Album Review: Structure by Water From Your Eyes


AlbumStructure
Artist: Water From Your Eyes
Release Date: August 27, 2021
Label: Wharf Cat Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “When You’re Around”
  • “Track Five”
  • “”Quotations””

Thoughts: This album from the Brooklyn electro-pop duo Water From Your Eyes documents a break-up.  Specifically the end of the romantic relationship between band members Rachel Brown and Nate Amos, although they remain together as a band and as friends.  There’s a lot of variety to hear: Beatles-esque harmonies, shoegaze guitar, ghostly vocals, relentless industrial noise…  It changes from track to track and sometimes within the song.  But there is, er, structure here as the album is broken into two sets of four songs symmetrical to the other four.
Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: Get Up Sequences Part One by The Go! Team


Album: Get Up Sequences Part One
Artist: The Go! Team
Release Date: July 2, 2021
Label: Memphis Industries
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Let the Seasons Work”
  • “Cookie Scene”
  • “Tame the Great Plains”
  • “World Remember Me Now”

Thoughts: The Go! Team haven’t been as good as they used to be for a while.  Or perhaps, the remarkable sameness of their music is an indication that they are as good as they used to be, they just haven’t changed while the listeners have.  Anyhow, The Go! Team is always fun to listen to as they cobble together from various sources, the weirder the better.  I think I like this album better overall than its predecessor SEMICIRCLE.
Rating: ***

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Album Review: Afrique Victime by Mdou Moctar


Album: Afrique Victime
Artist: Mdou Moctar
Release Date: May 21, 2021
Label: Matador Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Chismiten”
  • “Tala Tannam”
  • “Asdikte Akal”
  • “Afrique Victime”

Thoughts: Mdou Moctar is a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter from Niger who is one of the Tuareg people, a semi-nomadic Muslim group of the Sahara region.  His musical style is called assouf or “desert blues,” popularized by artists like Ali Farka Touré and Tinariwen.  Moctar and other assouf artists take influence from the guitar playing style of Jimi Hendrix, although the musical structure deviates wildly from the Western pop system of verse-chorus-bridge.  A lot of reviewers describe the music as psychedelic although I’d say it’s more improvisational and more of a hypnotic reverie than a drug trip. The songs are sung in the Tamasheq language, but I’ve read that they deal with the horrors of French colonialism and the ongoing exploitation of Africa by the West, as well as songs of love and resilience. Listening to this album was an “ear-opening” experience.

Rating: ****

Album Review: Daddy’s Home by St. Vincent


Album: Daddy’s Home
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: May 14, 2021
Label: Loma Vista Recording
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Down and Out Downtown”
  • “The Melting of the Sun”
  • “Somebody Like Me”
  • “My Baby Wants a Baby”
  • “…At the Holiday Party”

Thoughts:

Annie Clark, who performs as St. Vincent, is something of a chameleon, changing her personal appearance and musical style from album to album.  This has lead to fascinating career with the highpoint of her 2014 album St. Vincent which I really loved, but also 2017’s Masseduction, which I really did not. On Daddy’s Home, the glam rock and pop noise of the past have been replaced by a soul and funk sound joined together thematically around the idea of New York City in the 1970s.  The album title is inspired by Clark’s actual father’s release from prison after serving time for a decade for stock manipulation, but Clark suggests this is more metaphorical than biographical.  To me, this album feels like a return to form for St. Vincent, which means it’s something new and experimental.

Rating: ***

Album Review: The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite by IKOQWE


Album: The Beginning, the Medium, the End and the Infinite
Artist: IKOQWE
Release Date: March 5, 2021
Label: Crammed Discs
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Falta Muito?”
  • “Pele”
  • “The Medium (O Meio)”
  • “The End (Kamicasio)”

Thoughts:

IKOQWE are a pair of fictional characters who, coming from a distant time and space, are confronted with today’s world. Their impressions are conveyed over the course of an exciting album which blends electronic music, hip hop and the sounds of ancestral instruments from Angola.

If you read this description of IKOQWE’s Bandcamp site and aren’t interested in what they sound like, I don’t know what to tell you.  The description of the duo’s debut album goes on to say:

The album contains 11 tracks, and includes drum machines, vocals in Angolan slang, Umbundu, Portuguese & English, discussions about neocolonialism, iniquities & falsified history, radio sounds, utopian solutions, and much more.

I can also tell you that there are some sick beats on this album.  It’s creative and vibrant, and I’m sure I’ll be grooving to it for some time to come.

Rating: ****

Album Review: Good Woman by The Staves


AlbumGood Woman
Artist: The Staves
Release Date: February 5, 2021
Label: Atlantic
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Good Woman”
  • “Nothing’s Gonna Happen”
  • “Trying”

Thoughts:

The English folk trio of sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor provide beautiful, close harmonies on this set of tunes.  But the sweetness of the songs does not prevent them from singing lyrics of defiance

Rating: ***

Album Review: Tell Me I’m Bad by Editrix


 

AlbumTell Me I’m Bad
Artist: Editrix
Release Date: February 5, 2021
Label: Exploding in Sound Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tell Me I’m Bad”
  • “Chelsea”
  • “She Wants to Go and Party”

Thoughts: The Western Massachusetts trio Editrix combines sweet singsong vocals over shredding guitar. Both the vocals and guitar are provided by Wendy Eisenberg, while Steve Cameron plays bass and Josh Daniel plays drums.  The great punk/indie rock melodies support lyrics that are often political but also humorous.  I found a great piece online that breaks down each song, something I’d love to see more of: https://www.talkhouse.com/a-guide-to-editrixs-tell-me-im-bad/

Rating: ****

Album Review: Long Day in the Milky Way by Kris Delmhorst


Album: Long Day in the Milky Way
Artist: Kris Delmhorst
Release Date: August 14, 2020
Label: Big Bean Music
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Wind’s Gonna Find a Way”
  • “Nothing “Bout Nothing”

Thoughts:  I first learned of Kris Delmhorst when she was playing gigs in Somerville, MA just after I  moved there in the late 90s. Her albums Five Stories and Songs for a Hurricane area among my all-time favorites. But I totally missed it when her most recent album was released last August.

The album features Delmhorst’s typically well-crafted songs.  I particularly like the harmonies of Rose Polenzani, Rose Cousins, and Annie Lynch on back-up vocals.  But with very few exceptions the songs are all slow tempo, and just not as engaging as I’d expect. The music is pretty though, and the lyrics offer flashes of hope and healing in troubled times.

Rating: ***

Album Review: Self Worth by Mourn


Album: Self Worth
Artist: Mourn
Release Date: October 30, 2020
Label: Captured Tracks
Favorite Tracks:

  • “This Feeling is Disgusting”
  • “Gather, Really”
  • “It’s a Frog’s World”
  • “The Family’s Broke”

Thoughts: Mourn, a quartet from Barcelona, is a band that makes loud, energetic punk rock tracks with shouted lyrics.  I like that kind of thing. It feels like an album for “our COVID times” with the feelings of life’s many problems fully expressed, but also counterbalanced by a sense of resilience.
Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: Sound Ancestors by Madlib


Album: Sound Ancestors
Artist: Madlib
Release Date: January 29, 2021
Label: Madlib Invazion
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Road of the Lonely One”
  • “Latino Negro”
  • “The New Normal”
  • “Duumbijay”

Thoughts:

Hip artist and producer Madlib collaborates with electronic music artists Four Tet on this collection that draws on both of their loves for music and record collecting. The music samples from a catalog of soul and R&B, Jazz, Latin, folk, and reggae to create  a tribute to ancestral music and something new at the same time.

Rating: ***1/2