November Audio – Lambchop, Solange, Lori Williams & More


Posted 9 months ago in Music Reviews

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Lambchop

FLOTUS

[City Slang]

FLOTUS was teased with a spellbinding 18-minute journey, The Hustle, which saw Lambchop channel the brooding precision of Tortoise and the refined insistence of NEU!. The Hustle, with its masterful control of musical and emotional tension is perhaps the standout song of the year (period) and is not matched elsewhere on the album, but it was always bound to be the star, in need only of a strong supporting cast which it finds. Throughout, Lambchop sound spacious and restrained, with Kurt Wagner’s voice often digitally processed as another signifier that this is a newer, weirder, more fanciful Lambchop. Bravo. – Ian Lamont

 

Francis and the Lights

Farewell, Starlite!

[KTTF]

francis-the-lights

 

Francis is a free-floating entity loosely affiliated with major pop culture icons (Kanye, Bon Iver who guest here) without having a notable body of work or profile to speak of. This first full-length release mixes impassioned white-soul vocals – at one point sounding frighteningly similar to Peter Gabriel – with spazzing synth arrangements. Comparisons to James Blake feel on-the-nose, but where Blake’s LPs are weighed down with balladry, this record repurposes that melodrama into Vampire Weekend-ish vignettes of New York City nights, though not without its fair share of cheese.– Ian Lamont

 

Solange

A Seat At The Table

[Columbia]

Breaking up this album are interludes featuring spoken affirmations of different aspects of black identities that speak to the need to restate the central truths of American racial history – of abuse and prejudice that in no way evaporated with the election of a black president. While they possess sledgehammer subtlety and somewhat disrupt the groove, these interludes lend an extra dollop of emotional heft to a record that beautifully interpolates stylistic tropes of soul, of R’n’B, of hip hop in a less cartoonish, more refined manner than, say, Lemonade. – Ian Lamont

 

Shirley Collins

Lodestar

[Domino Records]

Out of the game for 38 years, Shirley Collins’ intimately recorded Lodestar proves the infinite durability of the folk song, particular in the hands of a voice with such well-earned gravitas. Collins sounds like the personification of wisdom, rising over the droning pipes, birdsong and pensively picked guitar with minor key melodies as old as the hills and tales of disastrous loves. There are absolutely no new tricks to be found on this collection, but that’s precisely the point. – Ian Lamont

 

American Football

American Football

[Polyvinyl]

As decreed by cyclical nature of taste, genres once-lauded then quickly-maligned will invariably return every 15 to 20 years. Cue the surge of late ’90s and early ’00s indebted emo appearing or, in the case of American Football, reappearing of late. It seems this particular misguided fit of nostalgia has failed to employ even a modicum of quality control. This milquetoast, cloyingly over emotive schlock exudes the kind of privilege that makes it ripe for soundtracking a scene of “heartbreak” on a long forgotten episode of The Hills. Inexcusable! – Danny Wilson

 

Magic Pockets

Volcano of the Bleeding Sky

[Penske Recordings]

This might just be a case of good timing in the supreme for Magic Pockets. After years of speculation his debut LP has arrived just as – thanks to a certain Netflix show and cultural phenomenon – demand for rumbling ’80s synths is at an all time high. Volcano is undoubtedly the work of a purist, a scholar of the form with such an apparent and unimpeachable grá for the work of his forebears that these thunderous slabs of electronica can’t help but captivate both devotees and recent converts to the genre alike. – Danny Wilson

 

Devendra Banhart

Ape in Pink Marble

[Nonesuch]

Having been relegated to a footnote in indie lore along with so many of his freak folk kin, woolly weirdo Devendra Banhart, has returned to the fold with suitably odd collection of dinky curios. Moving away from the Source Family cult-jams of recent outings to dip his toe into an array of surprisingly satisfying genre exercises, Banhart is sounding better than ever. Alien disco, bossa nova rhythms and Young Marble Giants minimalism all pop up alongside the low-key folk we have come to expect. Lightweight? Maybe, but a pleasure nonetheless. – Danny Wilson

 

Lori Williams

Behind the Smiles

[Pacific Coast Jazz]

 

Lori William has travelled the road from background vocalist to star. She has done it all: hosted her own jazz radio program, appeared at Showtime at the Apollo, starred as Ella Fitzgerald in Ladies Swing the Blues, and now she has released this exquisite disc Behind the Smiles. Her rendition of the Isaac Hayes classic Déjà Vu is worth the price of the CD altogether, but it is her sultry delivery of The Island that will keep this CD on repeat in your house. – Tom Cahill

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