to broaden the band's appeal. So it is no surprise that the Kokoroko's fusion of African (mainly Nigerian and Ghanaian) styles defines and dominates Could We Be More, some will say to the diminution of "jazz" content. 

The debate will continue, and whether We Could Be More has staying power only time can tell. Meanwhile, the album's Afrobeat-highlife-soul-funk romp is a terrific summer soundtrack and will go down a storm at festivals and on dancefloors alike.


Sheila Maurice-Grey: trumpet; Cassie Kinoshi: saxophone; Richie Seivwright: trombone; Onome Edgeworth: percussion; Ayo Salawu: drums; Tobi Adenaike-Johnson: guitar; Yohan Kebede: keyboards; Duane Atherley: bass.

Additional Instrumentation:

Sheila Maurice-Grey: trumpet, vocals; Cassie Kinoshi: alto saxophone, vocals; Richie Seivwright: trombone, vocals; Onome Edgeworth: percussion; Ayo Salawu: drums; Tobi Adenaike-Johnson: guitar; Yohan Kebede: synthesisers, keyboards; Duane Atherley: bass, synthesisers, keyboards.

Source: All About Jazz

Joseph Tawadros, William Barton - History Has A Heartbeat

History Has A Heartbeat

by Joseph Tawadros with William Burton (feat. Leonard Gregoryan, Sam Golding and James Tawadros)

Released 12 August 2022

Joseph Tawadros


For ‘History has a Heartbeat’, Oud maestro Joseph Tawadros and Yidaki (Didj) master William Barton bring two ancient cultures together in a unique collaboration, alongside other superb musicians - Leonard Grigoryan (classical and 12-string guitars), James Tawadros (riqq, tar, bender), and Sam Golding (trumpet, flugelhorn).

These ancient instruments join forces in an unlikely and dynamic pairing creating a new authentic voice in Australian music.

"I’m recording my oud with (these) amazing musicians ... at Church Street Studios and Free Energy Device in Sydney" says Tawadros on the fundraising website for the album. "We’re drawing from traditional and ancient music but setting it firmly in the contemporary realm."

Joseph sees that on an emotional level, our past influences our future, our decisions, our upbringing, our social and political worldview.

"Being Australian allows me to celebrate and draw from my Egyptian heritage alongside Australia’s many cultures. There is plenty to think about this on the album and the traditions within it. I attended Redfern Public School as a migrant child. At school we celebrated Indigenous Australia, with pride and a seed was planted then that has grown over the years as I began to understand music, my own culture and Australia better. It has eventually led to the inspiration for this album with my friend William. Redfern Public was tough at times, but it gave me a knowledge of people that have been at one with this land thousands of years before anyone else and their history is still alive in Australia with its heart beating strongly."

We’re making an album from the recordings, to be mixed and mastered by two studio craftsmen I trust with my work - Charlie Norton and Matt Jefferies.

Source: Australian Cultural Fund

King Stingray - King Stingray

King Stingray

by King Stingray

Released 5 August 2022

King Stingray / Cooking Vinyl Australia


The seeds of King Stingray were sown long before either of the group’s core songwriters – singer Yirrŋa Yunupiŋu and guitarist Roy Kellaway – were born. With records like 1991’s ‘Tribal Voice’ and 1993’s ‘Freedom’, Yothu Yindi pioneered the mainstream collision of traditional Yolŋu artistry and contemporary rock and pop. Yirrŋa is the nephew of Yothu Yindi’s late, great frontman Dr. M., and Roy is son of founding bassist Stuart Kellaway.

Both spent their formative years wreaking havoc backstage at their shows, and were bashing away on instruments even before they could even stand.

It wasn’t until the week of Bluesfest 2019 that King Stingray came together – camped out at Kellaway’s family farm in Tintenbar, the duo demoed debut single ‘Hey Wanhaka’ on a whim – but Yunupiŋu and Kellaway had spent the bulk of their lives jamming and writing songs together.

One of the standouts from their youth is ‘Raypirri’, a rip-roaring proto-punk belter about the importance of keeping sensible, which Yunupiŋu and Kellaway spent countless lunchtimes playing for their schoolmates. Both songs appear on King Stingray’s eponymous debut album, which across all 10 of its coltish and colourful tunes, paints a vivid picture of the band’s youthful origins.

The album’s sonic palette is diverse, anchored in soaring and soulful surf rock with fiery hooks and ultra-catchy choruses. The contrasting flavours mixed into it make for a kaleidoscopic listen.

And although it truly is an ensemble affair, where every member of King Stingray has their time in the spotlight, Yunupiŋu’s vocals are easily the star of the record. Singing occasionally in Yolŋu Matha (entirely so on the two aforementioned punk cuts and the explosive opener ‘Lupa’), Yunupiŋu – a Gumatj clan songman – injects every performance with character and intent.

Equally compelling is how the band interpolate elements of traditional Yolŋu musicality. The yidaki and bilma feature prominently across the record, adding colour to the more contemporary rock riffs – take album highlight ‘Let’s Go’, where the sharp clack of the bilma and low rumbling of the yidaki make the twangy, wah-flourished bridge feel 10 times as intoxicating.

On the vocal side, the interpolation of Gumatj Manikay on the climactic refrain of ‘Get Me Out’ deepens its themes of homesickness, while the sampling of a timeless Bawaka songline on ‘Malk Mirri Wayin’ (introduced by guitarist Dimathaya Burarrwaŋa, a Bawaka man who sought permission from Elders to include it) makes it notably personal.

Home lies at the core of ‘King Stingray’, both musically and thematically. ‘Sweet Arnhem Land’ is a heartfelt ode to the Country where most of the band was born and raised, and the spiritual connection they share with its land. 

Cut live to tape, (the album is) driven by the band’s DIY spirit and youthful energy, with tight performances and sharp songwriting. It destroys the idea that a fun album can’t also feel powerful, and we can’t wait to see how King Stingray continue to build on what they establish with it in the years to come.

Source: NME

Olafur Arnalds - Surface (Music from the Original TV Series)

Surface (Music from the Apple TV+ Original Series Soundtrack)

by Olafur Arnold's

Released 29 July 2022

Mercury KX


There’s one thing that people the world over have learnt these past few pandemic-filled months, it’s that for all our best-laid plans, chaos will always win. 

This album is very much about letting go.”

Since he launched his career writing neoclassical compositions for a German metal band, and later supporting fellow Icelandic act Sigur Rós, Arnalds has forged an oeuvre full of impressive innovations.

His 2007 debut album documented life’s journey from birth to death, and his 2008 follow-up, the EP ‘Variations of Static’, earned him accolades from both the contemporary and classical fields. For his 2009 series 'Found Songs' he recorded a song a day for seven days, making each instantly available online. In 2011, ‘Living Room Music’ repeated the improvisational format with video uploads, while for 2016’s ‘Island Songs’ he made his way around seven different Icelandic towns over seven weeks to collaborate with seven diverse musicians, releasing a song and video each week.

 His endless thirst for challenge has seen him compose the dance score 'Dyad 1909', for the award-winning choreographer Wayne McGregor, which premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2009 and was broadcast on television. He won the 2014 BAFTA TV Craft Award for Best Original Music for the ITV series ‘Broadchurch’ and composed the score for the Ron Krauss film ‘Gimme Shelter’ and featured on soundtracks for films including ‘The Hunger Games’. In July, Ólafur achieved an Emmy nomination for ‘Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music’ after writing the theme to the Apple TV+ series ‘Defending Jacob’ (2020).

He also releases music in the experimental techno duo Kiasmos and has collaborated extensively with German pianist/composer Nils Frahm on improvised performances and recordings. In 2015 he worked on a re-imagining of pieces by Frédéric Chopin.

Arnald's soundtrack for the original Apple TV+ series "Surface" (2022) continues this high-achiever's run of evocative contemporary orchestral works.

Source: Mercury KX

Chloe (Thevenin) - Arthur Rambo (Bande Originale Du Film)

Arthur Rambo

by Chloe Thevenin

Released 28 January 2022

Lumiere Noir


Arthur Rambo is Laurent Cantet’s eighth feature film (he won the Palme d'Or in 2008 for The Class [Entre les murs in its original French]). This film also marks the first collaboration between Chloé Thévenin and Laurent Cantet. 

Chloé Thévenin is a multidisciplinary artist from the electronic scene who started working for films in 2015.

Work on the music began very early on with some ideas in motion before filming had even started. Chloé has composed a series of pieces that accompany Karim's inner emotions. The score never leaves the character. On the contrary, it sticks with him, translating the feeling of rupture through its texture and colour. 'The constraint here was to reveal facets of a character, but without penetrating through to the indiscernible part, without bringing it to light”. 

