The more of you I listen...
August 01, 2021

'Thirstier' - "the best Torres has ever been"

"'Thirstier' packs in monster hook after monster hook, with dense layers of crashing drums and whirring synths and bells-and-whistles that push each song to the next level" - Stereogum argues in favor of their latest choice for the Album of the week. Pitchfork gives the album 7.8, because it's "anthemic and euphoric, loaded with hooks and joyous reflections on love and self-discovery".

Mega Bog "exists in a universe both familiar but foreign. I do not always understand what her songs are about but I am drawn to them all the same and find myself quoting lines" - Brooklyn Vegan writes about the latest album by the experimental pop artist. "Musically, 'Life, and Another' is the most inviting Mega Bog album yet, with jazzy chording, dreamlike synths, and impressive playing all around... It's loaded with instantly likeable songs".

"Woodstock ’99 was the hedonistic, capital-drive fantasy of a fratty rape culture, one with all the privilege in the world but a surfeit of anger for which there was no outlet" - producers of the 'Woodstock '99: Peace, love, and rage' argue in their documentary. Consequence doesn't disagree completely, calling it "a case study for the confluence of white millennial entitlement and Boomer nostalgia, it’s certainly gripping, a disaster movie in documentary form". Rolling Stone counts down 19 worst things about the fest, including late-July timing of a fest situated on tarmac and concrete, overcrowding, lack of available water etc.

"The marvel of Billy, of course, is that in an era when being trans was apt to get one killed, he chose to 'hide in plain sight', concealing that he was assigned female at birth while embracing a profession that made him the constant center of attention" - the Daily Beast writes about the doc 'No Ordinary Man' which examines the life of Billy Tipton, a talented jazz artist in the 1940s and 1950s who, upon his death, was revealed to have been assigned female at birth. "That trailblazing courage is clearly an inspiration for everyone featured in Chin-Yee and Joynt’s film, who speak about his plight—and the bravery he exhibited in being himself, no matter the obstacles—with palpable reverence".

You have not lived until you have seen this 57-year-old actress-director shrink herself down to Hobbit size to play a pre-teen. This is beyond PEN15, beyond Martin Short in CLIFFORD, this is… cinema” - The New York Times critic wrote about 'Aline', the unofficial biopic of Celine Dion that has critics in awe of its “kooky”, “truly weird” and “magnificent camp” approach. 'Aline' stars and is directed by Valérie Lemercier, and critics reported the bizarre moment in which Lemercier, at age 57, for one scene portrays Dion, er, Aline, at age 12, the Wrap reports.

The boys are back in shape
July 13, 2021

Vince Staples and IDK bring substance to mainstream rap

IDK / Vince Staples

"Produced entirely by Kenny Beats, the album’s reserved musical approach magnifies the blunt scene-setting Vince has used to build his name over the last decade" - Pitchfork reviews the latest Vince Staples' album. Guardian deems it "much more personal and accessible than anything he’s put out before". "A record that evolves in real-time, ‘USEE4YOURSELF’ finds IDK speaking his truth. An amalgamation of styles that recalls the frenetic creativity of 00s Kanye, the record finds strength in personal revelation, with IDK often at his most individual when surrounded by his peers" - Clash Music reviews the latest album by IDK. NME points out how "talking about how following his dreams has led him to a happier life gives the record an optimistic ending".

The West African quintet with one foot in art-folk and other in psychedelic soul, The Narcotix have released their debut EP 'Mommy Issues'. The Brooklyn-based band cites African wedding music, choral symphonies, and Afrobeat as major influences on their style, while Pitchfork points out that "early in their career, the Narcotix have a knack for subverting expectations. Their songs are bright and bursting with detail, fueled by an affection for the music they’ve inherited and the myths they’ve built from it".

"A song is a static thing, one that will outlast a memory even after it’s fully disintegrated. On 'Home Video', Dacus sounds intent on recapturing a moment that’s already gone" - Stereogum reviews the new album by the indie singer-songwriter. Pitchfork hears her suggesting - "write your own moral code... write your own worldly music". "Her wise brand of rock music blooms into something even more palpable, relatable and beautifully messy" - Paste Magazine insists.

The director Beth B "is not interested in showing Lunch’s abrasive attitudes in a flattering light, and her take-her-as-she-comes approach extends to the doc’s account of musical metamorphosis" - Hollywood Reporter reviewed 'The War Is Never Over' the first career-spanning documentary of the 1970s No Wave icon Lydia Lunch. "B. leaves no stone unturned when it comes to Lydia Lunch ephemera. There’s great live footage from all of her music projects and spoken-word events. It’s a treasure trove that long-time fans will love" - Film Threat writes enthusiastically.

"A dense, kaleidoscopic album that might take a lot of time to fully unpick" - Alexis Petridis reviews 'Call Me If You Get Lost' by the California rapper (gave if 5 of 5 stars). Vulture likes "gorgeous sonics, well-placed samples, and entertaining sparring with guests rappers and singers", whereas Stereogum says Tyler, Creator has "given the genre one of its most vital adoring tributes in recent memory". Consequence says simply 'Call Me...' "might be the best hip-hop album of 2021".

