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June 2020 Highlights

June 2020 Highlights

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Bob Dylan - Rough and Rowdy Ways

Rough and Rowdy Ways

by Bob Dylan

Released 19 June 2020

Columbia

*****

In his first album of original songs since 2012's "Tempest" we are invited into the craggy-voiced master's hallucinogenic universe, to join its ever-expanding cast of musical, literary and cultural characters: a diverse parade that began nearly 60 years ago with "Pretty Peggy-O" and "The Man of Constant Sorrow" on Dylan's  debut album and runs through "Desolation Row" and "Highway 61 Revisited" (1965) to the teeming cast he has assembled here.

The now 79 years old Dylan delivers with enduring vigour and crustily wicked humor, backed by the symbiotically tight western swing of his Never-Ending Tour band. The songs are delivered with the rarely-seen ease and complex emotional range of an ageing troubadour: the young turk of 60's folk & rock music now occupies the chairs vacated by the aged bluesmen he emulated.

In this turbulent moment of sccial unrest, some may yearn for inclusion of overtly political protest songs, to address any number of the prevailing progressive causes (Black Lives, MeToo, Climate, Covid, Trump's re-election) but what's to add if you wrote "The Death Of Emmett Till" and "Oxford Town" the year Dr King declared "I Have A Dream"? What more to add regards the state of the society than is already said in "It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" or "Masters Of War"?

Dylan's response from virus-enforced isolation at home in Malibu was to release the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle that is "Murder Most Foul" as a single, a few weeks ahead of the album. This was surprisingly astute: the 17 minute long dirge became Dylans firse  No. 1 single in his long career! An epic in it's own right. "Murder Most Foul" sits alone on a second disc in this package, the overall album extending to 70 minutes. It is as strong a collection of songs as Dylan has assembled since "Love and Theft" (2001) and "Time Out Of Mind" (1997) and there's enough lyrical content here that to unpack it would require a complete university graduate course.

In the song "Mother of Muses" Dylan sings “I’ve already outlived my life by far ... I'm a-travelin' light and I'm a-slow coming home". Let's hope he lets us in a few more times along the way.

SAULT - Untitled (Black Is)

Untitled (Black Is)

by SAULT

Released 19 June 2020

Forever Living Originals

*****

SAULT has existed as a mysterious open sceret since the release of two exceptional albums, enigmatically titled "5" and "7" during 2019. Those involved kept their identities low key, but a little digging reveals that the project is the work of vocalist Cleo So, fellow London-based producer Inflo (real name Dean Wynton Josiah (who is asociated with Michael Kiwunuka, Little Simz and Danger Mouse/Karen O, among others) and Nathan Burke's for his Forever Living Originals label.

The albums "5" and "7"were so good they sounded like the Greatest Hits releases of a long-lost funk'n'soul outfit from the 1980's. But there's no mistaking this third album for anything other than a mainstream candidate for album-of-the-year. The subject matter for many of the songs focuses on race and although it's clearly a work that hasn't been produced overnight, the lyrics and timing of this release could not have been more insightful or timely after the events in America and worldwide over the past two weeks. Songs such as "Don't Shoot Guns Down", "Sorry Ain't Enough", "Why We Cry Why We Die" and "Black Is" perfectly capture this moment and provide an up to the minute soundtrack to all thats's going on.

Play. Enjoy. Repeat. 

Miiesha - Nyaaringu

Nyaaringu

by Miiesha

Released 29 May 2020

EMI

*****

This is the outstanding debut album by 21 year old Miiesha Young, from the small aboriginal community of Woorabinda in Central Queensland. The album is the heart-felt coming-out statement of a strong and proud Pitjantjatjara-Torres Strait Islander woman and the lyrics of all songs deal with the challenges of young adulthood and indigenous life. Adopting conventions recently popularised by artists including Solange on her album "When I Get Home" (2019) and Mo'Ju on "Native Tongue" (2018), many of this album's tracks are framed by spoken word interludes, including her grandmother's words of wisdom and advice and a particularly tone-deaf comment by former Australian PM Abbot. Coinciding with National Reconcilliation Week in Australia and the global Black Lives Matter demonstrations worldwide, this is a timely release, however the underlying intent is deep-seated and timeless, rather than opportunistic. 

