Hey folks, as some of you might have known, March and April have been fairly crazy months for me. Between major career changes with my survival job and some nasty (thankfully non-covid related) illnesses, I didn’t get a chance to cover nearly as much as I wanted to. So I have quite a few records that have been waiting patiently on the back burner, as you could imagine. What’s more is the next several weeks are already booked up with reviews and other pieces, so I either share a gigantic roundup now, or move on. These releases are too good to move on from, so here’s part one of a two-part giant roundup!
Eri Yamamoto, Chad Fowler, William Parker, Steve Hirsh – Sparks
This is possibly one of the best lineups you’ll ever see in modern free jazz today. The classically trained pianist Eri Yamamoto is joined by the living legend that is William Parker on bass, saxophonist extraordinaire Chad Fowler and intuitive percussionist Steve Hirsh on drums. Together, they created a series of joyous post-bop improvisations that Sonny Rollins or Charles Mingus would be proud of.
Across the album’s five tracks, umber morning haze is suggested by Fowler’s sultry sax sashays, which alternate from romantic croons to Pharoah Sanders-like squawks. Meanwhile, liquid snatches of mini melodies sprinkle out across Yamamoto’s piano in tandem with Parker’s strolling bass lines, which sway around Hirsh’s pattering rhythms. This is a session of pure magic, to say the least.
Free jazz lovers and ECM heads will find this album to be one of the best of 2022, and they’d be right. Get your copy here.
Evan Kertman – Rancho Shalom
Kertman’s debut LP on Perpetual Doom Records is a beautifully unclassifiable singer-songwriter album of sheer artistic originality.
Across ten country-tinted baroque folk rock tracks that calls to mind everyone from the Silver Jews to Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Leonard Cohen, Kertman navigates melancholia and dry humor with grace. Each song hits hard with wry and relatable lyrics that are both intensely vivid and personal. This record is a songwriter’s dream.
If Wes Tirey and Greg Brown float your boat, then try on Rancho Shalom for size. Click here to get your copy on vinyl, cassette or digital today.
Little Wings – Rosy’s Own
This is a superbly intimate Little Wing performance captured at an undisclosed ranch in the mountains of Southern California.
Also available through Perpetual Doom, this is possibly the most relaxed and personal recording you can hear of Little Wings (AKA Kyle Field), as he gently strums a nylon string guitar and sings softly in the warm atmosphere of the ranch.
Birdsong blankets the background while Field croons like David Berman after a full morning yoga session. Between the album’s relaxed vibe, field recording production and bouncy bossa nova rhythms, it’s easy to compare it to Sea Jorge’s beautiful Life Aquatic Studio Sessions. If you dug that album, this is one you might love enough that you’ll wear it out in under a year (be sure to get two copies, then). Click here to get yours now.
Tommy and The Ohs – Mariposa Gold
Let’s pick another from Perpetual Doom, shall we?
The genre-hopping Tommy and The Ohs, lead by Thomas Oliverio, takes the listener on a journey through psychedelicized Americana music. With lush and deeply varied instrumentation, the group dips their toes into disparate sounds like surf rock, rockabilly and acid blues, sometimes even within the same song.
No matter what sound the band happens to inhabit, the songs are always immensely accessible, with catchy melodies, smooth vocals and impeccably tight instrumentation. If Vetiver, Neal Francis and early Leon Russell are some of your go-to’s, then this album needs to be in your hands and in your ears right now.
Click here to order yours on vinyl or cassette now.
Death Parade – It Was Worth it to Live, Though it Hurt So Bad
Let’s peek into what else the good folks at Halfshell Records have been up to lately.
Death Parade’s It Was Worth it to Live, Though it Hurt So Bad is an intensely moving slab of gothic dream pop that every fan of Marissa Nadler and Mazzy Star could dig into.
What sets this album apart from its peers though, is its heavy doom guitars and crashing drums, which are more akin to stoner rock bands than anything else.
With banshee vocals that cut straight to the bone, this is an emotionally raw record that pummels you with reckless abandon. If you’re in a dark mood, this is an album you’ll want to visit time and time again. Click here for your copy.
LEMAT – Ensemble of Organic Amazements, Vol. II
As I mentioned on my recent show when I played a cut off of this fantastic album, this is very hard to describe…which is partly why I love it so much.
LEMAT is more of a collective than a band, and this album collects material from their adventurous wanderings between Mexico, Germany and the United States.
The genre-defying band slides from mystical chamber orchestra spirit journeys (“Yahe”) to mad commune folk rock stomps (“Pinx Me”) and everything in between with ease on this quirky tape. Brian Jonestown Massacre and Amorphous Androgynous fans would surely identify with aspects of this collective’s sound.
Brave ears will be highly rewarded when they explore this album. Click here to get your copy from Halfshell Records today.
Winged Wheel – No Island
Winged Wheel is one of those dream team bands of impeccable and divergent talent that you only get maybe once a decade.
Matthew Rolin (Powers/Rolin Duo), Cory Plump (Spray Paint, Expensive Shit), Whitney Johnson (Matchess, Damiana) and Fred Thomas (Tyvek, Idle Ray) combine their strengths to create walls of aggressive fuzz and cold drones, and slices into them with serrated guitar solos and kosmische keyboards, all while a motorik beat pulses like a giant ticking clock in the background.
It’s a noisy, highly textural record that feels like six different AM radio stations converging into a single blaring channel that you can actually dance to (for the most part).
All shoegaze loving freaks need to put their MBV records away for a while and intimately get to know this LP. They would be ever so glad they did. Click here to get your vinyl copy now, folks.
Xisco Rojo – мать может я
Xisco Rojo released one of my favorite records of last year (Transfigurations), so finding out he had a new release that was recorded in the same sessions that he considers the placenta to that album, I jumped at the chance to hear it.
мать может я (which translates to Mother Can I), features more of an abrasive sound than Rojo’s previous release, with some tracks even leaning into dark noise territories (including the suitably named apocalyptic doom metal-esque “Hellmouth”).
Yet there are still some beautifully peaceful moments of dulcimer abstractions and fingerpicked fantasias that recall the works of artists like Ry Cooder and Robbie Basho, such as the dreamlike “The Ballad of the Ninety-Nine Days” and the mysterious “Natsunoowari.”
Click here to get your digital download of this record now.
Check back here in a few days for part 2 of this roundup. Thanks for reading!