June 2021 Album of the month: Kings Of Convenience – “Peace Or Love”

This month, we will travel the world, from Norway to Mongolia.

Album of the month: Kings Of Convenience – “Peace Or Love” – Norwegian Bossa Nova – There was no better news for me than reading a few weeks ago that a new K.O.C. record was to be released soon. After a hiatus of twelve years, the Bergen, Norway duo of Erik Glambek Bøe and Erlend Øye is back with a heavy-metal-meets-hardcore-techno sounding album which… no, hold on really, the good news is that there is no real surprise in this new record and that it could have been released any time in the last fifty years. The two friends are neither as young as they were when they started in the early 00’s and their new songs reflect the hopes and troubles faced by men in their mid-40’s. Their sound remains a mix of Brazilian accoustic sounds with a Scandinavian attitude and approach, served this time by a couple of overwhelming tracks sang with Canadian female singer Feist. Discover this band if not done yet and it may change your life as it changed mine twenty years ago. Welcome back Gentlemen!

Runnner-up: Enji“Ursgal” – Mongolian Jazz – Based in Germany, Enji is a young Mongolian female artist who mixes her love of jazz with her own traditions. This record is a very interesting one as one goes from one track to another from either very standard (and beautiful) sung jazz moods to completely different ones, the latter making you feel you really are in the middle of gorgeous Mongolian landscapes.

Also recommended:

Sleater-Kinney “Path Of Wellness” – Pop Rock – Now a duo, this is Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker‘s 10th studio album and one of their best.

Francis Lung “Miracle” – Pop Rock Second Elliott Smith‘s influenced album from a former member of WU LYF.

John Grant – “Boy From Michigan” – Pop Rock – A long and ambitious album from one of my favourite current artists. It goes a bit all over the place but a few tracks are classics!

Faye Webster – “I Know I’m Funny Haha” – Country Soul – One of the most beautifully crafted album of the year ; your favourite summer record!

Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog – “Hope” – Experimental Blues – A fantastic guitar album from one of the best, who collaborated with Elvis Costello or Tom Waits amongst others

U.F.A of the month! : Clara Luciani – “Coeur” – (bad) French variété – What is the point in mentioning your love of Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen to eventually make such a bad record? I must have missed something…

Lest we forget: album of the previous month – The Black Keys – “Delta Kream

Best records of the month so far Playlist
June 2021 releases Playlist

Something for the weekend – Episode #52 – World Party “Goodbye Jumbo”

This week, let’s take the time machine to 1990…or is it 1968?

World Party – “Goodbye Jumbo1990

World Party is essentially the brain child of a certain Karl Wallinger. This Welsh musician made himself known by music fans by being a key member of The Waterboys during their first phase in the mid-80’s, when their leader Mike Scott wanted to get as close as possible to his concept of Big Music. Karl Wallinger was for sure very instrumental in helping the band to be one of the most successful of that era. However, the two gentlemen’s personalities were probably too strong to last for a long time and Karl Wallinger left the band while their leader would find more closeness with his celtic musical roots. Karl Wallinger decided then he could also be a leader for his next project he would call World Party.

‘Goodbye Jumbo‘ is World Party’s second LP and probably their best. Although very popular at the time, the music press was quick to decide World Party was nothing more that a pale copy of better bands which influenced their sound. One can indeed obviously hear a certain common ground with late 60’s / early 70’s artists like Arthur Lee‘s Love or John Lennon. But it is to my mind pretty lazy just to mention this as Karl Wallinger’s talents as a composer were for real and not only those of a plagiarist. Both ”Way Down Now” and ”Put The Message In The Box” are gorgeous singles with a perfect sense of melody but one should state that the album in its entirety is a timeless jewel. A song like ”Take It Up” for instance could have been written anytime in the last sixty years and its subtleties could probably not be entirely discovered even after umpteenth listens. It is also to be noted that Karl Wallinger’s voice has a undefined extra factor, which made this band and album different. Although he only released five albums from 1987 to 2000, he never officially stopped the band so who knows?