Incorporating cellos into exclusively electronic music can be risky: it can quickly tip the balance of the ensemble (...) We had to make the instrument blend into the continuity of the electronic structure, into its evolution, its dramaturgy: for Arthur Rambo, I alternated between hot and the cold, the saturated sounds and the softer sonorities. I was certainly looking to create something intense, but also restrained". Chloé Thévenin, composer

Source: Film Music Site

Eriend Viken, Jo Berger Myhre, Thomas Stronen - Djupet


by Eriend Viken, Jo Berger Myhre, Thomas Stronen

Released 11 March 2022

OK World


"Djupet" began as a commissioned work co-composed by Jo Berger Myhre and Erlend Viken for the Ultima Festival and Riksscenen in 2020. Together, with dancers Ida Wigdel, Ådne Kolbjørnhus and Katja Schia, they explored the common ecstatic potential of, and the links between, folk, improvisational and electronic dance music. Thomas Pohlitz Strønen was producer, and when they recorded the music the week after the premiere, the duo became a trio.

OkWorld is a (Oslo based) record label for original music, founded as a subsidiary label of Jazzland in 2018 by Bugge Wesseltoft. We work with a wide spectrum of music genres, ranging from folk, traditional, electronic, rap, and new jazz concepts such as folk jazz.  

Our musicians stand out for their talent and originality. Representing music traditions from all over the world, they introduce us to various instruments and concepts. In combining ancient sounds and rhythms with modern and experimental influences, the artists of OkWorld create field-cutting music.  

Source: OK World Records

Rich Ruth - I Survived, It's Over

I Survived, It's Over

by Rich Ruth

Released 12 August 2022

Third Man Records


Recorded under a loft bed in the guest bedroom of his Nashville home, Michael Ruth aka Rich Ruth’s “I Survived, It’s Over” starts in a humble space. And while many contemporary music projects are produced in such an environment, “I Survived, It’s Over” sets itself apart in its transformative properties as well as its transparency. What we have here is honest sound exploration, session musician-level instrumentation, and a true love for nature run through the fingers of a dude who can channel some acute and undeniable magic. 

This music goes deep. 

"I conceived much of this record amidst the quiet and tumult of 2020 in my neighborhood that had recently been ravaged by a tornado," Ruth recalls, "I spent most of my days working on these pieces between bicycle rides - watching the beautiful Tennessee ecosystem flourish in Shelby Park, listening to Keith Jarrett’s The Koln Concert and John Coltrane’s Ascension."

"Working on this music is a daily meditation," says Ruth. "I constantly experiment with sound until it reflects the way I am feeling and attempt to sculpt something meaningful from it. Through years of being a touring musician, it is a constant inspiration and privilege to collaborate with the individuals that graced this record with their voices." And those relationships pay off, because “I Survived, It’s Over” is a sonic meal. It’s rich (no pun intended) with massive instrumentation that’s usually reserved for more symphonic delights. But at the same time it’s simple and leaves space to breathe–space you didn’t know you needed. 

In his own words; "I Survived, It’s Over is a meditation on healing, confronting trauma, surrendering, and finding peace. I wanted to encapsulate the tranquility and disarray found within this process." 

“I Survived, It’s Over” is a record you should buy for your friend, your foe, and yourself. It’ll sit perfectly on your shelf between Alice Coltrane and Hiroshi Yoshimura.

Source: Piccadilly Records

Szun Waves - Earth Patterns

Earth Patterns

by Szun Waves

Released 19 August 2022

The Leaf Label


Earth Patterns is an overwhelmingly calm and mellow listen. Even when the album gets a touch moody, an inherent feeling of lush sleepiness remains predominant. The record meanders in an enticing middle ground between strands of jazz, ambient, drone, and synth-driven electronic. All told, it’s a relatively trim work which sucks the listener in and doesn’t let go.

There’s a lot of stunning beauty to be found on this album. Szun Waves (a London-based trio) consists of a percussionist, a saxophonist, and a pianist/synth wrangler. Together, they have an organic sense of chemistry, managing time after time to engulf the listener into a dreamy music-crafted world. Opener “Exploding Upwards” sets the stage with its rather upbeat, if reserved, leading melody. “Garden”, meanwhile, feels slightly ominous while moving along in a ponderous fashion. “Willow Leaf Pear” excels with a melancholy yet soothing horn performance taking center stage. It all culminates with the wonderful closer “Atomkerne”, which proves both highly spaced-out and intensely here on Earth (the latter perhaps due to a recurring motif which recalls birdsong). It’s simultaneously one with the cosmos and the woods right next to your neighborhood.

Earth Patterns approaches “atmospheric masterpiece” status. It’s full of colorful and refreshing music which captures the essence of beautiful outdoor spaces in the summer or fall (with this sense perhaps encouraged by the gorgeous album artwork). The album is generally light and airy, full of space to allow the listener’s mind to wander. Don’t expect the most vigorous of records, but as a companion to reverie and contemplation, it doesn’t get much better than this.


Source: Sputnikmusic

L'eclair - Confusions


by L'eclair

Released 12 November 2021

Bongo Joe Records


Swiss six-piece L’Eclair have been turning heads for a minute with their genre-busting twist on instrumental music that transports funk, jazz and psych into the 21st century. After years of honing their sound and refining their style, Confusions shows a clear vision for what L’Eclair want their music to sound like.

Surrounded by groove, the album flies deep into the universes of jazz, electronica and polyrhythms. A departure from their earlier live to tape releases - where the six musicians got together, laid down tracks in one or two takes and then moved on to the next project - with this record they were afforded more time to reflect and revise. Recorded in four sessions spread out over nine months during the pandemic, the songwriting is more considered and deliberate but with a rough hewn edge and plenty of room for experimentation. This freedom gives L’Eclair the ability to reflect and revise, allowing them to focus more on how compositions are arranged and structured, making their music tighter and more concise as a result. Their mastery of groove and rhythm is down to a science and they keep all the beauty and emotion they’ve come to embody in their work. 

They also present something that defies easy description; it calls to mind disparate influences, from Tangerine Dream and CAN to Aphex Twin, MF DOOM and Dilla – wide-ranging soundscapes, dense textures and complex beats that take you on a trip through time and space. It’s a unique experience, combining the ambient, groove, jazz and funk influences L’Eclair identify with and showing a cohesive vision.

With Confusions, L’Eclair presents a fully formed sound, full of light and shade, flowing effortlessly from start to finish. This is music you can settle down with and lose yourself in, a little bit of Swiss magic for the ears; perfect for waving goodbye to 2021 and welcoming 2022 in style.

Source: Endless Crate

Motorpsycho - Ancient Astronauts

Ancient Astronauts

by Motorpsycho

Released 19 August 2022

Stickman Records


With thirty-plus years under their belts, Norway’s powerhouse band Motorpsycho isn't slowing down. If anything, they’re more prolific than ever. With the release of Ancient Astronauts, the group has now released an LP in every calendar year since 2019. Even better, these quick turnarounds haven’t resulted in reduced quality control. For anyone who has been enjoying Motorpsycho’s latest run, this new record will simply represent another cherry on top.

With its taut four-song tracklist, Ancient Astronauts evokes classics from an earlier era of prog, like Rush’s Hemispheres or Renaissance’s Scheherazade And Other Stories. Such suppositions aren’t entirely off, with the band leaning into the long-winded ‘70s feel they have always toyed with. That said, this isn’t a full-on revivalist effort. Indeed, all the elements which Motorpsycho has manipulated over the years (particularly during their latest era) are here. Ancient Astronauts feels most prominently like a cross between vintage prog and the summery stoner psych of contemporary bands like Causa Sui and Colour Haze, coming together with the feeling of a rousing live performance. Indeed, the album was recorded largely through live takes as a trio, under the special conditions of the pandemic. It’s an immensely enjoyable collection, even if the album’s structure is a bit unusual.

More on that last small quibble: as mentioned, Ancient Astronauts is composed of only four tracks. This fact acquires more significance when I say that it really only hits its stride with the third song.

Opener “The Ladder” is perfectly serviceable as a great late-era Motorpsycho song, somewhere between off-kilter prog and crunching stoner riffage, followed by the quiet little interlude “The Flower Of Awareness”, but neither are likely to set a listener ablaze with excitement. The last duet, though, is something else entirely.

The album’s penultimate and ultimate tracks are both tunes created as a musical accompaniment for a live performance of the Impure Dance Company. It’s an interesting meeting of different art forms, and while I’m not familiar with the work of said dance company, the musical results feel quite inspired.

