Genesis Owusu has held onto the reign of being one of Australia’s most exciting breakthrough stars since his first release several years ago. The Ghanian-born, Australian-based performer’s avant-garde twist on R&B, hip-hop and future-funk sees him dancing around a melting pot of his own dynamic layers.
“Smiling With No Teeth” is a 15-track collection that carousels the prodigy’s shockwave of energy, as he blurs the boundaries of genre. Owusu layers the album with complex issues such as race and mental health, under a rollercoaster of oscillating soundscapes. Each chapter is a personal testimony and reflection upon such issues, slathered in Owusu’s chameleon-like presence while not shying away from the harsh realities at the core of the album.
The road to the release of Owusu’s debut album has been littered with praise. Since the release of his debut “Cardrive” EP in 2016, Owusu has landed international appraisals from the likes of Elton John and The Free Nationals and received several ARIA nominations–Australia’s highest musical honor. He was also NME’s January’s cover star and has been labeled an ‘Artist To Watch’ among The Guardian, NPR Music and more.
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Bassist Dezron Douglas and harpist Brandee Younger announce their debut album as a duo, Force Majeure, out now on International Anthem. A comforting album that cathartically encapsulates an all-too-familiar human experience of 2020, Force Majeure features 11 pieces performed by Douglas and Younger across a series of live-streamed shows from their living room in Harlem, NY, all self-recorded by the duo using just a single microphone.
Both active educators and acclaimed musicians in their own right, Douglas and Younger have established themselves as major forces in contemporary creative music. Douglas, a protégé of the great Jackie McLean, is known for his prolific work with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, Cyrus Chestnut, and many others, while Younger, whose work has been featured in Beyoncé’s concert documentary Beyoncé: Homecoming as well as Quincy Jones & Steve McQueen’s 2019’s “Soundtrack of America” series, is also known for her work with Coltrane, and has collaborated with the likes of Moses Sumney, Lauryn Hill, Salaam Remi, and more.
As the early effects of covid-19 plagued the citizens of New York City, Douglas and Younger did as we were all ordered to do — shelter-in-place. Facing the same sudden loss of livelihood as all their musician peers, their reflex as players and community-builders was immediate. Broadcasting via social media and spreading the word to friends and family, the duo hosted “Force Majeure: Brunch in the Crib with Brandee & Dezron,” a Friday morning live stream from their apartment in Harlem, where they performed songs for family and friends. The success of Douglas and Younger’s initial live streams turned their series into an ongoing weekly ritual for a fast-growing audience of supporters.
“We vowed to become a part of the resiliency of this city,” says Douglas. “You can take the work away, but you can’t stop musicians from being creative. Live streaming is just a part of it. The world as a whole saw that arts & entertainment is an integral and vital part of this ‘service’ city. We, musicians and creatives, are as essential to this city as the MTA is.”
From the earliest sessions, the duo worked alongside International Anthem to review the weekly recordings; together they compiled, edited, and eventually arrived at the stream-to-songbook of Force Majeure. Between the choicest takes of tunes chosen for the final album sequence, they put excerpts of their sometimes cute or comedic, often profound banter. Notably Douglas’s voice ends both Side A and Side B with off-the-cuff variations of: “Black Music cannot be replicated, it can only be expressed.” Like poetic bookends for Force Majeure, his words could also serve as foundational principles for the work, underscoring the importance of authenticity and integrity in music.
Douglas elaborates: “Black Music, no matter what genre, is exactly what it is — Music created by Black Musicians for the sake of vibrating on our own frequencies of understanding and empathy. I love all music, but I also recognize that music is a cultural and regional vibration. You don’t have to be Black to play Black music, but if you are out here making money off of Black Culture and have no empathy for the People and the Culture then you are even more part of the problem. Black Lives Matter because for a long time our lives didn’t matter and it was Normal — normal to society and normal to us as Black humans. We have the chance to do right by Mother Nature and we have the chance to do right by each other. We always have a chance. Change is inevitable, but is evil and selfishness and self-righteousness a part of change? Certainly! Is Love and Empathy and Humanity a part of change? Most definitely! What side are you on? We are on the side of Love.”