Format: CD Bought in: 1990 To be noted: I remember doing my internship in Weybridge, Surrey at that time and that this record was very popular in the UK. Rating: 8.5/10

May 2021 Album of the month: The Black Keys – “Delta Kream”

Do I repeat myself sometimes? If so, I do apologize but once again this month was amazing in terms of quality releases! Excellent albums done by Damien Jurado, Sons Of Kemet, Lambchop or black midi are also really worth to discovering on top of the below usual selection of seven records.

Album of the month: The Black Keys – “Delta Kream” – Blues – I must confess recently thinking The Black Keys had become something similar to comfort food these latest years and not as essential as they were in the early 00’s. Recent albums were ok but Dan Auerbach looked more interested in producing other artists rather than focusing on new music with fellow drummer Patrick Carney. Best thing to do when a band starts getting away from their roots ? Well, there are probably worse ideas than organising a 2-day, no-rehearsal, 10-hour playing session, covering old blues numbers. Adding up super-skilled guitarist Kenny Brown and bassist Eric Deaton, this session is everything we like about rough and authentic music and you sometimes feel as if you were with these guys, paying homage to blues giants like Junior Kimbrough or R.L. Burnside. Buying the vinyl version to get the beautiful William Eggleston photo cover is warmly recommended as well.

Runner-up: Squid“Bright Green Field – Pop Rock – This album was really close to get the top spot and will probably have a high ranking by the end of the year. Originally from Brighton, UK, Squid confirmed all hopes put in their first 2019 ”Town Centre” EP. Their new album definitely needs a bit of effort from the listener but I guess this is what we all look for when one has an interest in challenging and demanding music. A few tracks are really splendid and you may end up dancing and shouting like hell in your living room while playing this record. They are part of this year 2021 End of the Road festival edition so I hope to be able to catch them then…

Also recommended:

Anthony Joseph “The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives” – Spoken Jazz – Gorgeous latest opus from Trinidad born, London-based poet. His lyrics are assharp as usual and guests’ musicianship is extraordinary.

Paul Weller “Fat Pop Vol. 1” – Pop Rock – Paul Weller just celebrated his 63rd birthday last week with another annual delivery. Not a sign of fat Mr. Weller; you rule like a youngster!

St. Vincent – “Daddy’s Home” – Pop Rock – Annie Clark‘s new release is probably less dance-oriented than her latest albums and more inclined towards 70’s sounds.

Current Joys – “Voyager” – Pop Rock – Current Joys is the alias of a certain Nick Rattigan, an American artist I must admit never have heard of before. It looks this is is eighth album and indeed, never too late to discover such an ambitious and incredible record.

Del Amitri – “Fatal Mistakes” – Pop Rock – First album in years from the Scottish veterans ; they are back full or energy, mixing The Beatles and The Velvet Underground influences!

U.F.A of the month! : Van Morrison – “Last Record Project Volume One” – Yes Van The Man, you are right, Facebook is crap and you think COVID-19 is a conspiracy…but do we need to listen to all of it for more than 2 hours? I do not think so…

Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Flyte – “This Is Really Going To Hurt

Best records of the month so far Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/5ehTpgEYKxth60g7ERQDAG

May 2021 releases Playlist

https://open.spotify.com/embed/playlist/0c3FVWT1Wbu1vaFvzf46JS

Something for the weekend – Episode #51 – Os Mutantes “Everything Is Possible – The best of Os Mutantes”

Nessa semana, vamos viajar ao Brasil! This week, let’s travel to Brazil to praise one of the most singular and original bands coming from this fantastic country, which gave to the world so many amazing artists… and also o monstro Thiago Silva who just won his first Champions League. Parabens!

