Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 11 June 2021.
KC Jones has always been curious. It’s what compelled her to achieve excellence in old-time fiddle, singing, guitar, and percussive dance as a teenager. It’s what brought her to Southwest Louisiana, where she soon learned Cajun French and began writing and performing original songs in dual languages with progressive Cajun bands like Feufollet and T’Monde. Now, it’s what has laid the groundwork to knit her myriad musical and cultural interests—what she casually refers to as “obsessions”—into an impressively cohesive collection of original songs on her debut solo record, Queen of the In Between. The record draws upon a remarkable range of styles—from classic country to psychedelic rock to contemporary indie roots singer-songwriters. Yet it’s not simply a meld of seemingly disparate influences; Queen of the in Between dazzles in its ability to speak to the universality of human emotion.
Miracle is the new album from Manchester singer songwriter Francis Lung. “For me, [Miracle] is about the struggle between my self-destructive side and my problem-solving, constructive side,” says Francis. “I suppose through a lot of these songs I’m dealing with these emotional problems, acknowledging the negative aspects of my behaviour instead of burying them, and providing an alternative point of view for myself”. Despite its serious subject matter, Miracle is far from austere in sound, marrying the cinematic, dreamlike quality of Francis’s earlier music with the pared-back charm of great singer-songwriters like Judee Sill, Jeff Tweedy and Elliott Smith.
Much like his duo and quartet partner Nels Cline, guitarist extraordinaire Julian Lage made the move from Mack Avenue to Blue Note, continuing his artistic evolution in the footsteps of jazz greats. Squint, the result, is his second trio album with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King, after 2019’s Love Hurts. It reflects a deepening devotion to the solid-body guitar and its very particular sonic and geometric properties. In this setting, Lage has accessed a whole other array of timbral options as an improviser. The way Roeder and King work with him to bring it all together is impeccable.
Following in the footsteps of the Minna Miteru compilation of Japanese indie music, Morr Music and Alien Transistor have again joined forces to release a compilation introducing the intimate DIY pop of yumbo. Led by songwriter, pianist, and occasional vocalist Koji Shibuya, the Japanese band has released four albums since forming in 1998. This compilation draws fifteen songs (eighteen on vinyl) to uncover a biographical narrative of yumbo, showing how Shibuya’s songwriting, and the group’s limber, sensitive playing, has developed over the decades. It also places them squarely within a tradition of home-spun but ambitious Japanese pop that takes in Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Tenniscoats, Nagisa Ni Te, Yuzo Iwata, Kazumi Nikaido and more.
When Tom Jenkinson released his debut album as Squarepusher in 1996, critics called Feed Me Weird Things “drill ’n’ bass,” highlighting the music’s rattling intensity and high-velocity drum fills. But that term, which has also been applied to the wilder work of Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert, carries an industrial connotation that couldn’t be further from the giddy colors and almost cartoonish kinetics of Squarepusher’s debut. With the opening track, “Squarepusher Theme”, Jenkinson’s fondness for jazz fusion — along with his own live-wire fretless bass playing — immediately distinguishes it from the era’s jungle and drum ’n’ bass. This re-mastered 14-track version of Feed Me Weird Things celebrates the record’s 25th anniversary.
Anájikon is the second ECM album by Athens-born and Munich-based Konstantia Gourzi. The record incorporates her chamber and orchestral music of the past decade. The composer also conducts the Lucerne Academy Orchestra here: “I see composing and conducting as a whole, as an inseparable relationship,” she says. Gourzi is particularly concerned with making connections between the arts, which also relates to the question of her own artistic identity and the influence of her origins. In Gourzi’s sound language, elements of different musical traditions repeatedly merge, and East and West enter into a dialogue. This album presents three of her compositions: her Third String Quartet Anájikon, her orchestral piece Ny-él (commissioned by the Lucerne Festival, in August 2016 with the orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy) as well as Hommage à Mozart, three Dialogues.
Canadian producer Young Clancy has released his-self produced lockdown album Something Something Tape via Black Box. Gathering eleven of the most distinctive voices in the city’s thriving independent R&B and hip-hop scenes, Clancy distills a unique and tangible perspective on “The New Toronto Sound,” a version that truly vibrates on the deep, unifying heartbeat coursing through its artistic community. Every track on Something Something Tape feels like a vivid snapshot of some day in some corner of an ever-spreading but still tight-knit Toronto. These tracks entwine the electric creative frequencies bounding around the city at eye-level, between Clancy’s basement brain and the eloquent minds congregated right on this tape – some of whom, due to the distance, he has still yet to meet. Featuring artwork sourced from mixed media collages of visual artist Tessar Lo, Something Something Tape is the picture of Young Clancy locked down and reveling in his daydreams with an interconnected web of like minds. However fleeting in length, and to wherever each path leads from here, the magic that Young Clancy has incited will endure.
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television