Miiesha's  words and music are clearly influenced by contemporary RnB, gospel and soul artists such Solange, SZA, Nao, Cleo Sol, James Blake and (especially) FKA Twigs and perhaps the only limiting factor in assessing the album is that these influences can still be heard in this debut. Otherwise, this is an engrossing release from an important new voice in Australian music.

Artist website:

https://miiesha.com/

Andrea Keller Five Below - Life Is Brut[

Life Is Brut[if]al

by Andrea Keller / Five Below

Released 26 June 2020

Andrea Keller (Self Released)

*****

Andrea Keller’s Life is Brut[if]al, the second album with her band Five Below, is a self -released seven track contemporary jazz oeuvre of gentle musical vignettes, intimate stories and meditative compositions.

Life is Brut[if]ul journeys through seven provoking and heartfelt musical stories.

The album features guest artists Scott McConnachie (soprano and alto saxophone), Julien Wilson (tenor, saxophone and bass clarinet) and Jim Keller (voice), alongside the Five Below band members Stephen Magnusson (guitar), Sam Anning (double bass), Mick Meagher (electric bass), James McLean (drums) and Andrea Keller on piano.

Mojo Juju & Jooelistics - Ghost Town

Ghost Town

by Mo'Ju & Joelistics

Released 29 November 2019

Mojo Juju

*****

Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga, known professionally as Mo'Ju and previously as Mojo Juju, is an award winning Australian musician, best-known for her 2018 album "Native Tongue".

Joelistics (Joel Ma) is an Australian MC, producer and multi-instrumentalist, who is a member of the Melbourne-based Australian hip hop group TZU. Joelistics produced the title track for "Native Tongue".

This inspired pairing has now produced an album of exceptional depth and feeling. The album is an entertaining mix of R&B, soul, hip hop and pop music: a collection of slow-burning grooves. Thematically, the album explores the two artists' relationship with ghosts of all forms – memories, past hurts, lost loves or that pained feeling that you could have said something better in a bygone moment.

Bandcamp:

https://mojojujuxjoelistics.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-town

GoGo Penguin - GoGo Penguin

GoGo Penguin

by GoGo Penguin

Released 6 June 2020

Gondwana

***--

On their official website GoGo Penguin remind us that they have been hailed as the “Radiohead of British Jazz” and point out that they "draw equally on rock, jazz and minimalist influences, alongside the intricacy of Aphex Twin or Four Tet to create their punchy, experimental, but always beautiful music".

This is their sixth album since 2012, so it seems unfortunate that they still feel compelled to define themselves in terms of other artists. Besides, their description misses the mark by omitting references to Philip Glass and Steve Reich, contemporary composers without whom this music would probably not exist or find an audience. On this new album GoGo Penguin's music is as busy as ever, demonstrating the trio's supreme mastery of their sparse acoustic setup of pianio, bass and drums. However except for album closer "Don't Go" the album lacks calmer passages and changes of mood. Whereas Glass and Reich sustain this sort of intensity for entire albums, GoGo Penguin are not in the same league compositionally, so they don't bring sufficient originality or invention to hold one's attention throughout.

Still, these pieces are interesting enough unto themselves that I would suggest they would be better appreciated in a playlist alongside recent releases from the aforementioned Four Tet and Aphex Twin - or even Moby.

Zenobia - Halak Halak

Halak Halak

by Zenobia

Released 5 June 2020

Crammed Discs

***--

Halak Halak is the debut album of Zenobia, a new band from Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel.

Zenobia consists of producer Nasser Halahlih and keyboardist Isam Elias.

 

Their energetiic music combines powerful beats, Levantine dabke rhythms and Arabic pop melodies. The band draw their inspiration from pop & folk music from all over the region (Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria).