Os Mutantes – “Everything Is Possible – The best of Os Mutantes1999

Although your reviewer lived in Brazil in the late 90’s, I must confess that I discovered this incredible band thanks to the release of this compilation on David Byrne‘s Luaka Bop label. Those familiar with the great man and following his career from his Talking Heads period to his solo work were not surprised at the time about his initiative in creating a label to promote artists and bands coming from all over the world and especially from Latin and South America. Formed in the mid-60’s in São Paulo by brothers Arnaldo and Sérgio Baptista and female singer Rita Lee, they unconsciously created something very unique, mixing bossa nova, MPB (Música Popular Brasileira), British pop and psychedelic rock music. They really were one of a kind and I must admit that even today after listening for hours to their music, I am still not sure what this is about…which is great! They were lucky to appear on the legendary 1968 ‘Tropicalia’ compilation with others artists such as Caetano Veloso or Gilberto Gil but once again to me they could not really be associated with this scene. Their peak period can be found in the late 60’s to mid-70’s and more precisely in their first four albums which are all classics. While Rita Lee left in 1972 to become one of the most popular Brazilian singers of all times, genius and band leader Arnaldo Baptista faced a few difficult years, struggling with mental issues before giving up the band in the late 70’s. They reformed in the mid 00’s and released a few solid records, although not as seminal as those early releases.

This compilation is a superb introduction to the band and their very specific musical landscape. One will find on this record songs written by the band but also a few covers…but it does not change the full picture as they used to make theirs any song they were working on, from beautiful ballad ‘Baby‘ to psychedelic opener ‘Ando Meio Desligado‘ or again ‘Bat Macumba‘ which could have been a Blur song in their more relaxed and experimental moments. The majority of their tracks were obviously sung in Portuguese but also in English, Spanish…or French. As very often with great bands, their sound and production cannot really be associated to a period in time. If this record were to be released today, it would sound as fresh as a band of newcomers. This is an excellent first step to discover this band for lovers of Brazilian music…but also for those who are not.

Format: CD Bought in: 2000 To be noted: I was not a Londoner at the time but how I wish I could have attended their 2006 reunion at the Barbican. This live event was recorded and released in 2007. Rating: 9.0/10

April 2021 Album of the month: Flyte – “This Is Really Going To Hurt”

It looks many of my favourite bands decided to release records this month. I must confess then than my choices may appear less diverse than usual but how not to chose these great bands’ new records? …and by the way, The Coral‘s ”Coral Island” could have been here as well…

Album of the month: Flyte – “This Is Really Going To Hurt” – Pop Rock – Following a great debut album is always a very tricky exercise so I was not sure what to expect regarding Flyte‘s sophomore album. The fact that the band had became a trio since the release of 2017 gorgeous ”The Loved Ones’‘ and a subsequent series of beautiful gigs was definitely not bringing very good news. Do not take this for granted though as this new release is probably as good as their first effort. Based conceptually on Will Taylor‘s personal break-up experience, first listens may appear a bit deceptive but further ones will be rewarded. One will find (again) in this album a sense of refinement and attention to details which is a sure sign that this band is here to stay and hopefully become one of your favourites. A must for all ears!

Runner-up: Teenage Fanclub “Endless Arcade – Pop Rock – …and then they were three (well more precisely two composers…). How to deal with the departure of one of your key member and songwriter? Gerard Love decided to leave the band three years ago and I was one of the lucky few attending his last gig when they played three nights in a row all their classic period Creation songs. Being good Scottish and pragmatic people, Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley decided to do as if nothing happened, to share all song writing responsibilities on a 50/50 basis, to add up the great Euro Childs on keyboards…et voila! Another classic Teenage Fanclub and one of their best.

  • Also recommended:
  • Dry Cleaning “New Long Leg – Pop Rock – In the grand tradition of singers/talkers a la Lou Reed, John Lydon or Leonard Cohen, here is the fantastic debut of this London band, lead by the fascinating voice of Florence Shaw.
  • Cory Hanson “Pale Horse Rider” – American Music – Debut album from the lead singer of psychedelic band Wand. American music as its best.
  • Field Music – “Flat White Moon” – Pop Rock – Sunderland’s best band (and one of the best of our times!) deliver the goods again. Long live the Brewis brothers!
  • Dinosaur Jr. – “Sweep It Into Space” – Powerful Pop Rock – Is it me or is J. Mascis getting better and better with age? Complete discography of this seminal band here!
  • Matt Sweeney & Bonnie Prince Billy – “Superwolves” – American music – Their second collective release sixteen years after their previous one and an even better one.

