Weekly Capsules Reviews: 05/02/2017


This week: elbow, Migos, Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White

Older releases/Classics: Electric Wizard, BANTUM

elbow: Little Fictions [Polydor, 03/02/2017]

Guy Garvey drops the arena anthems for your dark, dingy, smoke-filled jazz clubs. I like it. He sounds in love and sounds like a messenger boy we need and feels he can deliver; not quite but I’m not going to stop him. “All Disco” is inspired by Black Francis’ many forms, but “it’s really all disco”, pointing me towards—deep breath here—an obvious but noteworthy Noel Gallagher parable: “Please don’t put your life in the hands/Of a rock ‘n’ roll band/Who’ll throw it all away”. It’s important but not that important, remember. “Life is the original miracle”, he states, and in his considered manner I believe him. Garvey’s tone and mellow pitch remain but at slightly less volume, probably to help the instrumentation along. Where the strings-and-brass less the voice don’t get in his way here, like they attempted before, I nearly wanted some sort of baroque string section, but then I decide I’m good. Let him speak of youths’ value in society unimpeded; let him speak of the futility of music and its many guises unimpeded; and let him speak in his forty-something, newfound-love innocence unimpeded. Maybe that last bit is where I wanted something to jump out and surprise me. (7/10)

Migos: C U L T U R E [Quality Control/300/Atlantic, 27/01/2017]

Minor gangsta culture that so many talk about in hip-hop has been directly addressed here with little shame. And why should there be any shame? Quavo has the nuance to listen to his mother’s and grandmother’s advice. Isn’t that worthy enough of promotion? All the kids have to do is ignore all the other stuff which goes along with it. Plenty of vocal-instrumentation and -onomatopoeia here to keep you preoccupied and listening out for the next yelp which will transmit from the end of some line. You almost miss the juicy stuff. A little bit more conviction in their gangsta selves but still genuinely modest about it—”If your bitch is a five, my bitch is a ten […] You drivin’ a Jag, I’m pushin’ a Benz”—until their confidence grows which actually is the progressive downfall of the album as you gradually shift through the posing-violent-but-not-violent pomp. I quite like the flow of “Big and Boujee” even if their chauvinism is more self-evident than they think they’re showing. Gangsta rap less the gangsta in spots but not enough to lose the tag. It possesses the Travis Scott and Future effect of vocal yelps ending each line which can be tiresome. But it does have a little bit of class in a—at times—classless paradigm. I have a feeling their “modesty” won’t last for much longer. (7/10)

Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White: Gentlewoman, Ruby Man (covers albums/collaboration) [Glassnote, 13/01/2017]

White reminds me of that Fred Abbott fella from Noah and the Whale except less “eclectic” about it on this particular occasion in just sticking to the one instrument. This had more to do with Flo Morrissey than White. Her voice seems to have an experienced twinge to it like it’s been through something which a twenty-something would have in years past but maybe not now; a sense of being there and doing it when she hasn’t done either. Herein lies an as-good-as-the-original cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinking Bout You”, a not-quite-anti-drug version of The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” (just the soft stuff), and a more-original-than-the-original-version version of the George Harrison-produced “Govindam”. Not as Joni Mitchell-ish as I was expecting. (6/10)

Older releases/Classics

Electric Wizard: Come My Fanatics…. [Rise Above, January 1997]

The merger of doom metal and stoner metal can bow down to Electric Wizard as one of its main purveyors. Sludge and impending doom from every corner—Jus Oborn and band are reporters of natural and supernatural disasters and are neither fighters against it nor perpetrators of it. There’s so much going on you barely notice the stuck-in-the-mud riffs, the Satanic symbolism, and in certain situations the imminent doom coming your way. A distinct highlight in that regard is “Doom Mantia” with its wall of psychedelics (in sound and influence of narcotics) and fuzz. The final third is a hazy crescendo with an almost air of uncertainty where we’re heading. A lot like today’s sociopolitical world and ever pertinent twenty years on. The end of the earth reference was just frantic occultism back in 1997 but could be closer to reality now. The original release is worth more of your time even if pared down; the solos become a nonentity in the reissue tracks. As relevant now in its scare tactics and scare realms it inhabits. (8/10)

BANTUM: Move [self-released, 21/10/2016]

Irish music producer Ruairi Lynch, [better] known as BANTUM, makes electronic music. Y’know I was enjoying this until Rusangano Family jumped in with their dull flow and, uhhh… “I don’t wanna slide in DMs/Unless they’re Doc Martens”. What? Anyway, the collabs after that were quite well received, full of blue-eyed soul and just soul. A seven-track album with not much to say from either Lynch or myself. The two opening instrumentals had me fixed and I would’ve been fine if it continued on that path. A slight reminisce to GusGus and Kraftwerk’s Tour de France Soundtracks was generated and is easily evident. A nice little listen, actually, with metallic, bouncy beats and a hint of a guitar in there, which is always good. Another one highlighted in Irish music in 2016 as a shining light. Hmmm… (7/10)


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