The album title Halak, Halak is a slang expression meaning “Welcome, welcome”. The music is festive, exciting and irresistablly dance-inducing. Zenobia joins Omar Souleyman and Acid Arab (on whose label this album is being released) in bringing a new wave of Arab music to dance floors worldwide.

Bandcamp:

https://zenobiatunes.bandcamp.com/album/halak-halak

Khruangbin - Mordechai

Mordechai

by Khruangbin

Released  26 June 2020

Dead Oceans

***--

On their first two albums, Houston-based dub-rock trio Khruangbin produced an eclectic sound that drew on disparate international musical influences (Thai, Spanish, Middle-Eastern), overlaid by a grungy, guitar-driven but down-tempo groove. This drew them wide critical acclaim and a loyal following world-wide, supporting a busy tiouring schedule . Having returned to their home base last year, they teamed up with Leon Bridges for the excellent Texas Sun album, released in February. Now, for their third album as a stsnd-alone band, the trio (Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald Ray "DJ" Johnson Jr. on drums) has added lyrics to the mix - an opportunity for them to expand their musical options. 

However, it's a subtle shift that does not much advance their signature sound. This a disappointment for me, given that they had a whole world of vocal inspiration to draw upon and that. except in a couple of songs,  the mannered dub overlay that is one half of their trademark has smothered the fresh eclecticism that is the other.

Roy Ayers - JID002

JAZZ IS DEAD - JID002

by Roy Ayers, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammed

Released  19 June 2020

Jazz Is Dead

****-

This is the second in a series of collaborative albums produced by American instrumentalist Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammed (A Tribe Called Quest) under the Jazz Is Dead moniker, that follows the initial release (JID001) in March, which featured a stellar cast of collaborators. This time around the pair collaborating with Roy Ayers,a keyu figure in the "acid jazz" movement of the mid-80's.

Although this album has been promoted as Roy Ayers' first solo album in 18 years, this music is very much a result of the collaboration. 

Joining Ayers, Younge & Shaheed Muhammad on this musical journey are drummer Greg Paul, vocalists Loren Oden, Joy Gilliam, Saudia Yasmein, Elgin Clark & AnitraCastleberry, as well as Phil Ranelin & Wendell Harrison of the legendary Spiritual Jazz label Tribe Records.

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher

Punisher

by Phoebe Bridgers

Released  26 June 2020

Dead Oceans

***--

Phoebe Bridgers has been very busy working on various collaborative projects over the past year or two: contributing  a cover of "Georgia Lee" to the compilation "Come On Up to the House: Women Sing Waits", partnering Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to form "boygenius" and Conor Orbest for "Better Obliviaon Community Center". All these projects have been critically well received, so her new album "Punisher" arrives burdened with high expectations. But she delivers handsomely: this is an excellent piece of work that will reward a patient listener with it's finely orchestrated and delicately sung alt-folk ballads, the intensity increasing only for the single "Kyoto" and the final track "The End Is Here". But because most songs on the album are personal narratives or fantasies delivered in a medium-paced, sad, semi-whisper, the album requires close attention. Based on the evidence of her recent collaborations, Bridgers is more than capable of a wider range of vocal moods and styles than is evidenced here, so the confessional Elliot Smith-like approach to this album is clearly deliberate. Nevertheless, as a suite of songs, the album would have benefited from more lyrical diversity and changes of mood, intensity.

Norah Jones - Pick Me Up Off The Floor

Pick Me Up Off The Floor

by Norah Jones

Released 8 May 2020

Blue Note

****-

Norah Jones has described this as a collection of songs left over from the sessions for the excellent 2019 album "Begin Again" but I found this to be a more consistent and compelling album than its predecessor. The overall mood is reflective and the lyrics deal with personal struggles, heartbreak, loneliness and loss. They also appeal to universal emotions and reflect the mood of this virus-plagued world. 

