Electronica Album Reviews
She’s charismatic and her challenges to western orthodoxy are welcome, but Sampa needs to find a fresher sonic palette
Over the past decade, hip-hop has relaxed its borders – welcoming in a flood of new styles, characters and concepts. One thing that still unites most rappers, however, is braggadocio; the aggressive, occasionally tiresome boasting that stems from rap’s battle past. As a Zambia-born, Botswana-raised, Australia-based woman, Sampa Tembo belongs firmly in rap’s inclusive modern age – but as her moniker suggests, she’s no stranger to a spot of rampant egotism. “I’m boutta blow up soon / I ain’t wasting time chilling with you”, she crows on Grass Is Greener, before describing herself in more biblically bombastic terms – as “The end / Beginning and on / and on” – over the intricate percussion of Dare to Fly.
Jóhannsson’s piece, inspired by artist Heinzmann, lacks the composer’s electronic trademarks, but it is full of poignant beauty in this reworking by Echo Collective
Since his death in February 2018 aged 48, the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson seems to have spawned a posthumous catalogue to rival Tupac Shakur’s. In the last 18 months, we’ve seen five film soundtracks that were completed shortly before his death, an expanded version of his debut album Englabörn, and an epic seven-disc Retrospective of early film soundtracks, including several previously unreleased scores (Retrospective II will follow soon). Also being unearthed from the archives is an album of fractured synth-pop that he recorded in 1999 under the name Dip, featuring assorted Icelandic indie royalty including Sugarcubes drummer Sigtryggur Baldursson, Jónsi from Sigur Rós and Emiliana Torrini.
(T4t Luv Nrg)
Octo Octa’s trans journey is mirrored in her electronic palette, using crunching beats, ambience and supple synths on celebratory tracks
For Octo Octa, music has been a journey of self-discovery that’s mirrored the development of her own identity. The electronic music producer and DJ publicly came out as trans in 2016 and refers to prior albums such as Between Two Selves as a “coded message” for her experiences. Since that pivotal moment, she’s found herself embraced by queer scenes all over, a shift that goes hand-in-hand with her move away from live sets and towards DJing, following a year of heavy touring. Her dance music baptism came in the form of drum’n’bass and breakcore, where percussive chaos channelled the same free-spirited energy she now also finds in house music. All three genres serve as major influences for her latest album, created in her New Hampshire cabin home.
Dang’s self-assured album brings elements of unease to stillness, with keening melodies and multilayered sounds
The line between ambient music and muzak can be a fine one. The former is “an atmosphere, a surrounding influence: a tint” to envelop the listener, music “intended to induce calm and a space to think,” according to Brian Eno’s liner notes on the topic, while the latter has become a watchword for unremarkable background sounds; stuff to merely fill a room’s silence. To the uninitiated, both can occupy the same murky generic space of the spa or hotel lobby – music that is as ignorable as it is interesting.
Steven “FlyLo” Ellison usually releases an album of his collapsed nu-jazz every other year to roaring acclaim, but has spent much of the past half-decade producing for Kendrick, mentoring Thundercat and rowing back his imbecilic defence of alleged rapist the Gaslamp Killer. This long-delayed sixth album, weakly based around the concept of fire, is a mixtape sprawl with high-profile features including David Lynch, Solange and Little Dragon. Yet despite being so revered for futurism, Ellison often settles for retreading his past. It feels like these are 27 job applications for top production gigs, rather than songs.
It’s a treat to hear Anderson .Paak and the flame he always brings to a booth on More, but it’s a rare highlight. Burning Down the House refamiliarises us with late-period George Clinton, sounding more than ever like a man struggling to unfold a map on a tram, backed by funk that’s far more Z than P.
