"An exhaustive, highly informative, and impossible-to-put-down" - PopMatters says in a review of a book about the "strange, mysterious, obscure" album 'Ghetto: Misfortune's Wealth' by the 1970s R&B and funk band 24-Carat Black. It chronicles the unfortunate fates of its many members and the delayed praise that it would eventually gain, as a sample-vault for many stars, including Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar.

Actor and director Alex Winter got lucky - he was the first author to get access to Frank Zappa's immense vault, and he made the first authorised documentary on Zappa based on the never-before-seen footage of the legendary rock polymath he found there. "The resulting film", Guardian says, "presents a nuanced and authoritative portrait of an artist who may have spoken prodigiously to the media during his lifetime about his music and politics but who remained oddly aloof as a person".

The Pogues were the most dangerous band in Britain and Ireland - the Quietus says in a review of the new documentary about the Irish punk band's frontman. 'Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds With Shane MacGowan' tells the singer's story with the help of IRA's Gerry Adams, and goes into two directions - "it reminds the viewer what incredible talent MacGowan had during the 1980s, and also just how dangerous he was considered by the establishment".

The critics are loving the new George C. Wolfe movie 'Black Bottom' about one afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago where a band of musicians await trailblazing performer Ma Rainey. Guardian's Peter Bradshaw calls it "ferociously intelligent and violently focused, an opera of passion and pain", and "a detonation of pure acting firepower", while LA Times' Justin Chang says "it’s a feast of inspired talk that leaves an audience, in turn, with no shortage of things to talk about".

"With his damning journalism and thorough documentation of Hernandez's real-life gangster activity, Gandhi chips away at such sympathy and alters how to look at someone who wants to always be seen" - a review on RoberEbert.com says about ’69: The Saga of Danny Hernandez’, a documentary about controversial (to put it in mildest terms) New York rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Indie Wire says the director Vikram Gandhi "manages to deliver a thoughtful primer on the Tekashi story as it currently stands, and gives this serial troublemaker the tragic documentary he deserves". Hollywood Reporter praises the story for picturing a "funny, energetic and driven kid [being] consumed by the disease of celebrity".

Blood From The Soul is an industrial-metal/hardcore-punk supergroup featuring Napalm Death, Converge, Megadeth, Nasum members, and 'DSM-50' is their first album in 27 years. "The whole story behind this album seems almost too good to be true on paper", Brooklyn Vegan argues, adding "but once you click play you'll see that it's very true, and indeed very good". Listen to the full album on Bandcamp.

Young Welsh folk guitar virtuoso Gwenifer Raymond "tries to invent a new style: Welsh primitive infused with folk horror", Guardian writes about their latest choice for Folk Album of the Month. With a PhD in astrophysics and a day job programming video games on one side, Raymond says her folk music is influenced by the countryside, but had to record her new album 'Strange Lights over Garth Mountain' locked down in her basement during the pandemic.

You think I'm great
November 09, 2020

A simple yet great online concert by Desire Marea

South-African experimental pop artist Desire Marea performed a virtual concert with a host of first time collaborators. They performed gorgeous live renditions from Desire Marea's this year debut 'Desire', making them mesmerizing, jazzy, and atmospheric.

Elucid / The Lasso

New hip-hop project Small Bills is made of New York rapper Elucid (one half of another new hip-hop duo Armand Hammer), and Detroit multi-instrumentalist/producer The Lasso. Also on their debut album 'Don't Play it Straight' are Moor Mother, Fielded, Nosaj, .k, Koncept Jackson, and billy woods. Brooklyn Vegan compares the album to the awesome Armand Hammer debut 'Shrines', but adds "this album is also a beast of its own. It's overall more psychedelic and more chaotic. It has less warm, soulful production than 'Shrines' and more sputtering electronics".

