This week on Timely Tunes I return to highlighting some of my favorite recent releases, ranging from the return of one of Canada’s premier rock collectives to quiet improv from Norway. Kendrick Lamar makes an appearance too.
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Broken Social Scene “Halfway Home”
It feels like a lifetime since Broken Social Scene’s last album, “Forgiveness Rock Record”. In those seven years, anthemic indie rock has either been dormant or it just hasn’t piqued my interest like it used to. This new single blasts right into full-on maximalist widescreen lift-off. It sounds satisfyingly baroque and reassuringly familiar without falling into facsimile territory.
Bastien Keb “Night Hustle” (From “22.02.85”)
A slow-burning night funk jam standout from the British multi-instrumentalist and producer’s excellent new album. Tracing a line back to the outsider soul of Shuggie Otis, Keb’s music also shares some of the forward/backward-looking experimentalism of current cosmic tastemaker Thundercat. The first part of the track was dropped down a few semitones, but somewhere along the production line, a mistake sped the latter portion of the track back to full speed. Keb said he liked how it sounded and kept it. Sometimes mistakes are a gift.
Kendrick Lamar “HUMBLE.”
Well, Kendrick certainly doesn’t seem ready to abdicate from the throne. Lamar has every right to sound cocky and command his peers to sit down, because no one else makes it sound this easy. Over a sparse and threatening beat by Mike WiLL Made It, built from piano stabs and an 808, Kendrick swings from chest-thumping braggadocio into a plea for an embrace of imperfect beauty and back into boasting about Obama paging him. He’s an ever-exciting artist gazing out over his kingdom right now.
Mount Eerie “Seaweed” (From “A Crow Looked at Me”)
Phil Elverum lost his wife and the mother of his daughter to pancreatic cancer in the 35th year of her life. His latest record as Mount Eerie is an uncomfortably honest, beautiful, and heart-wrenching meditation on loss and grief. It’s hard to sit through, knowing that the voice hovering just above the minimalist instrumentation has experienced so much real pain. It feels like peering through a window into a dark room and watching someone flip through a photo album. That being said, it’s also incredibly moving to hear someone processing such a universal fear through their art.
1982 “07:56” (From “Chromola”)
I had the opportunity to see the Norwegian violinist Nils Økland in a gorgeous, acoustically pleasing church last week. Nils, harmonium specialist Sigbjørn Apeland, and drummer Øyvind Skarbø make up this improvisational trio, 1982. Sandvik parish church, on Norway’s rainy west coast, is where this evocative and delicate music was recorded, and Apeland utilizes the church’s pipe organ to fill in the spaces between the strings and brushed drums. The album came out at the end of January, but remains suited for soundtracking April showers.
TIMELY TUNES, VOL. 42
1. Destroyer “European Oils”
2. Broken Social Scene “Halfway Home”
3. Nick Drake “At the Chime of the City Clock”
4. Milton Wright “The Silence That You Keep”
5. Bastien Keb “Night Hustle”
6. Risco Connection “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now”
7. Harvey Mason “On And On”
8. Leaders of the New School “Sobb Story”
9. Kendrick Lamar “HUMBLE.”
10. Gang Starr “No Shame In My Game”
11. Donald Byrd “Black Byrd”
12. Gabor Szabo “Half the Day is Night”
13. Mount Eerie “Seaweed”
14. Bat For Lashes “I Will Love Again”
15. Bobby Hutcherson “Bouquet”
16. 1982 “07:56”
17. Arve Henriksen “Ending Image”
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