January 2016 ~ "...from the forthcoming..."

Nozinja - Nwa Baloyi A South African producer, popularizing the hybrid "shangaan electro" genre, being an amped-up take on several different music traditions. There seems to be a particular South African talent for spinning what are basically crude electronic sounds into idiosyncratic gold. Something about this sound is simultaneously charming and edgy. And of course booty shaking.  

Yeasayer - I Am Chemistry From their forthcoming new full-length. I think Yeasayer exist in a kind of alternative universe, where even the most basic sounds are natively different - where a fork falling on the floor doesn't sound the way it does here. I'm thinking about the cartoon Adventure Time, here. A group of remarkable players pulling on every sonic thread available. 

Pell - Pretty Things For a while after I heard Pell, I assumed for some reason that he was British. Nope, from New Orleans. An incredibly flexible rapper and singer, truly reflecting an iconoclastic disposition toward genre conventions. Technically a rapper (I guess), for me he belongs in a class with Algiers, Young Fathers, TV On the Radio...

Christian Scott - TWIN I had read a tiny little bit about Christian Scott before catching the Tiny Desk performance below. Oh man. The playing is searing and fierce, just modern enough - without a lot of the diddley-doodling and fusion nonsense that seems to be in vogue among the jazz acts who make it into the general music consciousness these days. Joy, anger, passion, intelligence - all present in this in this performance. The studio version here, with its dueling trumpets, may more accurately reflect the intent of the composition, but the sonics, playing, and texture of Scott's trumpet and Elena Pinderhughes' flute. If you are even a little bit into this music, please do yourself a favor and watch the video below. 

Mike Watt + The Secondmen I love a sideways cover, and you'd be hard pressed to find one more sideways than this one, from a Wes Anderson tribute album. Considering the starting point, I can't even begin to imagine how they found their way to this nugget of dementedness. As Watt has pointed out when talking about the Minutemen, their idea of punk rock was that it was about freedom and doing whatever you wanted, more than a particular sound. Well, he's clearly sticking to that. 

Gabby Pahinui - Lei Ohu A wonderful little jam from the Hawaiian legend's debut album. A sweet little amalgamation of Hawaiian and more western sounds, that seems at once familiar and foreign. 

PJ Harvey - The Wheel From the soon-to-be-released follow up to Let England Shake, one of my favorite all time albums. From the sound of it, more spooky grooves and journalistic sketches. !!!

Lucius - Madness One more from a full album to come in the next few months, this time the sophomore burst from these pop magicians. There's nothing like singers like this belting it out, so entirely in sync with each other. 

Freddie Gibbs - Extradite My favorite new rap discovery, with one of my oldest favorites - Black Thought, who I think history will recognize as our era's most criminally underrated MCs. It's interesting to hear these two together, given the way the Roots have found a way to explore a lot of the typical rap tropes (alienation, crime, the streets, being tough, etc) without placing their biography at the center, which Gibbs is able to do more convincingly than most - largely by not trying too hard to establish his credentials. 

Savages - The Answer A tight little punch from Savages' new second album. 

Ron Funches - Robots "Why the fuck do you even care, robot?" Hilarious. Observational humor of the highest order. I just can't hear this and not laugh. Funches is special. 

eighth blackbird - Murder Ballades: Young Emily I've been trying to slowly educate myself about Chicago's deep bench of new music ensembles, and I'm betting it will be hard to find any more interesting, virtuosic, and soulful than eighth blackbird. I recently met pianist Lisa Kaplan at a party, and didn't quite know who she or eighth blackbird were. Super down-to-earth and interesting, I probably would have left the party still in ignorance if her mom hadn't interjected to brag about her daughter's multiple Grammys. This is from a suite by The National's Bryce Desner, taking various traditional American murder ballads as their starting point. Also on this record is a live recording of the monumental and dizzying "Two Pages," by Phillip Glass. Get yourself in the lotus position, turn the lights out, and let that thing send you. 

Bareto - La Voz del Sinchi From Peru, a tasty mix of cumbia, reggae, and rock'n'roll. 

Iggy Pop - Break Into Your Heart A very promising salvo from the forthcoming Iggy Pop/Josh Homme collaboration - deftly combining the best of both their sounds.