Great stuff this edition! New singles from Kele Okereke, Afghan Whigs, Briana Marela, Tori Amos and Chad VanGaalen, and new albums from Arcade Fire, Sheer Mag, and Kasabian. Listen here on Spotify.
I am excited for new music from Akala. This new project, Visions, is a bit different. It’s a five song EP that accompanies a comic book. While the song titles are simply chapter numbers, the music definitely stands strong on its own and very much fits in with his previous work. The reason he is one of my favorite artists is his passion for knowledge. His lyrics direct the listener with all kinds of literary and historical references. This gets a strong recommendation from me… and while you’re at it his other material is high quality. His 2015 album, Knowledge is Power Vol. 2, was one of my favorites that year. Here’s a link to his series of book recommendations: Akala’s Great Reads.
I’ve been surprised to see some very negative reviews of Arcade Fire’s new record, Everything Now. Overall, I found the record very satisfying. If I had to criticisize it, then I would say there is, in the middle third of the album, something of a loss of stylistic focus. The shifting genres get a little much, but that’s just the fact that not everything is going to land perfectly when you are trying to push things. I think every track holds up on its own, and also contributes to the overall theme of the album. That is what I’ve come to look forward to in an Arcade Fire album. Perhaps what bothers me is what has always bothered me about grading or ranking albums. People want to boil it down to an “out of 5 stars” or a letter grade, and it’s just not that simple. I recommend Everything Now, and I recommend at least one straight-through listen because they are the type of band to make that worthwhile.
Other personal favorites in this list are Shredders (a project by some of the Doomtree collective: Sims, P.O.S., Lazerbeak, and Paper Tiger), Phoebe Bridgers, Kasabian, and Chad VanGaalen. Also, I’d like to share a quick note of congratulations to another longtime favorite, The Tragically Hip, for receiving the Order of Canada this week.
Is there a song that can trasition between jazz-folk-singer-songwriter, Meklit, and electro pioneer, Gary Numan? Yes. It’s Cut Copy’s newest single, Airborne. I’m quite proud of that discovery. All that and more in the playlist this time around.
It’s always interesting to hear a very familiar voice singing an unfamiliar song. The instantly singable melodies of Lo Tom make that even more strange. It’s new, but I felt when I first heard it that I knew it. Lo Tom is a new project fronted by David Bazan with members from Pedro the Lion and Starflyer 59. The full, self-titled album dropped this week, and included here is the first single that was released, Overboard.
Jazz and soul, bright horns, fluttering strings and beautiful melodies… Ethiopian jazz, folk, singer-songwriter, Meklit. There’s so much I’ve been enjoying in her new record, When The People Move, The Music Moves Too. It’s all enhanced by the guest appearances from The Preservation Hall Horns and Andrew Bird.
Other highlights this edition are Pixx, Songhoy Blues, Salt Cathedral, This Is The Kit, and Vertebrae.
Plenty of music to get through in the past couple weeks, and multiple in this edition that are currently among my favorites of the year so far. Notably missing is the new Public Enemy, Nothing is Quick in the Desert, which is not available on Spotify. The album is available to stream or download for free on their bandcamp page, and it is excellent.
Listen to the playlist here
Algiers has something plenty special about them, but there is no way around the fact that one thing stands out… that voice. Franklin James Fisher’s soaring, soulful vocals are at the forefront of the listener’s experience. Even when you try and listen to other aspects, his voice effects how you hear it. It’s haunting in the best way possible, and he manages to keep them recognizable as they shift through a wide range of styles.
The bold, hard-hitting message of Propaganda was a standout find this week. Crooked starts in immediately with cutting and critical, Crooked Ways, and keeps hitting on the same themes of cultural and political divides throughout. It has a dark feel that suits the subject matter, but still somehow maintains determined, grit-your-teeth hopefulness. I highly recommend this one.
Other highpoints this week include Making Movies, John Van Deusen, Rosi Golan, Bocafloja, Manchester Orchestra, and Roger Waters.
Until next time,