Opening track "How I Weep" features a sinuous string backing from cellist Paul Wiancko as Jones sings “How I weep, and I sleep, and I march and I dance … but inside, inside I weep”. The slow blues of "Flame Twin" picks up the intenity with New Orleans flavoured piano, guitar and drums and "Hurts To Be Alone" is particularly poignent at this time, but is a classy tune too that might have found a place on any of her previous six albums. It is the album's centrepiece "Heartbroken, Day After" that best captures the moment: “Our world is wasting away ... Oh hey, hey, it’s gonna be okay ... at least that's what I tell myself any way”. "I'm Alive" and album-closer "Heaven Above" are co-written and performed with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, whose son Spencer contributes unobtrusive drumming. "She walks, she runs She fights almost as one And finds her voice She’ll march She has no choice"; "I care a lot I know the things I'm not It's alright, it's okay And it’s not, maybe things will change."

Although laid-back musically, this is a consistently engrossing set of songs of individual resolve for troubled times:

Anderson .Paak - Lockdown

Lockdown (Single)

by Anderson .Paak

Released  29 May 2020

Aftermath Entertainment

****-

This is one of a number of singles released this month in response to the brutal police murders witnessed in the US recently, and in the midst of the of rising social disquiet arising from a confluence of events including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matters movement and the context of a US {Ptresidential year.

 

We was tryna protest, then the fires broke out
Look out for the secret agents, they be planted in the crowd
Said, "It's civil unrest," but you sleep so sound
Like you don't hear the screams when we catchin' beatdowns?
Stayin' quiet when they killin' niggas, but you speak loud
When we riot, got opinions comin' from a place of privilege
Sicker than the COVID how they did him on the ground

Kee'ahn - Better Things

Better Things

by Kee'ahn

Released 28 May 2020

Kee'ahn

****-

Debut single from new Australian artist Kee'ahn. Kee’ahn is a proud Gugu Yalanji, Jirrbal, Zenadth Kes song woman who has recently ventured from her home town in North Queensland, to pursue her dream in the Kulin Nation (Melbourne, Australia)

With a name coming from the Wik people, meaning to dance, to sing, to play, Kee’ahns' aim is "to honour her name and ancestors through her soulful music that weaves lush melodies and words reminiscent of heartbreak and healing".

Berry Blacc - George Floyd

George Floyd (Single)

by Berry Blacc, Angel Bat Dawid

Released  18 June 2020

Rhythm Lab Records

****-

 

Another song responding the George Floyd's death, Berry Blacc, a vocalist and producer based in Manchester, England, is paired with Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Angel Bat Dawid.

This is part of Manchester-based online radio station Reform Radio's partnership with Jägermeister and Arts Council England to produce the "Remote Rhythm Lab" project which sees four Manchester-based artists partnered with four other artists from around the globe, challenged to explore virtual collaboration and music making.

Released on Juneteenth on Bandcamp, 100% of all Bandcamp and Rhythm Lab’s share of sales on the day were donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

Their track ‘George Floyd’ is a powerful testament to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Blacc’s lyrics namecheck many of the Black people who have died over the years at the hands of the police in the US, including Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and Ahmaud Arbery.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Sideways To New Italy

Sideways to The New Italy

by Rolling Blocxkouits Coastal Fever

Released  26 June 2020

Sub Pop

***--

The Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever returns with the follow-up to their outstanding 2018 debut album Hope Downs, The Melbourne five-piece - Fran Keaney (vocals, acoustic guitar), Tom Russo (vocals, guitar), Joe White (vocals, lead guitar), Joe Russo (bass) and Marcel Tussie (drums) - is identified by it's three-guitar attack and the album again delivers their signature wall of sound: multiple jangling guitars behind laconic vocals and shimmering harmonies.

However, a band's sophomore album is often the toughest and although this is a creditable follow up, the disappointment for me is that this set of songs lacks the wit and charm of their debut. The lyrical focus has shifted from familiar rituals and places, to rather more banal personal narratives. Musically too, the dischordant edges that enlivened the first album have been cleaned up. I would like to see them find subjects they can write more passionately about for their next - and develop a lot more attitude in the delivery.

Coco - I Love It (Black)

I Love It (Black) (Single)

by Coco

Released  18 June 2020

Rhythm Lab Records

****-

 

Another song responding the George Floyd's death, Berry Blacc, a vocalist and producer based in Manchester, England, is paired with Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist and composer Angel Bat Dawid.

