Weekly Capsule Reviews – 11/12/2016


This week: Årabrot, Alicia Keys, Neurosis, Tanya Tagaq, Childish Gambino

Årabrot – The Gospel (26/02/2016 – Fysisk Format)

I’m not sure I like it as much as I think but after Swans’ abyss-filler I think I wanted something to stem the tide, something to, forgive me, savour. Something more accessible, maybe. Something to get to the point before I wanted it to. And this is only it because of the song lengths. More thinking about it less the [art-]noise and more structure less the noise pretensions they could’ve grasped. (8/10) [Dorney’s Top Records of 2016: #23]

Alicia Keys – HERE (04/11/2016 – RCA Records)

The nice girl with the defiant outlook of her ethnicity’s past and the political nature of its present and future. Yeah it falters in the usual aspects of girl-on-girl empathy—y’know the make-up versus natural stuff, rhyming “Maybelline” with “self-esteem”, being who you truly want to be. But I enjoyed the less pop exterior (and interior, too). Not quite relinquishing the bright lights of New York but more using her exposure in the bright lights to further highlight diversity and young girls’ glow. She’s so desperate to tell us. And good on her. (8/10)

Neurosis – Fire Within Fires (23/09/2016 – Neurot Recordings (self-released))

Long build-ups; heavy, dense dirges; and “mood”-building—they didn’t skimp on the riffs, though. Check out the middle section of “Fire is the End Lesson”. A musical melody the likes are always afraid to admit they have for their headbangers may dwindle. Don’t worry, they won’t. (8/10)

Tanya Tagaq – Retribution (21/10/2016 – Six Shooter Records)

Summoning and communicating with the spirits via the throat—the twisting of the larynx is deadly and not for the faint-hearted. It even has some rap to add more spice to the Western/Inuit pot. A pot with plenty of spice as is. One of the more unusual listens of 2016, and maybe even your life. We even get a climate-change scare. Good. (8/10)

Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!” (02/12/2016 – Glassnote Records)

Donald Glover is still as thoughtful in his love writing—respectful he may be but only because the work comes before the play (unless it’s your mama). And I respect that along with his James Brown nods. But there was something semi-bereft with the guitar-oriented tracks that were minus the crazed beats—almost stagnant in their delivery even with fuzz effects; not really prowling but more propping up the record for the likes of “Boogieman”, “Riot”, “Redbone”, and “Terrified” to pounce. Pastiche African themes, gospel, neo-soul, and “alternative” R&B were the in things with black music in 2016. The year black artistes highlighted most what is theirs—most culturally-appropriated music—in inhabiting a modern version of a past paradigm. Some records did it better than others. This nearly joined them. (7/10)

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