We’re so close to Christmas. Yeah I know, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet but that hasn’t stopped radio stations from playing Christmas music, so advertisers can get all their products ready to sell to you on items come Black Friday. That’s the day the internet usually explodes with videos of dudes with opening lines like, “WOOOOORLD STAR!” I never understood the mad rush to purchase items, but then again I never understood the need for everyone to buy so much, simply to show they’ve spent it. It’s not what the holidays are supposed to be about but then again, what do I know?
This is one holiday season Sharon Jones won’t get a chance to see, as she finally succumbed to the cancer that was in her body. It came back full force and took such a talented artist from us all. But today everyone is able to go online – or at your local shop – for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings posthumous release Soul Of A Woman (Daptone Records). Ms. Jones ended her career with this release and while it’s just as powerful as other releases, it will probably remain the sultriest one. The album is filled with 11 tracks of what we’re all familiar with: Sharon’s sugary voice, and a band that balances out her voice with their instrumental perfection. The soulfulness of “A Matter Of Time” starts things off, propelled by that organ and bass before anything comes in, aside from the drums. It’s classic Dap, which will have your head nodding to that funky bassline. But the party gets started on “Sail On,” where Jones and the band cut loose, cut-cut-cutting that rug and shimmying thought those beats. Guitars and horns are clear and blend seamlessly with that rhythm section and those stop-starts are perfectly placed while Jones sings about being tossed to the wayside. While the band is much younger than Jones was, their love of classic soul is undeniable. With “Just Give Me Your Time” you get hints of The Miracles “You Really Got A Hold On Me.” It’s ever so slight, but if you know, it’s there. The song quickly ends and guitars come in on “Come And Be A Winner,” lead by softly strummed guitars on this dancey love song with amazing horn arrangements who fill out the open space here with Bosco Mann’s bass. Jones’ voice makes things sound much too easy, like on “Searching For A New Day,” the funky jam with the obvious Latin percussion Fernando Boogaloo Velez brings to the table. And that trumpet will almost bring you to tears. In the end here, life comes full circle with “Call On God” as Sharon Jones sings this spiritual, which reminds all of her humble beginnings singing in church. But it also shows her reaffirmation of her faith. The organ and piano will have you raising your hands hollering ‘PRAISE HIM!’ And her giggle at the end tells everyone she was at peace in the end.
The Black Star, solo artist, a cultural activist, has returned with the new full-length album, Radio Silence (Javotti Media). Talib Kweli released The Seven E.P. earlier and it quenched the thirst of fans in preparation for this album! The rapper has been fortunate to walk within the lines of independence which may show for the reinvigoration and surge of creativity the past few years now, and Radio Silence is the culmination of it all. This is in fact “The Magic Hour,” the first track off the album, which has Kweli’s rapid-fire delivery blowing through the track and at moments, leaving the beat behind him. He lets it catch up though, as that guitar fades in and out at moments to let the bass rise. When he ends with “Hip Hop will flourish with nourishment and the proper care,” you understand he is the embodiment of a culture that has welcomed him and that he’s embraced wholeheartedly. There are a few artists making guest appearances, and some might even surprise you but almost every track hits with a frantic rhythm to pull listeners in immediately. “Traveling Light feat. Anderson .Paak” moves this way, both artists fittingly moving with it. But Kweli isn’t averse to slowing down the pace. “All Of Us feat. Jay Electronica & Yummy Bingham” takes a cultural approach here lyrically, touching hearts as it attempts to open minds. He partners with the unlikeliest of artists like Waka Flocka Flame? Yeah, he does. That’s on “Chips” with a beat that has that in-your-face attack and a “we winnin’” vibe. The title track featured Myka 9 and Amber Coffman and opens, driven by strings, until that beat drops, which is fascinatingly complex with Kweli spitting fire! Sounding like a video gamer’s wet dream here and when Myka wraps his words around the track, it travels way beyond complexity, becoming infinite. Rick Ross drops verbiage alongside Kweli on the jazzy “Heads Up Eyes Open” which should be a classic, and Datcha, Bilal & Robert Glasper help drive “Write At Home,” um, home. The flame, although cool here, is still fire. Radio Silence may get silenced by modern radio but the Hip Hop community will surely embrace the album for what it is: a collection of dope tracks.
