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

 

Album of the Week:  2022

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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: ****

Album of the Week 2022

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  • Petrol Girls – Baby

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: Wet Leg by Wet Leg


Album: Wet Leg
Artist: Wet Leg
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Label: Domino Recording Co Ltd
Favorite Tracks:

  • Being in Love
  • Chaise Longue
  • Wet Leg
  • Ur Mum
  • Supermarket
  • Too Late Now

Thoughts: Wet Leg feels more like a compilation than a debut album since the British indie rock duo of Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers have been releasing a string of infectious singles since spring of 2021.  The lyrics are brazen, sometimes bratty, and the hooks are infectious.

Rating: ***1/2

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Album of the Week: Timbuktu by Oumou Sangaré


Album: Timbuktu
Artist: Oumou Sangaré
Release Date: April 29, 2022
Label: World Circuit Limited
Favorite Tracks:

  • Wassulu Don
  • Kanou
  • Kêlê Magni
  • Dily Oumou

Thoughts:

Oumou Sangaré is a veteran vocalist from Mali who sings traditional songs of the Wassoulou region.  The music reflects the joy, sadness, and tenderness of strife-torn West Africa with an emphasis on the struggles of women.  Like many recent recordings, Timbuktu was created during and inspired by living in isolation during the COVID pandemic.  In Sangaré’s case she was trapped in Baltimore while touring the United States and unable to return home.  Sangaré’s voice and lyrics are supplemented by music played on traditional instruments of Sangaré’s and a chorus of female voices.

Rating: ****

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Album of the Week: Where’s the One? by Congotronics International


Album: Where’s the One?
Artist: Congotronics International
Release Date: April 29, 2022
Label: Crammed Discs
Favorite Tracks:

  • Where’s the One
  • Kule Kule Redux
  • Doubt/Hope
  • Banza Banza
  • Guiyome

Thoughts:  The debut album from Congotronics International is an epic set of 23-tracks.  The supergroup is made up of members of Konono No.1, Kasai Allstars, Deerhoof, Juana Molina, Wildbirds & Peacedrums, and Skeletons’ Matthew Mehlan for a total of 19 musicians from 4 continents.  The musical style is a fusion of traditional music of Congo with various rock styles.  The result is a music that is infectious, and not surprisingly a dense and loud conflagration of instruments and voices.

Rating:****

 

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Album of the Week: Air by Sault


AlbumAir
Artist: Sault
Release Date: April 13, 2022
Label: Forever Living Originals
Favorite Tracks:

  • Air
  • Sault
  • Time is Precious

Thoughts:

The anonymous UK music collective Sault released two highly regarded albums in 2020, Untitled (Black Is) and Untitled (Rise), and then Nine in 2021 which was only available to stream for 99 days (I missed it!).  While their earlier releases were a mix of R&B, disco, and afrobeat with experimental touches, I’m not sure where to classify Air.  I guess it’s experimental orchestral and choral music.  Most of the songs have vocalizations but no actual lyrics.  It could be the score for a movie, or perhaps a ballet.  It’s definitely different from the pop mainstream of today!

Rating: ****

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Album of the Week: Diaspora Problems by Soul Glo


Album:Diaspora Problems
Artist:  Soul Glo
Release Date: March 25, 2022
Label: Epitaph
Favorite Tracks:

  • Gold Chain Punk (whogonbeatmyass?)
  • Coming Correct Is Cheaper
  • Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!)(by the future)
  • Driponomics (feat. Mother Maryrose)
  • (Five Years And) My Family

Thoughts:

Soul Glo, a hardcore band from Philadelphia, have a lot to rage about – racism, politics, phony allies, and their sense of ostracism for being a predominantly Black punk band.  The horn section adds a lot to these “three chords and the truth” guitar anthems.

Rating: ****