To begin, “Mona Lisa/Azrael” crams vast sonic diversity into its twelve-plus minute runtime, moving from a gentle intro to furious guitar freakouts to a slightly more delicate but nonetheless triumphal finale. It’s a resounding success which is immediately one-upped by the closer “Chariot Of The Sun-To Phaeton On The Occasion Of Sunrise (Theme From An Imaginary Movie)”, which is every bit as epic as the long-winded title would suggest. With a sprawling duration of over twenty-two minutes (making it over half of the album's total), the song travels a sinuous path from airy prog to pounding hard rock groove, back and forth, never quite losing the plot, while acting as the album’s definitive heart and soul.

Where Ancient Astronauts ranks in the context of Motorpsycho’s recent catalog will likely prove somewhat contentious, as splitting hairs based on each listener’s peculiar preferences is required to pick between all these quality efforts. What’s certain, though, is that this is yet another strong release from a veteran crew whose mature-era output puts the vast majority of bands of their tenure to shame. Additionally, as a relatively trim outing and with its inherent jamminess (that’s a word), Ancient Astronauts can serve well as a solid first experience for Motorpsycho novices. Just don’t dive in expecting four-minute verse-chorus-verse tunes, and enjoy the ride.

Source: Sputnikmusic

Everything Everywhere All At Once (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Everything Everywhere All At Once (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

by Son Lux feat. Mitski, David Byrne, Moses Sumney, Randy Newman)

Released 8 April 2022

A24 Music


The sounds of Son Lux almost feel primordial. Somewhere in the cosmic gesturing of their music is the blurring of finality: Beginnings and ends erupt into flames as bright synths and apocalyptic broodiness collide. While initially a solo act, Son Lux grew into a trio when Rafiq Bhatia and Ian Chang joined Lott for 2015’s Bones. Their following albums, a sequentially numbered trilogy called Tomorrows, elevated the existential cyclicality of their work into something new and anarchic. These records seem to connect what would otherwise seem disparate: Ethereality becomes haunting, anger becomes plaintive, and sounds portend the infinite.

Their sonic location, somewhere between creation and destruction, renders Son Lux fitting to score the swelling Everything Everywhere All At Once, a film by the Daniels—the duo of directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert—that, too, disavows the conventional limits of creativity. Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is a middle-aged woman who is tired of her life: her daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) scorns her, her husband Waymond (Ke Huy Quan) is readying a divorce, and the IRS is on her ass. Evelyn is tired of watching laundry tumble, of filing her taxes, of a path that has seemingly spun her in circles. Explosively kinetic, Everything Everywhere All At Once seeks a dynamic score able to match its ferocity. Son Lux delivers. Their soundtrack becomes our conduit across the multiverse, transcending and melding worlds otherwise alien to each other: sci-fi and kung-fu, hot dog hands and Debussy, slapstick and sincerity, mothers and daughters.

The thrill of Son Lux’s score is in its audacious range. As Everything Everywhere All At Once snaps between zaniness, hilarity, darkness, and hope, so too does its soundtrack. The dreamy piano theme of "Wang Family Portrait" foregrounds the film’s saccharine core, emerging in gentler moments: Evelyn’s family together, nostalgic gazes into the past, and visions of lives that could have been, in another universe. On the contrary, blustering tracks like “The Fanny Pack” are brash reminders that you’re watching a true action blockbuster, as strings tinged with adrenaline and held by an addictive bassline bring comic bravado to a fight scene set in an IRS office. Eeriness is also afoot in the score; Son Lux, better than most, knows how to make you shudder. Just listen to “I Have Been Watching”—Nina Moffitt’s vocals, so bare against saturated strings, are startling.

Despite running an hour and 54 minutes, the score doesn’t lose coherence. It repeats and reworks the same few themes: “Clair de Lune,” for instance, can be heard in “Deirdre Fight” and “My Life Without You,” in addition to its eponymous track on the score. “Come Recover (Empathy Fight)” is the expanded version of “Come Recover” on Tomorrows III. The score is a total achievement of ingenuity. Speaking to Slash Film, Bhatia, Chang, and Lott divulged that this score took years to compose. They had to learn new instruments, like the Chinese paigu drums, and also learn new ways to fuck with the old, like the violin (which were “played with crazy things,” said Lott), and the trumpet, played by director Kwan, who—no virtuoso himself—deliberately butchers it. Son Lux are also joined by a wonderfully odd cast of collaborators: Mitski and David Byrne, who duet on “This Is a Life”; Moses Sumney, for whom Chang drums; André 3000, improvising with the Mayan flute he’s been learning in private; and Randy Newman, offering his voice to both “Now We’re Cookin’” and an anthropomorphic raccoon in the film.

“This Is a Life” closes Everything Everywhere All At Once, and it endearingly captures its heart with unremitting sincerity. “This is a life/Free from destiny,” Mitski sings, and then with Byrne: “I choose you/And you choose me.” Both Everything Everywhere All At Once and Son Lux’s broader artistic ethos are rooted in the imperative of creation, so sprawling in its possibilities as to span an entire multiverse. Life, like music, is meant to be created. We can choose to fester in the bleakness of our unerringly chaotic world, or—like the Daniels and Son Lux—we can see chaos for what it is: an art of its own.

Source: Pitchfork

Sylvan Esso - No Rules Sandy

No Rules Sandy

by Sylvan Esso

Released 12 August 2022

Loma Vista Records


Sylvan Esso is presenting their fourth album as “the beginning of a new period”, which is something that a lot of bands say about a lot of their albums a lot of the time. In this case, though, there’s a case to be made.

Their last album, ‘Free Love’, took the two-piece’s playful indietronica down a largely uninteresting rabbit hole, stripping back their sound without replacing it with much, and failing to have much of an impact on fans. This time, it’s like they’re making up for lost time: ‘No Rules Sandy’ lives up to its title by trying a little bit of everything, embracing the band’s ability to douse their songs in just about every kind of rhythm, every timbre of synth.

The urgency is there in the album’s creation, too, which Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath crammed into the beginning of the year and a makeshift studio in LA. Strangely, nothing sounds rushed here: where tracks like ‘Free’ and ‘Runaway’ on their last effort sounded empty and constrained, “No Rules Sandy” is packed with elaborately scaffolded production, from the ringing doorbells of ‘Sunburn’ to the strings – both drawn and tung – that pulsate under Meath’s voice on ‘Your Reality’. It’s the BPM that hurries you along, starting with the juddering beats and fiddly synths of ‘Moving’, the album’s opener. “How can I be moved when everything’s moving?” Meath asks, before answering her own question with a series of simple chord changes that gradually swallow the song’s frantic pace.

This interplay – between beats and chords, between unsettling synths and the soft fabric of Meath’s endlessly settling voice – is what Sylvan Esso do best, and ‘No Rules Sandy’ has it in spades. On ‘Echo Party’, barely articulated vocals take the edge off a two-step garage beat and wobbly bass, while ‘How Did You Know’ revisits the skipping CD effect they used two years ago for ‘Frequency’, this time anchoring it to a delicate, beautifully anxious song about self-discovery.

Or something like that. Meath’s voice is all open vowels on these songs, so it’s hard to tell what she’s singing a lot of the time – which is fine, as the “what” isn’t really the point. ‘Didn’t Care’ is one of the few instances where her voice takes centre stage, and it’s the poppiest track here, an instantly loveable combination of bizarre, twitchy sounds with ecstatic songwriting. It’s a standout – but it’s one standout among many, on an album that never fails to take you off guard with each new song.

The end result of that frenetic time in California shows how a change of pace can create magic; this is Sylvan Esso’s best album yet.

Source: Clash Music

Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar

Cry Sugar

by Hudson Mohawke

Released 12 August 2022

Warp Records


Hudson Mohawke is back with his first album in seven years – and it needs no introduction. It quickly elbows its way into your mental space through the same kinds of maximalist sentiments and styles that made the Scottish producer into one of the architects of popular music in the 2010s thanks to his work in TNGHT and with Kanye West on Yeezus.

Considering the long gap between albums, you might wonder why Cry Sugar doesn’t immediately show a ton of progression from HudMo’s earlier albums, but, as with all albums that keep pulling you back in, the augmentations become evident once you’ve managed to catch your breath and return ready to appreciate the finer details amidst all the overt energy.

