Houston, Texas trio Khruangbin (for the phonetically challenged like me, it’s pronounced KRUNG-BIN) came together from a common love of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s Thai funk and soul music (you can listen to their “Essential Thai Funk Mixtape” here). Their new album Con Todo El Mundo is a smoking hot, groove-filled slab of funk, psych and soul. Give “Maria También” a spin below for a sample – you will not be sorry. Con Todo El Mundo is out now via Dead Oceans and I can not recommend it enough. Enjoy.
Better late than never – my auditory loves of 2017, in rough order…
Thundercat Drunk (Brainfeeder)
Intoxicating, weird, vulnerable, and soooooo damn funky. My Album of the Year if I had to pick one.
Slowdive Slowdive (Dead Oceans)
The comeback album of our collective dreams.
Trementina 810 (Burger)
If this hadn’t been The Year of Slowdive’s Triumphant Return, I’d like to think this gorgeous offering of dreamy shoegaze from Chile’s Trementina would’ve been the talk of the town.
The xx I See You (Young Turks)
Now that producer Jamie Smith, aka Jamie xx, is getting his due as the driving force behind The xx juggernaut, I might be able to stop raving about him. But why stop now?
Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Soul of a Woman (Daptone)
What a force. What a voice. What a loss.
Big Thief Capacity (Saddle Creek)
This album has quietly slipped on to a bunch of Best of 2017 lists because it is just that: a quiet album of incredible strength.
Grandaddy Last Place (30th Century Records)
“Even still the rockers are…”
Mountain Goats Goths (Merge)
A wonderfully engaging concept/tribute album – whether you are, were, or have ever loved a goth.
Boris Dear (Sargent House)
Rumored to be a farewell letter to their fans, it’s a welcome return to the nuanced take on sludge/drone/doom metal that first lured me in almost 20 years ago.
Fazerdaze Morningside (Flying Nun)
Nearly perfect bedroom pop.
Moses Sumney Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar)
All the feels.
Molly Burch Please Be Mine (Captured Tracks)
A sparse, timeless album that allows nothing to interfere with the purity of Molly’s hypnotic voice.
Doug Tuttle Peace Potato (Trouble in Mind)
Hypnotic psych pop with enough ragged edges to keep you awake.
Homeboy Sandman Veins (Stones Throw)
Based on record sales in the “>3hive Co-op Shop, not everyone agrees – but I think he’s one of the best, most versatile MCs around.
Waxahatchee Out in the Storm (Merge)
Katie Crutchfield finds her sound and voice amidst the rubble of a failed relationship.
Honorable mentions: Iron & Wine Beast Epic [buy vinyl], Protomartyr Relatives in Descent, LCD Soundsystem american dream [buy vinyl], Destroyer ken [buy vinyl], Open Mike Eagle Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, The Courtneys II [buy vinyl], King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard Murder of the Universe [buy vinyl], Jonwayne Rap Album Two, Priests Nothing Feels Natural, Robyn Hitchcock Robyn Hitchcock [buy vinyl]
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.
Woods – Can’t See At All from City Sun Eater in the River of Light (2016)
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.
Mavis Staples – Your Good Fortune from Your Good Fortune (2015)
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.
Curtis Harding – Keep On Shining from Soul Power (2014)
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.