Douglas and Younger understand that the revolution begins with a transformation of the heart. And for the heart to be transformed, it must be lifted up. “This album is a testament to the power of music to uplift us through the most challenging times,” says friend, collaborator, and fellow International Anthem recording artist, Makaya McCraven. Force Majeure is an uplifting suite of real, soulful comfort music – a spiritual salve, emanating warmth from the hearth of a Harlem sanctuary.
Black Country, New Road return with the news of their signing to Ninja Tune, who released their much-anticipated debut album “For the first time” on February 5th 2021.
Recorded with Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine) during the early part of this year and then finished at the end of the UK’s nationwide lock-down, the album is the perfect capturing of a new band and all the energy, ferocity and explosive charge that comes with that whilst also clearly the work of a group who have no interest in repetition, one-note approaches or letting creative stagnation set in. Featuring six new songs including reinterpretations of early tracks ‘Sunglasses’ and ‘Athens, France’, “For the first time” is a sonic time capsule that somehow manages to bottle the past, the present and the future.
“We wanted it to sound exactly how we love to sound live,” says saxophonist Lewis Evans. “This is basically representative of our first 18 months” continues frontman Isaac Wood.
Indeed the band found they had to stop themselves running too far ahead in order to document this album in a way they felt was as truthful as possible.
“We see this as being a stop in the road,” explains Isaac. “I’ve always been interested in a really honest portrayal of what a band is and what they’ve been working on. I think it’s really nice if people can see an artist like: this was them in the early days, this was their next phase and that they’re quite clear and honest about genuine progression as people and musicians.”
Minimalist and foreboding, ‘Science Fair’ opens around their rhythm section; precise percussion and bass locking in to allow a residual build from the rest of the band, viola and sax loop and layer over fits and squalls from dual guitars, a synth break and an ever-anxious narrative laid down by Isaac Wood before the song caves in on itself during a blistering, caustic final breakdown.’
Originally from Tokyo, and now based in London, Anchorsong AKA Masaaki Yoshida is a highly-fêted producer, and solo live act, renowned for crafting immersive and rhythmic releases.
Anchorsong returns with his idiosyncratic soundscapes of shoegaze, ambient and supple hip-hop grooves, on the Tunisia capital-inspired “Tunis Dream”. The infectious single builds on Anchorsong’s long-standing tradition of “borderless music”, fusing global sonic particles, intricate rhythms, and minimal yet immersive lush interplays of sound.
“I was invited to play at a nightclub in Tunis last summer. It was a very hot day, and everyone was chilling on the beach by the venue. There was a certain scent in the air, and I sensed something nostalgic with it. I recalled that night when writing this track.” Masaaki explains.
“Tunis Dream” marks the return of Anchorsong and a departure from his previous two album’s specific geographical references. Instead, the single – which was written during lockdown – internalises these palates of global influences to evoke “a vague landscape which only exists in my mind”.
“Tunis Dream” also marks a decade since the release of Anchorsong’s debut album ‘Chapters’, a record that kickstarted the partnership with Tru Thoughts and propelled the loop manipulator onto the world stage. “It’s hard to believe 10 years has passed by since I released my first album on Tru Thoughts”, Masaaki says.
Har Mar Superstar started as a solo, modern pop R&B side project for Sean Tillmann in 1999. Hailing from the Twin Cities, Tillmann quickly gained notoriety worldwide for boisterous, sweaty live shows that often ended disrobed down to a pair of briefs while managing to create a balance of trust and nervous energy from unsuspecting crowds. He toured the world priding himself being an “artist’s artist” championed by his peers The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Gossip, Father John Misty, and The Faint among others who repeatedly selected him as a main support opening act. Lizzo even joined the band for a few tours.
As Tillmann’s songwriting grew stronger the shtick began to fade and gave way to more honesty in his albums and live performances as the band grew in grew in size, volume, and restraint. Everything really came together with the release of Har Mar’s landmark classic soul album Bye Bye 17 in 2013, and he was finally, solidly gaining his own audience globally as an artist through a non-stop tour schedule that continued through his most recent album, Best Summer Ever. By 2016 the band had grown into an unstoppable 7-piece behemoth famous as much for their entertainment sweat equity as they were for their ability to seamlessly morph through sets of widely varying styles, energy, and raw emotion.
