Boygenius – ‘Boygenius’
Just don’t call it supergroup. The quality of this first EP fuels the hope that this is just the beginning for Boygenius.
As an addition to a talk I recently had with Julien Baker, I asked her what it is that gives her hope. She answered something in the sense that she regularly feels renewed in her passion for music by the growing importance of inclusiveness, especially in many DIY scenes. The beautiful thing about that is not only Baker’s hopeful attitude but also that she lives up to it. When she appreciates that it is easier now for marginalized groups to connect, collaborate and get heard, it’s only a little step to imagine how Boygenius came into being. And how Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker managed to record an EP from scratch that is so refined from start to finish.
The six songs of Boygenius‘ first EP are not the typical supergroup material: it’s not three egos stacked upon each other. Instead, these songs delicately highlight each artists individuality while adding layers to everyone’s typical sound. The wit of Lucy Dacus (Salt In The Wound), the laconic wisdom of Phoebe Bridgers (Me & My Dog) and the bare emotions of Julien Baker (Souvenir) flower within a full rock band sound. You can sense that all of them simply enjoyed the assuring company. You wouldn’t have heard these songs from each of them alone. In that sense, we as listeners can only hope that this is just the beginning for Boygenius. (Henning Grabow)
Kælan Mikla – ‘Nótt eftir nótt’
Shortly after the re-release of their debut album Mánadans in August, Reykjavík’s synth-punk trio Kælan Mikla present their third album which is a perfect companion for long nights and short days.
In 2013, Kælan Mikla (‘the Lady of the Cold’) was formed by Laufey Soffia, Sólveig Matthildur-Kristjánsdóttir and Margrét Rósa Dóru-Harrysdóttir after they entered a poetry slam with next to nothing experience on their instruments and eventually won the first prize. And their beginning – rooted in intuition, minimalism, DIY, spoken word and dark poetry – is the golden thread that runs through their career; from their raw debut album, after which they replaced the drums for synths, over their self-titled sophomore to their newest effort. Unsurprisingly, playing at the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown festival this summer also didn’t stop it.
Nótt eftir nótt (‘night after night’) starts and ends on a slow note: The eerie opener Gandreið sets the tone for the following uptempo journey through songs alluding to nightmares, dreams, fairy tales and insomnia, while the last two tracks reduce the speed again and, supported by the sound of rain and thunder, make for a melancholic ending. The songs in between are less minimalistic and more synth-driven than earlier material, but not a bit less captivating. From the dark Hvernig kemst ég upp? (‘How do I get up?’) over the ecstatic Skuggadans (‘shadow dance’) and the exceptionally euphoric Næturblóm (‘nightflowers’) to the climactic Andvaka (‘insomnia’): You most likely can’t sing along to the lyrics, but the music makes up for any lack of understanding (and will have you dancing!). Kælan Mikla cross any barrier (language, time, genre, …) and thus create a uniquely other-worldly sound. Nótt eftir nótt serves as another proof and we hope for many more. (Jessi Schmitte)
Little Dragon – ‘Lover Chanting’
The Swedish synthpoppers return with three new songs that celebrate life and fit perfectly into a fancy club night.
‘For all the lovers out there, chant along! Dance for peace and unity in this world of madness!’ demands Little Dragon with the release of their new Lover Chanting EP. An EP that is much more danceable than most of the former Little Dragon albums. The three songs (plus one edit of the title track Lover Chanting) are catchy electronic pieces that work perfectly on club’s dancefloors. And that’s exactly what the band wants to achieve with their music – dance, celebrate life and lose yourself in the moment. After having collaborated with many great artists like Badbadnotgood and Gorillaz it is nice to have new solo material by the Scandinavian four piece. The EP is completely inspired by ‘The force of love’ as singer Yukimi Nagano explains. ‘Not only between two people but the force of love in this universe as the ultimate ecstasy’. No matter in which way you choose to feel that love, it is important to have it in your life. And that is totally right – we tend to see the bad things in life more than the good ones, but it should be the other way around. The Lover Chanting EP is a pretty good reminder for every one of us to be thankful that we are alive and capable of feeling love. (Miriam Wallbaum)
Jeff Goldblum & The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra – ‘The Capitol Studio Sessions’
Jazz .. ehm … finds a way. The charming Hollywood heavyweight celebrates it the old-fashioned way.
So, I’ve been struggling to get into jazz music for years, especially the more experimental part. Nothing against Kamasi but it didn’t click so far. And maybe it just needed the coolest guy in Hollywood (that’s a fact) to finally make that connection? Jeff Goldblum has been the hero of some of my favourite movies as a kid (you know, especially the dinosaur ones) and its kind of funny to see him becoming a sexy style icon in his 60s and now also a sort of cult figure in pop culture. Of course, it’s not like he suddenly decided to become a popstar over night. He and his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, have been playing together for almost two decades at a weekly residency in Los Angeles and now he uses the ongoing Goldblum hype to finally put out an album about that live show. Recorded at the iconic Capitol Studios it sees the band leader (on piano) and his band doing what they do best: Playing jazz classics with guests, joking around, having a good night.
By doing exactly that Goldblum and his gang recreate the golden era of jazz, in style and grace that obviously has nothing to do with the progressive chaos of contemporary alternative jazz. It’s not even extremely innovative but that was never the point apparently. Whether it’s a furious opening in the form of Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island or a romantic version of Walter Donaldson’s My Baby Just Cares For Me – the band sticks to the originals which is probably the best they could have done. Jeff Goldblum and his orchestra get help from German trumpet maestro Till Brönner and singers Haley Reinhart and Imelda May. Every now and then the man himself steps to the microphone to make a joke or even sing a few lines. A highlight is definitely the involvement of comedian Sarah Silverman who’s having a funny battle of words with the bandleader before starting their own version of Me And My Shadow. Their singing is far from perfect but highly charming. And they even give a short nod to Jurassic Park. This is a fun record delivered by friends who just love to play together. And one of them just happens to be this famous actor. And it surely helps to evoke at least a bit jazz enthusiasm. (Norman Fleischer)
Tom Adams – ‘Yes, Sleep Well Death’
Definitely more than meets the eye – The British songwriter expands his own musical vision.
When musical ambition meets a clear vision a lot of things can go wrong along the way but if you’re really good at your craft it can result in something truly mesmerizing. Luckily, the new album by Cambridge-born artist Tom Adams belongs to the latter category. The follow-up to last year’s debut LP Silence became the opposite of a silent affair: It’s quite a cinematic record that takes a listener on a journey into sound and the mind of the musical genius. However, in its core Yes, Sleep Well Death is a fragile piece of songwriter pop that is carried by Adams’ distinctive and manifold vocal performance that partly reminds of Mew‘s Jonas Bjerre and Sigur Rós‘ leader Jónsi. This voice is embedded into a mixture of folk, ambient and symphonic neo-classic in often very long songs.
Peninsula starts the record with a gloomy ambient intro before a gentle build-up results in a tender electronic beat. It is directly followed by Dear Future in which Tom Adams speeds up things. The track might start quite inconspicuous but then it delivers quite an epic finale that would even make M83 jealous, only to return to a more fragile outro. It’s dynamics like this that characterize the sound of the record and the story Tom Adams wants to tell with it. It’s very poetic and playful, combining pure emotion with a certain widescreen vibe. It invites the listener to drift away and discover new elements during every listening session. Yes, Sleep Well Death is a hidden treasure that definitely deserves your love. (Norman Fleischer)