This is part of Manchester-based online radio station Reform Radio's partnership with Jägermeister and Arts Council England to produce the "Remote Rhythm Lab" project which sees four Manchester-based artists partnered with four other artists from around the globe, challenged to explore virtual collaboration and music making.

Released on Juneteenth on Bandcamp, 100% of all Bandcamp and Rhythm Lab’s share of sales on the day were donated to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

 

Their track ‘George Floyd’ is a powerful testament to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Blacc’s lyrics namecheck many of the Black people who have died over the years at the hands of the police in the US, including Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and Ahmaud Arbery.

⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ. -   oʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡​(​ ؞ৢ؞ؙؖ⁽⁾˜ัิีึื์๎้็๋๊⦁0 ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ  ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ,

 ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ  oʅ͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡͡​(​ ؞ৢ؞ؙؖ⁽⁾˜ัิีึื์๎้็๋๊⦁0 ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ  ఠీੂ೧ູ࿃ूੂ,

by ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ. -

Released  29 May 2020

 ̟̞̝̜̙̘̗̖҉̵̴̨̧̢̡̼̻̺̹̳̲̱̰̯̮̭̬̫̪̩̦̥̤̣̠҈͈͇͉͍͎͓͔͕͖͙͚͜͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢͢ͅ

****-

This is another release fron London-based electronic musician Kieren Hebden, who released an album under his Four Tet moniker in March. This release is the latest in a series he updates periodically under a wingdings font, presumably just for the heck of it, or to mess things up for the search engines. 

The EP's tracks are also given similar symbolic treatment. Musically, each track also has a distinctive electronic sound, generated from a variety of percussion sounds and soft electronic samples, pops and pings.

Essa - Justice

Justice (Single)

by Essa

Released  19 June 2020

Bandcamp

*****

 

This is the most articulate piece of writing - worth a visit to the Bandcamp page, where the full lyrics are posted. 

An exerpt:

"And no I’m not some subversive militant -
Or worse, a simpleton Virtue signalling
This isn’t ... My struggle to be woke -
And join a revolution from the comfort of my home -
I’m not chasing hype I got nothing to promote
It’s just something that I wrote cause I’m struggling to cope
And plus because I know
that my sons are gonna grow
And one day they’ll wonder if I spoke -

Or choked"

The Merindas - We Sing Until Sunrise

We Sing Until Sunrise

by The Merindas

Released  19 June 2020

Candice Lloyd, Kristel Kickett

****-

With everything going on in the world right now, it's important to have a source of escapism. In the musical sense, we've been bombared with singles and even full-length records that centre themselves around learnings and lessons from the world, whether it's in regards to COVID-19's domination of the year's headlines – take Charli XCX's isolation-born how I'm feeling now record, for example – or the ongoing political situation in the US, which has given us some incredible – and powerful – protest music in the time since Trump's inauguration four years back.

For now-Melbourne-base duo The Merindas, the release of their debut album We Sing Until Sunrise – or Ngaangk Nookertiny Ngala Warangka – couldn't come at a more complex time, with Jawoyn and Thursday Island woman Candice Lorrae and Ballardong Whadjuk and Nyoongar woman Kristel Kickett releasing their album amongst one of the quietest music release weeks for as long as I can remember, with many artists pushing back release dates due to the ongoing protests in the US, which has now fallen down to Australia too, where cities are protesting for both police brutality – like in the US – but also the treatment of Indigenous Australians, who remain one of the most disadvantaged populations in the world due to their treatment by the government and its forces.

However, I get the feeling We Sing Until Sunrise / Ngaangk Nookertiny Ngala Warangka couldn't come at a more better time, too. In many ways, this album welcomes an informed and inspired relief from everything going on in the world right now, that'll educate you and take you into the duo's world while also whisking you away from everything going on, something that arises through their expert balance of potent lyricism and the sense of euphoria that underlays it musically.

