Release Date: July 5, 2019
Kokoko! is a collective of artists from Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They use instruments fashioned from trash to create sounds for a musical style that blends electronica with dance punk. The synths layered on by their French producer Débruit also gives it an 80s freestyle dance pop sound. Kokoko! makes refreshing music that functions equally well at a dance club or a political protest.
Only three new songs for the month of July, probably because I’ve been too busy listening to “Old Town Road.” All of these bands share in common band names that are challenging to find in a search engine.
Necking :: Still Exist
Punk rock women from Vancouver.
Abjects :: The Storm
Punk rock women from London.
CUP :: Soon Will Be Flood
Electronic experimental music from Brooklyn
Some new albums that don’t exactly contain new content, so I’m reviewing them in bulk.
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Slow Disco,” “Los Ageless,”
Thoughts: A release of Masseduction with everything stripped away except Annie Clarke’s voice and a piano, making her sound more like a chanteuse. I think I like this version better, although I didn’t really like the original much at all.
Album: My Way
Artist: Willie Nelson
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Summer Wind,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “One for My Baby (And One More For the Road,” “What is This Thing Called Love?,” and “My Way”
Thoughts: Willie Nelson sings swinging standards in the style of Frank Sinatra. What’s not to like?
Album: Piano and a Microphone 1983
Release Date: September 21, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “17 Days,” “Cold Coffee & Cocaine,” and “Why the Butterflies”
Thoughts: The first posthumous release from Prince’s music vaults is a glimpse of an artist at work. Just Prince tooling around on a piano, working on several songs, and being amazingly talented.
Got a backlog of albums from recent months, so here’s a collection of quick reviews.
Artist: Ólafur Arnalds
Release Date: 24 August 2018
Favorite Tracks: “re:member,” “undir,” and “ekki hugsa”
Thoughts: Piano-based ambient music, reminiscent of Sigur Ros. Very soothing.
Release Date: 24 August 2018
Favorite Tracks: “If You Really Love Nothing” and “The Rover”
Thoughts: I’ve liked Interpol’s previous recordings, and this is an acceptable addition to their oeuvre. But it feels a bit redundant and uninspired
Album: Negro Swan
Artist: Blood Orange
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Charcoal Baby,” “Holy Will,” “Daenham Dream,” and “Out of Your League”
Thoughts: Dev Hynes fourth album recording as Blood Orange is smooooooooooth. The music is chill, but the lyrics examine depression and anxiety through an intersectional lens of political consciousness.
Album: The Now Now
Release Date: June 29, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Humility (feat. George Benson),” “Hollywood,”
Thoughts: Damon Albarn’s second band – a “virtual band” at that – is now a veteran band of 20 years. It features a stripped-down sound with fewer guest artists and I think it benefits from that even as it falls a bit short of Gorillaz best work.
Release Date: 24 November 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Arisen My Senses,” “Blissing Me,” “The Gate,” and “Tabula Rasa”
Thoughts: The latest release from Björk is a dense aural soundscape with the singer’s notable voice layered over musical instruments, electronic noises, and sound effects. The first three songs are the strongest, with the rest of the album hard to differentiate, although I do like “Tabula Rasa” simply for the novelty of hearing Björk swearing like a sailor. The down tempo nature of the music combined with bird and whale calls makes it all feel like an elaborate nature sounds relaxation tape. I miss how Björk would incorporate upbeat melodies and dance rhythms into her earlier recordings. Nevertheless, if you like Björk, this is more of Björk being Björk, and than can never be a bad thing.
This week, quick thoughts on three new albums I listened to today.
Artist: Fever Ray
Release Date: 2017 October 27
Favorite Tracks: “Wanna Sip” and “IDK About You”
Thoughts: Fever Ray is the solo project of Swedish electronic musician Karin Dreijer, also of the duo The Knife. The album has some sick beats and synths, but Dreijer’s voice is unpleasant and the frequent profanity seems to be juvenile attempt to be shocking.
Album: Wild and Reckless
Artist: Blitzen Trapper
Release Date: 2017 November 3
Favorite Tracks: “Joanna” and “Stolen Hearts”
Thoughts: A twangier, pure country outing from Blitzen Trapper grew out of a “rock opera” staged in their native Portland, OR that tells a sci-fi love story of two kids on the run.
Album: Queens of the Breakers
Artist: The Barr Brothers
Release Date: 2017 October 13
Favorite Tracks: “You Would Have to Lose Your Mind” and “It Came To Me”
Thoughts: The Montreal-based Americana jam band with a harp received good reviews for their innovative sound, but the album sounds kind of like generic folk-pop to me. Not my thing.
“All Rolled Up” is an atmospheric, electronic track from an Australian trio with a name that defies Google, F Ingers. It’s on their new album Awkwardly Blissing Out.
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: October 13, 2017
Favorite Tracks: none
Thoughts: I’m a longtime St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) fan and have written about her on this blog many times, so I was eager to hear her fifth album. Sadly, it’s a disappointment. Supposedly this album is her attempt to move to a more pop-oriented sound, so naturally that would be alienating to a long-time fan. But I don’t think it even succeeds as a pop album as there are no catchy hooks and the grim lyrics sound maudlin over the kitschy sound. St. Vincent’s music may be inaccessible to many, but this is the first time that I find it to be dull. I can’t help but feel that there’s a message in the cover of the album where St. Vincent is mooning her audience.
Chanting, didgeridoo, sampling, roaring animals … what’s not to love. Pranavibes as far as I can tell is from France, and “Transe Animale” is the first song off their new album Explorations. It’s a nice touch of tropicalia for the waning days of winter.
Úlfur Eldjárn is a composer from Iceland. I tend to post a lot music by artists from Iceland. But we’re now in the darkest coldest part of winter and I have three friends traveling in Iceland right now. So I’m posting another tune by an Icelandic musician.
Here is Úlfur Eldjárn live at KEXP with “Poyekhali!”