Back in March New Orleans roots rocker Anders Osborne released his latest album, Spacedust & Ocean Views. “These 12 songs speak about places dear to me, places I feel something profound about, but there’s also the presence of the universe,” explains Osborne. Indeed, the titles of the songs speak to the geographies explored on the album with titles like “Pontchartrain”, “Lafayette”, “Move Back to Mississippi”, and “Cape Cod”. Osborne has always been a wanderer and a restless musical soul. After all, he’s traveled relentlessly, finally settling in New Orleans in 1989 as his main base. Osborne is also quite the road warrior, touring nearly continually, soaking up the music, food and stories of the many places he visits.
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Pryor Stroud: Mixing insistent house percussion with Crystal Castles-esque dark-electro, Moiré‘s “Lines + Colours” is the soundtrack for a futuristic nightclub scene modeled around a new synthetic drug. Once taken, this drug manufactures startling illusions: the hyper-sensory stimuli of the post-midnight world - neon, shadow, reverberation, flesh-to-flesh contact—all seem to become different gravitational forces acting on your body, thereby simulating a sense of ecstatic weightlessness, of being adrift in your own skin. Through the lens of this drug, the Kraftwerkian synthesizer blips of “Lines + Colours” psychoactively morph into dueling lateral pressures—move this way, move that way—that engender the feeling of being in two places at once and, likewise, of not being confined to either. [8/10]
Nathaniel Schwass: “Ghetto Walkin’” is a raw, soulful single from the up and coming Miles Davis and Robert Glasper project entitled Everything Is Beautiful. On this jazzy track, master takes from Davis’ work with Columbia Records have been compiled and reworked by Glasper to create a remote, somber affect that is well represented by the creative artwork of its complementary video. The harsh stoicism of the urban-sprawl is emoted in the sketchwork of the animation, seemingly influenced by the artwork of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The complementary video highlights the existential crisis of black, urban subjecthood as vocalist Bilal sings “So low I’m thinking one way out / In a box, In a church, and the people shout / Grandma’s hands prayed for me / But these streets still preyed on me.” The remorseful interiority of urban life expressed is similarly expressed in Mac Miller’s song “Friends” from his Faces mixtape, which also samples Davis’ “The Ghetto Walk”. The tempo of “Ghetto Walkin” is noticeably faster than the Davis original, yet it creates a rich texture of sound that is well paced by the dry percussion. The layering of sound on this single is incredibly rich, from the powerful emotive qualities of the vocals to the sweet nuances of it’s forlorn strings. This modern re-working of Davis’ sound is well arranged by Glasper, but it lacks the thought-provoking surprise of Davis’ improvisation. Given the nature of the project, this lack is lessened by the aesthetic cohesion of Glasper’s work, and the euphony of the track breathes life into the work of Davis and his musical legacy. [8/10]
Emmanuel Elone: “Flu” is simply the greatest piece of contemporary jazz in 2016 thus far. There’s a lot going on instrumentally, from some plucked acoustic guitar to sharp violins to even colorful synth leads (that I suspect Flying Lotus might have had a hand in), but Jameszoo blends all of the elements brilliantly to form a textured and layered jazz melody. However, what brings all of these instrumental components together are the clear, crisp drums that punch out a complex, pulsing rhythm underneath it all. These elements alone would make “Flu” a beautiful piece of art, but Jameszoo structures the song to have small builds as well as instrumental and rhythmic shifts that add even more texture and harmony. If this is what Jameszoo’s new album, Fool, is going to sound like, it could easily be the best record this year, bar none. [9/10]
Globally inspired Canadian roots ensemble the Bills has been thrilling fans for 20 years with their blend of dancey styles and now the group is set to release their latest album, Trail of Tales, on April 22nd via Borealis Records. This is the first time that all five members of the band have composed songs for an album and the music’s variety ranges from folky to poppy, from funky to jazzy. “There’s never been a Bills album with five songwriters, that’s a first in the history of the band,” says singer/guitarist Chris Frye. “Hopefully it’s bringing out the best we have to offer because we’re truly together as a unit.”