This is Part Two in a series of posts rounding up my favourite releases of the last three months and writing about them. Check out Part One here. There will be further individual posts over the next two weeks.

Charlotte Adigery – ‘Zandoli’ EP

I first discovered Charlotte Adigery through her ‘Patenipat’ single last Autumn and instantly knew this could be an artist that I could come to love. The ultra danceable drums and minimal analogue synth bass and melodic riff stuck in my head from the off and got me dancing which is always a good sign. My excitement grew when I found out that Adigery is signed to DeeWee which is Soulwax/2 Many DJs label and that Soulwax/2 Many DJs were producing her songs, this made a lot of sense as the production style is a lot like their ‘Night Versions’ dance remix album.

I wasn’t disappointed when the ‘Zandoli’ EP dropped in February in addition to the excellent ‘Patenipat’ there is the creepy 80’s synths meets 90’s breakbeats of ‘Cursed and Cussed’, the lighter sounding ‘High Lights’ which has a bouncy pitch shifting synth bass line. ‘B B C’ comes across eerie and with the bass line dragging behind the beat but Adigery’s vocal melody and harmony keep things poppy and help the transition into a more upbeat section around one minute in. The EP concludes with ‘Okashi’ which seems more aimed at the dance floor like the title track, Adigery sounds almost like Janelle Monae on her ‘The Archandriod’ album the main synth bell melody is pretty creepy but is balanced out by the vocals.

In their recent review of Adigery’s performance at the Out of Frame festival in Ghent, Belgium The Quietus pronounced “surly she is the future of pop?” I think the answer is maybe and that in some parallel universe she already is.

Let me know what you think “Zandoli” and Charlotte Adigery in the Comments below.

Danger Mouse and Karen O – ‘Lux Prima’

When this album was annouced late last year I was genuinely surprised as I’d heard nothing about a collaboration between Danger Mouse and Karen O was happening. I had also forgotten that Karen O had contributed to other non Yeah Yeah Yeahs projects before including contributing vocals to tracks on NASA’s “The Spirit Of Apollo” (2009) and “Maximum Balloon” by Maximum Balloon both albums which bought together the disparate genres of alternative rock, Hip-Hop and Alternative Rock. The difference here is that while there is a bit cross over between these genres on the album generally Danger Mouse keeps things simple sticking to one genre and stripping things back for the most part.

The album opens with the title track a two part that starts off as a low key touch song with Mellotron strings, warm analogue synth and O’s breathy vocal interjections, this builds the introduction of rhythm guitar, bass guitar and sparse drums. Then there is a brief silence before the second part of the track begins with slow breakbeat drums courtesy of J-Zone then bass kicks a gaining in complexity and carrying the track melodic and allowing O to use her powerful however she wants to. It’s a great atmospheric opener that manages to hold the listener’s attention for it’s whole nine minute length. The next track ‘Ministry’ repeats the first track’s formula but with picked guitar to the fore and the drums pushed back and playing a much sublter role it’s only five minutes long. The tempo picks up on ‘Turn The Light’ with it’s funky guitar riff, glossy high and insistent drums giving Karen a slo-mom Disco canvas to do her thing over. Her vocal phrasing matches the tracks rhythms nicely. The up tick in tempo continues with the cutting distorted guitar, Soul back beat and a joyfully whooping Karen O on ‘Woman’ and the minimal breakbeats and Tremolo guitar of ‘Redeemer’. The album ends with ‘Nox Lumina’ a similarly atmospheric and epic track as the albums opener it serves to bookend the album perfectly.

I really like this album which is diverse and sonically adventurous yet since feels of a piece. This quite a different album for Karen O who is sultry rather than explosive it take a couple of listens to adjust to this and I’m not sure that every fan of her previous work will enjoy this but they should give it a try as they may well be pleasantly surprised. As for Danger Mouse this album isn’t a million miles away from some of his other projects I’m thinking of Broken Bells with The Shins James Mercer. But I found Broken Bells album boring whereas this is a Pop/Rock album that brilliantly showcases all that Danger Mouse has learnt in 20 plus years as a Producer in both senses of the word. In addition, it’s front by Karen O a woman who seems to underrated in the current music scene (though this could just be from my perspective in the UK, please let me know your thoughts US readers) but posseses a powerful voice that is more than capable of taking on what Danger Mouse throws at it on this album.

