The Song Crush team have comebacks from alt-rock greats Sebadoh and Bill Callahan, an educational jam from Jamila Woods, and more fresh musical treats. Host Kirsten Johnstone is joined by Elliott Childs, Yadana Saw, and Tony Stamp.
Crooked Colours - Langata
This Australian dance-music trio have released an album called Langata, named after a suburb in Nairobi, Kenya, and you can hear that influence, clearly in this title track. A plucked guitar loop gives way to singer Phil Slabber’s lazy croon (it reminds me of Alt-J), while later we hear what I assume is chopped field recordings of some African voices. It’s all backed by skittering percussion, thumping bass and shakers, making it perfect for doing the housework to. KJ
Kevin Morby - No Halo
Throughout Kevin Morby’s album Oh My God you can feel him relishing in his palette, even while using it sparingly - some percussion here, a brass section there. On ‘No Halo’ it all comes together, kicked off with group claps before veering into some choral backing vocals. For a song with so much swagger it’s pleasingly tasteful. TS
Sebadoh – Sunshine
As someone who never really connected with Sebadoh's earlier records, this album - Act Surprised - did what it said on the box, and surprised me, by being focussed and energetic. Not bad for a band who just passed the 30 year mark. On 'Sunshine' you hear Lou Barlow's soft core, vulnerability, and introspection:
“I need sunshine to ignore / Need a room with heavy curtains double lock up on the door / To know freedom, I’m going in / Have to leave it all behind so I can face it all again.” EC
Jamila Woods - MUDDY
Jamila Woods hails from the Chicago creative cohort that have brought artists like Chance The Rapper and NONAME to our attention.
LEGACY, LEGACY is a rewarding listen if you enjoy neo soul, conscious words and melodic jazz beats of the Erykah Badu and co. variety.
The added element is Woods’ album is her ability as a poet. Each of the songs are named after and inspired by influential cultural icons - a quick roll call of track titles are 'ZORA' [Neale Hurston], 'FRIDA' [Kahlo], 'BETTY', 'MILES' [Davis], 'EARTHA' [Kitt], 'SUN RA',
In 'MUDDY' - a paean to electric bluesman Muddy Waters - the song grapples with the appropriation and influence of black culture becoming the “cool”. The gritty guitar riff and washed out retro feel of Woods’ vocals add to her message that the authentic experience of black America can never be counterfeit.
Bill Callahan - Morning Is My Godmother
The perpetually world-weary troubadour returns with his first new material in six years, sounding as gorgeously bruised as ever. He falls into habits he’s had since his career as Smog began in 1990- using the song title as the first lyric, recycling familiar melodies - but there’s a freshness to the new songs, which are as evocative and heartbreaking as his best work. TS
Créme Jéan - Astrology Ace
Créme Jéan describes himself as “New Zealand's Tramadol John Rowles. A crooning, swooning solo project featuring trash bag pop music and champagne melodies” Which I think about sums it up correctly.
It’s the solo project of Auckland-based multi-instrumentalist Brad Fafejta (Brand New Math and Teen Wolf). It’s low-fi trash sound, but willfully so, Brad is a pro-player, these melodies and harmonies are tight, and strangely addictive. ‘Astrology Ace’ is part 60s psychedelia, part millennial mysticism. KJ
Ian Noe – Between The Country
Ian Noe, from the hills of Eastern Kentucky, writes country/folk songs that explore the dark edges of American society with cinematic vividness. Produced by Dave Cobb (Sturgill Simpson, Brandi Carlile) Between The Country introduces Noe as an authentic voice for the downtrodden, and comes straight from working in the Oil fields of Texas.
This song's phrasing will have you immediately comparing him to early Bob Dylan, but it has it's own rich, haunting imagery and character too. EC