Metal Album Reviews
Rock Album Reviews
Coming in like a nuclear wrecking ball, we have Burning the Dream from Scotland throwing their kilts into the ring in our SnB/Steel Panther “Unsigned Bands Death Match.” OK, it’s not really a death match … maybe a “Fuck Them Up Until They Have To Limp Home Cupping Their Bruised Balls Match,” though. And, trust …
Rifftera live up to their name. The Finns have been a band since 2010, albeit with lineup shift over the years, but with Across the Acheron, they deliver death metal riffs with sharp, melodic hooks that marry guttural and clean singing with a rhythmic gallop that is impossible to ignore. “Burning Paradise”demonstrates their craft with …
Classical Music Album Reviews
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Rap Album Reviews
Jazz & Blues Album Reviews
Kai Strauss & the Electric Blues All Stars – Live In Concert
CD: 14 songs, 65:54 minutes
Live in Concert. is the new release from Kia Strauss and The Electric Blues All Stars.
German artist Kai Strauss might be new to you but he has been performing for 25 years. He is a talented guitarist, vocalist and band leader. Although he and the band have toured the U.S. , most of their time is spent in Europe with home being Germany. They have earned four Blues awards, given by Bluesnews, in the past three years.
Strauss has turned out five albums in the past five years. English guitar great Otis Grand wrote the liner notes for Live in Concert. He said, “You can’t actually label him as just another European or separate him out from American artists; he’s too good for that”. “The repertoire on this CD sounds as if it came from Theresa’s Lounge in Chicago 1967” he added.
Two more thoughts about Strauss’ playing; Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records said in 2018 “Excellent playing with a lot of maturity and emotions. Blues Matters! Issue 108 that year said that “Strauss is high energy electric blues as it should be, from the heart and with punches of feeling and emotion; it’s hard to believe that he is not a blues player from Chicago or Memphis”.
The Electric Blues All Stars is a solid group of musician the blend together well. It is obvious from this live recording that they pick up each other very well and know how to read each other and keep a show flowing.
On drums is Alex Lex from Osnabrueck, Germany. He was the winner of the Living Blues drummer award in 2014. He has worked with Bob Margolin, Louisiana Red and Billy Boy Arnold.
Kevin Duvernay from Seattle, Washington is the bass player. He has played with Johnny Copeland Big Jay McNeely and Tommie Harris and Friends.
On saxophone and harmonica is Thomas Feldmann of Steinfurt, Germany. He has worked in Igor Prado’s band and Memo Gonzalez and the Bluescasters (Early in his career Strauss played with Gonzalez and band for several years).
Here are my thoughts on disc 1’s tracks. As stated in the liner notes by Mr. Grand, the album has a feel of 1967 Chicago. With most all of the songs you think of an artist from those years of the first resurgence of the Blues. “Gotta Let You Go” is a smooth groove to get a live set started. The song builds in tempo and quickly Strauss’s guitar and Feldmann’s harmonica show their prowess between verses three and four. “Highway Blues” is a slow blues with good fill between the stanzas. “Ain’t Gonna Rumble No More” reminded me of Albert Collins with an up tempo.
“Judgement Day” is a classic 12-bar progression with sizzling lead play by Strauss. “Did You Wrong” is the first song that the horns sounded out and added to the band’s impact. “Hard Life” is another classic slow blues style offering. Good guitar solo work that fits into the feel of the song. “Get the Ball Rolling” closes the first disc channeling Stevie Ray Vaughn and Johnny Winter in what I felt was the best song on this disc. Good horns and a piano solo from the “Honky Tonk” days.
“The Blues is Handmade” kicks off the second disk with the best grasp on that “67 sound” they were trying to invoke plus solid vocal work. The organ solo brings Booker T Jones to mind. Next is “This Game Ain’t Worth Playing No More” a slow ballad style number still that is true blues. Next is “Let Me Love You Baby”, an up tempo number with a good rhyme scheme in the lyrics. Tasteful guitar fills come between the rhythm lines and once again solid lead guitar.
