The New Music I‘m Listening To This Nostalgic, Yet Exploratory Week, May 28-June 3, 2022:

Yesterday (Thursday) there was a General Election in my prefecture. It was mainly a referendum on the incumbent Conservative party’s job during the pandemic. Seeing as most people in my area would vote for a slice of white bread with a College degree and a blue sign, it seemed a foregone conclusion that they would win a second term. It didn’t help that the other parties seemed so weak.

The Lacrosse Party lost my vote with their demands for personal information and enforced exercise.
I voted for The Stucco Party, because I wanted that five years warranty.

Nevertheless, the world continues to turn, in spite of itself, and we’re encouraged to ignore the politicians again. May I suggest some music to relieve the doldrums?

I can’t say that I’m very surprised to have found so many New Releases to suit my tastes. Despite the lack of Major Label titles this week, there are plenty of artists who feel that it’s the perfect time of year to release their babies to the world. I’ve found nine to share with you. I have surprised myself with one of my picks this week. See if you can spot it. C’mon, it’ll be fun.

I’ll start off with a single from Brazil to bring the mood up. Barbatuques is a band from Rio that has fifteen members that has been around since the mid-90’s. Their latest single, “Clariô” is a fun and upbeat tune, with terrific arrangement (and mouth harp!)

Barbatuques – Clariô

On Mondays I check out on Bandcamp what releases have come out over the weekend. Invariably I will come across more than a few Punk titles. Most are samey-same, some are terrible, but once in a while I get to start my week with something fun and yell-y. It happened this week, thanks to Girlsperm (which can only be the name of a new hairstyle). This band was unknown to me, but among this trio is Punk legend and Riot Grrrl Tobi Vail, from Bikini Kill (though surely by now she’s a full-grown Riot Womrrrn). “The Muse Ascends” is sixteen tracks of lo-fi duelling wonky guitars and passionate vocals. They mean it, maaaan.

Girlsperm – The Muse Ascends

Another project involving a different kind of duelling guitars was released this week, and includes a notable musician that I have seen in concert. Twice! Macula Kuru began life as a trio; Japanese guitarist Junzo Suzuki, and two Belgians, Bart de Paepe, also on guitar (and synth), and Jan D’Hooge, on drums and percussion. Upon completion of recording, Suzuki handed the tapes over to his band mate on another project to add bass. The bassist is (drumroll, please) Mitsuru Tabata, of the legendary experimental noise band Boredoms. I saw that band open for Nirvana in 1993, and again at Lollapalooza ‘94, and they made an impression on me. The self-titled full length from Macula Kuru is four tracks, of which track one is over twenty minutes. Inventive and pleasing to the senses.

Macula Kuru – s/t

During the last couple of years I have seen, what seems to be, an increase in the number of collaborations being released. On the surface of it, that sounds like a strange response to a pandemic, but thanks to technology you can be on lockdown and still be able to play with other musicians from as far as the other side of the world. Taking this premise to a big level is a label from Rennes, France, called TRUC – Curieuses Compilations. The notes from their latest release, “Le Début De La Fin,” read as follows: “At the beginning, we asked a first musician to compose an ending. At the end, we asked a second musician to compose its ending.” In all, over twenty artists helped compose and perform the seventeen songs contained herein. Many different sonic palates feature throughout this mainly instrumental album, with some spoken oddities. I’d be foolish not to point out the singalong hit of the Summer, “Flimflamduckling”. Overall, I would call the results of the experiment a whopping success. Formidable!

TRUC – Le Début De La Fin

An artist who is on a solitary musical journey is London-based DJ and Producer Jaeho Hwang. His new ep, “Inner-self”, is his second, and was created and inspired by his time back in his native South Korea, taking care of his ailing mother. His mother, soon after, passed away, which Hwang calls, “the most shocking, sorrowful, and bizarre experiences of my life.” The four tracks mark his voyage through grief, and his desire to reach back to his ancestors. Traditional Korean folk music punctuates, and the closer, “On The Way To The End” has the artist using his voice in guttural, pain-filled moans and despairing screams, in true Janovian fashion.

Jaeho Hwang – Inner-self

I’ve really grown to love all the new and unique Sound Artists. I’m a fan of exploration in Sound, as you may know, and I think that it is where serious Music is heading. Or it should be, at least. Thanos Fotiadis is an excellent example of what I mean. He is a classically-trained pianist and multi-instrumentalist, as well as Electronic composer, based in Utrecht. On his latest album, “Noise Etudes vol. 1”, he is “performing” the unwanted sounds that come with analog equipment. If you’ve ever owned a transistor radio, or you’ve plugged in a guitar that has a loose connection, you may recognize these sounds. Dig the future, children!

Thanos Fotiadis – Noise Etudes vol. 1

I haven’t been actively looking backwards at Music for quite some time now. My ears are resolutely facing forward. However, a release came across my path this week, that wasn’t only not released this week, it is an album of cover versions. A label from Pennsylvania called Rudy Reboots releases ska/punk tribute albums, and back at the end of April they released “FOLDS – A Ska Tribute To Ben Folds”. Let me make one thing clear, I’m not, and never was, a Ska fan (except for that one time, when I was on acid at Lollapalooza ‘94, and I thought The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were the best band I had ever heard in my life). But I love me some Ben Folds, and have been a fan since The “Battle Of Who Could Care Less” in ‘95. I’ve always felt like he, both as a solo artist, and with Ben Folds Five before, was a secret too good to be kept, and should be as famous as Springsteen. Alas, he is not. But he clearly has a fan base, as this twelve track album shows. These versions are pretty faithful reconstructions of the originals like “Army”, and “You Don’t Know Me”, with ska, or ska-adjacent rhythms. My kidney isn’t made of stone, and I couldn’t let this one pass. If you don’t know Ben Folds, you need to correct that immediately. If you know Ben Folds, you love Ben Folds, and you will really enjoy this. Surprised? Boy, I am.

Various Artists –
Rudy Reboots: FOLDS A Ska Tribute To Ben Folds

Was that as a refreshing palate cleanser for your very busy ears, as it was mine? It recharged my batteries to continue my journey through more treacherous and challenging paths. A duo from Italy follows, by the names of Elisha Morningstar and Lorenzo Abattoir. Their seven-track album, “Titled” is explorations is tape manipulation and drone, with which to sing along (just kidding).

Elisha Morningstar/Lorenzo Abattoir – Titled

My Feature Pick for this week brings us back to the great island nation of Japan. Shintaro Sakamoto is a musician, writer, and producer from Osaka who used to front a band called Yura Yura Teikoku. Upon its dissolution in 2010 he embarked on a solo career. This week he’s released his fourth album, “Like A Fable”. What struck me with this is its instrumentation. Electronic beats guide trombone, flute, and lap steel guitar through ten tracks inspired by the dramatic life changes brought on by the pandemic. Or so I’m told. I don’t understand a word of it, but I love it!

Shintaro Sakamoto – Like A Fable

Another excellent week in music, my friends, with lots to explore and dig. Do you dig? I’d love to know. But moreover, I would love for you to love yourself. You make the world better!

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