You should definitely check out ‘Lux Prima’.

Lambchop – “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)”

This is going to age me but I can remember when “Nixon” (2000) by Lampchop was released, it was a widely acclaimed album that fused together Alt-Country and soul to perfect encasulate the sound of the USA in the early 70’s while the band added their own twist. It was no surprise to any fans of the album when Zero 7 remixed lead single ‘Up With People’ as Lambchop were always pushing things forward in their own way. I continued to follow the band and enjoy their music on the follow-up “Is A Woman” (2002) which saw the band successfully taking on the unlikely combination of Alt-Country and reggae. For some reason I went off that album eventually selling it and I drifted away from the band. In 2018 the band re-entered my life initially indirectly via singer/lyricist Kurt Wagner featuring on DJ Koze’s ‘Knock Knock’ album and then though the release of ‘The December-ish You’ single late in the year. I was intrigued as I hadn’t realised the band had experiemented with incorparating electronic sound into their songs as early as 2005 when they collborated on the experimental “CoLAB” EP with Nashville Electronic duo Hands Off Cuba and Wagner guested on ‘Give Up’ by UK House duo Xpress 2. Wagner started releasing Electronic music under the HeCTA in 2015 and this has influnced both the next Lambchop album ‘FLOTUS’ and this current one.

On first listen the ear tends to zone in on the Electronic sounds of synthesizers and vocoded vocals but with repeat listens the music reveals itself to be a blend of both Lampchop’s past as “Nashville’s most f*cked-up country band” and their Electronic present. In this spirit the album also mixes the alien and ghostly with emotion and soul, the organic instrumentation (horns, bass guitar, electric guitars and harmonicas) with deep pulsing, throbbing and gliding synth lines and distorted or reverbant Vocoded vocals. It be noted too that this is a departure from the previous Lambchop sound in another respect it leaves behind the string arrangements and grand adorements for a restrained, stripped down but no less lush sound. It’s to Wagner’s credit that having come to Electronic music so late in his life that he is able to adapt to it so effortlessly and so humbly. Wagner has always been an innovator in a genre (Alt-Country) that generally lack thems but it’s even more impressive that he no loses sight of himself or the great emotion he is able to bring to his projects.

I would highly recommend you check it out “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)” it a beautiful album that is for all music fans regards of what their favourite genre might be.

Let me know what you think of “This (Is What I Wanted to Tell You)” in the Comments.

Quelle Chris – ‘Guns’

If you had told me a year ago that I would love not one but two Quelle Chris album’s I wouldn’t have believed you I would probably have said that if I did end up liking one of his albums I’d eat my shirt… and I would now be eating that shirt. I previously found his nasally voice grated on, his production was bland and his lyrics and flow weren’t anything to write home about. However, in the last year the man has delivered two amazing album that combine astute lyrism, great production and at times an amazing flow. First up was the collaborative album with partner Jean Grae “Everything Is Fine” and now year later we have “Guns”.

The first thing that really hit me about “Guns” is the incredible production the deep basslines/kick drums, the cutting snares and hi-hats the the clarity of the samples and yet it’s never an album that you could accuse of being overly clean or commerical in terms of it’s production. In fact, throughout the album there are tracks with gritty or Lo-Fi production whether Chris is creating a Casio style 8bit beat on ‘Color of the Day’ and ‘Mind Ya Bizness’ or the quartet of tracks on the album that recall 90’s RZA (Wu Tang Clan) beats (‘It’s The Law,’ ‘Wild Minks’, ‘Box of Wheaties’ and ‘PSA Drugfest 2003/Sleeveless Minks’) but nothing deems the quality of production it merely enhances it.

I have to admit that the production on this album knocked me sideways and I’m still trying to get to grips with the lyrics and their theme. From what I drawn from them I think this quote from Pitchfork’s review does a good job at summing it all up.

