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 His lyrics direct the listener with all kinds of literary and historical references.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.