Where Cry Sugar excels over HudMo’s previous albums is in the scale of its emotion. The producer has been filling his time recently in his adopted home of Los Angeles with some intriguing pastimes; one is having 7am cookouts outside nightclubs to feed the bleary-eyed ravers and another is attending a painting class specifically for music producers. These things might seem quite abstract in their relation to music, but in listening to Cry Sugar the tendrils between these activities and his musical output seem to come clear; it’s a record for the people who want to block out the outside world and focus on releasing the strange and unsettling feelings out of their bodies through pure expression.

These are party tunes that are all about the moment – it might lean on well-established genres like happy hardcore, jungle and techno, but it’s not greatly nostalgic. Throughout there’s an air of joyous nihilism; you know that the outside world is steadily crumbling, but while you’re pinned down by HudMo’s every insistent beat you can just forget about it. 

(The songs are) jammed together with only a vague semblance of sense – but sense doesn’t really matter, the goal is pleasure in the moment and apathy for anything exterior.

This seems to be Hudson Mohawke’s overriding goal with Cry Sugar and while it certainly won’t work as a whole for everyone, there’s almost guaranteed to be moments that transcend for any kind of music listener. 

Source: Beats Per Minute

Danger Mouse, Black Thought - Cheat Codes

Cheat Codes

by Danger Mouse, Black Thought

Released 12 August 2022



Brian Burton was a teenage Roots fanatic -- so eager to own but too short on funds to buy his beloved band's Do You Want More?!!!??! that he paid an acquaintance to lift a copy for him.

A decade later, Burton had become Danger Mouse, an ascendant producer with enough clout and confidence to seek lead Roots MC Black Thought for a collaboration.

Mouse and Thought meshed and recorded demos for a potential LP. Other projects then took precedence. Thought reached out to Mouse after another 11 years passed, in 2017, and over the next year, the two laid down much of what materialized in 2022 as Cheat Codes.

Given the project's genesis before the rapping half's 2018-2020 solo trilogy, it stands to reason that Cheat Codes isn't billed as Streams of Thought, Vol. 4. It's also of an even higher concentration. Returning to sample-based production, Danger Mouse favors '60s and '70s psych, prog, and soul recordings that are moody, trippy, and sometimes eerie. The crisp if soot-coated drums, smeared strings, moaning organs, and gnarled guitars are all very compatible with Thought, who scythes through it all with unparalleled wordplay delivered with surgical precision.

The guest appearances are superfluous more often than they are truly complementary. Representing the latter, MF Doom (recorded post-Danger Doom) shuffles into place on "Belize" with such ease that he sounds like part of a longtime trio. Michael Kiwanuka sets up "Aquamarine" -- one of two tracks that also reconnects Mouse with fellow Kiwanuka producer Inflo -- by crooning a grave hook that leads to some of Thought's bleakest and most authoritative statements. They pivot from lines ending with "bullion," "Suleiman," a racist epithet, and "depression" to "I'm a king, I'm dipped in God's Black complexion."

Some stellar outside contributions notwithstanding, Cheat Codes stimulates most when Mouse and Thought are sequestered, allowing the latter to leave space only for the occasional instrumental break or rare prominent sampled vocal. The title track is an unremitting torrent of high-alert reality checks like "Shit, it's real when you done lost your last feeling/Jump then bounce back off the glass ceiling/Back to stealing, to Xanax and smack dealing." "Violas and Lupitas," which could triple in length without losing its transfixing power, ends the album with a grand flourish: "Go ask them about the gatekeeper, world leader/Kill shit quicker than Usain could run a hundred meter." Quotables such as that, over a production that skillfully combines opulence and grit, prove that the duo fulfilled their plan right on time. 

Source: AllMusic

Panda Bear, Sonic Boom - Reset


by Panda Bear, Sonic Boom

Released12 August 2022

Domino Recording


Animal Collective member Panda Bear and the equally influential Sonic Boom (aka Peter Kember, who co-founded Spacemen 3 before taking his music even further out under various solo guises) began working together around the time of Panda Bear's 2011 outing Tomboy, and they've played significant roles in each other's music since then.

More than a decade after beginning their creative partnership, Reset is the first official joint effort from Panda Bear and Sonic Boom, and it returns to the strongest basic elements of each artist's talents while also pushing in new directions.

The initial inspirations for Reset came when Sonic Boom revisited some of his favorite albums and realized that so many great songs began with intros strong enough to serve as the foundation for songs of their own.

The nine tracks here essentially put this realization into motion, sampling miniature loops from other artists' songs and stretching them into new creations by adding electronics, original lyrics, and thick layers of melody and texture. In this way, Reset recalls some of both Panda Bear's and Sonic Boom's best work. The doo wop harmonies and handclaps suspended in place on "Edge of the Edge" serve as an anchor for Panda Bear's blissed-out, reverb-heavy vocals, following the same template of his 2007 high-water mark album Person Pitch. The tropical psychedelia of "Whirlpool" has a similar sunny delirium as Sonic Boom's songs on Spacemen 3's 1991 swan song Recurring. On their previous collaborative work, Panda Bear handled all of the vocals, but Sonic Boom steps up to the mic several times on Reset, even singing lead on the digital twee tune "Everyday." The fragmented oldies samples, druggy synth sequences, and beachy harmonies are all staple sounds for the duo, but Reset has a playful levity that's often missing from even the most lighthearted moments of their other albums. There's a sense that the heightened collaborative element takes the pressure off of both artists, and the songs sound like two old friends joyfully exchanging ideas and toying with the possibilities of their sound. Even when other records by Panda Bear or Sonic Boom have suggested positivity and low-stakes fun, none have quite delivered that feeling like Reset does. 

Source: AllMusic

Beyonce - Renaissance


by Beyonce

Released 29 July 2022

Columbia Records


"Break My Soul" offered much to dissect as the preliminary single off Renaissance, Beyoncé's first solo studio album since Lemonade and part one of a promised three-act project.

Integrating a flashback to early-'90s crossover house hit "Show Me Love," the resilience anthem -- reinforced with an echoing gospel choir and sampled Big Freedia exhortations -- came across like a nostalgic dance remix preceding the original version.

Instead, it slid neatly into place on the parent LP not only as an accurate representation but also as a foreshock to an hour-long housequake filled with irrepressible exuberance in celebration of self and sisterhood.

Among those to whom Beyoncé dedicates Renaissance is her late gay cousin and godmother, Uncle Jonny, credited for introducing her "to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album." The multitude of dancefloor sounds cultivated and celebrated since the late '60s in underground clubs by liberation-seeking gay, Black, and Latino dancers has been a natural ingredient in Beyoncé's recordings since the birth of Destiny's Child (take the use of the Love Unlimited Orchestra's proto-disco exemplar "Strange Games & Things" in "No, No, No, Pt. 2"), but it is the basis of Renaissance.

The LP is top-to-bottom danceable and sequenced with each track setting up the next, through the ecstatic finale, where Beyoncé most potently mixes sensuality and aggression, claiming her man with nods to Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder, Patrick Cowley, and Larry Heard.

"Cuff It" is a disco-funk burner with Nile Rodgers' inimitable rhythm guitar and a slick quote from Teena Marie's biggest ballad, though it has all the vigor of Lady T's uptempo classics.

The more relaxed "Virgo's Groove" is designed for circling the rink with its delectably plump bassline and handclaps, and moves to a private room where Beyoncé commands, in one of the set's many memorable turns of phrase, "Motorboat, baby, spin around."

Renaissance pulls from the more recent and present sonic developments with equal guile. Dancehall-derived dembow is stretched out for the strutting opener "I'm That Girl." "Heated" works a chugging Afrobeats rhythm, and is keenly trailed by the swollen dubstep pulsations of "Thique." The most exciting moments fearlessly blend and switch eras. "Pure/Honey" alternates between a duly vulgar ballroom brush-off and pop-funk rapture, and "Church Girl," a rousing gospel-bounce marvel, weaves the Clark Sisters with the decidedly less-reverent DJ Jimi and the Showboys.

Beyoncé is vocally up to the challenge of juggling the almost-innumerable quantity of styles and references, sighing, purring, beaming, belting, and spitting fire with all the required conviction and attitude. Her congregation of fellow writers, producers, and vocalists is a formidable assembly of close collaborators (the-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Mike Dean, NOVA Wav), younger trailblazers (Honey Dijon, Kelman Duran, Tems), and legends (Grace Jones, Raphael Saadiq).

Act II will presumably have at least one ballad. They're not missed here.