“On Guns, Chris doesn’t just explore gun usage, he examines how words, fear and skin color are weaponized, and how one’s community can dictate their relationship to firearms. He does this by putting himself in their shoes, and on “Spray and Pray” and “Mind Ya Bidness,” Chris becomes the tough-talking street dude with gun culture in his blood. On the former, he sounds like a West Indian from Crown Heights, Brooklyn; the latter, a Crip or Piru from South Central, Los Angeles. There’s a prevalent sadness to “Spray and Pray,” as if the protagonist is trapped in the lifestyle and death by a bullet is the only way out. “Been packin’ since a yute,” Chris grumbles through a faux-Caribbean accent, “studied gun slangin’ from ‘89 to new thousand two, prayed if I paid my dues I’d grow big to be just like you.” The “you” is up for interpretation here; given the scope of the song and album, he might be talking to a big brother or Big Brother. On “Mind Ya Bidness,” Chris pokes out his chest to rap from the perspective of a brash O.G.”

As a result of the lyrical focus this is Quelle Chris’ most serious album to date but it does still retain some of satire featured on “Everything’s Fine”. Anthony Fantano of the Needle Drop theorised that the album might be compared to Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” and there are definetly similarities the heavy Jazz influence across both albums the sound the themed lyrical content and the ability to get snapshots of what goes through a young Black man’s mind on a daily basis. However, “Guns” is isn’t as structured like a straight forward concept album and sometimes seems to be delibrately distrubing it own flow. This no reason though not to fully embrace this album it’s eclectric maybe even a bit all over the place but it’svery much an Album of the Year contender. You owe it to yourself to buy a copy of “Guns” and listen to it again and again and again until you’ve taken in all it has to offer both musical and lyrically.

Let me know what you think of Guns in the Comments.

The Comet Is Coming – “Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery”

When I first heard The Comet Is Coming (Shabaka Hutchings (saxophone), Maxwell Hallett (drums) and Dan Leavers (synths) back in 2016 they sounded like nothing I had ever heard before and I was very excited. They combined Jazz, psychedelic rock, Krautrock and Electro-Punk into a surreal soundtrack to the Apocalyspe. Compared to the band debut album “Channel The Spirits” there are some calmer more mellow tracks in between the propulsive and chaotic tracks that have become the bands trademark. This is the album where the band has learnt to pace itself and create more dynamic and atmospheric music without sacrificing their skill as a hard grooving band.

Another skill that is sharpened on this album is the band ability to express emotion through their instruments while they are joined by rapper/poet Kate Tempest on album centrepiece ‘Blood of the Past’ the other eight tracks are completely instrumental. I will that the overall feeling of the first album was anger and some dread but the band is able to express more hear with tracks covering emotions from sadness through to ecstasy.

“Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery” is the latest in long run of top quality releases that have been lead by Shabaka Hutchings starting back in 2016 with “Channel The Spirits” and “Wisdom of Elders” by Shabaka & The Ancestors which could be described as his World Music meets Jazz project though that is a massive over simplication. Then it continued in 2017 with the “Death to the Planet” EP by The Comet Is Coming before switching to his Afro-Caribbean influenced Jazz band Sons of Kemet and their third and finest album to date “Your Queen Is A Reptile”. This run has placed Shabaka an already well thought of musician in the London Jazz scene as one of it’s most prominent and International known figures. He deserves this as he keeps on delivering incredible and progressive projects that never put technic ahead of emotional expression and musicality. If you want to go on a journey that will take you out to some of the least explored and most mysterious and exciting places that music can take you in 2019 then I highly recommend you listen to this album NOW!!!

Let me know what you think of “Trust in Lifeforce of Deep Mystery” in the Comments.

Matmos – “Plastic Anniversary”

I genuinely tried to write a Recommendation for this album but I couldn’t do it justice. It’s difficult to write about music that uses such literal sounds but is so much more than the sum of it’s parts. So as a solution to this check it out The Needle Drop’s review below and link to Pitchfork’s review here.

Let me know what you think of “Plastic Anniversay” in the Comments.

https://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/matmos-plastic-anniversary/