“Put That Bottle Down” is what the title sounds like, slow blues and sad lyrics that makes you think about Robert Cray. The words and guitar give that call and response feelng. ”Got To Be Some Changes Made” has the resonance of a Gibson 335 or 355 guitar like the late B. B. King played. “I Ain’t Buying It” is a 12-bar toe-tapper that has good turn around between verse and chorus. The disc closes with “Shades of Earl” (A tribute to Ronnie Earl and Earl Hooker), with a good grasp on the feel they sought in this recording in a slow blues tune.
In all a well-constructed live show that brought out their best. If this is your first time to listen to Kia Strauss and the Electric Blues All Stars I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was.
Big Jack Reynolds – That’s A Good Way To Get To Heaven: The Music and Life of Big Jack Reynolds
20 tracks; CD and DVD 1:21:24
Big Jack Reynolds is a little-known blues man who hopefully gets noticed with this great CD and DVD package. A collection of 20 of his best songs and a DVD about his life and music make this a superb package to listen to, watch and appreciate. Born in 1931 in Detroit or Arkansas, he was brought up in Albany, Georgia. He moved to Detroit for work and then he first recorded in 1962 for the Mah’s Label in Detroit and then Hi-Q/Fortune in 1965. In the 1980’s he also recorded with Blue Suit, Highball, and Two Aces And A Jack. He passed away in Toledo, Ohio in 1993 as a blues-man few had heard of.
Reynolds was a deep and passionate blues man. His music was phenomenal yet mostly undiscovered. He played the hell of of his harp and was also a darn good guitar player. His life is filled with mystery; he had kids but never introduced them to others. He lived in Detroit and later in Toledo, but facts about his life are sketchy, mostly because he told a lot of tall tales. He made his Mark in Detroit, a hotbed for blues. Fashion was something Jack might not have completely understood but he always wanted to look good on stage. It might mean three different kinds of plaid but it was all his own style.
Reynolds was a guitar and harp player. He plays all the harp parts and sings on all the tracks. Larry Gold also plays guitar on 11 of the first 12 tracks. Johnny “HiFi” Newmark plays bass on most of those tracks, too, while Slim Galhagan is on drums for most and Chad Smith is on piano. Joel Hazzard (bass) and Chris Arduser (drums) are on the other two). The horn section The Cobra Twist Horns on track 12; they are Brad “The Razor” Sharp on trumpet, Randy “The Slider” Knisely on trombone, and Kevin “Nationwide” Maude on sax.
The first twelve tracks are with his 1980’s band. Cuts like “honey I Do,” “Scratch My Back,” “Shame, Shame, Shame,” “Rock Me Baby” and others are familiar but hearing Jack gives them an edge worth hearing. The horn section on the latter is quit good. The harp work is great throughout.
The last eight songs have some solo work included; “She Moves Me,” “Gonna Love Somebody,” and “She Must Be A Millionaire” are just Jack and his harp. These are quite cool and interesting. Old recordings like “I Had A Little Dog,” “You Won’t Treat Me Right,” “Going Down Slow,” and “Make It Up In Your Mind” hearken to days gone by and what could have been. This is music the world should have heard and embraced.
The DVD is rich on stories and info about Jack. It is not a rehash of the music on the CD, which is cool. We get to hear and see a lot about Reynolds from the film. He played and recorded with a bunch of local Detroit musicians like Bobo Jenkins and John Lee Hooker and competed with Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson) who thought he “owned” the blues harmonica business in Detroit. He used a “Kilroy Was Here” logo as his symbol/trademark for his show posters. His song “I Had A Little Dog” was used in the Jimi Hendrix biography movie.
Reynolds left Detroit after a divorce and costly settlement for the safe haven of Toledo where he continued to play and work. Locals Art and Roman Griswold and others and he played together and that is where he met up with Gold, Newmark and the others. They recorded Hot As You Get as Two Aces and a Jack with Reynolds and the Griswolds. The Dynatones went to Toledo a lot and loved Big Jack. Tommy Castro was in the band for awhile and he fell in love with Jack and his music. Ronnie Earl sat in with him at some festival and Jack tried to throw him off the stage for his regular guitar player. Earl asked him what was the matter; he could play blues in C, too.
