Genre blending is the modus operandi for multi-instrumentalist and producer Kyle Norton, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I Feel Like I’m on Fire”, the lead track of his debut EP under new moniker Norty, is testament to that. With a electronic bedrock, it opens with an anachronistic jazz lounge bassline, piano notes, and brushed drums. The atmosphere is thick and swirls like curlicues of smoke as tempos shift, Norty’s relaxed vocals and hip hop beats join the sound collage.
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Austin’s funky duo of Anthony Farrell and Andrew Trube—aka Greyhounds—have their sophomore album Change of Pace releasing this Friday. The group’s psychedelic soul is a potent and eclectic mix. The cultural and political battlegrounds of America are very much the central preoccupation of this new record. Farrell says, “There’s this polarization of American culture where you’re either on our side or you’re against us, and I don’t think that really helps anybody.”
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.”
Zmei3 is a group of Romanians whose music emanates from a mixture of traditional Romanian musical forms, including gypsy music from the region which is so integral to the overall sounds of Eastern European music. However, Zmei3 is anything but a traditional group as they tackle the realities of life in Romania post-communism in their lyrics. The group’s new album Rough Romanian Soul is a gorgeous record with passion and, indeed, soul running through it. Classically trained singer Paula Turcas is something special with her stunning voice, capable of soaring high and low with subtle inflections adding meaning and feeling to every word. Zmei3‘s Grammy-winning producer Ian Brennan says that “Turcas is poised to take her place amongst rarified vocalists like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Umm Kulthum, and Yma Sumac, singers whose virtuosic gifts transcend language to such a degree that they even become symbols of an entire culture or region.”