The Baltimore-based group 9 Mile Roots describes their music as “hard rock riffs, hip-hop flow, and thick syncopated horn lines.” This is all on display brilliantly in their upcoming album ReEvolve (releasing May 19). There is plenty of laid-back rock/reggae fusion that hearkens back to groups like 311 and Sublime, and that is the greatest strength of ReEvolve. You can tell that the band is there to have a great time and make catchy songs along the way. 9 Mile Roots play a tight sound, with every instrument never seeming out of place. Especially with Summer fast approaching, this may be a record you want in your collection.
The Austin, Texas band Flyjack considers their record New Day to be “a love letter to late 60’s and early 70’s rare groove, soul and deep funk.” There certainly is a throw-back to these eras, especially with the opening track, on this record. There is also, however, a modern approach that show Flyjack’s own musical sensibilities that is full of unbridled love for music and social justice. The record is a groove-fest (especially with the drums and bass) that also touches on issues of racial and gender inequality here in the United States that our society often ignores.
The psychedelic angle of New Day is a welcome return to an era where music was legit, but the band also gives their own approach. New Day is a fun ride.
Get New Day on iTunes and other music distribution outlets
The Toronto-based electronic duo North Atlantic Drift describes their musical goal for Departures Vol. 1 as “trying to get at a certain sound we adore- a simplified ambient drone garnished with static and texture, stretched and given tension with string-like timbres.”
In this hauntingly beautiful and minimalist record, that goal is absolutely accomplished. Throughout Departures Vol. 1 you are given a small set of melodic lines, instruments, and effects to create an audio landscape of sorts. In many ways this landscape is hard to put into words, but one of the videos (found below) for this album give a good visual representation.
There is beauty and darkness. These two intersecting aesthetics are without a doubt the most intriguing components to this record. Without a doubt it is what makes it worth listening to.
Get Departures Vol. 1 at https://polarseasrecordings.bandcamp.com/album/departures-vol-1
The music of London-based wombat_army (real name Martin Webb) has had a welcome presence at MixolydianBlog for quite some time. As far as electronic artists go, wombat_army is probably one of my favorites in the past decade. You can imagine my excitement when I was sent the link to his newest record circling.
Present in circling is the signature looping effects and melodic lines that come from electronic sampling, synths, and of course cello we know wombat_army for. The minimalism in this record is used as well as ever, with beautiful melodies being placed over a myriad of rhythms and sound effects.
You can tell that wombat_army has gotten more adventurous on this record, as it feels more experimental than previous endeavors. For me this is a great step forward and I hope Martin continues in this direction. The music is a journey that is enjoyable from beginning to end.
Get your copy of circling at https://assemblyfield.bandcamp.com/album/circling
Magnus is an interesting record. It’s interesting in that it feels very familiar, with nods to Radiohead and other alternative artists. There is just enough experimentation to give the more avant-garde listener like me something to be intrigued by, but there is also plenty of strong, flowing melodic and rhythmic content to stay mainstream for radio. This record from Switzerland’s Rio is a calm, grooving journey that has a little for everyone. Ambient guitars and echo-laden vocals are frequently found throughout.
Overall the listening experience doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but when you make great songs, that really isn’t necessary. Sometimes the familiar is just what we need.
Get Magnus at https://rioriorio.bandcamp.com/releases
Three Legged Fox is an indie/rock/reggae fusion band from the great city of Philadelphia. Immediately two things stick out as you listen to their newest release Watch the World. Firstly, it is clear that the band (consisting of Kyle Wareham, John Duxbury, Mark Carson, Kory Kochersperger, and Chris Duddy) are all incredibly skilled at their craft. The musicality present throughout this record is such a strong driving force behind why the music is so great. Every melody has meaning and every rhythm rounds out the songs perfectly.
Secondly, Three Legged Fox are naturals at writing relatable and uplifting music. To take music that is a fusion of multiple styles and create something that is great for the radio but also meaningful is a special gift. So much “mainstream” sounding music these days follow a repetitive formula and Three Legged Fox are a refreshing break from that.
The constant switching of styles isn’t jarring, but rather seems like a natural transition in the overall themes explored in Watch the World. In the words of the band:
“After putting out some darker albums it was important to us to make a big sounding album that felt like a celebration of life. These are strange and chaotic times, but there’s a romance in living through that, and we wanted to make something you can dance and sing to.”
That statement really hones in on what you feel as you listen to Watch the World. You feel joy in a really pure way. As a guy who generally is a massive cynic (or some would say “miserable bastard” lol), even I can say that I felt just a little bit happier for the duration of my listening experience. Music’s greatest, well one of its greatest, gifts is the ability to pull you out of your own head.
Watch the World absolutely accomplishes this, and it is a record I highly recommend. Trust me on this one.
Standout track: Ultraviolet
Get your copy of Watch the World at digital stores like iTunes
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.