Broke and Disgusted was released in 1990. Gold and others found funding for him to put this one together. This was his second album. Jack focused mostly on harp later in his life as the guitar began heavy for him. He loved Jimmy Reed and his style and also Sonny Boy Williamson; the harp really was his forte. He began with drums and added guitar and harp, but harp was his true calling. It was discovered late in his life he could play piano, too. He remained a demanding and sometimes hard to get along guy on stage because he wanted perfection. But he as also adored by his band-mates and friends.
Eddie Burns, Chicago Pete, Honeyboy Edwards, Eddie Shaw, Sir Mack Rice all hung out and played together with Reynolds later in his life. Reynolds plays on Rice’s 1992 version of “Cheaper To Keep Her.”
He had been a plasterer in his younger days, but relied on handouts and gigs in his older days. His illiteracy, drinking, chasing women, poverty, and inability to handle money all worked against him and prevented hi from making it in the music world. His kidney disease was an issue most of his life, but he did not care for himself as he should have. He passed away from kidney failure, heart failure and a punctured lung in 1993.
Locally, Jack was a musical legend. Hopefully this CD and DVD will help him to take his place as a force in the blues. I loved this CD/DVD set and enjoyed it thoroughly. I most highly recommend getting a hold of it to learn about this master blues man, his life and his music. You will not be disappointed.
Various Artists – Soul Explosion
LP #1 – 14 Tracks/37:41
LP #2 – 14 Tracks/39:39
This two album collection comes with very little information other than small photos of the artists on the inside of the gate-fold cover, along with a complete tracklist. What listeners need to know is that 1969 was a pivotal year for the Stax label. The previous year they had severed ties with Atlantic Records, and because of a onerous contractual obligation, the label no longer had it’s biggest stars, including Otis Redding. So co-owner Al Bell set out to rebuild the label, signing new artists while embarking on an ambitious schedule of releases designed to flood the market, issuing over twenty-five albums in just a few months, a true “Soul Explosion”.
Available for the first time in fifty years on vinyl, and also now digitally, the first album of the set features several of the label’s new hit-makers, starting off with Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love”. Booker T and the MG’s, the musical foundation for countless Stax recording sessions, are featured on their version of the theme from “Hang ‘Em High, “ a Clint Eastwood western and the cool instrumental, “Soul Limbo”. Eddie Floyd impresses on his two tracks, with “I Never Found Me A Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)” being a stone soul classic. The Bar-Kays had been around for three years, working sessions and getting tutored by Booker T and his bandmates, Steve Cropper, Donald “Duck’ Dunn, and Al Jackson. Their instrumental “Copy Kat” shows that they were becoming quite adept at their craft, before the group was virtually wiped out in the plane crash that also killed Redding.
Another highlight comes from Jimmy Hughes, using his sweet and tender voice to make “I Like Everything About You” a track that you will keep returning to for another listen. Carla Thomas does her best on “Where Do I Go,” a song from the Hair musical, then Albert King gets things back on track with his trademark stinging guitar licks on”Cold Feet”. One unusual track, “Smell Of Incense,” comes courtesy of Southwest F.O.B., a band from Texas that was part of the label’s unsuccessful venture into the rock arena. The smooth vocal harmonies of the Mad Lads, a group formed in Memphis, are featured on “So Nice”. William Bell and Judy Clay turn in a righteous duet on “Private Number” before Mavis, Pops and the rest of the Staples clan take us to church on “Long Walk To D.C.”. Listeners unfamiliar with Ollie Hoskin’s gritty vocals are sure to be impressed with his performance on Ollie & the Nightingales hit, “I’ve Got A Sure Thing”.
The second disc has additional tracks by the same artists, some of which were exclusive to the collection. Taylor gets sentimental on “Save Your Love For Me” while Hughes rock the blues on “Peeped Around Yonder’s Bend,” another standout cut. Carla Thomas delivers a robust performance on “Book Of Love”. After hearing the vocal magic of the Mad Lads on “These Old Memories,” the rendition of the classic “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” by Southwest F.O.B. sounds dated, with a brief sax solo the lone shining moment.