The band has been playing together for years, and now in 2021 the line up has settled into a full on collaboration of trust that can conquer just about any genre they put their minds too. That is the charm of Har Mar Superstar. You never know what you’re going to get, but they always pull it off with a style that’s all their own. It’s a greatest hits set every night culling from years of output and experimentation by Tillmann, Aaron Baum (synths, vocals), Ryan Mach (drums), Nelson Devereaux (sax, synths, vocals), Jake Baldwin (trumpet, synths, vocals), Adam Hurlburt (bass), and Ethan Elseth (guitar).
The single is the band’s first new music since their debut album “Broken Circuit” (Brownswood), which gained support from the likes of Gilles Peterson (who has since played exclusive demo previews of upcoming music), Annie Mac, Phil Taggart, Jamz Supernova, B.Traits and Mary Anne Hobbs alongside features in The Guardian, The Arts Desk and Dazed.
Fuelled by their respect for the UK’s rich heritage of breakbeat culture, ‘You My Love’ transports Anushka to a mystifying realm akin to the sound of beat-driven progressive rock meeting underground electronics. As Wheeler muses; “I was playing with a little loop of a modular synth and it somehow pushed the song melodically and harmonically somewhere otherworldly.”
Taking instruction from this spellbinding instrumentation and embracing the otherworldly nature of the chords, Port provides suitably supernatural lyrical content for the track. In a dream-like state, she creates a mythological love story set against a cosmic backdrop; “I searched a thousand lives / and we have lived a thousand times / as distant as the stars”. Moving through space with the moon as her guide, Port’s voice vibrates outward creating circular lunar ripples that ricochet through past, present and future times.
Chicago bred, Brooklyn based electronic duo Gilligan Moss kick off 2021 with new single and video ‘Slow Down’, out February 10.
Combining carefree vocals, warm instrumentation and the most infectious of basslines, ‘Slow Down’ is a fresh, feel good nu-disco / house jam that’s been crafted for an eternal summer. The track will feature on their forthcoming self-titled debut album, out April 9 on Foreign Family Collective.
“As The Eagles say, take it easy,” they explain. “‘Slow Down” is a song of universal feeling; it’s driving 5 mph with the windows down, enjoying the crumbled oreos at the bottom of a milkshake. We wrote this while we were decamped at GilMo HQ and if you listen closely, you can hear Merle the dog singing along too. Wash, rinse, repeat.”
Accompanying the track is Gilligan Moss performing ‘Slow Down” in claymation as they morph into different versions of themselves, in the sea as octopuses, in their natural element outdoors, in the club, as children, and in outer space. The duo is observed by an older gentleman who glides through each scene effortlessly via skateboard, picking up elements from the guys surroundings adding color and joy to his own life.
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James Mincey Jr was a Black man who died from a chokehold by L.A. police in 1983 four decades before Eric Garner’s death by chokehold where he was screaming “I Can’t Breathe.”
ABC News released a documentary about Mincey’s death.
From the press release:
Adrian Younge has announced his most ambitious and deeply personal project to-date. “The American Negro” is a multimedia project release in conjunction with Black History Month, and sees the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer share an unapologetic critique detailing the systemic and malevolent psychology that afflicts people of color. Younge is set to release The American Negro full-length album featuring music and spoken work on February 26th via Jazz Is Dead To better explain the intricacies of the album’s message, he will also release the four-part podcast Invisible Blackness and short film T.A.N. – both available exclusively via Amazon Music.
The American Negro is a powerful, multifaceted statement that reflects perennial injustices and serves to act as a lever of change during a time of mass disillusionment: an album for the people that details the evolution of racism in America. It is insightful, provocative and necessary in our fight for equality. “The American Negro is the most important creative accomplishment of my life. This project dissects the chemistry behind blind racism, using music as the medium to restore dignity and self-worth to my people…” notes Younge. “It should be evident that any examination of black music is an examination of the relationship between black and white America. This relationship has shaped the cultural evolution of the world and its negative roots run deep into our psyche.”