From the second We Sing Until Sunrise / Ngaangk Nookertiny Ngala Warangka commences, Candice Lorrae and Kristel Kickett showcase this charm that's become synonymous to The Merindas since we met them last year. Its opening title-track is a bursting explosion of colour and rhythms that celebrates culture, while I Feel It blasts hands-in-the-air choruses about connecting yourself to the land from which you grew. On the previously-teased Before Daylight, one of last year's most joyful songs brings a traditional Noongar Dreaming story to musical life, while Do You See Me – one of the album's more mellow, yet still upbeat moments – emphasises the stolen generation, and the power of reconnection all this time later.

However, where The Merindas and their album soar their highest, is with Drumfire. It's a pacing song that opens with a phrase – "Ngang Karla Noonook Karla," or ‘my fire your fire' – that soon defines its every movement, with rushing production and soaring vocals painting one of the album's most potent pictures. "We started writing this track three years back on Mabo Day inspired by the movements and protests within our community," they say on the song. "We thought of the need for more protest tracks, so we wrote one. The main focus and inspiration stems from Eddie Mabo’s Land Rights movement in the Torres Strait which was one of many at the time."

There's a lot of power in We Sing Until Sunrise / Ngaangk Nookertiny Ngala Warangka, and in a time like now, it stems from something that feels more important than ever. On the record, The Merindas dive head-first into generational pain – and triumph – as well as their own pain and triumph, emerging the other side with songs that make you want to dance until you forget them, and leave everything laid out underneath the disco ball. There's a real power in that, and The Merindas capture it perfectly.

Source: Pilerats

Sarah Jarosz - World On The Ground

World On The Ground

by Sarah Jarouz

Released  19 June 2020

Rounder Records

****-

Sarah Jarosz explained to American Songwriter Magazine that the title for World On The Ground comes from the vantage point of the bird highlighted in bluesy song, “Pay It No Mind.”

Up by the window of the seventh floor
My little bird’s getting ready to fly
She’s had enough of the world down below her
And now she’s looking up at the sky

Yet, the dual viewpoints of the fledgling – high from the ground but still underneath the open sky – tap into a prominent aspect connecting the entire album: perspective and the vacillation thereof.

The introduction of new producer John Leventhal into Jarosz’s writing process undeniably infused the music with fresh perspective from the very setting of its creative and sonic bones, boldly varying from the formative actions behind Jarosz’s previous four records co-produced with Gary Paczosa.

World On The Ground is many things at once: Emotionally vast, welcomingly homey, highly individualized in its memories, broadly appealing through its attentive storytelling, symbolically hyperbolic, and unintentionally self-aware in its realism. Through many layers of experimentation with lyrical intimacy, Sarah Jarosz has invigorated a songwriting path previously less tended to over her compositional history. However, rather than sounding reticent in their explorations, the resulting untold stories within World On The Ground eagerly unfold, benefitting from years of practice, personal maturity, and self-driven realizations that flourished within Jarosz while the world waited unknowingly for this record.

Source: American Songwriter

Ego Ella May - Honey For Wounds

Honey For Wounds

by Ego Ella may

Released  16 June 2020

UpperRoom Records

****-

Honey for Wounds is the majestic and long-awaited debut album from London artist Ego Ella May, who first brought her South London “future soul” to our ears nearly a decade ago. A deeply vulnerable set of eleven songs, the set arrives on the heels of May’s 2019 compilation record So Far and more recent pre-release singles “Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys,” “How Long ‘Til We’re Home,” and “Give a Little.”

“All of me [went into Honey for Wounds]!” May tells Atwood Magazine. “I don’t think I had a filter on this album, so it is very honest and transparent which I am proud of. It was like a diary to me. They are all personal stories from the heart, and I think if that doesn’t capture who I am then nothing else will! It remains the best representation of me right now.”
Armed with a breathtakingly dreamy, sultry voice and a poet’s sense of self-expression, May rises above genre in finding means of connection – both with her collaborators, and with her audience. The smoky album opener “Alright” featuring American jazz trumpeter Theo Croker sets a fitting tone for the record, followed immediately by the mixture of beauty and pain rollicking through the torn “Table 4 One.”