"Instead of enduring pain, it’s best to excise those demons entirely — through her music, Backxwash confronts the darkest parts of herself and depicts how impossible it can be to leave those parts behind" - Stereogum reviews the latest album by Canadian alternative rapper. "In expressing her pain so directly and viscerally, Backxwash’s music offers a sense of genuine catharsis and connection. It is, in its own haunting way, strangely comforting" - The Quietus adds. Collaborators on the album - clipping., Speedy Ortiz, Code Orange, Code Orange, Black Dresses - speak plenty of the sonic side of this record.

"A gorgeous, hazy batch of songs that are somehow both haunted and buoyant in equal measure. It’s also a perfect escape into a masterfully created world" - New Noise reviews new album by the psychedelic garage guitarist Night Beats. The Quietus hears hope on the record: "Created during global pandemic and in the midst of Californian wildfires, Outlaw R&B' is an album reflective of a staggering turbulence of pain and suffering. Written, produced, and compiled amongst a ruckus of complete chaos, the album looks ahead to the light on the other side".

"Jubilant, unapologetically massive, and bursting with a cozy, melancholic sense of communal belonging" - RogerEbert.com's writer reviews musical drama 'In the Heights' about a shop in Washington Heights, New York City, where each member of the community pursues their dream of a better life. MovieFreak.com sees "a joyously rhapsodic spectacle", whereas Wall Street Journal asks "How much pleasure can you take? How much joy can you stand without flinching?".

"Listening to 'Blue Weekend', you’re struck by an appealing sense of everything clicking into place" - Alexis Petridis writes reviewing the third album by the London indie-rock quartet Wolf Alice (gave if 5 of 5 stars). Brooklyn Vegan writer Erin Christie says "the trance I surrendered to is directly emblematic of the power of a band like Wolf Alice: they completely take your brain hostage as you enter their world". NME hears a "stone-cold masterpiece that further cements their place at the very peak of British music", whereas Sputnik Music calls it "one of those albums that qualifies as an event". 

"An inspiring, provocative vision of the many ways popular music matters- how caring writers have addressed its meanings, pleasures, mysteries, racism, sexism, populism, democratic vistas, conflicts of interest, angles of entry, leaps of faith, tricks of fate, joking around, stormy Mondays, mother fuyers, weary blues from waiting, reasons to be cheerful, simple twists of fate, sexy bits, and did I mention racism?" - Robert Christgau writes about new book 'Songbooks: The Literature of American Popular Music' by (one of his best friends) Eric Weisbard. There are two narrative lines in the book - "the shifting dialectic of vernacular and sentimental and the flowering and wilting of music journalism as a profession".

Pakistan instrumental quartet Jaubi have released their debut album 'Nafs at Peace' where they "explore eastern mysticism and the spiritual Self". The modern traditional record "starts in the Indian classical tradition and extends its tenets outwards to subtly incorporate atypical instrumentation such as the guitar, synths and drum kit", the Guardian reviews. "Across seven tracks, Jaubi effectively convey this journey of the self via shifts in musical character – from a hip-hop swing to classical ragas and ferocious jazz improvisations – and a subtle increase in pace and intensity".

California multi-instrumentalist and producer Georgia Anne Muldrow released her 21st album in 15 years, the largely instrumental electro/hip-hop/funky LP that she wrote and produced herself. PopMatters describes it as a "17-track clinic on creating rhythmic framework that wow you with their complexity and propel you into movement", whereas New Yorker hears it as "fidgety and animated, as if the music is longing to move out of confinement, to vibrate toward something". All Music argues "Muldrow's aim here is to provide listeners with superhero themes that facilitate emboldened movement out of doors".

"You can't pin this album down from just one song or even three; there's all kinds of different stuff all over the record, and for all the discordant, amelodic stuff, there's also some genuinely beautiful stuff on there" - Brooklyn Vegan writes, somewhat confused, about the new album by the London prog-rock band. Guardian appreciates exactly this "freakish, feverish parade of our inconceivable world and all its extremities, half-measures be damned". Pitchfork describes it as "glorious", because "the chord changes are more elaborate, the rhythms more twisted, the pretty parts prettier, the heavy parts heavier".

"He can rap absurdly well, and he could have a career on that alone, but he doesn’t seem to want it. Instead, he seems to want to exist in a lane that did not exist before him. He’s pulling it off" - Stereogum reviews Mach-Hommy's 'Pray for Haiti', declaring it one of the best rap albums of 2021. Pitchfork appreciates "his razor-sharp bars and an exceptional eye for detail" (tagged it Best new music, grade 8.8).

