Read about our 5 favourite new music releases for the month of August, plus an old favourite from 1969 from someone who will be sorely missed. Listen to the tracks at the end of the post or download these songs this month…
Song: Roll (Burbank Funk)
From album: Hive Mind
There are many acts out there with chosen names that are tricky to search for on the web (Pink, Air, Girls, etc). But none more so than The Internet. Try Googling ‘the internet’ without being branded as some kind of a crazy by a digital algorithm that will forever ruin your credit score or downgrade your fitness to bear children. Their name is relevant however: The Internet splintered out of rap collective Odd Future who burst onto the scene in the late 2000s using the web as their principle marketing tool. Possibly overshadowed by the super-ego-talents of fellow Odd Future members Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt* and Frank Ocean, three lesser-known members decided to gang together.
Syd, Mart Martians and Steve Lacy formed The Internet. After four albums blending jazz, funk and R&B they have now finally reached the high bar set for them by their former collaborators. Fourth album Hive Mind is their best to date. The title acknowledges their ‘better together’ philosophy. While most of the tracks feature Syd’s quietly soulful voice, it’s her bandmate Lacy’s turn on Roll (Burbank Funk). A thick funky bassline underpins a danceable groove. Just the thing to usher in Spring.
* Real name Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, son of South African former Poet Laureate and political activist Keorapetse Kgositsile/Bra Willie
(Also download from the album: Stay The Night, Beat Goes On, La Di Da)
Song: The Blue Sky
From album: Sundays
Tanukichan is the chosen stage name of San Francisco’s Hannah van Loon. She is of half American, half Japanese descent. Despite a classical music training, her favoured backing more closely resembles the shoegaze movement of the late 80s. Distortion and reverb-heavy guitar tracks don’t immediately suggest a good fit with the vibe of the last day of the weekend. But the title of debut album Sundays makes better sense once the stunning melodies and her hushed whispered voice capture perfectly the dreamy day after/day before mood. Noise doesn’t always have to be noisy. The Blue Sky displays much more reverb in the mix than the distortion heard elsewhere, almost sounding like mid-period The Cure. Sublime and soothing.
(Also download from the album: Natural, Bitter Medicine, Lazy Love)
Song: Eyes Over
From album: Physical
Gabe Gurnsey is one half of Manchester band Factory Floor. While his day job is spent forging electronics-led angular post rock, his first solo outing is more a rehash of the industrial dance movement of the late 80s. Channelling bands like Front 242, Cabaret Voltaire and, especially Nitzer Ebb, this is a collection of hard electronics. His keen ear for melody keeps the listenability factor high though. Gurnsey’s mostly spoken lyrics give the whole thing a Teutonic feel, at times softened via partner Matilda Morris’ singing voice. Online music magazine The Quietus describes the album best: ‘filthy and brilliant, immaculate and unsettling’. Physical is loosely a concept album describing the arc of a night out. Eyes Over is the point where the club bursts into its most intense euphoria.
(Also download from the album: Ultra Clear Sound, Temazzy, Night Track)
Song: Better Than That
From album: Living In Extraordinary Times
Ah, James, brilliant James. The lads who brought us classic stompers like Sit Down and Laid, now release their 14th studio album. Unlike other ‘oldies’ they’re also experiencing a bit of a late career revival, with recent albums outselling their so called mid 90s classics. As befitting these men in their 50s (there are 8 of them mind) the themes are mature even if the music remains bouncy and at times even danceable. So, we have songs denouncing Trump (“white fascist in the White House, more beetroot in your Russian stew”), warning absent parents just what they might be missing (“how’d you get so tall?”), and advising us to focus on what really matters even if things are going to hell (“f***ing love, before they drop the bomb, make sure you get enough”). And that’s just on the opening 3 tracks. Late album highlight, Better Than That, is classic James. A track where Tim Booth brings his much-loved shaky falsetto to a bridge that ramps into a booming and withering chorus.
James are touring South Africa for the first time in 18 years this November. Check them out in Pretoria or Cape Town. Tickets available at webtickets.co.za
(Also download from the album: Leviathan, How Hard The Day, Coming Home (Pt. 2))
Song: Whites Of Their Eyes
From album: Mattiel
Mattiel is Mattiel Brown out of Atlanta, USA. She plays the blues. But not the modernized variety brought to us by bands like the White Stripes and Band of Skulls. Her style is more faithful to what the blues sounded like in the middle of the last century. Minimalist backing mainly comprises sparse drums and bass guitar. When the odd guitar solo, organ or brass interlude arrives it’s typically muffled in the mix. It’s the vocals that get pushed right up front and treated to sound like the results generated by the audio pickup equipment of yesteryear (well at least I assume so, no one really sings like this do they?). This gives the whole affair a slick vintage sheen. As you can see from the album cover, she’s also the real deal. Born on a rural Georgia farm keeping horses and chickens, her first gig was helping mom sell wool and eggs. Nowadays her day job is as a designer for MailChimp. I suspect with music this good she’ll soon be quitting.
(Also download from the album: Count Your Blessings, Baby Brother, Bye Bye)
In case you missed it…
From album: Aretha’s Gold (from 1969)
Aretha Franklin passed away on 16 August. The same day on which that other famous child of Memphis, Elvis Presley, died 41 years ago. Aretha rose from singing gospel in her father’s church to regularly topping rhythm & blues and pop charts in the 60s and 70s. In 1987 she became the first woman ever inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine put her at the top of its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time, male or female. She took home a Grammy award a staggering 18 times. While her recording career kicked off in 1956, her golden age only really arrived in the period 1967-71 after she had signed to Atlantic Records. During this time she released what is widely considered her definitive song; Respect was a cover of an Otis Redding number, and rapidly became both a civil rights and feminist anthem.
“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade — our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.” – Michelle & Barack Obama
(Also download from the album: I Say A Little Prayer, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You), (You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman)
(RELATED POSTS: Read more of our music review here.)
LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST
You can listen to previews of each track by clicking on the icons next to the song titles below.
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