Preoccupations - Preoccupations: The past few months have been frustrating as a Preoccupations fan. Most of my conversations regarding the band follow the same general structure, ending in having to explain that they’re Vietcong.
That’s why I’m glad they chose this album's name. It should be easier to just keep it at Preoccupations. It seems odd constantly having to repeat their older name, one that had to be changed due to public outcry.
Now to the stuff that matters.
Preoccupations have chosen to downplay their instrumentation this time around. Their first album Viet Cong was notably faster in tempo. The riffs came heavy and they came fast, and as a whole it felt erratic and syncopated. In this release, the moments of distortion are relatively tame and usually followed by spans of calming rhythmic progressions. The vocals on the album are also diverse and far more pronounced. Flegel keeps things dark and brooding throughout, and it’s intense in a dark room without lights kind of way.
Anxiety, monotony, degradation, the tracks aren’t exactly going to be content, as the band hasn’t left its post-punk origins. It has however continued to develop its sound, hearing Flegel loud and clear throughout the album is exactly what their previous project was missing, often times it felt too drowned out. I’ll be seeing them later this month, and I'm looking forward to seeing them play both old and new since they seem to balance each other out quite well. RAMIRO
RIYL: The National, Viet Cong
Recommend Tracks: 1 , 2 , 3, 5
John Raymond - Real Feels: Live Vol 1: So John Raymond is a trumpet/flugelhorn player from Minnesota who I’ve been a fan of for a few months now. For his last studio album, he formed a trio with Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Stranahan from Denver, dubbing the group “Real Feels”. Live Vol. 1 is a series of recordings from the group’s tour following their album release.
I’ve long been intrigued by bands that don’t have a bass player (highly recommend Paul Motian’s Trio with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano) since they allow the other musicians to open up their playing and choose to either fill more space, or leave more space free. Stranahan’s uniquely dynamic feel and Hekselman’s wizardry with effect pedals surround Raymond’s playing so effortlessly, that at no point on their records do I ever feel like the group is “missing” a bassist.
As on their debut record, the trio sticks mostly to well-known pieces, including the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land”. The trio fills the space around these familiar melodies with an ever-changing landscape of sound, coaxing emotions out of them that seem simultaneously new and old. I find that the group reaches an incredibly deep, almost spiritual sound on their covers of Thom Yorke’s “Atoms For Peace” and Chris Morrissey’s “Minor Silverstein”. Truly, the band is aptly named, as the feels that this record supplies are certainly never lacking in realness. Enjoy. JATIN
RIYL: Paul Motian Trio, Chris Morrissey Quartet, Real Feels
Recommended Tracks: 3, 5, 6
White Lung - Paradise: So I'm skirting the rules a little because this album came out in May, but JACK
RIYL: Bikini Kill, At the Drive-In, Screaming Females
Recommended Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 6
D'angelo - Voodoo: D’Angelo has a gift, you guys. He’s basically the father of the neo-soul movement, notably credited for majorly influencing modern artists like Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean, and Beyoncé. Voodoo is his second studio album, which is widely known for being his biggest success, and when you look at the credits it’s clear why. This project was a community effort, majorly influenced by Questlove and Raphael Saadiq. Other notable names in the studio were Roy Hargrove, Method Man, Redman, and so many more (rumor has it there was a track with Erykah Badu that got scrapped before the release – someone majorly dropped the ball on that one, but I digress). Between D’Angelo’s iconic vocal multi-tracking, Questlove’s deep understanding of both p-funk and hip-hop, and some serious J Dilla influences, every track on this record demonstrates so so so much talent and a serious mastery of the craft.
Voodoo is one of the most important R&B pieces of our time, creating a platform upon which so much of modern music is built. It broke beyond the confines of traditional R&B, as D’Angelo seamlessly weaved together jazz, funk, blues, hip-hop, and soul.
“Playa Playa” is probably my favorite track on the project, exemplifying exactly what is so iconic about the D’Angelo’s sound, combining vocal multi-tracking, a horn section, and a fat p-funk bassline. “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” was the first D’Angelo track I ever heard, and has pretty much been on repeat since then. If you’ve never listened to any of his music, that’s a good place to start. OH, and if you’re a Wu-Tang fan, peep “Left and Right.”
I don’t want to dig too deep into the meanings of the songs here, because as far as I’m concerned, this record really isn’t about that. Voodoo isn’t something that’s going to make you super emotional; it’s not controversial or socially-charged (but if you’re into that, peep Black Messiah). What’s important here is the groove and the masterful instrumentality on every track. Play this shit when you need a pick-me-up. It’s rad, I promise. ZOE
RIYL: J Dilla, Questlove, Prince
Recommended tracks: 1, 10
BONUS - Ramiro's Treasure Track of Troves
This is something a little new I’d like to throw at all you lovely lads and ladies, just some great tracks I think you should all check out
Blank Banshee - Frozen Flame: From Blank Banshee’s long awaited release, if you don’t know why that’s important check it out, if you do then you’ve probably already heard it.
Cocainejesus - Cauliflower: Relaxing and sentimental, slow tempo electronica
Riff Raff ft. Skepta - Back from the Dead: Come for the Riff Raff+Skepta, stay for the Skepta
Helado Negro - It’s My Brown Skin: Dadaist electronica, confusingly rhythmic
Priests - JJ: Punk Rock that sounds like they’re having some fun for a change, took em long enough