The weekend slowly crept upon us, giving us no warning whatsoever. But that’s never a worry, in fact, it’s sort of the opposite for me as I wonder how to fit in all the work I need to get in before Friday hits. This is sort of intertwined with my personal life because it always seems I can never finish what I start here and can’t get shit done. Luckily I’ve had that MURS album keeping me company and it exciting listening to that 9th Wonder produced Brighter Days (Murs 316/Jamla) because it’s been a minute since they’ve collaborated this way. But no one needs me to tell them MURS is dope AF, or that even listening to this collab with 9th sets it far apart from the rest. Instead, we’ll just focus on the things you’ll probably never hear of.
We may have heard his name in passing but his works probably haven’t received the notoriety they deserve. While this isn’t Avery R. Young‘s first go-around, his debut recording Booker T. Soltreyne: A Race Rekkid released back in 2013, seemed to be all but ignored. Occasionally that might work to an artist’s benefit when releasing a follow-up, in this case it comes in the form of tubman. (FPE Records) which leaves much to the imagination.
The new album takes much from years past while at the same time keeping itself footed strongly in the present. The Chicago native leads his cast of musicians with direct intention, allowing his compositions to reach higher planes. All of this is what he’s able to do in just one song, the opening “Sit Down Job (Muddy Mary).” He clearly sets the tone of the album here with a powerful amalgam of funk, soul, rock, and gospel, the latter of which is obvious as it blossoms with a background choir, turning this into a heady spiritual for listeners. The power in which the song moves should leave everyone in awe.
Young has clearly formed his own path on tubman., allowing his songs to naturally coalesce among one another. “Ms. Lee’s Good Food” is a slower build with funk-filled guitars, steady rhythms, and a background choir with an eventual addition of horns. But it’s Young’s powerful voice that moves all those surrounding him, which includes every listener wearing headphones or allowing the music to blare from speakers. A voice like his hasn’t been heard in quite some time. While he’s had great attempts and success at finding something new in what’s old, Avery R. Young is what artists like Kravitz should aspire to sound like.
It’s easy to find a clever hook but Young adds so much more. With “Lil Lillie,” like his other compositions, he sings about struggle and seamlessly incorporates it into his steady freight train of a song moving steadily along. He leaves me dumbfounded on “Maasai” with strings that float in out of nowhere, while on “Lead In Di Wattah (A Revisit[id] Negro Spiritual)” is where he’s light years ahead of the pack. He takes an old familiar spiritual and turns it into a political statement with pianos, strings, and beautiful vocals. While it’s an ode to struggling communities but images of Flint, MI is what pops in top of mind.
With tubman. there’s so much to take in within the context of the 14 songs filling the album and we could sit here all day dissecting each track because the album is just that good. Instead, just imagine one of the greatest things created in your lifetime, and that would be Avery R. Young’s new album.
There are moments when I have this urge, or rather, this need, to have questions answered. This is one of those moments. It’s been 10 years since the duo of Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer decided to make an album and debut as Generationals but asking “Why?” always seemed to linger in the back of my mind.
Generationals just dropped its 6th album Reader As Detective (Polyvinyl Records) and I think I finally have the answer to the band’s secret in its decade-long longevity: They write pop songs that are inviting with a lot less pretence so many other acts have shown throughout the years, allowing the music to stand on its own. The duo may play synth-pop but the songs are well written and easily accessible. Now while that might be a death sentence to most groups, Generationals have been able to avoid it simply because the music created strongly intertwines keen melodies into their beautiful compositions.
“A List Of Virtues” for example, has years of experience behind Generationals, enabling them to blend the synth aspects of what they do with harmonies, clever songwriting, and those melodies previously mentioned. Yeah, the band is heavily skilled at what they’re piecing together. “Xeno Bobby” shows that as well and there’s no quit here with the droning notes in the background over catchy beats and rhythms. The band cleverly utilizes what sounds like altered vocals but could also just be the band using its synth skills to create something quite different.
Reader As Detective is filled with more of the same from start to finish. The band has once again found a fan in me. There’s no doubt that many will find the new Generationals album as enticing as well. You’re welcome.