U.F.A of the month! : Merry Clayton – “Beautiful Scars” – Dear Merry, you are a legend, you had a very tough life and the way you sang on The Rolling Stones‘ ”Gimme Shelter” was an all-time high. Hence my sincere apologies to put you in this category but, really, your new release is not very good…

Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Genesis Owusu– “Smiling With No Teeth

Best records of the month so far Playlist

April 2021 releases Playlist

Something for the weekend – Episode #50 – Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On”

I am not sure that when I started this Something For The Weekend series of reviews, I would have imagined to get to episode #50. I must confess I had a tremendous pleasure doing so, especially during that weird year we just experienced. Loving music with all my heart and soul, I realised this is probably a never-ending thing and that I will keep on putting my modest contribution by reviewing many more records for a long period of time. So, for episode #50, ladies and gentlemen, I give you a very special one this time.

Marvin Gaye – “What’s Going On1971

To describe this record as a very special one would not surprise anyone. But although this is indeed one of the most important releases of all times, this is a record which is very close to my heart as well. First of all, it looks I have always heard ”What’s Going On” since very young. I still have in my music collection the ‘musicassette’ (as it was called then) that my father bought in the UK and although I did not have a very clear understanding of it all, being a very young boy, I clearly remember listening to these songs in the car while travelling. Then, I have no shame to confess that I am what I am thanks to this incredible 30th November, 1985 New Musical Express issue which I received just a couple of weeks after starting my subscription. For UK readers, you need to understand that reading the NME while growing up in France at the time was one of the few possibilities to get news about great music… This issue made me discover all the greats from Roxy Music to Van Morrison, from Television to Bob Dylan or again from The Clash to Sly And The Family Stone (full list here). And which record was voted as best one ever by the 1985 NME writers? Well, I guess you know…

I recommend to those not really familiar with Marvin Gaye to dig further in all his music production as this is a fascinating one. After starting as a session drummer for Tamla Motown, he went on recording fantastic singles in the 1960’s, either solo or duetting with female partners, the most amazing being the legendary Tammi Terrell who unfortunately died too young from a brain tumour. Marvin Gaye never really recovered from it ; these sad news plus an unhappy marriage with Berry Gordy‘s sister and stories he got from his brother Franck coming back from the Vietnam War were reasons to bring to the world such a masterful record. ”What’s Going On” is an extraordinary piece of work on different levels. For a start, the lyrics and themes (poverty, war, racial inequalities, ecology) are very much the same as today…although it was released fifty years ago. Then, the flow of the record is very peculiar and the production has not aged at all: tracks are often blurred into one another, which gives a dreamy feeling. Finally, Marvin Gaye’s voice is beautiful and very moving, while the many musicians playing throughout are immense. His career until his sad passing in 1984 would bring other extraordinary songs and albums but his personal life would become so difficult to deal with that he would never climb such musical heights…but who would? A record to listen to again and again.

Format: Cassette/CD/LP&CD 40th Anniversary Reissue Box Set Bought in: 1971/1993/2011 To be noted: Although new comers to this album should definitely listen to the classic version that was released in 1971, I recommend to fans to discover the so-called Detroit Mix which brings a new perspective… especially regarding the way his NFL Detroit Lions buddies are recorded! Rating: 10.5/10

Something for the weekend – Episode #49 – Bobbie Gentry “The Delta Sweete”

This week, we will review a hidden gem from a mysterious artist.

