New Music | Friday Roll Out: Fazer, Colleen Dow, Jason Lytle, Tyler Ramsey, Kramies

2022 is the year of the Water Tiger according to Chinese Astrology. Some will get rid of the misfortunes encountered in 2021, while some will need to be prepared for troubles and accidents. But that begins February 1st. Until then, let’s enjoy what we’ve had so far.

Moments occasionally don’t make sense but then again, why should they? Take them all in for what they’re worth and live in the moment as you soak in Colleen Dow’s new single “Bumbum,” (Count Your Lucky Stars) where Dow offers of the title of the song as the chorus. It may not make any sense initially but the former Thank You I’m Sorry member fills the track with syrupy vocals around enticing lo-fi instrumentation. It’s lo-fi for the hi-fi generation but it’s sweet and alluring. This is only Dow’s third single, the first coming back in September ’21. The Chicago artist might be setting us all up for a new album. That’s just fine considering the music offered only hints as something great to come.

Artists have always been about collaboration in one way or another when it seems right. And while this isn’t a full release, it’s a split between three; Jason Lytle, Tyler Ramsey, and Kramies for Over And Outside (VanGerrett Records). Lytle is known as the frontman for Grandaddy but has also released albums of his own. We haven’t heard any music since 2020 when he released an album with his other project Admiral Radley but this week he’s stepped out on his own here with the acoustic “Drop That Hero,” a breathy atmospheric track as his familiar airy vocals set the mood along with his guitar. The song is sweet, sputtering with a feel of reclusiveness which isn’t surprising, as Lytle shows his ability to maneuver throughout it with ease and without the necessity of an overabundance of instrumentation. His own harmonies add vibrancy to it.

Kramies is a multi-instrumentalist who’s found his place within the indie folk/indie rock spectrum, slowly garnering fans with his music. Here he delivers “She’s Low Tide,” with just his haunting voice, guitar, and additional background noise. The track evokes melancholic imagery and sends shivers up spines. This song is everything. The final piece to this puzzle is Tyler Ramsey, mostly known as the former lead guitarist of Band Of Horses, and after four albums of his own, the North Carolina native creates songs that, while not completely distinctive, are beautifully constructed, edging around the strings of his guitar. His melodies seep in throughout every aspect of “Arrow To Bow and create an aura of sadness throughout.

I think I’m definitely all in with the sharpness of Over And Outside, with three musicians that have a clear direction with their compositions.

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Fanning the flames of discontent for quite some time now, there hasn’t been an album I’ve come across that bridges the gap between instrumental jazz, funk, and modern pop until right about now. The last bastion of hope I had possibly arrived from Cinematic Orchestra, inherently different from anything else I’ve heard as they merged the classical with pop notions and ethereal tones. But I digress as this has nothing to do with Cinematic Orchestra.

Germany’s Fazer hits us with Plex (City Slang), the quintet’s 3rd instrumental full-length release that does exactly what it’s supposed to do; move one emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Throughout the 11 tracks fitted within the release, there isn’t a lulling moment. Fazer’s song compositions revolve around luscious horn interaction with rhythms that are inviting and never let up. Melodies careen and bounce off one another. Sometimes the interaction between horns & basslines will throw listeners for a loop, much like on “Thea.” Four strings utilize mostly 8-note progressions as horns sway and curve like much like a 1970s Yankees pitcher. It’s exciting to hear plucked guitar notes and lilting drums fill the air. And this is just one song! You could play the album and it could fly right by. 45 minutes could pass, and you wouldn’t even notice, but you’d have a consistent head nod & sway all throughout it. It’s the unassuming “Dezember” that’s probably the band’s masterpiece. There’s a build-up throughout but it ebbs & flows in such a way you won’t even notice. Horns are deliberate in their action, almost bouncing atmospherically and never taking away from the rest of the instrumentation.

It’s the bouncy “Grenadier” that’s sure to get the crowd moving though, and while horns are impressionable, it’s the rhythm that sets the tone. Sitting down, standing up; either way, the rhythm is going to get you. Its Afrocentric vibe is ever-present and the horns around accentuate it. The band never stands still, fitting and lodging itself into any one particular genre but this isn’t a standard jazz fusion, as Fazer seems to be derivative unto itself. The band is creatively beautiful, as “Jaculysses” attests, and always challenges itself like on “Nago” where the band leaves open spaces allowing their stabbing moments a bit more poignancy.

Plex is quite different and offers listeners something quite distinctive. If you’re wondering who’s raising the bar so early in the year, that would be Fazer.

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