Weekly Capsule Reviews: 05/03/2017


This week: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, KING WOMAN, Ed Sheeran

Older releases: BADBADNOTGOOD (2)

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard: Flying Microtonal Banana [Flightless/Heavenly, 24/02/2017]

The first of a five-album experimental set in 2017. A record that delves into microtonal music, and you can hear their insurgence pretty transparently. And I don’t think it’d be too far off the mark to mention The Beatles even if I don’t want to. Not quite “Revolution 9” more George Harrison losing his shit over this piece of far-out semi-jamming, especially with the zurna in half the album. CAN never tried this hard nor had to. The microtonal harmonica in “Sleep Drifter” reminds me heavily of the tremolo guitar effect on “I Want More”. Nothing wrong with some tapping into ’60s psychedelia and tonal shifts in music. Normally that’s followed by “with a modern twist”, or something along those lines, but in this case, no. The long rhythm sections are intrinsic in their deep-rooted repetitiveness even with the upfront changes in the tone of the riffs and wind instruments. I think the drug-infused dad-rockers and righteous crusties alike will take kindly to this. (7/10)

KING WOMAN: Created in the Image of Suffering [Relapse, 24/02/2017]

An airy tempest with only a smidgen of raw shown in the scream of “Deny”, lacking the guile of, say, a Reba Meyers. The riffs are anything but subtle, which is the intention, yet inject nothing into the world Kristina Esfandiari is creating with her rolling-vocal huff-and-smother, which offers nothing in itself. The delay effect in “Manna” is the best they came up with and I’m sure all they could muster. The drums are heavy-handed and not oblivious to such. Doom as bland and as rehashed as you can get. (5/10)

Ed Sheeran: ÷ (Divide) (Deluxe Edition) [Asylum/Atlantic, 03/03/2017]

Contrary to unpopular belief, I think this guy is a strong songwriter. Ivor Novello strong? Yeah, whatever. I’m sure he’s horrified at being trapped in the industry—”I think that money is the root of all evil, and fame is hell”—hilarious after building his own pub. “Dive” has distorted fuzz, what an edgy lad—so edgy he knows that the bar in favour of the club is the better choice for his pick of the gals, like the traditionalist he is. And like all traditionalists in the pub he fires in his “Galway Girl” letting loose his Plastic Paddy aesthetic to woo the Irish twelve-year-olds. Not in any way, shape, or form offensive, more cringeworthy to those who appreciate the Celtic heritage enough to abstain from the “Celtic” rap. “Nancy Mulligan” was only slightly better on the deluxe. “How Would You Feel (Paean)” has a soft-rock solo that has the label salivating. He loves to woo and who’s to stop him? Easy cash. Referencing a bleached arsehole—is he pulling the piss out of Kanye? Getting some back for Taylor Swift? Not even this held the ballads I’d secretly have a listen to when no-one’s around. A guy who’s ridden the industry not half as well as he has popular culture. A sterile, bland, decorum-setting, unchallenging record from a sterile, bland, decorum-setting, unchallenging artist whose cultural appropriating is so far beyond hitting the nail on the head he comes across as trying too hard. Don’t worry, wherever he goes they’ll take him. He’s a nice guy. What next? Sombreros and maracas? Sitars and sundaris? Saxophones and clarinets? Just leave us alone for a while. (4/10)

Older releases

BADBADNOTGOOD: III [Innovative Leisure/Pirates Blend, 06/05/2014]

You could feel Alexander Sowinski frothing at the mouth to let rip on the drums. These guys always do. And he got his wish on “Kaleidoscope”. They manage to preserve some of the style and discipline their originators possessed. Check out Leland Whitty’s sax piece on “Confessions” and the all-round bass work on “Eyes Closed”. Their “hip-hop” interpretations are easier to pinpoint when the bass guitar properly kicks in and the interpretation of jazz on how it should seem now will suit the trained and untrained ears alike. The latter will get more of a kick, however. Let me throw a cliché your way—they’re tight. That’s all I got so far, and all you need. (7/10)

BADBADNOTGOOD: IV [Innovative Leisure, 08/07/2016]

It leads me to think, after the previous record, making hip-hop and jazz as seamless as this must lead to some sort of agenda, notwithstanding the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and Common. That agenda could be to spotlight black music through a white lens. Plausible given Samuel T. Herring’s black-emulating croon and Charlotte Day Wilson’s R&B, smooth operation. The electronics are more obvious and the voices incorporate a black ingredient to highlight even further a diaspora that’s more represented than they think. The more the merrier, though. (7/10)


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