Our selection of the best new music across a range of genres from the week ending 29 October 2021.
On Plunderphonia, a new collection of forward-looking jazz reinterpretations, Kansas Smitty’s bandleader Giacomo Smith delves deep into the catalogues of celebrated yet often overlooked artists that inspire his work with Kansas Smitty’s: Jelly Roll Morton, Bix Beiderbeck, even Maurice Ravel. The album owes as much to Giacomo’s decade of living and playing in London as it does to the forefathers of jazz that he is paying homage to here. Themes and melodies from compositions dating back to the 1920s have been adapted, inverted, transformed, and plunderized to make a collection of tunes that are undoubtedly jazz and when heard with contemporary ears, sonically of our times. But this is not a straight up covers LP. Giacomo, who is joined by a fresh group musicians that connects all corners of the London contemporary jazz landscape, from Dylan Jones of Ezra Collective to rising star Jaz Kayser, sees his compositions here more aligned to hip-hop mindset, starting with “samples” and turning them into something completely new.
Motherhood is an essential part of the new songs on Mon Laferte’s new album 1940 Carmen, maybe none more so than on the lullaby “Niña.” From the first chords of “Placer Hollywood,” a sparkling ode to California, her new album reveals itself as different from the folk leanings and lyrical turbulence of Seis, recorded in 2020 and released in 2021, just months before this album. “There is a different energy in the lyrics, and I think it comes from the way I was feeling then, very brave and free from so many things,” she says. Musically, 1940 Carmen—which takes its title from the LA address where she lived while making the project—sounds inspired by Laurel Canyon folk rock, the gentle Californian psychedelia of the late ’60s and early ’70s, with a second half that is something of a return to the retro balladry of her early albums.
A few years may have passed since The Pulsebeats put out their last record, but, with no less than six records released with various bands since then, the guys have not let up. Now they’re back with Lookin’ Out. The world locked down just as they were about to head into their rehearsal space on the northern Spanish coast to self-produce their third album and, when lockdown lifted last summer, they wasted no time in getting the thirteen songs that make up the record down. Lookin’ Out, if you had to put a loose concept to it, is just that; the idea that we need to break from the individualised world where we refuse to look out and listen, reflect on what’s actually happening to us as a society. The desires and rages of the individual clash against the needs of the collective as we are manipulated from above.
Solem Quartet’s debut album, The Four Quarters, is out now on Orchid Classics. Using Thomas Adès’ The Four Quarters as a framework – and featuring several arrangements by the ensemble – this album explores composers’ depictions of night and day and all the moments in between; from the melodious dawn chorus of Cassandra Miller’s Warblework, via Bartok’s earthly and touching portrayal of An Evening in the Village to Kate Bush’s ethereal And Dream Of Sheep.
Lily We Need to Talk Now is a record Lily Konigsberg has been slowly chipping away at since 2016, revising and re-recording the songs over the years. The eleven-track collection is her first proper full-length, following her anthology of EPs and unreleased tracks, The Best of Lily Konigsberg Right Now, released in 2021 by Wharf Cat Records. The new record is catchy the whole way through, like much of the poppy and plainspoken indie rock output that’s made her a fixture of the NYC underground in recent years. Her voice twists and turns and dashes around her clever wordplay in new ways here; there are hints of power pop, pop punk, and downtempo introspection, all dotted with easter eggs of winking humor. She’s joined by many of her longtime collaborators: Andrea Schavelli; Matt Norman, from the avant-pop duo Lily and Horn Horse; Paco Cathcart, of the Cradle; and Nina Ryser, of the acclaimed art-punk trio Palberta; and producer Nate Amos.
PAW Media have released their latest compilation album Yapa Beats 4, out now. Recorded at their studios in Yuendumu the compilation features artists from Yuendumu, Nyirrpi, Laramba, Ali Curung and Lajamanu with lyrics in English, Warlpiri, Pintubi and Anmatyere, celebrating the cultural richness and diversity of First Nations music from the Northern Territory. Yapa Beats 4 is the fourth such offering from the Warlpiri owned and run not-for-profit media and communications organisation, following a successful three compilations prior, dating back to 2009. The latest instalment features tracks from some of the central desert’s most exciting emerging talent including Karrku Reggae Band, Desert Mulga Band, DB40, Nathan Brown, Blackstorm, Jerome Jurrah, Clifford Brown, KM Band, Wilfred Nelson, Dwayne Abbott, Eju ft. Crystal and Alex, Desert Wind, Yurrampi South Band, Dominic Peter and Laramba Band.
Even, Melbourne’s masters of pop’n’roll, have today released their new album Reverse Light Years – their first ever double album – on El Reno Music. The album’s release follows that of two singles. Most recent was “Cherry Afterglow”, and before that “Six Monkeys”, which was automatically playlisted by Double J. “Six Monkeys” was a full-bodied heavy hitter built on a simple but irresistible lick that defines the term ‘jangle pop’; “Cherry Afterglow” is a more atmospheric but no less enrapturing. The new double album Reverse Light Years covers the full range of Even flavours, and introduces some delicious new ones.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- New music round-up (for w/e 8 October 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 22 October 2021)
- New music round-up (for w/e 3 December 2021)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television