When James Blake first came on the scene, he was exactly what I needed to resolve my schizo relationship with modern R&B: tuneful and earnest with just enough glitch to appeal to my appetite for imperfection. Then he relied too much on his formula, as have numerous followers on, and things became predictable once again.
Along comes Ian Mugerwa – a/k/a ot to, not to – and his debut album of intimate, deconstructed R&B “experiments”, Goshen, on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label. The compositions take turns evoking dirt-floor blues, avant-garde jazz, even Pablo-era Kanye. The unifying thread is Ian’s vocals which read as personal, hypnotic journal entries, sung/muttered/chanted as he carries us through his coming-of-age years.
This nuanced, eclectic effort could’ve easily veered into self-indulgent territory if it didn’t so clearly yearn to connect. It’s soul music in the most literal sense of the word. In fact, when recommending Goshen to a friend I said, “Listen closely.” It’s the best (and only) way to appreciate this album.
I’ve been a fan of Tommy Guerrero since I was 13 years old, 1987 – the year I picked up on skateboarding. The Bones Brigade were in their prime and Guerrero was my favorite skateboarder. During that year my friends and I watched The Search For Animal Chin at least 100 times. His flaming dagger deck was one of my very first rides.
Flash forward to 2004 when I was reintroduced to Tommy Guerrero as a musician on this very site in a post by site founder Sean. Now, 12 years later Tommy is still at it with his new band BLKTOP PROJECT featuring Josh Lippi and fellow skaters Ray Barbee, Chuck Treece and Matt Rodriguez.
Recorded live over two days, their new album, Concrete Jungle is a loose, grooved-out, rocker of a record with a great jam session feel to it. Check the stream of “A New Line” below for a taste. It’s a real rump shaker.
Concrete Jungle is out today through Guerrero’s own Too Good records and available to buy from his Bandcamp page.
Brooklyn’s Woods are back with their outstanding 9th LP, City Sun Eater in the River of Light. Taking the best parts of almost every genre of music out there and adding it their already wonky, folk-psych sound, Woods have created a groove-driven (dare I call it “groove-psych”), psychedelic rock masterpiece.
Check out the head bobbing beat of “Can’t See At All” (below) for a mere sampling of how cool this album is.
City Sun Eater… is out now and available on whatever media suits your fancy from WOODSIST Records – I highly, highly recommend it.
Philadelphia rock ‘n’ soul combo The GTVs just dropped their newest instrumental, organ-driven, rump-shakin’ single, Organ Donor b/w Here’s A Thing on Hidden Volume Records. You can stream it’s goodness below.
I highly recommend getting your hands on the 7 inch as Hidden Volume has raised the bar when it comes to the vinyl/packaging experience. Also included below, for your listening pleasure, is “Sh’Bang!” from their debut LP with Teen Sound Records.
Mavis Staples needs no introduction and at 75 years old, this gospel/soul icon’s voice is as strong and relevant as ever. Her latest EP with Anti Records, Your Good Fortune, is 4 powerful tracks full of conviction. You can hear Mavis’ passion in the title track (below) as she questions her own value. Here’s to many more years of Mavis releasing new music.
Your Good Fortune is available now from Anti’s site.
My first introduction to Curtis Harding’s soul stylings was his cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now”, from Burger Records’ tribute cassette to White Light/White Heat. His take on the VU classic left me wanting for more. That want is over as Harding just released his debut LP, Soul Power, with Burger Records. It’s 12 songs of funk-soul-garage-pop goodness will keep you spinning the album over and over again.
Check out the funk-fueled, toe-tapper “Keep On Shining” (below) his first single from the LP. Soul Power is out now, and available on vinyl (highly recommended) and cassette from Burger Records.
The title to the album’s opener is antithetical to what’s happening around us economically. Not many people feel as if they’re living a charmed life these days. But the song’s about holding it together despite the mayhem that circles around us. “‘Charmed Life’ is about struggling to maintain sanity when it seems like the world around you is falling apart,” says Aaron Livingston, the vocal half of Icebird. Add RJD2’s production skills and beat-making abilities and you’ve got the makings of a musical opiate that’ll soothe the soul no matter what ails you.
The album, The Abandoned Lullaby, dropped last week and you can get a taste of another track via video below. And if you’re looking to add some charm to your life, RJD2 has offered up individual tracks to “The Charmed Life” for your remixing pleasure. If Icebird likes your remix best, they’ll set you up with some goodies. Details here.