Sometimes you wonder “What is it that makes a band tick?” and then you realize the band must be ticking along with a clock that has some explosives attached to it. That should pretty much sum up the kaleidoscope of sounds that is the music created by Brenda, four young unassuming lads from Toronto, Canada. Their new release, the Creeper E.P. (self-released) is as bugged as Biz Markie’s early releases but Brenda has a hold of their psychedelic garage noise. I’ve listened to this repeatedly and I’m getting a sense that this 5-song release is more than just 5 songs. They seem to sometimes blend together, sounding similar yet different, with a lot going on. The opening “Children” has a rhythm that’s filled with psychedelica and is hypnotizing. Hypnotica? It could be a thing. For over 5-minutes, the band plays with dynamics and pollinates the track with washes of loud guitar, but it’s soothing, especially when they quiet down. “Beard of Bees” has the band frantically bouncing off walls, loading the track with feedback until they attack in unison with a one-two punch. For some reason, the opening rhythm of “Idiot Brother” reminds me of Marcy’s Playground “Sex And Candy,” this is if Marcy’s Playground was any good. But it’s the closing “The Watcher” that has me addicted. Guitars sound like they’re singularly all over the place, but are working in unison. Makes sense? No matter, the band is subtle with its progression and again, make the shifting dynamics work well. I don’t know, Creeper makes me feel dirty and like I’ve been on a magic carpet ride, induced by mushrooms and weed but I’m sober AF! And yet, I want to do it all over again.
Thoughts creep in, my mind wanders and thinks if Godflesh truly is necessary for 2017. Many believed that Godflesh laid the foundation for industrial metal and post-metal, but Godflesh was always so much more than that. But the group that had been so influential to many returned in 2014 after the initial dissolution in 2001 with A World Lit Only By Fire. While there had been other projects in the interim (Techno Animal, Jesu) the passion for Justin Broderick’s first true love would never be denied. But now with G.C. Green back in the fold, the duo’s has returned with the sophomore release since Godflesh’s resurrection. What do we think? Well, there’s a singular wash of sound that comes from Post Self (Avalanche Recordings.) Rabid fans will gravitate to it, no doubt about that, but there really is a lot that’s offered in Godflesh’s attack on this album. The duo layers thick basslines under washes of guitars and Justin Broadrick’s growled vocals. There are semblances of other things going on, dissonance murking in and out from track to track, which makes things interesting. Or it just might be the effects that drive Broderick’s guitar. The drum machine they incorporate seems to be set at 11 as you get that purposeful drum feedback on tracks here and again. On “Mirror Of Finite Light” though, you find there’s a beast lurking beneath it all, as vocals while much clearer is much creepier. Post Self is an exploration in sonic delivery. Godflesh pushes the boundaries of how far it can take things. “Be God” is a clear example of it. The washes of noise seem to come from above, below, left and right, never giving a clear direction on its attack. It’s beautifully done. With this new album, Godflesh has floated passed the singular industrial metal tag, eschewing it and creating something much more…infinite.
[Also released today was the Black Heart Procession‘s The Waiter Songs I – VIII (Robotic Empire), songs originally pressed as a limited tour-only CD with 7 songs, which quickly sold out. They’re now available on vinyl for the very first time, and tracks 6 & 7 cannot be found on any studio album and the collection now includes a brand new, never released Waiter song, track 8! It’s limited to 1,000 copies, 500 on clear vinyl and 500 on black. The band will have these on tour.
And there is also Squalloscope with Exoskeletons For Children (Fake Four Inc.), a beautiful album by Anna Kohlweis, who is Squalloscope and is a songwriter, music producer, multimedia artist, illustrator and singer based in Vienna, Austria.]
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Godflesh – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Brenda – Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp
Talib Kweli – Facebook | Twitter | Instagram