There’s plenty going on in the world right now that’s far more important than what I have to say about music. However if you’re anything like me, taking an occasional break to get lost into some tunes might be the best way to process all of the heavy stuff and stay centered. So here’s a roundup of some new releases that you could dwell in for a while.
Soulganic – “Tabasco Jones”
While it still might not be safe enough to start hitting up clubs and venues quite yet, Solganic’s got you covered.
This North Carolina group blends smooth funk with soulful horns and Latin rhythms into something deliciously groovy. Much like what you see in their recently released video for “Tabasco Jones,” all you’ll want to do when listening to these folks is get up and dance.
This new instrumental single, which is due out on the 19th, sounds like what could happen if The Mar-Keys, The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and The Dap-Kings all crammed into a single studio together. You get a thumbing beat, swinging horns and an insatiable guitar melody that you wish could roll on for hours.
Be sure to visit the group’s Bandcamp page on the 19th and snag this killer tune fast.
Stony Sugarskull – LiONESS
Berlin’s Stony Sugarskull is back and wilder than ever with the pummeling LiONESS.
Most of this new release finds the band fiercely swaggering through post-punk territories while still radiating with the flames of grungy garage rock. Tracks like “Empty” rip and growl with the savagery of a wild beast, while tunes like “That’s It” and “Electrified” mesmerize with motorik beats and cold ethereal vocals.
Elsewhere on the album, sexy off-kilter goth serenades intermingle with nebulous baroque soundscapes and clanging hallucinogenic rockers. The sheer amount of variety and rich personality that exists within this record is simply staggering. You walk away from it just thinking nothing but “damn…what a hyper-talented, versatile band!”
Fans of Nico, Neu! and The Coathangers could easily become obsessed with this album. Pick it up on vinyl or digital from Stony Sugarskull’s Bandcamp today.
Angel Bat Dawid – Transition East
Angel Bat Dawid’s work is always a boundless sea of sonic treasures and multifaceted aural gems. Her latest release, Transit East, is no different in that regard.
Released in May on International Anthem, this spiritual jazz single features pulsing analogue electronics and jangling percussion and sharp piano tangoing with an intertwined trio of clarinet, coronet and trumpet.
Originally composed as a response to Make Some Space, a book by Emma Warren, the two tracks that make up Transit East are loose, free and feel closely tied to the earth through their texture and spontaneity. Yet the instruments’ improvisations never stray too far from the crux of the songs, and therefore the music remains enormously accessible and entirely relatable. Even people who do not normally consider themselves to be fans of jazz could absolutely appreciate this release.
For an utterly transfixing combination of mellow nu-jazz, modernist classical music and and some sort of a Krautrock/Tropicália hybrid, go no further than Angel Bat Dawid’s newest offering. Grab it today on vinyl or digital as a preorder ahead of the single’s June 19th drop date.
Angeline Morrison – Clouds Never Move
Angeline Morrison’s gorgeous new single is one of the softest yet most succinct statements on speaking your own truth possibly ever recorded.
Morrison you may remember from past solo ventures, but also from her work under the Rowan : Morrison moniker. Here, she sings in a hushed tone and sweet overdubbed harmonies while gently plucking along with a thumb piano and harp. It’s easy to fall under its soothing spell as the song unfolds its message about voicing what you know is true, even in the face of unwavering opposition. All the while birdsongs blanket behind the track, making it feel even more idyllic and calming.
2020 needed a song like this one badly, in more ways than one. Grab it here today.
The Rowan Amber Mill – Among the Gorse to Settle Scores
Speaking of Rowan : Morrison, Rowan’s own group, The Rowan Amber Mill, spent the majority of the pandemic recording many of their favorite folk songs in their unique dark, mysterious style.
What you’ll find on this EP is slightly eerie psych-rock interpretations of such classics as “Black Leg Miner” and “Black is the Color,” that could easily belong in a modern folk horror film. The vocals of Kim Guy (lending her voice to The Rowan Amber Mill for the first time in a decade) gives these songs an especially chilled quality, easily making this listener long for the autumn (even if the temperatures this week have been in the low 90s).
If you wish your Steeleye Span records were a tad spookier, then give this mini-album a try.
Carling & Will – Soon Comes Night
While we’re in the folky vein, let’s dive into Carling & Will’s new record, Soon Comes Night.
Just released over the weekend, this album is a collection of tranquil old time-inspired banjo, fiddle and acoustic guitar tunes that’ll make you yearn for an old fashioned barn stomp.
On songs like “Doozy Daisy,” the duo plays relaxed interlacing melodies that have a pang of wistful melancholia that is impossible to not resonate with. Meanwhile, tracks like “Lillie’s Lullaby” and “Life Is but the Shadow of a Bird on the Wing,” are supported by a restrained electric guitar. This unexpected additional instrument is fed through an effects pedal, and alternates between steely waves of sustained notes and twisting Jerry Garcia-esque curlicues.
If you need to listen to an album that feels like a literal breath of fresh air, this is it.
Damu the Fudgemunk, Archie Shepp & Raw Poetic – Ocean Bridges
There’ are very few things out there that sound as straight up cool as jazz legend Archie Shepp jamming with hip hop musicians and producers Earl “Damu the Fudgemunk” Davis and Raw Poetic (Jason Moore).
On Ocean Bridges, which dropped just a few weeks ago, Shepp and the band (which includes Pat Fritz on guitar, Aaron Gause on Wurlitzer and synth and Fudgemunk on drums and vibes) provide a driving backing track that resembles Joe Henderson or Tribute to Jack Johnson-era Miles Davis, for Fudgemunk and Poetic to rap, sing and scratch over. The resulting mix works remarkably well and goes down beautifully smooth. The different genres blend together seamlessly, creating something deeply vibrant, intensely complex and endlessly danceable.
There are so many standout moments on this record. From the smoky sax that swirls around the soulful vocals on “12 Hour Parking” to the spitfire rapping and hypnotic beats of “Aperture” and the hazy atmosphere of “Moving Maps,’ there’s so much to love here.
Peaceful, stirring and unrelentingly raw, Ocean Bridges warrants countless replays and is without a doubt one of the most unique records of 2020. Check it out here.
James Matthew VII – Stoned When I Pray
…And we end on Jame Matthew VII’s cosmic Americana instant-classic, Stoned When I Pray.
Matthew, a highly in demand session musician who cut his teeth working in hardcore and power pop bands in his youth, went off on a road trip and located many legendary figures from various branches and eras of hippie folk rock and country music. Every time he was able to meet one of these mythical figures, he was sure to record something with them. This record is made up of those recordings.
Joining Matthew on this album are: Bill Cutler (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir), Augie Meyers (Sir Douglas Quintet, Bob Dylan), John Catfish (Psychic Ills, Nude Party), Daddy Long Legs, Sean Dean (The Sadies), and Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn (U.S. Girls, MV&EE). With their help, Matthew crafted a dreamy amalgamation of psychedelic roots rock that conjures up the likes of The Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of The Purple Sage and One Eleven Heavy.
Songs like the title track and “In a Restless World” sound like they came off of some lost private press rural psych-country from the early ’70s. Even the sound of the guitar on its own here can conjure up the likes of F.J. McMahon and Relatively Clean Rivers.
This album that would be perfect for acid-fueled honky tonk visits and high congregations. Light up and give it a try yourself right here.