Source: AllMusic

Jimetta Rose & The Voices Of Creation - How Good It Is (EP)

How Good It Is (EP)

by Jimetta Rose

& The Voices Of Creation

Released 12 August 2022

Day Dreamer


Only six months after the release of her first album in six years, Jimetta Rose returned with How Good It Is, an undertaking quite different from the one it follows. Whereas The Gift: Around the Way Queen was the grimy hip-hop soul result of Rose writing and singing over tracks handpicked from the Street Corner Music label's beat tape series The Gift, How Good It Is took shape in more organic if atypical fashion.

In a period of adversity, Rose wrote songs specifically to cope and improve her state of mind, and then formed a choir, dubbed the Voices of Creation, with participants chosen less on talent than on their desire to heal themselves and others. It was through social media that Rose sought the vocalists, so it's not coincidental that some of them - such as Novena Carmel, Gaby Hernandez, and Andrée Belle - have a deep musical background.

Rose draws from her experience as a youth choir director to lead the group with help from musical director and organist Jack Maeby, pianist Qur'an Shaheed, and percussionist Allakoi Peete. Joining them behind the scenes are Mario and Samantha Caldato, who co-produce to transportive, enveloping effect. How Good It Is mixes gospel, spiritual jazz, and funk in a way that uplifts and impels. First is an update of the deep jazz-dance truffle "Let the Sun Shine In," originally recorded by late-'70s Bay Area group Sons and Daughters of Lite. It gently modifies the construction of the source to foreground the vocals -- if in a way that also takes it closer to the vast expanses of War's travelogue "City, Country, City." (Call it "Church, Garden, Church.") Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Spirits Up Above" gets a righteous and hypnotizing reading with leads exchanged throughout. Rose then assumes the role of master teacher in "Operation Feed Yourself," a Sons and Daughters of Lite song with some likeness to early-'70s Norman Whitfield, encouraging self-reliance with hopeful zeal. The harmonies in "How Good It Is," containing a call to "Breathe in how good it is," appropriately enough sound like they're wafting through a soft ray of light. After Funkadelic's "Cosmic Slop" is reshaped into a song of determination with a moving lead from low-to-high tenor Kellye Hawkins, the group takes stock with "Ain't Life Grand," a finale with none of the sarcasm or negative sentiment the title might imply. From top to bottom, the group vocals are mixed such that Rose's voice can always be recognized, providing additional continuity subtle enough to not detract from the communal energy. Faint birdsong and informal interplay among the singers add to the sense that the session is all the way live.

Sources: AllMusic

Shemekia Copeland - Done Come Too Far

Done Come Too Far

by Shemekia Copeland

Released 19 August 2022

Alligator Records


Since 1998, Texas blues singer Shemekia Copeland has sought to present blues as an ever-present, breathing tradition, simultaneously historic and contemporary. In addition to her compelling work as a recording and performing artist, she furthers the blues gospel each weekday as a program host on Sirius XM. Done Come Too Far is her third consecutive release to be recorded in Nashville with producer/guitarist Will Kimbrough. Each set reflects on her experiences as a Black woman, mother, wife, artist, and American citizen. Copeland doesn't consider herself to be political, but subjectively journalistic about what's happening in her country. 2018's America's Child wove blues and Americana in celebrating the contradictory nature of her country's people, along with poignant asides about racism and economic inequality. 2020's Uncivil War doubled down, using urban blues and hard rock to reflect on our obsession with firearms, conspiracy theories, and ideological conflicts. Done Come Too Far seizes the musical reins from those records, combines them with powerful contemporary blues, R&B, and Americana, with lyrics from the depths of individual and collective experience.

Opener "Too Far to Be Gone" features guest slide guitar god Sonny Landreth. Overdriven and noisy, Copeland's transcendent, muscular alto soars above this choogling tale relating the inspirations of Rosa Parks ("A small thing like a seat on the bus/Changed life for the rest of us") and Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. ("You can kill a man but not a dream"). Landreth lays down a chunky groove, adding drama and pathos in his fills and accents. The swampy "Pink Turns to Red" weds blues and rockabilly in depicting the horror of increasingly recurring mass shootings. She underscores her worry in "The Talk." A sinewy, slow, dramatic electric blues, Copeland's protagonist is, like her, a mother to a son. She is heartsick having to warn her child about threats and dangers he faces from law enforcement simply for being a Black male. "Gullah Geechee" is a banjo-driven, moaning folk-blues relating the tale of a couple torn apart by the scourge of slavery. Susan Werner's "Why Why Why" is a heart-wrenching country ballad about the end of a romantic relationship with a glorious Wurlitzer piano and slide guitar framing Copeland's vocal. She follows with the Cajun party anthem "Fried Catfish and Bibles," a zydeco stomper complete with bumping accordion. The title track features a guest duet vocal from Cedric Burnside. A harrowing slow Delta blues (a defiant companion to "Too Far to Be Gone"), it offers a strident answer to "Gullah Geechee." Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Barefoot in Heaven" is a swampy, bumping blues-rocker that unapologetically channels the righteous, social soul gospel of Mavis Staples. "The Dolls Are Sleeping" is sparse, dramatic acoustic blues about the sexual abuse of a child in first person. Copeland closes the set with her father's mean, wooly Texas-cum-Chicago blues "Nobody But You." Done Come Too Far cements the achievement of her previous two outings with steely determination, courage, and commanding, almost limitless musicality.

Source: AllMusic

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Emile Mosseri - I Could Be Your Dog | I Could Be Your Moon

I Could Be Your Dog | I Could Be Your Moon

by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Emile Mosseri

Released 27 May 2022

Ghostly International


"His music filled me with the urge to connect with the world," Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith says of Emile Mosseri. She first heard his work while watching the 2019 film The Last Black Man In San Francisco; just minutes in, she paused it to look up who did the score and wrote to him immediately. "I love Emile's ability to create melodies that feel magically scenic and familiar like they are reminding you of the innocence of loving life.” Those talents saw recognition in 2020 with an Oscar nomination for Mosseri’s original score to the film Minari.

He was already a fan of Smith’s and became increasingly intrigued by her impressionistic process as they started to talk. "The music feels so spiritual and alive and made from the earth," Mosseri says. "I think of her as the great conductor, summoning musical poetry from her orchestra of machines."

I Could Be Your Dog / I Could Be Your Moon, their two-part collaborative album, introduces an uncanny fusion of their sonics. Constructed using synthesizer, piano, electronics, and voice, this soft-focus dream world is lush, evocative, and fleeting. It finds two composers tuning their respective styles inward as an ode to mutual inspiration, a celebration of the human spirit and its will to surrender to the currents of life. 

Early into their correspondence, Smith and Mosseri realized they were neighbors in Los Angeles and met up for a few hikes. Their conversations led to a musical exchange over email. The exercise became a sketch, the start of their first song together, "Log In Your Fire,” with Mosseri finding flourishes in Smith’s cathartic synth lines to intonate and harmonize alongside. Lyrically, it's a beautiful, open-ended sentiment. "Being a log in someone's fire, to me, means letting go, and surrendering to that feeling," says Mosseri.

From there, the pair composed a series of musical foundations, trading files from afar, nurturing the eventual expansion as the remote days of 2020 set in. Smith likens the collaborative experience to the exciting uncertainty of starting a garden, "doing what I can to facilitate growth while enjoying the process of being surprised by what will actually grow."  

In the summer of 2021, the duo finished work on the sequel, I Could Be Your Moon, expanding their musical language as the first part reached its September release. Songs from these more recent exchanges find them even more synced, forging into percussive and harmonic experiments, leaning further into their “unused musical muscles,” as Smith and Mosseri put it. A unified vocal presence emerged. “As the friendship grew I think we both learned how to support each other more and musically that was communicated through singing together,” adds Smith. 

Now taken as a full album set, I Could Be Your Dog / I Could Be Your Moon moves fluidly from track to track, panning through textural vignettes. Two roughly 17-minute halves, the set evokes the bittersweet sense of something too bright or rare to last, a short-lived glimpse into a golden hour.

There is a dreamy, elemental intention to this music, which Smith and Mosseri say came naturally, as they both embraced intuitive interplay throughout their creative back-and-forth.

The stylistic threads of each composer are recognizable yet become more ambiguous as the album progresses, sewn into a singular vision.

"I'm so grateful that my musical ideas could dance with hers with some grace and harmony," says Mosseri.

Smith adds that this experience helped her "remember that music can be a connecting layer of friendship, especially in a time when the usual ways were out of reach." 