The flip side has the rare “Hot Hips,” a rousing cut from the Bar-Kays with the horns blasting away over an insistent guitar vamp. “Heartache Mountain” is another rarity from Ollie and the Nightingales, centered on Ollie’s pleading cries. Taylor returns on “Twenty Years From Today,” serving up another reminder of his superior talent as a singer. Listeners will be puzzled to understand why Floyd’s “It’s Wrong To Be Loving You” was exclusive to this release. Clay gets a track to herself, putting her husky voice to good use on “It’s Me,” while Booker T. switches from organ to piano for an understated turn on “Booker’s Theme”. Albert King finishes things off with “Left Hand Woman,” making it clear that his mistreating woman needs to do right by him, the arrangement owing a debt to Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman”
To further celebrate the Stax legacy, Craft Recordings released thirty titles in digital format for the first time in June of this year as part of the Black Music Month. The goal is to create another “Soul Explosion,” inspired by the events of 1969 that transformed Stax Records into a label that will continue to be revered through the ages. The Soul Explosion release is a teaser, a beginning primer meant to entice listeners to dig deeper. The quality sound and outstanding performances throughout are sure to do just that.
Joe Zook & Blues Deluxe – Good Mornin’ Blues
10 songs time-44:37
I got dem ole’ Trenton, New Jersey blues again mama! I finally get to cover a blues a band from my home town. Joe Zook(Joe Zuccarello) & Blues Deluxe have been a mainstay of the East Coast blues scene for decades and with the strong musicality of this release it is no wonder. A few years back I got the chance to see them open the Saturday show of The Riverfront Blues Festival in Wilmington, Delaware. They are just as solid here as they were live. Joe leads the pack with his authentic blues guitar and husky vocals, as well as writing eight of the ten songs. Every musician here is top rate. The rhythm section of drummer Jeff Snelson and bass player Bill Holt create a full bottom. Bill’s bass is more upfront than usual for a blues band. Just under the surface his meandering bass lines add to the groove. Jeff provides a full sound on his drums. James Cheadle’s piano playing harkens back to some of the greats of the blues. John Sopko is certainly no slouch as he contributes jazzy Hammond B3 organ on three tracks. Tony Buford adds his harmonica to great affect on three tracks as well.
Did I mention the horn section? Great Googily-Moogily these guys are tighter than a bull’s…um…part that he sits on. Angelo DiBraccio on alto sax, Steve Kaplan on tenor and baritone saxes and Danny Tobias on trumpet are a powerhouse as they play in unison to drive the songs along. Their solos are well crafted works of art. Danny is a local gift to jazz trumpet. I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing is spot on playing numerous times at The 1867 Sanctuary concert series in Ewing Township. I’m not previously familiar with the two other guys, but all three are superb.
“Good Mornin’ Blues” is kicked off with a blazing guitar run to get this chugging number going. The lyrics are an amalgamation of standard blues lines(‘whiskey & wimmin’, ‘blues fall down like rain’) and more modern references(‘ET’ or acid rain). It all works just fine. Joe adds slide guitar over his regular part towards the end of the song and James Cheadle works his magic on the “eighty-eights”. Tony flavors it up with his harmonica skills. A walking bass line underpins the horn fired “I Love My Baby”.
For my money Joe delivers his tastiest guitar on “Wait And See” as he ponders what happens when he makes a full go round (deadsville). Great horns, piano and organ here as well. Jump blues guitar and the horn section in its’ finest moment as Bill Holt contributes his powerful vocal on this strong rendition of Louis Jordan’s classic “Caldonia”. The members of the horn section along with guitar, harmonica and organ all take solos. The slow paced “Where Did It Go” is about fleeting nature of time. Nice trumpet solo on this one.
