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Album Review: “English Tapas” by Sleaford Mods

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Sleaford Mods have been, in my opinion, probably the most refreshing act to come out of the U.K. in recent years. Full of working class rage, swagger, minimalist punk arrangements, rapid fire lyrics, and pure political passion; this duo from Nottingham has always been able to cut through bullshit in this dismal world.

The band has a very recognizable sound, with Jason Williamson shouting into his mic while Andrew Fearn creates looping beats and grooves with a stripped-down approach. As the group has gone through various albums, it became clear that they have been looking for a new direction in some ways with regards to their sound.

Enter their newest release English Tapas. The album has trademark Mods style, but you can quickly sense there are new influences at work. You hear not just punk, but glitch, trip-hop, hip-hop, and numerous other elements in their instrumentals. Andrew Fearn has really pushed himself on this record to create sounds that open up new avenues for Williamson to explore his vocals over.

Jason is at his most melodic on this record without a doubt. There is plenty of ranting at the system, and with Westminster fucking everyone over this is justified completely, but there are so many more melodic layers than on previous records.

There is enough for the longtime Sleaford Mods fans like me to love on English Tapas, but there is plenty for the newbies too. This is the record that the working class and poor living in a post-Brexit world need.

 

Album Review: “Starlight” by The Right Now

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The Right Now is a pop/soul band out of Chi-Town consisting of Stefanie Berecz (vocals), Brendan O’Connell (keyboards), Chris Corsale (guitar), Jim Schram (tenor sax), Lucas Gillan (drums), Greg Nergaard (bass) and Caleb Mitchell (trumpet). In their most recent record Starlight they have sought to push “out from their traditional soul-revivalist mode” that they have become known for.

The soul roots are undoubtedly a part of the sound on this record, especially in the vocals of Berecz and the grooves of the rhythm section. There is, however, a contemporary sound that leaves you feeling the need to dance. There is such pure joy coming from the speakers as I write this, and it is great to find bands that have such an uplifting sound.

This is not a naive record, however, as a lot of the lyrical inspiration serves as a counterpoint to the current sociopolitical climate in the United States. As their press release states, The Right Now made songs “of a wider scope” with “politics and social issues, addiction and recovery” all interlocking with the infectious grooves and great melodic hooks.

The key thing to remember when listening to Starlight is that the name is indicitive of, as lead vocalist Stefanie Berecz puts it, “something that connects and unifies everyone on this planet, regardless of all the perceived differences that we may have.”

It helps when you made a great record to bond with your fellow humans over.

Get Starlight at https://www.therightnow.com/store?category=Starlight

Album Review: “The Landing Zone” by Ujjaya

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As music makers we have many different approaches of creating our art. One path that some have opted for is the realm of spiritual practice. Music derived from this path can often be fascinating. Even to those not on a spiritual path there is great value in this music.

Enter the world that is the live recorded album The Landing Zone. Created by Ujjaya (aka Hery Randriambololona), a “French ethno-ambient musician with Malagasy roots,” this record is a calming injection of ambient music as well as ambient natural sounds. The record is a meditative journey through a vast number of instruments and beautiful looping arrangements.

Ujjaya came up with the inspiration for his music via “his yoga practice and of his travel through Asia for spiritual purposes.” I may be on a different spiritual path than Ujjaya, but I felt his music on more than just simply a cerebral level. It is an album that is more of an experience than it is a background music like ambient can sometimes become. I truly think there is something of value here for everyone.

The Landing Zone can be found at https://archive.org/details/eg0_162/04-JungleFever.mp3

 

Album Review: “self-titled” by Seldom Family

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The Philly-based indie group Seldom Family is comprised of Patrick Norris (vocals, guitar) and Chris Caulder (drums, bass, lap steel, guitar). The best way I can described self-titled is that it is a beautiful, grooving, ambient, soaring work of art. The bare-bones nature of the instrumentation with the heavy reverb washing over you gives a very current vibe with a nod to the past.

Every song is powerful lyrically and melodically. The voice of Patrick Norris, who sounds honestly like a mix between Bono and Lou Reed, draws you in with a magnetic pull. It longingly cries out over simple, yet brilliant, instrumentals. The album is subtle and also explosive. In it, there are countless seemingly opposing parts that work in synergy for a common goal. That goal is, quite simply, fantastic music.

Get self-titled at https://seldomfamily.bandcamp.com/album/self-titled

Jake Aldridge – Fireman feat. Lisa Ambrose

I’ve featured Suffolk-based Jake Aldridge’s music numerous times here before. This newest single may very well be his best yet. It’s absolutely brilliant guys, from the melodies to the verses, I mean it :).

Album Review: “NHOVA” by NHOVA

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The way the French electronic artist NHOVA describes their music gives great insight into your eventual listening experience. “Halfway between electro-mystical and delicate atmospheres” with trip-hop, industrial and ambient music shown as prominent influences gives a clear representation of their self-titled record.

The synths are dark, brooding, and also soaring with melody. Each track is meticulously constructed with peaks and valleys that bring you a multi-faceted listening experience. Overall NHOVA isn’t just good music, it is an invitation to explore your own mind as you listen. The range of emotions you feel can be existential dread to wonder, and all are valid responses during the time this record plays. You will never experience the same feeling or though twice when listening to this album, and that is a great achievement.

All in all, any fan of complex electronic music should give this a try.

NHOVA can be found at https://nhovaworld.bandcamp.com/album/nhova

Album Review: “Circumgyration” by COC aka City of Colors

COC aka City of Colors is a Polish experimental music project based out of Warsaw. Their newest release, Circumgyration, showed up in my email as a submission and I’m really glad that it did. The record explores various spheres of sonic expression. There are synths, samples reminiscent of early Steve Reich, glitch style beats, noise samples that give it a John Cage feel and melodies that interlock to create really beautiful parts. It is a very experimental record, but I think that even the more mainstream listener can enjoy aspects of Circumgyration.

If you like glich or ambient music, click on the Soundcloud link above to experience Circumgyration for yourself.