Source: Bandcamp

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Let's Turn It Into Sound

Let's Turn It Into Sound

by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Released 26 August 2022

Ghostly International


Right from its first few seconds, Let's Turn It into Sound immediately sounds like a bold new chapter in Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's discography. A twisted, kaleidoscopic sequence of mutated circus melodies and hammering kick drums introduces Smith's vocals, which often make extreme leaps between notes. Flurries of percussive hits, bubbling synths, and woodwinds appear and disappear with no warning, and prickly beats sleepwalk into the faint saxophones that preface the next track. A far cry from the ambient pop of The Kid or the balmy new age meditations of Tides and The Mosaic of Transformation, Let's Turn It into Sound is a busy, colorful clash of hyperactive rhythms and crisscrossing vocals accurately described by its creator as "a puzzle." "Is It Me or Is It You?" begins with a more on-the-grid dance beat, which is overlaid with layers of vocals set at various pitches. After a few beatless passages, Smith's distorted, sleepy-sounding vocals inquire if she's being seen, as a chunky techno beat churns away. Other pieces shuffle between semi-danceable rhythms, chirping electronics, and hypnotic vocal exercises. It's a dense, unpredictable work, yet it never feels overbearingly tense, as Smith provides plenty of breathing room. When the beats do arrive, they're swift and propulsive, but like the rest of the sounds and textures, they're malleable and don't head in any one direction. "There Is Something" stretches its tempo up and down, and the beats will often shift abruptly into reverse. The brief conclusion "Give to the Water" is a spacy comedown, all billowing synths and extended vocal phrases. Let's Turn It into Sound is a complex, angular construction, yet it's not a demanding, impenetrable work, as Smith invites the listener to join her on a spirited, boundless journey.

Source: AllMusic

John Carroll Kirby - Dance Ancestral

Dance Ancestral

by John Carroll Kirby

Released 8 April 2022

Stones Throw


Though California-based composer, keyboardist, arranger, and session musician John Carroll Kirby has put out a steady stream of records since issuing the solo Travel in 2017, he's been positively prolific since signing to Stones Throw in 2020. Dance Ancestral marks his fifth release for the label. Among them are My Garden, last year's electric jazz masterpiece Septet, and the recent score and soundtrack for Cryptozoo. Kirby's aesthetic for Dance Ancestral was to create an electronic musical meditation on the patterns and routines of life unfolding during an ordinary day. Its title reflects not literal dancing but innate, even instinctual, movements in the choreography of lived experience.

Kirby recruited Canadian producer Yu Su to assist him on this solo journey. The only other guest is ambient/new pioneer Laraaji, who lends his voice to the soaring "Dawn of New Day." Channeling new age, California disco, and the soundtrack sensibilities of composers from Lalo Schifrin to Piero Umiliani, Kirby creates a pulsing, uplifting conversation between elegant textures, sweeping synths, Rhodes pianos, and synthetic beats. Though Laraaji's lyric is simple, it's embedded in the grain of the tune's atmospheric trajectory. A lithe disco leitmotif frames "Pan's Dance," as flute sounds waft and hover over a two-chord vamp, with tabla and conga loops buoying layered synths. "Repettos for You My Lord" commences as a spectral yet tuneful midtempo ballad before shard-like ARP synths, a four-on-the-floor beat, key bass, and ambient synths enter from the margins to surround the vamp and breezy melody in pillowy warmth that introduces a dramatic post-bop piano break.

With the entire release at just over 30 minutes, Kirby makes use of each second, balancing sublime harmonic gifts with trippy progressive asides and melodic invention, as evidenced by the gloriously episodic "Pause on the Ancient Ballcourt." It juxtaposes choral vocals, winding lyric synth (recalling Tangerine Dream's Private Music period), and hypnotic rhythms that bubble and whisper throughout. The single "Frog Life" weds lithe Brazilian funk and retro smooth jazz to exotic, futurist, new age dancefloor grooves. "Messages in Water" is fluid, circular, and languid in its unfolding. Kirby's wispy funk touch channels inspirations from Joe Zawinul to Deodato in its seductive drift. "Tiptoe to the Grave" is not, despite its title, morbid or dark. It's open and airy, melding circular beats and polyrhythms with a journeying, labyrinthine synth that sounds like a cross between a church organ and a harpsichord. The luxuriant backdrop ambience from Kirby and Yu Su adds layered textural dimensions for the melody as it unfolds with relaxed elegance. Closer "Gabriel's Gig" offers Baroque horn music (a synth-impersonating trumpet, strings, and flute) amid a processional melody tempered by and extrapolated upon by contemporary jazz cadences and chime-like choral voices to send Dance Ancestral out cinematically. Though its running time is slight, this set is a gorgeously assembled, emotionally uplifting sonic gem.

Source: AllMusic

Meridian Brothers, El Grupo Renacimento - Meridian Brothers, El Grupo Renacimento

Found Light

by Laura Veirs

Released 8 July 2022

Bella Union


Eblis Álvarez is at it again. The composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist in the studio version of Bogota's Meridian Brothers has long been creating a deeply personal, musical mythology in which he collaborates with fictional musicians from the sound worlds of vallenato, cumbia, champeta, and porro and engages them with psychedelia, electronica, and post-punk. On Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento, he conjures the ghosts from a '70s-era "salsa dura" band that never existed. The term "salsa dura" refers to a style of salsa that emphasized instrumental charts over lead vocals (think the Fania All-Stars). It follows directly from 2020's chiptune-flavored Cumbia Siglo XXI, titled for another fictional band, and released on New York's long-dormant Ansonia. Founded in 1949, the label was home to a diverse catalog ranging across Caribbean and Afro-Latin styles, from cha-cha, Cuban mambo, pachanga, and rhumba to merengue, música jíbara, plena, bomba, and danzon. Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento is Ansonia's first release since 1990. 

The album is a somewhat stripped-down affair, different from the maximal experiments of 2014's Salvadora Robot or 2017's Donde Estas Maria. It remains focused on son and salsa while engaging other styles. Lyrically, it critiques 21st century life, like an episodic Latin novella translated into salsa dura. In single "Metamorfosis," Artemio Morelia, Grupo Renacimiento's cantate and maquero, wakes to discover he has been transformed into a robot in a constantly connected world dissolving into trans-humanism. The driving congas and timbales are framed by call-and-response vocals and furious piano montunos. 

Eblis Álvarez is at it again. The composer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist in the studio version of Bogota's Meridian Brothers has long been creating a deeply personal, musical mythology in which he collaborates with fictional musicians from the sound worlds of vallenato, cumbia, champeta, and porro and engages them with psychedelia, electronica, and post-punk. On Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento, he conjures the ghosts from a '70s-era "salsa dura" band that never existed. The term "salsa dura" refers to a style of salsa that emphasized instrumental charts over lead vocals (think the Fania All-Stars). It follows directly from 2020's chiptune-flavored Cumbia Siglo XXI, titled for another fictional band, and released on New York's long-dormant Ansonia. Founded in 1949, the label was home to a diverse catalog ranging across Caribbean and Afro-Latin styles, from cha-cha, Cuban mambo, pachanga, and rhumba to merengue, música jíbara, plena, bomba, and danzon. Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento is Ansonia's first release since 1990.

The album is a somewhat stripped-down affair, different from the maximal experiments of 2014's Salvadora Robot or 2017's Donde Estas Maria. It remains focused on son and salsa while engaging other styles. Lyrically, it critiques 21st century life, like an episodic Latin novella translated into salsa dura. To underscore this entire dazzling, humorous outing, a short, cartoon mockumentary cementing the album's concept is included.

With Meridian Brothers y Grupo Renacimiento, Álvarez has outdone himself. This is easily the tightest, most accessible, and musically forward album he's yet released.

Source: AllMusic

Brandon Coleman - Interstellar Black Space

Interstellar Black Space

by Brandon Coleman

Released 20 May 2022



Brandon Coleman signaled his galactic wanderlust on Resistance with a skyward gaze and encouragement to "Just Reach for the Stars." The keyboardist then conceived this follow-up as a musical companion for an interplanetary trip spent "searching for a rare precious metal that we need to bring back to Earth." Although that might bring to mind Lenny White's The Adventures of Astral Pirates, Interstellar Black Space contains no sense of conflict other than a fleeting mention of an unspecified fight, and love songs greatly outnumber calls for unity. Similar to Resistance, this was inspired by jazz fusion predating Coleman's birth -- primarily vocoder-era Herbie Hancock and mid- to late-'70s George Duke -- but quite a bit more classic R&B, straight-up funk, and firebolt fusion are in the mix, echoing the likes of Stevie Wonder, Philly soul, the Time, and Return to Forever. Apart from the album title and certain track titles, the science fiction element is actually subtle. Coleman's synthesizers sometimes evoke weightlessness or, in the case of "Runnin," a tense action sequence, and there's no obvious sci-fi lyricism. Drifting ballads "Just Stay" and "Be with Me" don't technically say much, but they're strong statements of love and commitment. Sweetened sitar, tremulous strings, and Coleman's heartwarming pleas through vocoder make the latter something like an extended coda to Hancock's "I Thought It Was You." Elsewhere, Coleman's voice is secondary, a supporting instrument, like in "We Change, Pt. 1," more a corkscrewing groove -- out of which Coleman and longtime collaborator Kamasi Washington emerge with simultaneous solos on synthesizer and tenor saxophone. Coleman wanted to make Interstellar Black Space sound less like a production than his previous LP, and he does so most noticeably with two mostly acoustic and fully energized pieces with Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Ben Williams (upright bass), and Marcus Gilmore (drums), further reminding listeners that he doesn't need electricity to dazzle. Just as important, these cuts are as integral as those with the programmed drums that whomp, synthesizers that burble and flutter, and vocals heavy on effects, no mere tack-ons or diversions.