"An absorbing modern shoegaze classic" - Louder writes in review of 'The Great Dismal', adding the new Nothing record is "an intense and unflinching album which embraces life’s chaotic absurdity and weighs heavily long after its final riffs fade to black". Dark singer/songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle and crushingly heavy sludge metal band Thou "feed off each other in a way where they create something none of them could have done on their own" - Brooklyn Vegan writes about their collaborative new album 'May Our Chambers Be Full'.

"The nearly two-hour show was part music, part comedy, part documentary, with cinematic production values that rival those of a home video release" - CoS writes about Mr. Bungle's Halloween show The Night They Came Home. "Instead of treating the camera like an audience member that isn’t there, Mr. Bungle used it like a film director, making the concert portion more like a performance video than a webcam stream", CoS adds, praising the use of guests - Josh Homme, Henry Rollins, Buzz Osborne - to bridge moments of silence between songs.

Breaking the ocean
October 31, 2020

A great lockdown concert by Moses Sumney

Moses Sumney made a stellar short show at the digital edition of Planet Afropunk with reinterpretations of four songs from this year's album 'Græ' and his debut project 'Aromanticism'. Sumney starts on the rear of a truck with his band projected on the back, to continue with an in-nature performance, and finishing with darkness. A much bigger emphasis on the sonics here. Awesome!

Greek prog-sludge metal band Kevel picks up pieces of death metal, black metal, and post-metal to make the "ultimate, tumultuous majesty" on their album 'Mutatis Mutandis', Invisible Oranges writes. Dusted magazine goes deeper into the concept - "Kevel articulates an engaging, challenging riff, and then works it, allowing the musical statement to build its own significance". Listen to the powerful and raw album on Bandcamp.

Four young women living in Moscow released 'We Are', a "direct, even brutally blunt, yet invested with a considerable emotional hinterland", the Quietus says in a review of debut album by Lucidvox. These Muscovites "sound like news from nowhere" and although they sing in Russian, the Q hears "a fair warning of awful things to come. But how sweetly they coat the message".

"A celebration of humanity, as well as a call to better ourselves and better our connections and interactions with each other" - Brooklyn Vegan writes in a review of the new concert film 'American Utopia', based on David Byrne's concert show of the same name. Spike Lee's Spike’s direction is "spectacular. Cameras are situated everywhere, yet they never intrude on the proceedings and astoundingly his choices are perfect. There are moments we are on stage with the band, behind them, above them and, at times, in the crowd dancing and singing with the audience".

I lament till I reset
October 12, 2020

Critics really like new Touché Amoré

Big-sounding punk-rock of the latest Touché Amoré album 'Lament' has critics nodding their heads in approval. "A Touché Amoré album that can reach the most people as possible from the greatest distance" - Ian Cohen wrote for Pitchfork, which gave it it's Best new music tag, and 8,2 score. Stereogum chose it as their Album of the week because it shows "light at the end of that tunnel, the sound of Touché Amoré finding some kind of hope in this world". DIY magazine emphasized the work of Ross Robinson on this record - "there’s a crispness to the production that highlights every drum beat and crashing riff".

Minority win
October 08, 2020

"Succinct, catchy, honest" pop by Shamir

"Shamir’s music makes the listener want to wake up. Listening to it is like being shaken awake, blinds thrown open... This music is wildly fun to listen to" - Consequence of Sound writes in a review of Shamir's self-titled album. NME says it's "hugely focused, each song short and sharp and coated in precise production". Under the Radar rightfully says ''Shamir' is a pop album... Succinct. Catchy. Honest".

"Skin’s story is one of a rhomboid peg spurning both the round and the square hole, drilling dimensions of her own... in a frequently jaw-dropping memoir" - Guardian writes about 'It Takes Blood and Guts', a memoir of Skunk Anansie's singer Skin. The critic adds that "among the pleasures of this peek into an extraordinary life are the intriguing facts it pumps out", like the one time when Robbie Williams took on racist Russian nightclub bouncers when they refused Skin entry to the club.

