Kindness – Otherness: My people, we’ve got a new Kindness album. It features the likes of Dev(onte) Hynes, Kelela (YUSSS), Ade, Tawiah, aaaaaaaaaand M.anifest. “World Restart” is wonderful, such a prime starting point for Otherness. It’s a unique take on pop music, very easy to dance to, very simple, and you can tell that he’s drawing from an eclectic array of influences. This album truly establishes his ~sound~, flowing groovy bass lines with nouvelle disco and funk tang, brushed up in the studio. “8th Wonder” has the collab with M.anifest, a Ghanian rapper with a voice as smooth as sizzurp. He raps over organ, bass, horns, harp, cymbal rides, and beats (2 minutes into this track is when it gets rill good). The amalgamation of those elements resonates throughout the album in a really organic way. There’s a SAXOPHONE SOLO in “With You.” “For the Young” uses a sample of the collaboration between Herbie Hancock and Foday Musa Suso, a kora player from Gambia.
Minor complaint: “Why Don’t You Love Me” has him trying too hard to sound like Prince and just ended up reminding me of the performer in a talent show who thinks he has this really full and soulful voice, but is actually pitchy as fuck. I hope that resonates with somebody because I knew someone like that in high school and he thought he was an amazing singer and would ALWAYS perform in the talent show and we were all like wtf can this guy stop. Kindness has a good voice, but I can’t really get behind his vocals in this track. I like the melodies and use of Dev Hynes, so there’s that. With such talented artists featured on the album, it’s blatant how Kindness was trying too hard to match them vocally (sometimes I laughed at his attempts). BUT. But that’s only in a few instances. There are definitely moments where his vocals are on fucking point, ie “This Is Not About Us.” Check it oot, bbz. ARI
Recommended Tracks: "World Restart", "8th Wonder", "With You", "For the Young"
Bonobo – The North Borders: In the studio Bonobo is just one guy, but live it’s a full band, complete with sax, drums, cello, the works. This live album really gives us a flavor of the music that the album just can’t provide. The earnest sultry vocals of Andreya Triana and Szjerdene are able to narrate the bobbing beats and scuttling bleeps that Simon Green crafts alongside his band of strings, brass, and woodwinds. Listen for brush stick drumming and prog rock flute stylings on track three, as well as hang drums and what must be chimes on track one. Track one really reminds me of an upbeat version of nighttime in minecraft world. Ultimately, this album is a cascade of electronica meets baroque pop. Even the whistling and cheers of the crowd on these live takes seem timed to fit right into the many layers of Bonobo’s sound. SHILL
RIYL: Purity Ring, ODESZA, Chet Faker
Recommended Tracks: “Cirrus”, “Heaven for the Sinner”, “Emkay”
Olivia Jean – Bathtub Love Killings: If Olivia Jean has got anything, it’s style. On her debut album Bathtub Love Killings she executes every song with attitude. While listening, Jean’s music has the swagger of a drunken tango, the sass of an angsty teen, the clattering piano of a Nashville honkytonk, and guitar tones that sting like a swarm of angry bees. Her Nancy Sinatra meets Amy Winehouse look also helps perpetuate the bad-girl mentality that exists throughout her music. Produced by Jack White, the album’s strong point is truly its personality. In the song “Merry Widow”, Jean paints herself as a Venus flytrap of sorts for men. Though innocently disguised as a song about wearing a certain piece of clothing to impress her man, when the searing bass distortion kicks in I can’t help but suspect that she’s actually a husband killer and that she herself is a merry widow. The guitar riff in “Reminisce” is done in the style of “Billie Jean” meets “Seven Nation Army” and her bad-girl reputation is reinforced when she sings, “she’s guided by the devil’s hand.” The title Bathtub Love Killings refers to an 1800s serial killer and serves a recurring theme of the album. This theme is pretty consistent and at times it’s hard to know whether she’s the victim, the witness, or the killer herself. Which I think is pretty cool. I suspect Jack White had a much larger role in making this record than is let on in the liner notes and there is part of me that wonders how far Olivia Jean would’ve gotten without Jack White’s validation. At times I also found that personality wasn’t enough to support a song and hold my interest; for instance, the fact that she’s always reminding me that she’s a bad girl makes me question whether she truly is. But these things aside, she’s got a cool sound going for her and I’d like to see where she takes it next. AROG
RIYL: Jack White, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lana Del Rey
Recommended Tracks: “Merry Widow”, “Reminisce”, “Cat Fight”, “After The Storm”
The Bots – Pink Palms: Pink Palms, the debut album of Los Angeles siblings Mikaiah and Anaiah Lei, The Bots, is an impressive effort from the young group. The album has a distinctively blues-rock feel amongst its punk riffs but remains imprinted in garage punk. There are also small electronic undertones and interludes throughout the album that lull you into short trances before the guitar fires you back into the song. The lead vocals jolt from gentle serenades into yearning cries and the duo’s voices compliment the grimy guitar well. Catchy "All I Really Want", a spastic punk dream carnival, is the albums strongest effort. The young band shows a lot of potential on this record and it is definitely a fun listen. WIll
RIYL: Bass Drum of Death, Cloud Nothings, Japandroids
Recommended Tracks: "All I Really Want", "All of Them (Wide Awake)", "Wet Blanket"