Source: AllMusic

Dehd- Blue Skies

Blue Skies

by Deed

Released 27 May 2022

Fat Possum


Chicago trio Dehd made significant leaps forward with each new record, moving from reverb-shrouded surf punk beginnings to a more in-focus presentation on 2019's Water, and then on to even more sophisticated moods, sounds, and arrangements on 2020 breakthrough Flower of Devotion. Without losing any of their striking simplicity, the band step their sound up even further on fourth album Blue Skies. Where Flower of Devotion found balance between the Dehd's minimalistic hooks and emotional expressiveness, Blue Skies heightens each, with bolder lyrical statements of hope, struggle, and perseverance, and some of the group's most instantly catchy material to date. They double down on the experimentation with electronics that began on their last album, adding a wide spectrum of synth textures and analog drum machine sounds to their bare-bones instrumentation. Songs like the driving anthem "Bad Love" and "Empty in My Mind" are some of the best examples of this particular element of their evolution, with gentle synth bedding adding atmosphere as drummer Eric McGrady plays booming, dramatic tom accents over steady electronic beats. Vocalist/bassist Emily Kempf's powerful croon reaches even further, experimenting with bouncing melodies on "Window" as she reflects on pushing through difficult times with a sharper lens than on previous albums. Kempf and guitarist/vocalist Jason Balla's harmonizing is also on a new level throughout Blue Skies. Moments of "Clear" find the duo locked in with electrifying precision, bringing out the theatrical element that's a key component to the band's sound. While generalized themes of heartache and emotional restlessness show up here and there, there's also a more vivid intentionality in the lyrical approach of many songs. Balla depicts living with the absence of departed loved ones on the twee-meets-synth pop "Memories," and emphatic closer "No Difference" explores the sometimes exhausting unpredictability of life and opts to charge forward regardless of what might be ahead. It's a triumphant closing note, and one that reinforces the journey of heaviness, hope, and celebration that Blue Skies takes us on in a little over half an hour. Each new Dehd album has found the band peeling back another layer of obfuscation. Blue Skies elevates Dehd's mysterious auras, thoughtful experimentation, and strong songwriting, but it reaches its highest levels of beauty and intensity when the bandmembers share more of their unobscured personalities.

Source: AllMusic

Laura Veirs - Found Light

Found Light

by Laura Veirs

Released 8 July 2022

Bella Union


When Laura Veirs decided to break up with her husband, she probably wasn't thinking about how it would change the way she makes music. That said, it posed creative challenges most people moving on from divorce don't have to think about. Veirs' spouse was Tucker Martine, the noted indie producer who had been at the controls of albums by My Morning Jacket, the Decemberists, the Jayhawks, Bill Frisell, and all of Veirs' releases from her 2001 breakthrough, The Triumphs and Travails of Orphan Mae, and onward. Ending her marriage had the side effect of Veirs having to find a new ally in the studio, and 2022's Found Light, her first album since her split with Martine, is the sound of an artist making their way into new territory, sometimes wary, though more often excited about the new possibilities she's been afforded. For Found Light, Veirs recruited Shahzad Ismaily, a producer and multi-instrumentalist whose credits run from Sam Amidon and Jolie Holland to Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog, and with Ismaily co-producing with Veirs as well as playing many of the instruments, Found Light has a sound and feel that's different from what we've heard from her in the past two decades. The breathy, sometimes bittersweet tone of her vocals is essentially unchanged, but on numbers like "Eucalyptus" and "Ring Song," she allows her emotions to subtly but clearly reflect her disappointment and anger, and on "Time Will Show You," she imagines moments with new lovers in a way that's unashamedly erotic. When Veirs was recording with Martine, he would insist that she record her guitar and vocal parts separately, while Ismaily allowed her to accompany herself as she sang, and if the audible difference is subtle, the feel is more organic, and captures her in the moment, especially on numbers where he and his musicians explore the space of the music. It feels like creative interplay among equals rather than skilled players backing the star, as they all get caught up in the gravity of the music. And if the closer, "Winter Windows," is hardly a punk rock onslaught, the force of her singing and the scrappy energy of her electric guitar feels, in this context, like glorious, unfettered release as she lets herself be swept up in the liberation of not giving a damn what anyone thinks.

Found Light is recognizably the work of Laura Veirs, but with a freedom and sense of creative possibility that hasn't always been part of her music in the past. It's an engaging new chapter in the career of a gifted songwriter.

Source: AllMusic

Tami Neilson - Kingmaker


by Tami Neilson

Released 15 July 2022

Neilson Records / Southbound


Kingmaker is a bundle of dynamite that should propel Tami Neilson into the stratosphere.

I bristled at the Guardian’s headline calling Tami Neilson “the queen of Kiwi country” but I get it. She’s been living in New Zealand since 2007, where she’s claimed the title of Best Country Album in the New Zealand Music Awards four times since 2009 and the New Zealand Country Music Awards’ Best Female Artist three times. She’s also had three albums up for the Taite Music Prize (New Zealand’s equivalent of the Polaris Music Prize), one of which - 2014’s Dynamite! -  made the shortlist in 2015. And though Neilson will forever be the “Canadian-born, New Zealand-based” wunderkind of country music, Kingmaker, her fifth album, is about to make her star go supernova above and beyond the two countries who claim her.

Kingmaker is a “game-changer” for Neilson. She’s never been one to shy away from social and political statements, but Kingmaker coalesces her penchant for infectious melody and classic country crooning with her razor-sharp commentary and criticism. She catches fire on the album’s opening title track and keeps stoking the flames throughout the album’s thirty-two-minute running time. “Kingmaker” is a smouldering slow-burner that frames her rafter-soaring vocals with an unaccompanied reverberating guitar before strings sweep in and Neilson gets all cinematic and widescreen. “Baby, You’re a Gun” recalls classic spaghetti western arrangements with a searing indictment of the patriarchy and the ongoing erasure and suppression of women in our society. 

The bluesy swagger of “The Grudge” showcases Neilson’s storytelling ability. It’s a multi-generational chronicle based on her parents’ life story of how “when you feed that pain / And choose pride over love / You’re left holding nothing but that grudge.” Neilson sings it with the conviction of someone who has been-there-done-that but hasn’t lost the quiver in her voice each time she relives the experience. Family figures prominently on “I Can Forget” and “Beyond the Stars.” On the former, Neilson delivers a heart-wrenching tribute to her late father; the latter is a showstopping waltz that pairs Neilson with Willie Nelson as lovers separated death. 

As high-profile and poetic as a duet with a country music legend like Willie Nelson is, “Beyond the Stars” can’t eclipse the sheer shock and awe of the stellar “King of Country Music.” It’s a foot-stomping, hand-clapping country rap attack on those who would “try to cut the string on [Neilson’s] kite.” “Five gold trophies, it’s my inauguration,” she sings (referencing her accolades as mentioned above) as the song comes to a somewhat tongue-in-cheek conclusion, “Ain’t gonna hear me on no radio station / That’s OK, I tend to get above my station anyway.” In case it wasn’t clear enough, “Mama’s Talkin’” ensures there’s no ambiguity about who or what is in Neilson’s lyrical sites. “All the oxygen you hog while you’re playing top dog,” she tells the blowhards and misogynists, “Hun, it’s growing thinner than your hairline / Dinosaurs became extinct and that caveman way you think / Is gonna walk you off the edge of our timeline.”

Kingmaker is a testament to Neilson’s tenacity and talent. It’s a tribute to musical heroes both inside and outside her family. To paraphrase her previous album titles, Kingmaker is a bundle of dynamite that should propel Neilson into the stratosphere. Boom-Chickaboom!, indeed.