Band members chime in on vocals behind Joe on “It Ain’t What You Do”, a lesson in humanity featuring some nifty slide work. The tenuous world situation is the subject of “On My Mind” as North Korea, Russia, Mexico and the old U.S.A. are pondered. Big Franky adds his mandolin and Joe provides electric guitar and acoustic slide. Bill Holt returns for his second vocal spot on the Don Nix composition “Same Old Blues”, a song done by Freddie King and Gatemouth Brown among others. A funky Doobie Brothers like guitar intro starts off the equally funky “I Got Nothin’ To Say” that features the inimitable James Cheadle on jazzy electric piano to end the proceedings.
From the clean production by Ernie White and Joe Zook to the fine musicianship and vocalists it’s all here ladies and gentlemen. Home town boys that keep on keepin’ on. Slap some Trenton pork roll on the grill and give this puppy a spin!
Peter Poirier – Empty Arms
10 songs time-30:42
This is the debut release from Peter Poirier, a Boston area guitarist-vocalist whose music is a modern day throw back to what a traveling blues/R&B band would of sounded like. That’s not to say it sounds like a museum piece. Peter and his band mates cover morstly obscure songs from some of the blues greats. His vocals are smooth and his guitar playing is energetic and inventive. Plus he has enlisted a group of musicians with a formidable list of credits coming out of the wazoo. Bassist Brad Hallen and drummer Mark Teixeira are currently in Duke Robillard’s band. Piano man Matt McCabe has played in the bands of Duke Robillard, Anson Funderburgh, Roomful Of Blues and others. The extraordinary saxophone player is a one person sax section as he overdubbed sax parts. His resume on stage and in the studio runs the gamut from being a member of Roomful Of Blues to Albert Collins, Billy Boy Arnold, The Coasters to Red Skelton, Wayne Newton plus countless others.
Needless to say with a crew with these credentials it’s smooth sailing from beginning to end. The vibe here is R&B infused blues produced by the man himself and engineered by Jack Gauthier with totally enjoyable results.
B.B. King’s “Bad Luck” brings us old-timey blues and gives the first listen to Peter’s soothing vocalizing. What’s a blues record without a song about drinking? How about two? Jimmy Liggins’ “No More Alcohol” fits the bill featuring Matt McCabe’s piano styling’s accompanied by Ike Turner’s “I’m Tore Up”. A fitting treatment is given to the Sleepy John Estes-Hammie Nixon classic “Someday Baby”, the most familiar song here.
The other two B.B. King tunes “I Wonder Why” and “And Like That” get the typical classy and smooth Peter Poirier treatment. His guitar plays against Mark Earley’s driving saxophone section on both songs. “Empty Arms” the title tune carries on the easy rollin’ vibe much in the same manner as Wille Dixon’s “I Cry For You”.
The proceedings close out with another blues immortal in the person of Freddie King. “You Know That You Love Me” highlights Matt’s piano playing and needless to Peter captures Mr. King’s guitar style quite nicely. Freddie’s instrumental “Heads Up” could probably fool anyone to thinking it is actually the man himself.
As Duke Robillard attests in his liner notes-“Overall this is an impressive recording, from the feeling, the playing and the attention to detail in the sound quality, which was expertly captured by Jack Gauthier at Lakewest Recording”. This coming from an iconic present day first rate bluesman. What he said. Do your ears a favor and pick this up.
Pop Album Reviews
Devotees of the determinedly left-field Norwegian Jenny Hval may be gently thrown by her seventh album. Her last, Blood Bitch, tackled themes of vampires and menstruation with her customary tools of unsettling semi-spoken vocals and spare, folk-boned pop. The Practice of Love, by comparison, makes radical concessions to melody, rhythm and pleasure, a deep exploration of emotion with a new-agey, therapeutic feel. The title track, in which fellow musicians Laura Jean and Vivian Wang cross-talk over soft-glow, amniotic synths, brings to mind the Orb’s Little Fluffy Clouds, an early 90s buzz carried over into the breakbeats and poetic intimacies of Lions, and the trancey Ashes to Ashes, with its hands-to-the-sky synths and big splashy beats. Six Red Cannas, a tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe, and the choral bliss and handclaps of Ordinary would fit snugly on a Pure Moods compilation. The smoothness of Hval’s musical vehicle, this time around, allows her ideas to slip in softly, almost subliminally: humanity as a virus, technology’s role in romance, bereavement, panic attacks. It’s an eerie sort of euphoria, but no less of a rush for it.
