Open Your Ears - New Releases - July

New Music: July 

Snowboy presents - New Vintage (BBE) The title of this compilation pretty much sums up the contents: new artists making vintage music. Whilst being known primarily as either a Latin percussionist, a big-band leader or a DJ, it's always a joy when Snowboy is given free range over a compilation - and this selection confirms that this just doesn't happen enough. Bridging the great divide between pop and obscurity, 'New Vintage' takes in everything from Amy Winehouse to Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers. Snowboy knows his stuff well enough to appreciate what's good - regardless of how many other people do. This is swing, Northern, rhythm and blues, bossa, mambo, rockabilly, rock n' roll and jazz of the finest vintage. The BBE site will inform you.


The Invisible - Rispah (Ninja Tune) Unrecognisable from the space-pop of the group's debut album, this, the second Invisible full length, is borne of the emotions singer-guitarist Dave Okumu experienced upon the death of his mother. Not a morbid record by any means, 'Rispah' (the name of Okumu's mother) celebrates the way music is used to celebrate, whether in happiness and sadness or in life and in death. It mixes the African chants Okumu heard at his mother's funeral with psychedelic hip-hop grooves, 21st Century electronica and dense bass/percussion phases; all the while sounding like the product of some magical meeting of Brian Eno and 'In A Silent Way'-era Miles Davis. Hear here.


The Welcome Wagon - Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices (Asthmatic Kitty) Religious alt-folk from this husband-and-wife band, as they present their second album via Asthmatic Kitty. Much less input this time from Sufjan Stevens (who featured heavily on the pair's 2008 debut), this is stripped down modern music with a message. Centuries-old hymns sit alongside contemporary compositions, and the album even includes the Welcome Wagon's take on 'High' by the Cure. Hard to believe something so sincere came out of NYC's Williamsburg, but the Lord moves in mysterious ways... Asthmatic Kitty's website will tell you more.


James Yorkston - I Was A Cat From a Book (Domino) It's hard to believe that the last album of (new) James Yorkston material was 2008's 'When The Haar Rolls In'. Maybe it's because his back-catalogue of bewildering, beguiling indie-folk is such a favourite of ours here it feels like he's never been away. Regardless, this is set to join that inimitable canon of work immediately, taking it's place as the energetic little brother to his five previous Domino LPs. Drafting in members of Lamb and the Cinematic Orchestra make clear Yorkston's grand intentions for this record, and, in no small way, does the deluxe boxed set - it features vinyl and CD copies of the album, a remix album, a live DVD, badges and backgammon pieces to be played on the album artwork. Indeed, something very special. Have a listen at the Domino site.


Joyce - Rio (Far Out) Modern albums of 'just' voice and guitar can often fall short if either part is lacking, and over-production is regularly employed to bulk up what would otherwise be a flat album. Needless to say Brazilian samba veteran Joyce has no such concerns. Her Portuguese vocals range from conversational to scat and her playing moves just as deftly from jazz to bossa as she remodels classic Brazilian music by Tom Jobim, Caetano Veloso and Carlos Lyra, placing it seamlessly alongside her own compositions. She's a musical treasure, and is still making the kind of records that let us appreciate why. Best got on over to the Far Out site, to listen and learn.


Friends - Manifest (Lucky Number) It's been hard to avoid the day-glo punk-funk meets indie-disco pop of Brooklynites Friends recently, with blogs (music and fashion alike) alight with hype, and steady mainstream radio play. It's not hard to hear (or see) why - this lot tick a lot of boxes. Like a more accessible ESG brought via Blondie and LCD Soundsystem, Friends know their intentions. It's equally pop that'll appeal to the hipsters and reverbed-synth funk that'll appeal to the musos; and if it wasn't so well executed it'd sound like the New Wave of New York New Wave - and that isn't an acronym anybody wants. Yet. Don't believe the hype? Check the Lucky Number site.


Visioneers - Hipology (BBE) Marc Mac has been ahead of the crowd since even before Gilles Peterson signed his band 4Hero to Talking Loud. Producing and record since before he left school, he's been deep in the soul/funk/jazz/jungle game for a long time now, but he's only recently been able to acknowledge the (sometimes subtle) affect hip-hop has had on his life, through his Visioneers project. While still rotted in the soul that has endeared his previous productions to Peterson, Norman Jay, Kenny Dope and Jazzy Jeff, 'Hipology' sounds like a deconstruction of what makes great hip-hop great. The elements of sound are laid bare, exposing the roots and the true soul of the genre - expert musicianship from the likes of John Robinson, Baron and the Ariya Afrobeat Arkestra see to that - while Mac's production guarantees a smart, funky, modern record of the kind we always expect from him. Read and listen up over at BBE.

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