Bobbie Gentry – “The Delta Sweete1968

Bobbie Gentry has always been a enigmatic person in the music business to say the least… Born Roberta Streeter in the great Mississippi State, she took her music alias while singing with country male artists everywhere in the United States. Her very singular voice and talent quickly put her above her stage buddies and she had the chance of being able to release a 7” in 1967 with ”Mississippi Delta”. However, DJ’s were all more intrigued by the B-side ”Ode to Billie Joe” which became a worldwide phenomena, covered by hundreds of musicians. I must confess this song remains today one of the best of all times, either by the beauty of the music, the quality of her voice or again the lyrics which remain a mystery until now (what made Billie Joe McAllister jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge by the way?).

”Bobbie Gentry performs The Delta Sweete” is her second album and an amazing effort it is. First of all, her voice is a gorgeous thing throughout those twelve tracks. Then, the musicianship is extraordinary in the country soul style one can find in many of these great musicians from the Southern States of the USA, like Tony Joe White or The Allman Brothers Band for instance. However, one must admit it goes beyond this peculiar style of music as the whole album is overall very ambitious, adding up orchestra’s strings on many of the songs. Last but not least, each song’s lyrics mean one thing or another, depending on the day or the mood of the listener. Bobbie Gentry made a few less interesting records afterwards and decided to get out of public life from the mid 70’s onwards, which makes this LP a very specific item.

Format: LP Bought in: 2020 To be noted: This extraordinary record has been reissued in 2020 and the LP version is particularly worth the purchase. I also recommend as a companion piece Mercury Rev‘s ”Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited”. Released in 2019, the great American band invited female singers (Lucinda Williams, Norah Jones, Laetitia Sadier, Beth Orton, Phoebe Bridgers, and so on…) to recreate this major opus, each singing one song. Rating: 8.5/10

March 2021 Album of the month: Genesis Owusu – “Smiling With No Teeth”

Album of the month: Genesis Owusu – “Smiling With No Teeth” – F***in’ great music! – I must admit I had never heard anything about this artist before and the only reason I listened to his new record came from the excellent Paste website recommendations. The cover is not the kind that makes anyone want to dig into it neither… but that would be one’s loss so good this album is. Born in Ghana and from Australia, Genesis Owusu has been producing a few tracks in the latest two years but nothing as good as found here. If you like to stay within one style of music, this record is definitely not for you. If your idea of music though is to go from one deathcore track to a soul song while playing a hip-hop number or again a funky one a la Prince, then you will be immensely rewarded!

Runner-up: Lana Del Rey “Chemtrails Over The Country Club” – Pop Rock – Lana Del Rey‘s new release would probably be my record of the month any other time of the year and is a very close runner-up. I must confess again that I did not get what she was when she recorded her first albums and that I thought she was not the most authentic article…and that I was entirely wrong. The more she evolves in her musical career, the better her choices are. She is a very special human being and a very singular artist. I am quite sure this complex and ambitious record will be a grower and probably end up very high at the end of the year in this blog’s annual review. The beautiful black and white album cover should also get a specific mention.

  • Also recommended:
  • Jane Weaver “Flock” – Space Pop Rock – Another excellent opus from this English artist, equally influenced by 80’s pop and 70’s German repetitive music.
  • Ben Howard “Collections From The Whiteout” – Ambient Pop – His best album so far with plenty of guests and a mood pretty similar with those great Brian Eno 70’s records.
  • Hedvig Mollestad Trio – “Ding Dong. You’re Dead” – Metal Jazz – The best of both worlds from this fantastic female Norwegian guitar player.
  • Genghis Tron – “Dream Weapon” – Shoegaze Metal – This American band is back after thirteen years of hiatus and the wait was worth it.
  • Lost Girls – “Menneskekollektivet” – Dreamy Pop – It looks this is my Norwegian month… This is Jenny Hval‘s new project, mixing drone music with an electronica attitude.

U.F.A of the month! : Noga Erez – “Kids” – Quite disappointing new effort from the usually interesting Israeli singer. She owes us something better than this unauthentic pop album.

Lest we forget: album of the previous month – Mush – “Lines Redacted

Best records of the month so far Playlist

March 2021 releases Playlist

Something for the weekend – Episode #48 – Wilco “Sky Blue Sky”

For Easter Monday, we will extend the concept of this weekend review and celebrate a truly great record by one of my favourite American bands of these times.