"It crosses barriers between indie/art rock, post-hardcore/emo, abrasive noise-rap, R&B, dance beats, bedroom folk, and more" - Brooklyn Vegan says about Bartees Strange's 'Live Forever' - "one of those debut albums that truly brings something new to the musical table, and it also very much seems like it's only the beginning". It's Stereogum's Album of the week because "it’s rare to hear someone have so much presence right out of the gate, but Strange owns every decision that he makes... 'Live Forever' is a testament to the power of taking chances in order to make great art".

Music Expo Q3
October 02, 2020

The best experimental music this summer

Tone Glow's experimental music-lovers chose 30 albums released July through September they liked the most (streams added). It's not just some serious and hard-to-swallow music, they promise fun: on Secluded Bronte's 'What? Yes!' one member of the trio reads an absurdist script while the others interrupt with outraged “WHAT?”s, and every time the response is a resigned “Yes”, also there's experiments to be made on bagpipes - YES! - as Donald WG Lindsay & Richard Youngs prove. There's also highly conceptual music like Network Glass, a unique project on the verge of even being music. All in all, a simple and quick way to find out what's going on in the world of modern experimental music.Music

Louder calls 'When I Die...' is "the most important British metal record of 2020", while Angry Metal Guy says it is "a heart-wrenching album whose simplicity in D-beats, stunning tremolo, sustained overlays, desperate vocals, and just a dash of post and black is truly refreshing". Kerrang insists on lyrics being "at their most personal and most blunt here", while Stereogum simply calls the album "phenomenal".

Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold / Sufjan Stevens

Pitchfork says the new Fleet Foxes album 'Shore' is "staring into a darkness and responding with beauty, acceptance, and light", gives it its Best new music tag. Stereogum calls it "the oldest and wisest Fleet Foxes album". MusicOMH says it is "a glorious, life-affirming collection of songs". Similar in the atmosphere, and critics' reaction, is Sufjan Stevens' new album 'Ascension': Independent found "whole galaxies of nuance in a universal context", The Quietus says Stevens is "unflinchingly honest in its assessment of the United States as well as a very personal and raw portrait of Steven’s own humanity and fallibility". "Stevens' music delivers the jolt of encountering this life force in its raw, factory-unprocessed form and realizing there is not all that much difference between its seemingly competing varieties" - NPR.

"Khadifa Wong’s new documentary, 'Uprooted', reveals that the popular image of jazz obscures the true history of a dance form of African descent, born of slavery and enmeshed with the African American experience – from cakewalk to Charleston to Lindy hop – but then dominated by a series of white mem" - Guardian says in a review of the new documentary about jazz dance. It covers Marilyn Monroe’s choreographer Jack Cole, Patrick Swayze’s mum, Patsy, the only teacher in Texas who took black students alongside white, JoJo Smith, who was John Travolta’s dance consultant on 'Saturday Night Fever' etc.

Ordinary people needed for extraordinary goals
September 21, 2020

'White Riot' documentary - punk, ska and reggae against the far right

"An excellent brief documentary about a heroic grassroots political movement whose importance reveals itself more clearly in retrospect with every year that passes" - Peter Bradshaw writes about the new documentary 'White Riot'. Director Rebecca Shah mixes archival images and interviews with key figures of the grassroots organization Rock Against Racism that bonded together punk, ska, reggae and new wave scenes to stand against the far right. The documentary closes with images of the Carnival Against Nazis, which drew in an audience of 100,000 in support of their cause.

"'Untitled (Rise)' hardly yields highlights because the quality never wavers... It manages to be as lyrically unflinching as the music is compelling... You’d call it the album of the year if its predecessor wasn’t just as good" - Guardian's Alexis Petridis writes in a review of Sault's new album, anonymous neo-soul-funk band's second double album in just over 12 weeks, and their fourth in 18 months. The new album is "more obviously dancefloor-focused – its influences shifting from house to disco, from the perspiration-soaked post-punk funk to smooth 80s boogie, from sorrow and soothing to empowerment and resistance".

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