Not since our October 2017 post has there been enough great music releases in a single month to justify splitting the review into two parts. But March 2019 has proven to be amazing for new music. So we have chosen our 8 favourite new albums for the month and split them over two weeks for your listening pleasure, plus a further bonus track gets tacked on each week. And this week we also bring you an old favourite from a recently-passed genius. Part 1 was an all-girl affair, this week’s Part 2 features a few guys as well. Listen to the tracks at the end of the post or download or stream these songs this month…
From album: Fever
In our January 2018 post we featured Warhaus, the solo effort from Belgium’s Maarten Devoldere. Now he’s back in his mothership band, Balthazar, with their 4th album and first in 4 years. Thankfully, all the sleeve-lounge elements remain fully intact; gloriously out of step with the current zeitgeist. The kinky mood is driven by snaky baselines and 70s porn movie strings and sax, but it’s Devoldere’s voice that is the (ahem) bedrock here. Often a half-beat behind the music he always sounds like he’s somewhat breathless and on the prowl, either in the bedroom or the club. The ready-to-pounce mood is only enhanced by the cover shot of a dangerously inquisitive pack of our own Cape Hunting Dogs.
(Also download or stream from the album: Entertainment, Phone Number, Wrong Vibration)
Song: Different Kind Of Love
From album: Silences
A stereotype is something that conforms to narrow, preconceived expectations. Adia Victoria is young, pretty and black. And she’s from Nashville. Whammo! Country soul right? Well, she picked that old white dude from indie rock band The National to produce her second album Silences. That plus the fact that her go-to approach is the blues, delivers something of wonder. Typical of the blues style is her penchant for fighting off demons, both external and internal. Less usual is her clear and eloquent vocal delivery and the sublime and complex backing. Different Kind Of Love is the closest thing to classic blues here. It’s where Victoria’s yearning for the wrong kind of man sits astride a simple White Stripes drum pattern and Black Keys guitar motif.
(Also download or stream from the album: The City, Dope Queen Blues, Pacolet Road)
Song: Face The Fire
From album: Careful
Careful, the 2nd album from Massachusetts’ Boy Harsher, is bookended by two of the most sinister near-instrumental tracks you’re likely to hear. They sound like stuff from a sci-fi horror soundtrack. What falls in between is thankfully more accessible. The minimal electronica remains intact but these tracks are propelled by beats and synth basslines directly from a club ca. 1985. Despite the jaunty backing, Boy Harsher conjure up a mighty goth atmosphere thanks to Jae Matthews’ vocals. Her sung-spoken lyrics are mixed well back into the music, giving the listener a sense of inexplicable unease. Face The Fire and LA are their two offerings here that could conceivably receive radio play. OK, maybe not…
(Also download or stream from the album: LA, Lost, The Look You Gave (Jerry))
From album: In A Galaxy
Rina Mushonga was born and raised in Zimbabwe, spent her formative music years in Amsterdam and recently moved to London. The music on her 2nd album In A Galaxy is a compelling amalgam of all 3 of these places. There are African beat patterns and euro pop styles to be found throughout, but these are now pulled together via an overarching British dance-pop elegance that pushes her sound well beyond what came before. 4qrtrs is her joyous celebration of her new home, capturing a stroll through her favourite South London places complete with crowd backing.
(Also download or stream from the album: Narcisc0, Pipe Dreamz, Jungles
Song: New Brighton (from You Will Not Die (Deluxe Version))
In the May 2018 edition of Equilibrio music we featured Nakhane’s debut album You Will Not Die. Now the album has been re-released in deluxe format with a string of bonus tracks, including this, a new single featuring ANOHNI. The New Brighton of the title is a reference to the township in Port Elizabeth where Nakhane grew up. A jaunty guitar line bursts into full colour and serves as the chorus after Nakhane joyously commands us all to sing.
In case you missed it…
Song: Life’s What You Make It
From album: The Colour Of Spring (from 1986)
Mark Hollis, the frontman of English band Talk Talk, passed away on 25 February. The band had a 5-album arc in the mid to late 80s spanning the brightest of new romantic-era pop through to a deeply jazz-influenced post-rock sound. By fourth album Spirit Of Eden in 1988 the transition was complete – only 6 tracks long and most of them hovering around the 7 minute mark, certainly none of them classifiable as singles. After their next album Laughing Stock, which followed in 1991, was released on a jazz label, the project was effectively over and the band called it a day.
But it was the band’s third album The Colour Of Spring that struck a perfect balance between their early quality pop sound and the freeform instrumentation that was to come. Sure, there are no songs here as radio-ready as earlier singles It’s My Life, Talk Talk or Such A Shame, but there is still a load of melody lurking within the warmer sonic palette the band had drifted towards. No longer content with the synth and drum pad sound ubiquitous in early 80s British pop, in came the organs, piano and acoustic guitar. This album at least also still featured a couple of singles. And what singles they were; the seven minutes plus of Happiness Is Easy complete with a children’s choir chorus, the beat and harmonica-driven post-break up song Living In Another World, the majestic I Don’t Believe In You, and the best of them all, the bass piano-led Life’s What You Make It. Once heard this is a tune that can linger in your head for days. Hollis’ plaintive voice could make a reading of Dr Seuss sound sad, but here he soars, bringing us his most uplifting sentiments.
Unlike other bands from the era, Hollis and co. stuck to their guns post quitting. No reunion tours, no paint-by-numbers nostalgia, no further tepid music releases. Hollis said at the time that he was committing his time to his young family after years of the recording-touring roundabout. He became reclusive and intensely private and never released anything again, even as a solo artist. Quietly celebrate the life of a true genius then, whose music has become ever more influential over the years.
(Also download or stream from the album: Happiness Is Easy, Living In Another World, I Don’t Believe In You)
LISTEN TO OUR PLAYLIST
You can listen to previews of each track by clicking on the icons next to the song titles below.
If you have iTunes and an Apple Music account, you can listen to the full songs and add the playlist to your library. Simply click on the grey Apple Music icon.
(RELATED POSTS: See more music review here.)