"The band offers us a contrasted 'Skeleton Lake' between darkness and softness, oppression and deliverance, but also heaviness and soaring sonorities that only strengthen their seizing basis made of an ageless duality" - Acta Infernalis reviews the new album by the Finnish melodic death metal/doom metal/goth band Hanging Garden. Metal Trenches argues "the beautiful and somber atmosphere is at its highest level", whereas Metal Temple hears the whole band collaborating "so finely to enrich the music of the band, from black screams to death growls to hyper clean vocals, even to whispers, a fair amount of each".

"Far from impenetrable, the record carries listeners along on sandstorms of driving, infectious rock and roll" - RIFF Magazine reviews the new album by the Touareg guitarist (gave it 9 of 10 stars). Pitchfork branded it Best new music (grade 8.4), arguing it "captures the group’s easy chemistry and explosive energy". Rolling Stone goes idealistic in its review: "This is how free rock & roll should sound". Uncut is equally enthusiastic: "An exhilarating band set that mixes electric and acoustic instrumentation, it’s at once fiercely modern and as ancient as the Niger river". DJ Mag chose it as their Album of the month.

'The Right to Rock' tells the story of Filipino American sisters June and Jean Millington who in the late 19602 formed ferocious garage band Fanny. They were the first all-women band signed to a multi-album major label, and who used this platform to fight racism, sexism, and homophobia. "With members nearing age 70, it’s wonderful to see Fanny connecting with a new generation of listeners" - MJI writes presenting Bobbi Jo Hart’s documentary.

"You have generations of Black artists who have been wary of where and how their material archival life-worlds are handled” - author Daphne A. Brooks says in Audiofemme interview about her new book 'Liner Notes for the Revolution: The Intellectual Life of Black Feminist Sound'. The book is divided into two sections (“Side A” and “Side B”), crisscrossing through time as Brooks connects writer and singer Pauline Hopkins, who was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with Janelle Monáe. Brooks is a Yale professor who previously wrote 'Bodies in Dissent' and the 33 1/3 book on Jeff Buckley’s album 'Grace'.

"Sons of Kemet have crafted a narrative that sees Black people freeing themselves from the constraints of oppression" - NME argues in favour of the fourth album by the London afro-jazz quartet (gave it 5 of 5 stars). The Skinny deems it best SOK album with "a thrillingly rich tapestry that combines passionate reflections on […]

"It’s a wonderful way to say goodbye, a celebration of Tony Allen doing the thing he loved and doing it as brilliantly and as unassailably as ever" - the Quietus wrote reviewing the posthumous album 'There Is No End', by the afrobeat drummer. It's Guardian's choice for their Global album of the month as it "plays as a cohesive record because of Allen’s capacity to slot into place behind seemingly any collaborator without diluting his innate sense of rhythmic style" (collaborators include Sampa the Great, Skepta, Ben Okri, and Danny Brown). Pitchfork argues "'There Is No End' is Allen as his most copacetic, polished self. It doesn’t feel like the finish line, but rather a passing of the baton".

Girl In Red / Dawn Richard

"‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’ has all the qualities of a blockbuster pop record - incessant hooks, A-list producer credits" - DIY Magazine writes about the pop-rock debut album by the Norwegian singer. Dawn Richard comes from the opposite side of pop music's spectrum, with critics really appreciating her R'n'B/house: "The beats are decadent, but so too are the liberties she takes as an independent artist beholden to nothing but her own satisfaction" - Pitchfork.

‘I’m Going to Break Your Heart’ is a documentary about singer-songwriters Raine Maida (of the group Our Lady Peace) and Chantal Kreviazuk, who comprise the duo Moon Vs Sun, who are trying to save their marriage by making music together, in front of the camera. Variety likes the marriage-as-a-band premise of the docu: "The two escape from L.A. for a songwriting retreat on the French island of Saint Pierre, only to be constantly rubbing each other the wrong way in the collaborative process. That Maida and Kreviazuk are also husband and wife does lend some extra stakes when they battle it out as co-writers: This might be the first marital-drama documentary that has, at its crux, irreconcilable differences over a pre-chorus".

'Vulture Prince' is the third album by Pakistan-rased and Brooklyn-based Arooj Aftab, dedicated to her younger brother who died while she was making it. The album was written as an instrument of swimming out of feelings of loss and grief. Arooj Aftab's mesmerizing voice is supported here by a team of renowned musicians. It's a subtle amalgamation of classical, South Asian music, jazz, even some trance and reggae. Full of class and a class of its own...

Lisa Rovner’s archival documentary celebrates the women whose breakthroughs in early electronic music laid the foundations of modern electronic styles. The focus falls on about nine or 10 women in the field, including experimental music pioneer Clara Rockmore, British composer and mathematician Delia Derbyshire who co-created the 'Doctor Who' theme, and Suzanne Ciani, the first woman to score a major Hollywood movie - 'The Incredible Shrinking Woman' in 1981. Guardian gave it five stars, describing it as "superb" and "electrifying". The Wall Street Journal starts with a provocative premise: "that the frontiers of electronic music were blazed by women".

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