Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews | April

Tinashe — Joyride

The slow gestation of this second album outing has resulted in the release of several singles that haven’t made it to the album proper. ‘Joyride’ may be the better for it as Tinashe’s R&B vocals sound fresh and relevant throughout. Showcasing diverse range, Tinashe nails tight minimalism with the help of Little Dragon on ‘Stuck With Me’, channels FKA Twigs with a lead falsetto on ‘He Don’t Want It’ and samples Nelly & Kelly Rowland’s ‘Dilemma’ on the sex-jam complete with on-the-beat bed spring squeaks, ‘Oh La La’. The title track is the highlight, and it’s unsurprising that Rihanna considered claiming the track for her album ‘Anti-‘. Listen in here.

Trampled By Turtles — Life Is Good On The Open Road

Mixing Americana, Folk and a hint of Country may put off some audiences. However, ‘Life Is Good On The Open Road’ is in many ways a solid album of Indie songwriting full of rousing choruses, emotional depth and quality riffs, even if they are on banjo rather than guitar. Upbeat tracks like ‘Kelly’s Bar’ and ‘Blood In The Water’ are banjo driven stompers, while more laid back tracks like ‘Thank You, John Steinbeck’ nip at the emotions while retaining a subtle, distant cool. Check it out here.

Ras G & The Afrikan Space Program — Stargate Music

This latest from the prolific beat maker Ras G wears its author’s otherworldly influences on its sleeve as tripped out R&B melds with Funk, Jazz, and Music Concrète. While ‘The Arrival’ is built on cut up, looping vocal samples and handclaps, ‘Quest to Find Anu Stargaze’ twists a Hip Hop beat with warm wobbling synths on a quest that’s over quicker than you’d like. It’s a textured affair but the more linear ‘Water Broken’ is the highlight with its deep bass pulse and darting electronics that hints at To Rococo Rot. Check it out.

Kimbra — Primal Heart

By shining light on darkness, Kimbra managed to bring a polish to an upbeat Electro Pop album while dealing with topics from the less polished moments of life. ‘Everybody Knows’ is an empowerment anthem that shifts perfectly from cold minimal beats to a solid, warming groove, while ‘Human’ is a dark ode to universal perseverance and strength. ‘Primal Heart’ matched the tone of the best contemporary R&B, and slides in that direction musically on ‘On Top of The World’ which finds Kimbra almost rapping. Catch the video here.

Jon Hopkins — Singularity

Following on from ‘Immunity’, which had a relatively defined uptempo A-side and downtempo flip, ‘Singularity’ follows a similar path. The title track leads with slow atmospherics before quickly building into a spiralling vortex of synth, bass, and drums. Track two, ‘Emerald Rush’ follows a similar pattern, working its way from minimal atmospherics to solid house. On the reverse, the piano lead ‘Echo Dissolve’ is delicately minimalist. ‘Recovery’ takes minimalism further still with reverberatingly close up piano patterns drifting through expansive space. ‘Luminous Beings’ is perhaps the highlight, moving from plodding bass through uptempo, burbling electronics, snares and maracas and back to a chilled bass groove across its near twelve minute run time. Catch the ‘Emerald Rush’ here.

Alexis Taylor — Beautiful Thing

While not entirely ditching the piano, ‘Beautiful Thing’ sees a return to more familiar Electro Pop sounds for Alexis Taylor. However, a commitment to craft widespread songs that are often elegant and always dynamic continues. Working with DFA founder Tim Goldsworthy there is both a bold sense of fun and a maturity to tracks that often retain a biting sense of satire like on ‘Roll On Blank Tapes’. The title tracks bundles together Pet Shop Boys Pop with Acid House riffs into an enlivening yet maudlin album highlight. Catch it here.

Father John Misty — God's Favourite Customer

Album four from the eloquent, witty singer-songwriter see’s personal reflection contend with considerations of the common traits of humanity. Mixing tempos and moods ‘God’s Favourite Customer’ is a balanced collection that, like previous releases, continues to remind us of a less acerbic Jarvis Cocker. Alluding to his given name, ‘Mr Tillman’ sees Father John Misty twist a tale that leans towards fiction whilst retaining a sense of the confessional while displaying an Eels like quality both musically and lyrically. On an album filled with strong narrative songwriting it is perhaps the highlight. Listen in here.

Various — Live at Red Rooster Harlem

Featuring the house band from the Red Rooster restaurant based in Harlem, NY this collection of Gospel, Soul and Jazz is an ode to a musical culture that knows how to let the good times roll. Including the souldful sounds of the 11-piece, genre-crossing Rakiem Walker Project, jazz tunes by Nate Lucas, and powerful gospel hymns by Vy Higginsen’s Sing Harlem Choir there’s range and depth to these joyous grooves. You can catch the sound a little closer to home in the London Red Rooster, and Open Ear Music partner, and you can listen to the album here.

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