Album Review: Let Me Do One More by Illuminati Hotties


Album: Let Me Do One More
Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Release Date: October 1, 2021
Label: Snack Shack Tracks
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Pool Hopping”
  • “MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA”
  • “Threatening Each Other Re: Capitalism”
  • “Growth”

Thoughts: I’ve been following illuminati hotties since the group’s first album in 2017 and enjoy the infectious punk rave-up sound with touches of bubblegum.  Sarah Tudzin, who leads the project, calls it “tenderpunk.”  The music may make you overlook the intelligent lyrics that focus on both the personal and the political, so listen carefully.
Rating: ***1/2

Previously Reviewed:

Album Review: Twin Plagues by Wednesday


Album: Twin Plagues
Artist: Wednesday
Release Date: August 13, 2021
Label: Orindal Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “They Burned Down Dairy Queen”
  • “How Can You Live If You Can’t Love How Can You If You Do”
  • “Gary’s”
  • “Ghost of a Dog”

Thoughts” The Asheville, North Carolina quintet has a 90s sound without feeling retro. Vocalist Karly Hartzman sings introspective lyrics with a bit of a twang over crunching guitars. It’s kind of like The Nields crossed with My Bloody Valentine. All the tracks are lo-tempo, but there’s enough variation in the music and emotion in the vocals that it never gets tedious.
Rating: ***

Album Review: Cavalcade by black midi


Album: Cavalcade
Artist: black midi
Release Date: 26 May 2021
Label: Rough Trade
Favorite Tracks:

  • “John L”
  • “Hogwash and Balderdash”
  • “Ascending Forth”

Thoughts: black midi are an experimental rock band from the UK with hints of prog rock, jazz fusion, and just plain noise. Their music is not easy to describe but it’s defined by odd rhythms and unexpected chord changes.  There’s a bouncy guitar and bass rhythm on many tracks that reminds me of Primus but nothing else does.  It’s definitely something worth checking out if you’re looking for something different.
Rating: ***

Album Review: They’re Calling Me Home by Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi


Album: They’re Calling Me Home
Artist: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi
Release Date: April 9, 2021
Label: Nonesuch Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Calling Me Home”
  • “Avalon”
  • “I Shall Not Be Moved”
  • “Bully For You”
  • “Amazing Grace”

Thoughts: Rhiannon Giddens, an innovative interpreter of various types of American traditional music is once again joined by Italian instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi.  They both live in Ireland now and recorded this collection as a response to the COVID pandemic.  The traditional songs are thematically joined by theme of home as a place one longs for as well as the theme of death as the ultimate home for all of us.  Giddens voice is gorgeous on these songs and the instrumentation and arrangements are simple but still remarkable.
Rating: ****1/2

Related Post:  Album Review: there is no Other by Rhiannon Giddens (with Franceso Turrisi)

Album Review: One More Saturday Night by The Halluci Nation


Album: One More Saturday Night
Artist: The Halluci Nation
Release Date: July 30, 2021
Label: The Halluci Nation
Favorite Tracks:

  • “It’s Over”
  • “NDN Kars (Remix)”
  • “The OG”
  • “Collaboration ≠ Appropriation”

Thoughts:

Formerly known as A Tribe Called Red, The Halluci Nation are a duo of Tim “2oolman” Hill and Ehren “Bear Witness” Thomas, First Nations artists who mix electronic sounds with traditional indigenous musical styles.  They originated their sound at Electric Pow Wow club nights in Ottawa and have continued to wow me with their albums and singles over the years.  On this latest release they are joined by many guest artists and venture into different styles like hip hop, dubstep, and R&B, although the electric pow wow remains at the base of it all.

Rating: ***1/2

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Album Review: Welcome 2 America by Prince


Album: Welcome 2 America
Artist: Prince
Release Date: July 30, 2021
Label: NPG
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Welcome 2 America”
  • “Stand Up And B Strong”
  • “When She Comes”
  • “One Day We Will All B Free”

Thoughts: Recorded in 2010, this is the first posthumous album of previously-unreleased songs by Prince.  Backed by by bassist Tal Wilkenfeld and drummer Chris Coleman, the album contains funky tracks reminiscent of P-Funk as well as earlier Prince music.  Lyrically, the songs focus on topical issues of 2010, many of which feel relevant still in 2021.  The problem is that as a protest song writer, Prince has no subtly.  He observes a lot of America’s problems but really has nothing to say about those problems. With that being said, it’s a solid album by a great artist and his collaborators, even if it pales besides his best work.
Rating: ***

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Album Review: Jubilee by Japanese Breakfast


Album: Jubilee
Artist: Japanese Breakfast
Release Date: June 4, 2021
Label: Dead Oceans
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Paprika”
  • “Be Sweet”
  • “Savage Good Boy”

Thoughts:

Japanese Breakfast is an indie pop project lead by Michelle Zauner.  The album is full of joyful pop sounds that hit right just now.  I like the sonically dense musical arrangements and the interplay between lead and backup up vocals.  The songs are also hooky as heck!

Rating: ****

Album Review: The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers by Valerie June


Album: The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers
Artist: Valerie June
Release Date: March 12, 2001
Label: June Tunes Music
Favorite Tracks:

  • “You and I”
  • “Colors”
  • “Call Me a Fool [feat. Carla Thomas]”

Thoughts:

Memphis-raised, Brooklyn-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Valerie June combines classic soul vocals with the instrumentation of folk and Appalachian music.  She’s also not afraid to mix in some electronic beats from time to time.  The result is music that sounds simultaneously timeless and contemporary. The legendary Carla Thomas, Queen of Memphis Soul, joins June on two tracks.

Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: Menneskekollektivet by Lost Girls


Album: Menneskekollektivet
Artist: Lost Girls
Release Date: March 26, 2021
Label: Smalltown Supersound
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Menneskekollektivet”
  • “Carried by Invisible Bodies”
  • “Love, Lovers”

Thoughts: This debut album from a Norwegian duo consisting of singer-songwriter Jenny Hval and multi-instrumentalist Håvard Volden is one of the most remarkable things I’ve rested my ears on in some time.  It sounds like ambient music layered on Laurie Anderson avant-garde styles, layered on 90s techno, layered on 70s disco.  Maybe it won’t sound that way to you but the best way to describe it is as layered and rich.  The lyrics focus on feelings and capture emotions in their sound and repetition as much as in their words.  Their is a lot of improvisation and exploration in this music. I expect this will be on my favorite albums list at the end of 2021.

Rating: ****1/2

Album Review: Really From by Really From (2021)


Album: Really From
Artist: Really From
Release Date: March 12, 2021
Label: Topshelf Records
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Quirk”
  • “Try Lingual”
  • “I’m From Here”
  • “In the Spaces”

Thoughts:

This Boston-based band gets its name from the question asked of its mixed-race members, “Where are you really from?”  The lyrics explore identity and social awareness, set to music that is virtuosic and eclectic.  In one album you can hear jazz fusion, aggressive indie rock, and acoustic singer-songwriter styles seamlessly blended.  The Pitchfork review of this album is very insistent on calling Really From’s style as emo and “math rock,” a genre I’m pretty sure they just made up.  But whatever the style, I know that I really like it.

Rating: ****