Album of the Week: Spirituals by Santigold


Album:  Spirituals
ArtistSantigold
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Label:  Little Jerk Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • High Priestess
  • No Paradise
  • Ain’t Ready
  • Fall First

Thoughts: Genre-defying Santigold’s new release reimagines the African American folk tradition with synths, electric guitar, and her own ethereal vocals.  Like many recent releases, the music grew out of the pandemic and addresses the feelings of grief, loneliness, and rage of our times.  It’s a short album, 10 tracks in just over 30 minutes, but it packs a punch.

Rating: ***1/2

 

Album of the Week:  2022

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Album of the Week: Natural Brown Prom Queen by Sudan Archives


Album: Natural Brown Prom Queen
Artist: Sudan Archives
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Label: Stones Throw Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Home Maker
  • Selfish Soul
  • ChevyS10
  • Yellow Brick Road

Thoughts: I’m naturally inclined to review anything by an artist with “archives” in their name (there are a surprising number of them).  Sudan Archives is actually the stage name for Los Angeles-based American violinist, singer, and songwriter Brittney Denise Parks. Incorporating dance music loops, R&B, hip hop, and Western African rhythms among other things, this album is full of energetic and creative tracks. Parks revealed her goals for the album to The Guardian: ““My stage name is kind of academic and on Athena, I created this thoughtful persona centred on divine Black femininity. Now I want to show my looseness, too. I’m a deep, insightful person, but I’m also fucking silly.”  I think she succeeds.
Rating: ***1/2

 

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Album of the Week: Silver Lining by Courtney Swain


 

Album: Silver Lining
Artist: Courtney Swain
Release Date: April 29, 2022
Label: Many Hats Distribution
Favorite Tracks:

  • Silver Lining (enough with the)
  • Camenti
  • Inanimate Object
  • Magic Mirror

Thoughts: Providence-based artist Courtney Swain released this album in the spring but I just learned about from WERS’ list of “Our Favorite Local Albums of 2022 So Far…” Their synopsis compares Swain to Regina Spektor and Fiona Apple, but I also see similarities to Laurie Anderson and oddly Norah Jones (at least in Swain’s unadorned singing voice).  The music draws from everything from jazz to electronica.  And the artiness of this album just sounds like something an alum of Berklee College of Music would create.
Rating: ****

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Album of the Week: Love is the Only Thing by Peter Mulvey and SistaStrings


Album: Peter Mulvey & SistaStrings
Artist: Love is the Only Thing
Release Date: August 12, 2022
Label: Righteous Babe Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Soft Animal
  • Old Men Drinking Seagram’s
  • On the Eve of the Inaugural
  • See You on the Other Side
  • Love is the Only Thing

Thoughts: Peter Mulvey is a singer/songwriter/guitarist based in Milwaukee on the contemporary folk circuit whose career I’ve been following for some time.  SistaStrings, also of Milwaukee, are the sibling duo of Monique and Chauntee Ross on cello and violin and harmonies.  They call their collaboration an album of anti-fascist songs.  The songs deal with issues such as insurrectionism and the pandemic but also lyrics of love, compassion, and hope. Mulvey says: “This album is basically a happy family song, then a song about how fucked up things are, then a family song, then a song about how fucked up things are.” It feels like the perfect album for our times.

Rating: ****

Album of the Week: Renaissance by Beyoncé


Album: Renaissance
Artist: Beyoncé
Release Date: July 29, 2022
Label: Parkwood Entertainment
Favorite Tracks:

  • ALIEN SUPERSTAR
  • BREAK MY SOUL
  • MOVE (feat. Grace Jones and Tems)
  • HEATED
  • THIQUE
  • ALL UP IN YOUR MIND
  • SUMMER RENAISSANCE

Thoughts:  I’m not going to say much because who hasn’t already said everything about Beyoncé?  But this is an exuberant new album of dance tracks that gets more thrilling as it goes along.

Rating: ****

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  • Petrol Girls – Baby

Album of the Week: Baby by Petrol Girls


Album: Baby
Artist: Petrol Girls
Release Date: June 24, 2022
Label: Hassle Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • Preachers
  • Feed My Fire
  • Baby, I Had An Abortion
  • Fight For Our Lives

Thoughts: London’s hardcore punk quartet, Petrol Girls, unleashes an absolutely necessary torrent of feminist rage on their latest release.  The stripped down sound is minimalist punk at its best.

 

Rating: ****

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Album of the Week: Special by Lizzo


By https://open.spotify.com/album/1NgFBv1PxMG1zhFDW1OrRr, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71313872

Album: Special
Artist: Lizzo
Release Date: July 14, 2022
Label: Nice Life Recording Company
Favorite Tracks:

  • About Damn Time
  • Grrrls
  • 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)
  • Naked
  • If You Love Me

Thoughts: Lizzo returns with her follow-up to the instant classic Cuz I Love You.  As the first single from the album (which has already become the Song of Summer) says, it’s “About Damn Time.”  I have to confess that I don’t like the songs as much as on the predecessor but it’s Lizzo, so it’s still irresistible.  She’s definitely feeling knowledge for the time of her infancy and before with the songs incorporating disco and 80s synth-dance sounds.  Makes me wonder what a Lizzo cover of “Let the Music Play” would sound like. Lizzo’s tireless positivity fills this album with joy and it can get a bit cheezy at times.  But it’s also a political at a time when the personal is deeply political.  Lizzo is also finding new ways of sharing her deepest self and discovering she loves what she’s found.

Rating: ***1/2

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Album of the Week: Celestial Bodies by Mourning [A] BLKstar


Album: Celestial Bodies
Artist: Mourning [A] BLKstar
Release Date: March 4, 2022
Label: Self-released
Favorite Tracks:

  • Angi
  • Green Tara (feat. Sonja Rhie Mace)
  • Open Spaces
  • 192.43
  • Forges

Thoughts: Cleveland’s Mourning [A] BLKstar,  collective of musicians, writers, and multimedia artists, created my favorite album of 2020.  Now they’re back with an album of music from various collaborations they’ve done with the likes of Adult Swim, the Cleveland Museum of Art and German dance opera artist Christoph Winkler. It’s an album that feels deeply spiritual mixing-and-matching sounds of soul, free jazz, hip-hop, gospel, and psychedelia for something unique and beautiful.

Rating: ****

 

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Album of the Week: Editrix Goes To Hell by Editrix


Album: Editrix Goes To Hell
Artist: Editrix
Release Date: June 3, 2022
Label: Exploding in Sound
Favorite Tracks:

  • Editrix Goes To Hell
  • Queering Ska
  • Cowboy
  • Gut Project
  • Time Can’t Be Redeemed

Thoughts:

The punk pop trio from Western Massachusetts returns with a follow-up to their 2021 debut album Tell Me I’m Bad.  Darkness and sweetness merge over swirling guitars with singsong lyrics.  They’re swiftly becoming one of the most creative contemporary bands out there.

Rating: ****

 

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