Wilco – “Sky Blue Sky2007

Those familiar with this blog know for sure my love for Wilco‘s music and his lead singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy as well. He is one of these artists I follow with each release and although his solo records and collaborations are very often excellent and interesting, his best work can probably be found in the context of Wilco. Jeff Tweedy first founded cult Americana band Uncle Tupelo with Jay Farrar in the late 80’s. After three albums, the latter left the band and the remaining musicians kept on making music together, therefore creating one of the most musical singular experiences of our times. Debut 1995 album “A.M” was ok but few had imagined their second (and double) LP (1996’s “Being There“) would be such a masterpiece. Very much influenced by the sounds of The Rolling Stones‘ “Exile On Main Street“, this is the record that made them go from an interesting project to a major band. All subsequent albums have been excellent, with a special mention to their fourth effort (2002’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot“), whose complicated creation is well described in the moving “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” documentary movie.

Released in 2007, “Sky Blue Sky” is their sixth studio album (out of eleven so far). Although this is generally not the critics’ natural choice of recommendation, it is this blog’s favourite album from that great band. More precisely, this is the album in which I personally find the best balance between traditional American songwriting (a la Neil Young to try to give an idea about influences) and…something else which is difficult to describe but probably comes from their more experimental side. The band was also evolving at the time and getting to their now classic line up, welcoming multi instrumentalist Pat Sansone and extraordinary guitarist Nels Cline. The latter really gave a new dynamic to the band from then onwards and the way he plays throughout this album is phenomenal. Adding to that the way Jeff Tweedy’s voice was becoming more mature and moving…and this gives you one of the best records released since the start of the century. Discover this band and you will be rewarded for life.

Format: CD Bought in: 2007 To be noted: “Impossible Germany” and “Hate It Here” are those two songs I hope to experience when catching Wilco on stage. Listen to Ethan Hawke explaining why the latter is so great to his son in Richard Linklater‘s “Boyhood” and you will get it all… Rating: 9.5/10

Something for the weekend – Episode #47 – Talking Heads “Remain In Light”

Talking Heads probably are one of my favourite bands ever so I guess the time has come to review one of their records.

Talking Heads – “Remain In Light1980

Founded by the trio of David Byrne on vocals and guitar, Tina Weymouth on bass and Chris Frantz on drums, Talking Heads really started to make a name of themselves when they joined the New York music scene in the mid-70’s and welcomed excellent fourth band member Jerry Harrison on guitar. It is rather interesting by the way that they are associated with the NY CBGB’s scene as they were…different in their style of music or in the way they used to dress for instance. They were very quickly one of the first rock bands to include funky or tribal sounds in their music, while keeping this weird distance in lyrics or sharp guitar-playing.

Remain In Light” is their fourth studio album out of eight in a career which went from 1977 until 1989 and potentially the most famous one, thanks to its awesome single “Once In A Lifetime“. There is no such thing as a weak Talking Heads album and I guess everyone has their own favourite. Talking Heads were collaborating on this album for the third and final time with their friend and producer Brian Eno, which made hardcore fans describing this album more like a Byrne/Eno effort rather than a band one. I am not sure this is so and to me the majority of these eight tracks are probably the ones I would play to anyone not familiar with their music to explain what they were about. Songs such as “Born Under Punches” or again “Houses In Motion” definitely represent the best rock-funk-afrobeat fusion one could dream of, thanks to the fantastic contribution of guitarist extraordinaire Adrian Belew. This is an instant classic and anyone not willing to move their bodies on such amazing numbers is probably dead… For all of you LCD Soundsystem fans, this is also an album to listen to, such a strong influence it has been on that excellent band.

Format: CD Bought in: 1999 To be noted: When life goes back to normal, catching David Byrne on Broadway in his American Utopia show is very much recommended for those eager to hear a few of these Talking Heads tracks. Rating: 9.5/10