British pop auteur Charlotte Aitchison has been based in the belly of the beast – the US – for some years now, trying to disrupt the global mainstream with her own mischievous futurist agenda. For every chart success, she acknowledges, there has been a tussle behind the scenes over her direction and levels of compromise.
Charli, her third official album, finally hits a noisy, sweet spot. It is, hands down, the best iteration of XCX yet, the one where Aitchison’s pop capabilities line up most persuasively with her avant garde ear. She has already released half a dozen bangers – mostly collaborations, like the excellent Gone, with Christine and the Queens, or the equally winning Warm, with Haim. But Click finds Aitchison and primo producer AG Cook ambushing unsuspecting pop fans with snarling digital noise, and pop outliers like Russian irritant Tommy Cash and the up-and-coming Kim Petras. Meanwhile, on Thoughts, Aitchison’s Autotuned trill is manipulated exquisitely.
The 17-date outing takes place in February and features Alma and Broods in supporting roles.
Tickets go on sale September 20th. You can find tickets to all of Tove Lo’s upcoming dates here.
Along with the tour announcement, Tove Lo has revealed new video for her latest single, “Really don’t like u”, featuring Kylie Minogue.
Tove Lo 2019-2020 Tour Dates:
09/18 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
11/15 – Sao Paulo, BR @ Popload Festival
11/17 – Rio de Janeiro, BR @ Popload Festival
11/19 – Buenos Aires, AR @ Teatro Vorterix
02/03 – Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works *
02/05 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle *
02/06 – Raleigh, NC @ The Ritz *
02/07 – Silver Spring, MD @ The Fillmore *
02/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore *
02/10 – Boston, MA @ House of Blues *
02/12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel *
02/15 – Montreal, QC @ Corona Theatre *
02/16 – Toronto, ON @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre *
02/18 – Detroit, MI @ St. Andrew’s Hall *
02/19 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre *
02/20 – St. Paul, MN @ Palace Theatre *
02/23 – Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre *
02/24 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox SODO *
02/25 – Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater *
02/27 – San Francisco, CA @ The Masonic *^
02/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium *^
* = w/ Alma
^ = w/ Broods
Minus the loud-quiet-loud dynamic, Pixies’ third album since re-forming has creepy songs about witches, spells and death
The dilemma for any re-formed band is whether to try and re-create their “classic sound” or try to develop it, to avoid becoming a tribute to themselves. Thus, Pixies’ third album since reuniting largely shuns the loud-quiet-loud dynamic of their first four albums, which influenced grunge and indie rock for at least a decade. The default mode here is more conventionally anthemic alternative rock: American gothic meets British goth.
Sung in Welsh, produced by South African artist Muzi, Rhys’s latest is a chamber folk-rock minor masterpiece
After last year’s expansive, magnificent Babelsberg, Gruff Rhys has pared things back, although not by much. Where Babelsburg went the full orchestra, Pang! confines itself to the chamber, its songs not draped in instrumentation, but coloured with brass and woodwind where necessary, to supplement the pastoral acoustic mood of the album. There is, though, another form of expansiveness: for all its grounding in very British folk-rock styles, Pang! is a global record – there’s an explicit influence from South Africa (it was produced by the South African electronica artist Muzi) with some lyrics sung in Zulu, and in some of the instrumental detailing – the jittering electronic bells of Ara Deg, the interplay of guitar and percussion on Bae Bae Bae.