Soul master Charles Bradley’s third album for Daptone is a knockout. Beginning with a genuine interlude of “God Bless America,” the album positions Bradley as someone who has gone though career and personal difficulty and come out on top, sounding upbeat and grateful to be alive and working. On “Good to Be Back Home,” Bradley flips things to explore the dual nature of home and what that means, singing of being back in the land where he was born, “sometimes it hurt so bad, sometimes, so good,” before unleashing a howl that better expresses the notion than any words could. That passion runs through the heartfelt and extremely affecting love songs like “Nobody But You.” Throughout, the Menahan Street Band’s expertly played and recorded horns and jazz grooves deliver the ideal backdrop, while there’s some experimentation beyond classic soul on tracks like “Ain’t Gonna Give It Up,” its moog and bass-drum-heavy groove reminiscent of krautrockers like Can. And if you don’t get goosebumps during Bradley’s cover of Black Sabbath ballad “Changes,” check your pulse. A playful flexibility within the carefully cultivated classic soul sound Bradley and many Daptone artists work within proves to be incredibly fruitful here. It’s Bradley’s best release yet from his second wind, as Bradley remains an expert at getting to the heart of soul music.
Hey! It’s almost spring. That means a ton of great albums are on the way. Check out this list of 20 that we’re looking forward to.
The alt-rock trio’s third album was recorded in the band’s native Wales. Check out the fun video for “The Last Thing on my Mind” below, which flips the tables on the female objectification. (It’s kinda NSFW.)
The former lead singer of Husker Du and Sugar’s latest album is a “triumph of opposing forces and properties” from “the master of balancing personal darkness with melodic brightness,” according to a press release. Watch the video for the introspective “Voices in My Head” below.
FYF Fest is this weekend — tickets are still available here — at the LA Historic State Park Saturday. The lineup features Descendents, Death From Above 1979, Explosions in the Sky, Broken Social Scene, Guided By Voices, the Dead Milkmen, Girls, No Age and more. Check back here later this weekend for my review of the event, including a preview show at Los Globos (!) tonight with Chromatics and Glass Candy. F yeah, indeed. (BT dubs, I'll always link to a record first, then a CD if I can't find it on record.)
In preparation, I made a list of 10 great records from the lineup of the show. Check it out.
Lots of people know Alien Lanes and Bee Thousand (get them now if you don't!) but Propeller is another solid-to-great GBV album with great shoutalong chorus four-track gems like “Exit Flagger.” They'd release stronger material later on, but this charmingly lo-fi album was self-released at the same time Nirvana's Nevermind and a bunch of grunge albums would change the alternative landscape forever. While out of step then, it sounds positively prescient now.
Maybe I am bit selfish or egocentric but I think sometimes that certain releases come out just for me. It makes me feel special. We all have our special little secret bands we like and it is always exciting to hear some new band for the first time, especially when you feel like you may already like every band that you are ever going to like.
I have been really obsessed with the Explosions in the Sky for the last couple of years. It is nice to have an instrumental album to escape into every once in a while, for the times you don't really want to hear anybody talking and just need time alone to think for yourself. It helps me focus myself and think about my life. I often use electronic music on these types of days, but sometimes that gets a little too intense and I need some more smooth instrumental music. I really am starting to sound like some smooth jazz new age dude right now. What is going on? I guess it is sort of like some dude that is into crazy free jazz but every once in a while just needs some smooth jazz. I guess I really should not compare instrumental rock music to smooth jazz. It really is in its own category. I have really worn out my Explosions in the Sky albums, so I was excited to find the new band The Photographic. Their debut album Pictures of a Changing World comes out today. They come from the land of Louisville, Kentucky. And they really sound nothing like smooth jazz.
I seem to go through phases of liking music from one area of the world. For a while I seemed to be listening to a lot of music coming out of Austin, Texas. At the end of last year I was really obsessed with music coming out of Sweden. I don't intentionally go out and try to find bands from one certain city or country, it just sort of happens-- so it might just happen that I all of sudden start liking a bunch of Louisville bands. I thought I would check to make sure I already don't. I did also find out some interesting facts about the city.