365 Day Music Project Week 9
What a busy week! Hopefully you all enjoyed your Halloweekend events! I myself had a great time playing a variety of shows with different groups in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Muskegon. Each group had a different style, with MOODS providing creative, original jazz, Andy Frisinger providing solid funk, and a party group that was a meshing of the two styles. I then rounded off my weekend playing with a tubist at GVSU’s Octubafest event and seeing local act Withhold the Blood (Muskegon death metal), Soreption, Cattle Decapitation, and Cannibal Corpse live for a super energetic show at the Pyramid Scheme. So much music variety!
This week’s listening list had some great, brand new additions to the plethora of music that 2015 debuted. Take a listen!
International Blackjazz Society by Shining
This new release from Norway’s Shining is another great example of just how well they can craft songs out of a variety of influences! The term “blackjazz,” coined from their first release, describes their sound: the surging energy of black metal with the creative nature of jazz! It’s all wrapped into a modern rock package that makes them more accessible to a wider audience than niche genre fans might believe. They continue to push their sound with a frantic array of hard hitting guitar riffs, distorted synth layers, and squealing horns that fuel the fire by their live sound. I would encourage you to check this out as well as their other releases!
Spotify Sessions by Hiatus Kaiyote
This band is just one of those groups that as soon as they put anything new out I immediately consume it. Even though this release is a just a live performance of their album songs, it’s a clear testament to how good this group is performing music. It’s got some of my favorite tracks performed flawlessly for a live audience, with some additional musical moments to release highlight how hard this group grooves. If you haven’t heard any of these songs, start here and work your way back through their catalog. Their sound is a blend of electronica, hip hop, jazz, and funk that works so well, and it’s definitely the reason they had such a successful US tour recently.
Lumiere by The Afterimage
It’s so good to have a full release from this group! Yes, some of the songs are familiar, but they still are fan favorites! This group has the technical wizardry you’d expect from modern metal guitarists with the playful idioms of pop that drive those catchy hooks home. It can be hard to reign in technical prowess for better songwriting, but this group does a good job of showing off their chops without drowning the music too heavily in sweep picking and tapping exercises. It’s got a lot of weaving guitar riffs that serve as the complex template for some cool vocal lines. This album is for the tech metal fan as much as it can be for the alternative music listener looking for some cool ideas to help expand their own musical visions.
A Thoughtiverse Unmarred by Georgia Anne Muldrow
Literally as I type this, I see that on Spotify this hard working, talented human being has put out another album entitled “Oligarchy Sucks.” How does this woman find the time to craft albums by herself? She records all the instruments, samples, vocals, and does all of the production unless otherwise specified! She goes hard, not shying away from current event topics like police brutality, struggles facing black Americans, home/heritage, and speaking powerful messages within her conceptual releases. This release has a ton of cool moments, pairing some very tasty beats with some skilled wordsmithing. Seriously, go check her out! If you somehow can’t enjoy her music, you’ll still be very impressed by her work ethic and dedication to her craft.
(Note: As I went back to finish this article, she put out ANOTHER release on Spotify. This woman is unreal, it’s so inspiring).
Soul Sphere by Born of Osiris
This group has had long history on my iPod, from high school hallways to college classrooms. They were one of the first current metal acts I had ever heard, placed unexpectedly in a collection of artists given to me by a friend in 8th grade to browse. This was before Spotify and the only ways to get music as a kid was to either ask a parent, find a friend with the music, or attempt to survive downloading it on Limewire. From their first album, “The New Reign,” their blend of tight polyrhythms, crushing palm-muted riffs, and tasteful inclusion of synth sounds kept my head banging and my interest peaked. As the years progressed, they had albums that would raise and lower my interest, often really getting my attention with a stellar release every other album. “Soul Sphere” is definitely one of those releases! It’s got their same technical flare with great songwriting, not shying away from some great technical moments. This group continues to survive because they continue to improve their musicianship beyond mere guitar chops, and this album shows why they have been in the game for nearly 10 years now continuing to polish their sound!
GAIA by Lionel Loueke
I first heard about Lionel Loueke through a collaboration he did with Robert Glasper’s group a couple years ago, an album titled “Heritage.” Right away, I noticed how creative Loueke’s guitar playing was and the combined sound of African and European music heritages. With “GAIA,” it is a return to a trio format, where the interactions are more condensed and involved. Bassist Michael Olatuja and drummer Mark Guiliana (featured a bunch in Week 8) complete the group, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. The music has a lot of variety with some great moments of improvisation and interaction. It’s got dense rhythms paired with a splash of harmonic exploration, all packaged within a tightly rehearsed unit that shines from track-to-track.
Congregation by Leprous
This album is full of surprises, and it shows how pretty much every time I listen to Leprous I get reminded of how creatively this band can work within the metal genre. Interesting guitar riffs dancing around different time signatures and subdivisions without the constant need for speeding scalar patterns. The album favors longer songs to develop ideas, and each track feels like a journey into each band member’s heads. Leprous is infectious in their songwriting, musical approach to the metal genre, and their attention to detail with each note played or instrument sound used. Go check this album out!