Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews | May

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble — Hypnotic Joints

Soulful with a sense of rhythm borrowing from Funk, Jazz and Soul this seven-piece band of brothers hailing from Chicago take a lounging approach to the New Orleans brass band tradition on ‘Hypnotic Joints’. On ‘Oh My God’ that means looping horns, sliding bass, and regimented percussion. ‘Ibn Abd Al-Malik’ brings untamed, energetic horns, a bouncing rhythm section, and a frenetic sense of purpose. The multipart horn harmonies of ‘Linden’ and hints of hand drums are particularly hypnotic and should not be missed. Catch them here.

Peace — Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll

Released in perfect time for festival season, the warm and personal Indie Rock on ‘Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll’ is sure to uplift the hands and souls of the crowds that flock to see them for good time vibes. Yet despite the warmth, there’s an honest and intimate dialogue of mental health running throughout this album. It’s an openness often missing in contemporary British Indie anthems but one Peace achieve with aplomb. Check out ‘From Under Liquid Glass’ to see what we mean.

Simian Mobile Disco — Murmurations

Experimental as ever, ‘Murmurations’ takes the Simian Mobile Disco sound on one of its most interesting tangents so far. Featuring the Deep Throat Choir this is an album with a strong vocal focus, though those vocal elements play as often as instrumental as they do as lyrical. Whether playing out as an organic synthesizer as on ‘A Perfect Swarm’ or through lyrical harmonies on ‘Caught In A Wave’ there’s a humanising sense throughout ‘Murmurations’ that ensures this will be one of the year’s finest electronic releases. Indulge here.

Leon Bridges — Good Thing

Soulful romance is the order of the day on the second album for Texas’ Leon Bridges. While his debut drew on the classic sound of Sam Cooke, something Bridges’ has described as paying his dues, ‘Good Thing’ sees his cool air expanded to a more modern sound that leans towards both d’Angelo and Bruno Mars at times. Ballads like ‘Shy’ have a more nuanced and personal slant to the lyrics while uptempo number ‘If It Feels Good’ relies on a bright, light Funk that could well make it a summer smash hit. Tune in here.

Courtney Barnett — Tell Me How You Really Feel

There’s no sophomore slump on this second outing by Courtney Barnett. Sticking to classic styled Indie Rock in the style of Stephen Malkmus or Kurt Vile there’s a little more depth to the riffing and fuzz than on Barnett’s critically acclaimed debut. On tracks like ‘I’m Not Your Mother, I’m Not Your Bitch’ there are hints at more British than American Indie influences, more reminiscent of the biting, chopped riffs of Graham Coxon’s solo work than slacker Rock. Barnett’s vocals are more confident, telling tales of personal frustration while continuing to channel a hint of Julian Casablancas. Spot the multitude of Indie influences for yourself right here.

Plan B — Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose

Having almost completely ditched rap in favour of singing, Plan B is back with a new album for the first time since 2012. With heavy Soul vibes it’s a style that flies just wide enough away from both contemporary Soul and Pop music trends to mark it out as something different. From the downtempo ‘Queue Jumping’ to the deep, heavy bass of ‘Mercy’ it’s an album that hints at darkness but never lingers there for long, much as the title would suggest. Instead, there’s a sense of assuredness throughout that drives much of the sound. Try it for yourself here.

James 'Creole' Thomas — Omas Sextet

It’s a family affair as the famed Mauritian Deenmamode family introduce the elder James ‘Creole’ Thomas. Sega and Creole influences are accompanied by Hip Hop and Afro-Beat on this album where the main focus is Jazz. Flowing and free, it’s a collection of hot basslines and slick percussion. ‘The Plumb Blossom’ is fat and lascivious, while ‘Soul Sub City’ is laid back and cool. It’s impossible to pick a highlight on this one. Instead, catch an album preview here then get ready to dig the entire album.

Chancha Via Circuito — Bienaventuranza

Mixing traditional Andean charango and flute with electronic beats the latest album from Chancha Via Circuito is full of life and spirit. ‘La Victoria’ leads the way with bright, Dancehall energy reflected in the vocals of Manu Ranks and Lido Pimienta. It may be the most dancefloor worthy track here, but the highlight goes to ‘Kawa Kawa’ featuring Kaleema. Deftly balancing Global House with Andean Folk as flute and percussion drift around Kaleema’s vocals it’s an enchantingly warm track that really captures the spirit of this multifaceted album. Catch lead single ‘Ilaló’ here.

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