Ezra Furman – Twelve Nudes
Folllowing his excellent fourth 2018 album, Transangelic Exodus, about a man who falls in love with an angel and has to flee from the oppressive government, the American singer's latest is just as visceral, emotional and torn-throat red-raw punk punchy, especially running at only 25 minute for 11 songs (deceptive title) From Calm Down AKA I Should Not Be Alone to the beautiful yearning of I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend in which "I was considering ditching Ezra and going by Esme." As ever, Ezra leaves himself and us wanting more, but in the best possible way. Out on Bella Union.
Ezra Furman – I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend
Taylor Swift – Lover
After 2017's confrontational Reputation, underpinned, nay marketed through the feud with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, Taylor returns, and there's still plenty of beef and bitchiness present, but the toe-tapping sunshine pop has returned, shallow at times, but with plenty of humour self-reference and irony, from I Forgot That You Existed, to ME!, to Daylight, in which she wakes from "20 years of sleep." Out on Republic.
Taylor Swift – You Need To Calm Down
Rapsody – Eve
Robust hip hop from the American artist, with a strong message here - as well as the first woman mentioned in the Bible, this album's song titles are all named after revered, iconic women - Oprah, Aaliyah, and Michelle Obama among others, not to mention Nina (Simone), also namechecking other successful black women such as ballerina Misty Copeland on Tyra, and actress Angela Bassett on Whoopi (Goldberg). Empowering, and full of interesting storytelling and experimentalism, Rapsody aka Marlanna Evans from North Carolina, is certainly a rising star herself. Out on Roc Nation.
Rapsody - Ibtihaj ft. D'Angelo, GZA
Sheer Mag – A Distant Call
The Philadelphia band fronted by their larger-than-life singer Tina Halladay returns for a second album, after their 2017 debut, Need To Feel Your Love. This is upbeat, raunchy, proto-metal 80s pop-rock, slightly shrill at times, but full of gutsy LGBT tales, exposing fat-shaming on The Right Stuff and eager for standing up for workers' rights on Chopping Block. Swaggering, strained, earnest. Out on Wilsuns RC.
Sheer Mag – Hardly To Blame
Jay Som – Anak Ko
Second album by Jay Som aka the LA-based Melina Duterte, retains that intimate bedroom indie atmosphere of the first, , except she's now got a band. This has a smooth 80s pop funk flavour, reminiscent of Prefab Sprout with a dash of Sade. Out on Polyvinyl.
Jay Som – Superbike
Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
Wonky, offbeat, funky, clanky, kooky, chock full with clever lyrics delivered with a slant of Beck and Captain Beefheart? Different indeed. This is the follow-up to the Australian band's 2018 debut, the eco-apocalyptic A Laughing Death in Meatspace, more post-punk mixed up with funk, plus grunge, from Paradise to The Planet of Straw Men and Who’s My Eugene? – a song about Brian Wilson’s controversial former psychotherapist, Eugene Landy. All of this will mess with your brain but in a fascinating way from a band with plenty of charisma and ideas, not to mention an amusing band name that stirs up the grey matter. Out on Flightless.
Tropical Fuck Storm – Braindrops
Modern Nature – How To Live
Quietly intelligent, understated indie and psychedelia with sax, cello, and a krautrock driving momentum come in this album by Ultimate Painting songwriter Jack Cooper in work reminiscent of Can, Canterbury's Caravan and Talk Talk’s Colour Of Spring with open-ended song structures. Out on Bella Union.
Modern Nature – Footsteps
Miles Davis – Rubberband
A remake of the trumpet jazz great's 1985 sessions that were perhaps his closest to pop music, from original tapes that were ditched at the time by his label, Warner. Now, 28 years after his death they are restored, revised and recreated by Davis’s drummer nephew Vince Wilburn Jr, alongside original producers Randy Hall and Attala Zane Giles. Vocal celebs Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi take the parts originally intended for Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau. It's a mixed bag, but there are several magic moments here, such as Davis's agility on Give It Up, or Hathaway's vocal performance on See I See. A definite for die-hards and others, and certainly superior to the comparative commercial release, 1991 album Doo-Bop. Out on Rhino/Warner.
Miles Davis – Rubberband Of Life (ft Ledesi)
Raphael Saadiq – Jimmy Lee
A soulful, heavily sincere passion project from the producer/collaborator who has worked with Solange, Mick Jagger and D’Angelo, this is most clearly influenced by Saadiq's mentor, Prince. Not quite hitting those heights, but a pretty good effort, from This World Is Drunk and Kings Fall to Something Keeps Calling. Out on Columbia.
Raphael Saadiq – This World Is Drunk
Rowan Rheingans – The Lines We Draw Together
Beautiful, moving folk album by the English singer-songwriter, her first as a solo work away from her sister Anna, this is inspired by her grandmother’s childhood in 1940s Germany. Woodwind, guitar, banjo and Rheingans' Derbyshire voice intertwine in moving tales, including Sky, based on a 1943 diary entry by the Dutch writer Etty Hillesum, not long before she died in Auschwitz. Out on Red Dress Records.
Rowan Rheingans – Fire
Shannon Lay – August
The title refers to when Lay, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, and the band Feels, finally quit her day job to devote entirely to music, and what runs right through this gently exquisite folk-indie album is the theme of a river. Out on Sub Pop.
Shannon Lay – Nowhere
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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