Source: Dominionated

Sally Seltmann - Early Moon

Early Moon

by Sally Seltmann

Released 2 August 2022

Sally Seltmann


On her first solo outing since 2014, Sally Seltmann weaves a warm blanket of hopeful indie pop with artful and frequently lush arrangements. A fixture of Australian indie music since the 1990s, Seltmann has remained busy in recent years composing the soundtrack the popular comedy series The Letdown with her husband, producer Darren Seltmann (the Avalanches), publishing her first novel, and releasing a second album as part of the songwriter supergroup Seeker Lover Keeper.

Written and recorded at home during the depths of the global pandemic, Early Moon is her third proper solo album, though she previously released two more in the same vein under the name New Buffalo. It is also as comforting and lovingly crafted as anything she has released.

Opener "Please Louise" is classic Seltmann, blending clever wordplay with an endearingly compassionate tone and strong, driving melodies. Her airy vocals thread another highlight, "Table for One," as gentle guitars and pianos intermingle with layers of shimmering synths. For a record conceived during such a dark period, Early Moon is intentionally upbeat and buoyant, focusing on affirmational themes like self-reliance ("Female Pied Piper") and the healing power of nature ("Fill My Senses"). This type of sweetly sighing chamber pop is Seltmann's wheelhouse, and while she doesn't do much to push those boundaries, she also does no harm to her reputation. Early Moon is affable and easy on the ears with enough standouts to help anchor its more ephemeral tendencies.

Source: AllMusic

Emily Wurramara - Ayarra Emeba (Calm Songs) EP

Ayarra Emeba (Calm Songs) EP

by Emily Wurramara

Released 21 February 2022

Australian Broadcasting Corporation


Emily Wurramara is one of music’s most inspiring Indigenous role models, and it’s only up from here” - Beat Magazine.

Originating from Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory, the AIR award-winning and ARIA-nominated artist released an 11-track album Milyakburra, educating and informing in both English and Anindilyakwa languages. The critically acclaimed 2018 album features the emotive Lady Blue (over 6.5 million Spotify streams) and Black Smoke, amassing over 1.2 million Spotify streams and rotation on Triple J, ABC Local and 10 weeks in the AMRAP charts.

Emily has performed on many global stages including Woodford Folk Festival, Bluesfest, TEDX Sydney, GARMA, Port Fairy Folk Festival, BIGSOUND and International Folk Alliance showcases in Kansas, Canada and New Orleans, as well as, shows in Chicago, New York, Paris and across so called Australia.

She has also toured and played with iconic artists including Archie Roach, Mavis Staples, John Farnham, Busby marou, Coloured Stones, Missy Higgins, Shellie Morris, Jessica Mauboy, Cat empire and John butler, just to name a few!

Emily is a six time Queensland Music Award winner, she was selected for the AMP Tomorrow Maker Award and won AIR Award’s Best Blues and Roots Album of the Year.

“We are so lucky to call this artist ours. Beyond her years in spirit and talent,

Emily always sounds like the wise and bright voice of the soul breaking free” - Triple J

What's next?

Emily recently signed to record label ABC Music and is currently in the studio working on her new album, set for release in 2022.

Source: Bandcamp

Early James - Strange Time To Be Alive

Strange Time To Be Alive

by Early James

Released 29 April 2022

World Circuit Records


Early James released his first album, Singing for My Supper, just as the world slid into the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic, so if any singer/songwriter has cause to claim that it's a Strange Time to Be Alive -- the pointed title of his second album -- it's him. To his credit, he winds up delivering on the promise of his title, conjuring ghosts of the American South with his stylized soul and poetry -- a combination that can suggest Tom Waits in his beatnik poet prime crossed with a blues troubadour. This heightened Americana is quite appealing, especially in the hands of producer Dan Auerbach, who lets the ballads be painterly and gives the shambling numbers a colorful quality, letting Early James growl against guitar grit and thickened thump in the rhythms. At nearly an hour, Strange Time to Be Alive does indeed have a tendency to wander and linger, a characteristic that can be mildly maddening but also is ingratiatingly eccentric. Perhaps Early James can recall such inspirations as Waits, but the way he assembles American myths and music has an idiosyncratic signature that only sounds stronger and more authoritative with repeat listens.

Source: AllMusic

Andrew Combs - Sundays


by Andrew Combs

Released 19 August 2022

Tone Tree  Music


Back to Mono, was Phil Spector’s one-time rallying cry. And while practically nothing connects the music of that legendary over-the-top ’60s producer with the introspective Americana singer/songwriter Andrew Combs, the latter musician decided to take Spector’s advice and record his fifth album in pure monaural audio.  

There are other changes Combs has adopted for this, his fifth album. 

Created after a mental breakdown during Christmas 2020, Combs along with producer Jordan Lehning fundamentally revised the artist’s songwriting approach. Instead of restoring the lusher, strummy qualities of his previous music, Combs strips down these songs to a basic four-piece, conspicuously highlighting Tyler Summers’ woodwinds. Using transcendental meditation practices as his writing guide, Combs recorded a song a week on Sunday (hence the album’s title) in a minimal but not spare style. 

A recent single had Combs covering Radiohead’s “High and Dry,” which indicates the vibe he’s chasing. There are moments of offbeat pop as on the elusive concepts in “Anna Please” where his voice is similar to that of Harry Nilsson; sweet, tentative yet with a lyrical bite emphasized by clarinet and other overdubbed horns providing wistful accompaniment. Elsewhere, on “Drivel to a Dream,” Combs creates music of another era, perhaps something that Van Dyke Parks or Brian Wilson would conjure in their more oblique forays. Echoes of Tim Buckley add to the mystery, bleak atmospherics, and unique slant.

This falls on the fringes of art-folk but without the pretension that implies. The focus is on Combs’ high-pitched tenor voice, which remains up front and personal. Skeletal drums provide a supple, often ominous beat to songs that drift, float and hover as if in a reverie, urged on by those ever-present woodwinds that appear and dissolve with shadowy resolve. 

Combs describes the disc’s overall tone as that of a black and white film. Add foreign to that description (one song was inspired by an Ingmar Bergman flick) and you’re a few steps closer to this stirring, decidedly non-commercial music that sounds like little else.

Source: American Songwriter

Living Daylights - Let's Live For Today (The Complete Recordings)

Let's Live For Today The Complete Recordings

by Living Daylights

Released 12 August 2022

Cherry Red Records


Freakbeat obscurities the Living Daylights seemed relegated to lost-band status, with the occasional great song turning up on a collection and historians noting that they were the first group to issue an English-language version of the post-beat classic "Let's Live for Today." Sadly, the record they cut in 1967 was never released until 2022, when Grapefruit Records issued it for the first time as Let's Live for Today: The Complete Recordings with both mono and stereo versions of the album plus single tracks. The record was restored with stunning clarity and power, and the liner notes clear up the formerly murky details of the band's existence, getting the membership right and detailing the raw deal they got from their publisher and label. It's hard to fathom that seemingly everyone involved with the group on the business side was so cloth-eared that they couldn't hear just how good the album was. The songs that leaked out to comps over the years -- "Today," of course, but also "I'm Real," "Jane," and "Always with Him" -- gave a tantalizing glimpse of a band that was a combo of great players, singers, and writers. "I'm Real" is a stomping post-mod rocker with an insistent hook and some great falsetto vocal work, "Jane" struts like a confident Kinks, and "Always with Him" is a brilliant blend of harmony pop and freakbeat excitement. All three songs could have been hits and have been bright spots on the collections they ended up on. The rest of the album has some similarly shiny gems; their producer Caleb Quaye penned the moody ballad "Cos I'm Lonely" and the band deliver it with an oddly menacing brand of melancholy. The romping "Up So High" is another song by the band's Garth Watt-Roy that could have been a contender. Its scorching guitar solo, pop art sound effects, and pummeling beat propel it to the level of the Creation's best work, which is the highest praise. The record is let down a little by the two Beatles covers -- which were forced on the group by the higher-ups -- but the band put them across well enough. Their version of Doris Troy's "What'cha Gonna Do About It" is a pleasant trifle that shows off the strength of the vocals, both lead and harmony, but it feels like a mistake, especially when the band were writing such good songs themselves. Subtract the covers, add a few more Watt-Roy written songs, actually release it, and this would be firmly in classic territory. As it is, the collection is pretty close to revelatory and should be studied and enjoyed by all who consider themselves freakbeat aficionados.


Source: AllMusic

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