The American Negro is not for the faint of heart, including the album cover art–a recreation of “Lynching Postcards” that became very popular to celebrate the murder of African Americans at the hands of White Americans as vigilante justice at the turn of the last century, with no judicial reprisals; in addition, they served as warning signs against any person of color seeking to eradicate racial inequality. Modernly, death by asphyxiation is a tool Police officers have used in killing innocent Black Americans–the lynching of the Black Americans has to stop!
The album’s title track and lead single “The American Negro” captures the poetic spirits of black luminaries like Gil-Scott Heron, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. It cultivates a bold balance between melancholy and pure joy, with deeply poignant lyrics and melodic grooves. “The American Negro” single features The Linear Labs Orchestra with vocals performed by Loren Oden, Chester Gregory and Sam Harmonix. “The American Negro” single is available today and can be heard here:
Created as a companion to The American Negro, Younge is also releasing his brand-new podcast Invisible Blackness with Adrian Younge. The Amazon Music-exclusive podcast documents the development and evolution of racism in America. Over four episodes and a series of extended conversations, Younge analyzes the Black consciousness of America with new historical parallels to the future and the past. As part of the podcast, Younge will be joined by fellow luminaries like Chuck D, Ladybug Mecca, Kenyon Harrold, Michael Jai White and more to reveal, illustrate, and make visible the dominant ideologies embedded in America’s culture.
Marcus Fuereder, better known by his stage name Parov Stelar, is one of Europe’s most successful Electronic artists. His unique sound, his specific approach to music production and the unorthodox combination of musical genres has made him one of Dance Music’s most recognizable names worldwide, with over 1 Million Facebook fans, 500 Million YouTube views and 500 Million Spotify plays, as well as a Fortnite Dance of course.
His 10th album, Voodoo Sonic, is the collection of a series of three EP’s and singles that were released digitally over the past year. A playful take on the adulation that musicians sometimes experience, this new album sees the Austrian in top form with singles like “Brass Devil”, which reached #1 on the iTunes Electronic charts in the US, the St Germain-esque “Piano Boy”, the hypnotic “Crush and Crumble” as well as the previously unreleased “Sophie And the Hacker”. All artwork for Voodoo Sonic was designed and painted by Parov Stelar himself.
Amsterdam’s Altin Gün recently released their vibrant new single “Yüce Dağ Başında.” The flirtatious dance track features lead vocals by frontwoman Merve Dasdemir and showcases the new synth-driven Europop direction the band explores on its forthcoming new record Yol, due out February 26. “Yol” is the full-length follow-up to 2019’s Grammy-nominated LP Gece. The new album also features the previously released single “Ordunun Dereleri,” of which MTV raved, “The band has made waves for its athletic, psych- and funk-inspired romps through music of the past, and on the ice-cold ‘Ordunun Dereleri,’ they’ve never sounded cooler.”
Turkish psych folk band Altin Gün are easy to fall in love with. The band, which hails from Amsterdam but comes from various backgrounds (Turkish, Indonesian, Dutch) create music that opens doors between traditional Turkish folk songs and psych.
They’ve built a strong reputation for fusing past and present to make brilliantly catchy, upbeat pop music, as seen with their Grammy-nominated second album, Gece. Yol, their third album in as many years, continues that trend; while unveiling a number of sonic surprises.
It should be no surprise to learn that the band again draws from the rich and incredibly diverse traditions of Anatolian and Turkish folk music. But however familiar the story, Yol is not just a record that reframes traditional sounds for a contemporary audience. The album, which often presents a strongly international, poppy sound, also signals a very different approach in making and recording for the band. Singer Merve Dasdemir takes up the story: “We were basically stuck at home for three months making home demos, with everybody adding their parts. The transnational feeling maybe comes from that process of swapping demos over the internet, some of the music we did in the studio, but lockdown meant we had to follow a different approach.”