I have no intention of giving any fluff or sideway discussions regarding UV-TV, the Gainesville, Florida act that began back in 2015, recently relocation to NYC. It’s interesting to note the band cites a number of acts as influences like The Pastels, Echo & The Bunnymen, and Slowdive. I mention these so-called influences because for Happy (Deranged Records) the band seemingly takes absolutely nothing from these groups to incorporate them in its own sound. Is that a good thing or bad?
For the band’s sophomore release, the music is quite punchy and distinctive and the collaborative effort between Ian Bernacett’s fuzzed-out, jangly guitars and Rose Vastola’s easily likeable vocals works well together. With Vastola’s vocal delivery, there’s something eerily reminiscent of another era which I just couldn’t put my finger on. Until now. I realize she does remind of an early Go-Go’s Belinda Carlisle, although sans the saccharine-coated sweetness. Here with UV-TV, Vastola sings a temperament matching Bernacett’s driving guitars. His playing may have punk flavoring but also includes that classic 80s – 90s noisy experimental Lower East Side inspiration.
The title track alone combines all the aforementioned elements and they’re able to drive this one straight into the stratosphere. UV-TV hits every chord with precision and while moments seem to explode briefly into improvisation, we have to be clear, everything is intentional. You’ll want to avoid the rest of the album simply because the repeat button is easily accessible, but don’t fall into that trap. There’s much more to be offered up here. Once you let things go, you’ll find “Mirror” is full of great drumming that shouldn’t be ignored but at 1:43 minutes, the song is all too brief leaving you wanting. But don’t fret, there’s more.
“Inside Out” opens with dissonance but the band is on a mission that’s direct and to the point here as they storm through the track with unabashed fervor. But it’s not always Vastola in the forefront, Bernacett sometimes takes on that lead role, like on “Walk In.” Here his spoken/sung vocals work well alongside Vastola’s background cooing. And damn it, there go those drums again that shouldn’t be ignored. The pummelling is outstanding!
There isn’t much left to say about UV-TV or the band’s Happy because they let the album and their talent speak for itself. Ok, there is one more thing: “Gold” churns shit out like no other, it’s direct to the point with an infectious melody that you won’t be able to get out of your head. Ok, I’m done. Happy is pretty bad ass.
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I don’t think Indianapolis’ Mr. Clit And the Pink Cigarettes really cares what you or I think about them or their music. I mean come on, just look at the band’s name itself! I could be wrong but it doesn’t matter because this group is here to fuck your mind and your misconceptions of who and what they are.
The band has been going strong for years, with multiple releases but this is my first go-around with the band yet it doesn’t matter because the group lets the music speak for itself. About half of the songs go past the 2 minute mark, it doesn’t seem to matter because on Pipsqueaks From Planet Fur (Heel Turn Records) gets straight to the point from track to track. “I Bite” is easily inviting with its spacey delivery and feminine vocals over loud guitars and pummeling rhythms. at less than 60 seconds, “Boogerlips” gives that quick 1-2-3-4! pace that gets your blood pumping.
Then there are moments when you don’t know what to do as “Six Licks” is sexy AF even though the heavy and howled vocals are so commanding. The music just gives off that vibe. Do I strip or create a mosh pit? That alongside something like the catchy “Wake the Pig,” with its duelling vocals, thick, catchy, one-track mind type rhythm leaves me in awe. I’m still left believing the band doesn’t care one ounce about what I think but I press on.
Tne punked-up “Hey Bombshell” with surf-like guitars keeps me interested as I imagine the band hanging and surfing in dirty waters left with soiled diapers and used condoms. That’s when I realized no, that’s where I grew up. I move it along to something that isn’t about a cutie pie but a “Cootie Pie.” Here the band gives imagery of something enticing but really isn’t, while the catchy jam has you pogoing away. And while I know comparisons are cheap, right now I’m feeling broke. “Gagging On Glue” has those vocals that are reminiscent to that of David Yow, as the band moves in a singular direction straight into a wondrous oblivion of sound.
It isn’t difficult to surmise that my own interest is piqued by Mr. Clit And The Pink Cigarettes. I’m sure the band’s album translates well live too. They keep things interesting from beginning to end and for a group playing this type of music, it’s difficult to do this day and age. Yeah, they’re good. Real good.