Influenced by several coming-of-age encounters with romance, independence, longing, self-discovery and more, Honey for Wounds offers listeners a template for reflection, balance, and escape.
“It is music to heal to,” May explains. “I hope the listeners can feel less alone when taking in the album, and also I hope they find it soothing during this very strange time we are all going through.”
While prerelease singles like “Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys” and the hypnotic “Give a Little” have proven themselves as quick fan favorites, Honey for Wounds bears plenty of sweet, fresh fruit. “In the Morning” is an intoxicating emotional experience with a vivid pulse; “Song for Bobby” is a lilting overhaul from the heart; and “Science” is an intense, unshakeable force you need to hear in order to understand (words simply won’t do it justice).
No matter where you put the needle down on Honey for Wounds, you’re guaranteed to feel the weight and strength of Ego Ella May’s artistry at work. This is a truly special release for the young emerging artist – a debut that is sure to go down as one of 2020’s finest.

“I really just want to enjoy this moment of having my album out and bask in it for a while!” says May. “I’ve never had a full body of work out before, so I wanna soak it all up.”


Source: Atwood Magazine

Lady Blackbird, Foremost Poets - Blackbird (Foremost Poets Remix)

Blackbird (foremost Poets Remix)

by Lady Blackbird, Foremost Poets

Released  19 June 2020

Foundation Music

****-

This is two remixes of Lady Blackbird's cover of Nina Simone's song Blackbird, released just last month, by fellow Foundation Music artist and NYC oddball house legends The Foremost Poets.

Arca - KiCk i

KiCk i

by Arca

Released  26 June 2020

Foundation Music

****-

Following the gorgeously moody catharsis of 2017's Arca, Alejandra Ghersi embraces all of herself and her music on KiCk i. The title of her first album as an openly non-binary artist suggests artistic rebirth, hinting at how Ghersi unites her traditions -- her commitment to challenging herself and her audience, her long-running creative partnerships, and her Latinx roots -- with her future on these boundary-breaking songs. She begins by demanding we take her as she is: "I don't give a f*ck what you think," she snarls on "Nonbinary." Though her quick-shifting style on her earlier albums could have been interpreted as an extension of her fluidity, as she purrs double entendres and sings about her swaying hips and trimmed waist, she's never sounded so proud about how her music and identity defy easy classification. To express the multitudes she contains, she polarizes her sound. KiCk i's vocals are either tough or ethereal, the synths sound like blades or clouds, and Ghersi's trademark clanging percussion evokes armor but also the cracks within it that allow her to grow. The rubbery, rattling beats of "Rip the Slit" couldn't be farther from "Time"'s graceful, weightless electro-pop or the haunted, Arca-like tones of "Calor," yet KiCk i's extremes of strength, vulnerability, aggression, and allure unite in a harmony that lets every part of her music shine. On "Mequetrefe," a delicate melody holds its own as a reggaeton beat reaches gargantuan proportions and Ghersi reclaims a derogatory Spanish term as a watchword for a revolutionary kind of masculinity. She goes even farther on the rumbling "Riququi," where she shatters different languages and styles and regenerates them as something new. Amongst this reinvention, Ghersi leaves plenty of room to share the spotlight with some trusted friends and collaborators, something she's excelled at for her entire career. Her duet with her musical godmother Björk on "Afterwards," on which the Icelandic legend sings a poem by Antonio Machado over cascading beats, is a heartfelt celebration of their deep friendship; "KLK," a dazzling deconstruction of reggaeton featuring Rosalía, is hopefully the beginning of another long-running partnership. Shygirl's hard-edged yet sensual delivery on "Watch" is another fine example of KiCk i's forward-looking femininity, while "La Chíqui" is as brilliantly unhinged as a team-up between Arca and SOPHIE should be, with self-destructing beats and vocals that reach for the skies. These kinds of unapologetic contradictions and fragments coexist on KiCk i in startling, beautiful, and genuine ways, making it a complete, and triumphant, portrait of Arca's artistry.

Source: AllMusic

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