In the absence of many great swords launching their new works when better times come for the direct, the musical present is slower than other years but good music makes an appearance. Launched by surprise, Carnage by Nick Cave and his longtime collaborator Warren Ellis is the Australian’s new take on the spectral in the key of rock after the tragic death of his teenage son. Another litany, in this case indiefolk, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature, by New Yorker Cassandra Jenkins amazes us with her memory of David Berman. And Lana del Rey releases one of her best albums, Chemtrails over the Country Club, where he denounces the “narcissism” of the United States.
The native music shines with the new Sen Senra, bedroom pop with a contagious urban touch, and the sonic sophistication of Maria Arnal I Marcel Bagés, a fusion of traditions with electronics. Jazz lives a new life with the new from English producer Floating Points, in collaboration with veteran saxophonist Pharoah Sanders on a wonderful album, and from Manhattan Navy Blue heals its traumas in an album of hip hop and jazz as avant-garde as it is honest. We also highlight the return of Justin Bieber to the hit field in the effervescent Justice, the electronic glam rock of London’s neighboring Scots Django Django and the fusion of Malian kora and Ballaké Sissoko’s chanson.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: Carnage
Australian Warren Ellis is a longtime collaborator of the illustrious Nick Cave. Member of The Bad Seeds since 1994, both have also composed several soundtracks for films such as The murder of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford (Andre Dominik, 2007) d The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009), reunited in the double album White Lunar (2009). Despite this long collaboration, both musicians had never signed an album together until now. Carnage They composed in a couple of days and then worked for weeks in the studio. There are eight songs within the gloomy style with spiritual overtones that already stood out in Cave’s work before the tragic death of his son in an accident, but which has been further accentuated since then, as we hear in the spectral and beautiful Skeleton Tree (2016) and Ghosteen (2019). Cave’s low tone has always had something from beyond the grave and here he seems to speak almost from the beyond in songs like rock and sepulchral Old Time or the dramatic Shattered Ground. The title of the album itself, Carnage, means carnage and is one of the most beautiful songs, with that precious piano line that accompanies a heartbreaking lyrics: “It’s just love / with a little rain / and I hope to see you again.” The album even dares with gospel in the bluesera White Elephant to reach high spiritual heights.
King’s wool: Chemtrails Over the Country Club
It’s hard to believe that when Lana del Rey broke in in 2012 with the now mythical Born to Die many raised an eyebrow and said that it was too pretty to be true and that it was a ready-made producer. Far from it, the New York artist not only remains one of the most personal and authentic voices on the American scene, she has also remained loyal to releasing an album every two years ever since. When the echoes of the precious man still resound Norman Fucking Rockwell!, the singer and songwriter, from her new residence in California, continues to investigate the concept of “Americana” to find the seams of a country in love with the myth it has created around itself. If on that album she used Rockwell’s famous illustrations, a reflection of a dreamy America, as an emblem of what she herself calls her country’s “narcissism”, here she takes a spin on the “country club” and the “perfect” life of the suburb. She herself embodies, in a paradoxical way, that very American dream as she sings in White Dress, where she recalls her origins as a waitress in a song that oozes sensitivity. The word “chemtrail”, which he uses in the title of the album and the homonymous single, refers to the “chemical trail” left by planes in the air (apparently it is a visual phenomenon but not a real one) as a metaphor for that “toxicity” that is hidden behind the self-absorption of American culture.
Cassandra Jenkins: An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
In August 2019 the world of music said goodbye to David Berman, former Silver Jews, and now we get this beautiful album from his friend and collaborator Cassandra Jenkins in which it pays him a heartfelt and beautiful tribute. Shortly before his death (he committed suicide), the musician was preparing to undertake a long tour with him as part of his project The Purple Mountain. On Ambigous Norway describes a trip to the Scandinavian country that he should have made with Berman, sings melancholy: “You have gone / You are everywhere.” Between indie and a galactic folk with spiritual overtones, An Overview on Phenomenal Nature It reminds a bit of the work of Bon Iver or even Fleet Floxes for its spirit close to the bucolic, although with a more New York and urban point, not in vain Jenkins is one of the most prominent figures on the Brooklyn scene. The precious shines especially Hard Drive, a jazz song by spoken word.
Maria Arnal and Marcel Bagés: Clamor
In the new generations of Spanish musicians there is a desire to return to their homeland roots. After the 90s and the beginning of the century very marked by Anglo-Saxon influence, from the new and popular album by C. Tangana to artists such as Rodrigo Cuevas, Joan Miquel Oliver or Rosalía herself, we are witnessing a fruitful reunion with tradition. The Barcelonans Maria Arnal and Marcel Bagés are inspired by a story by the philosophical science fiction writer Ted Chiang called The great silence, according to which the world is a cacophony of voices in which, paradoxically, that “great silence” of the universe occurs. The duo build an album full of intellectual references, including the American poet Donna Haraway or Paul B. Preciado, in which, according to themselves, they try to capture the human capacity to regenerate and adapt to new situations. It is a curious and emotional album, experimental and emotional at the same time, there are more populous moments that remind Vainica Doble as the delicious Miracle and they even dare with the couplet in Behind you.
Ballake Sissoko: Djourou
The battered country of Mali is the birthplace of some of the best musicians in the world, such as the “desert rock” bands Tamikrest and Thinariwen or the singer Boubacar Traouré, not forgetting the legend of Ali Farka Touré, who died in 2006. La kora , an instrument with 21 strings that is a mixture of harp and lute, marks the Malian sound and has Ballaké Sissoko as its maximum exponent along with his own cousin, Toumani Diabaté. The son of a distinguished Gambian musician, Sissoko has become popular in the West thanks mainly to his collaborations with French cellar Vincent Ségal. On Djourou continues to explore the fusion of African and Western music in an extraordinary album. Sissoko collaborates with various women, singers and musicians, as in the song that gives the album its title, in which the Gambian Sona Jobartteh participates, or in Kora, in which the French popstar Camille sings in a song that mixes the chanson with the deep and mystical sound of the kora. In the rhythmic Rubbing hands raps OxmoPuccino and on Clothes for the moon he goes to rock with the band Feu !.
Floating Points. Promises
Sam Shepherd is an electronic producer from Manchester who signs his prodigious albums under the name Floating Points. After two albums and several singles in recent years, the producer reaches his creative maturity with this seductive and mysterious album in which he mixes jazz, marked by the saxophone of the American musician Pharoah Sanders, and electronics. If Sanders manages to make the album have the depth of the most authentic jazz, the music goes a step further and also summons the London Symphony Orchestra, which provides the string sounds of the violins, viola, cello and double bass. The result is stunning. Composed of nine songs, each one called “movement” and its number, the musicians call their joint search “abstract psychedelia” and their music immerses us in lyrical and at the same time dangerous landscapes, of a subtle and brilliant optimistic melancholy.
Navy Blue: Songs of Sage: Post Panic!
New York rapper and model Sage Elsesser garnered a lot of recognition last year with his debut, Iron Man, in which he practices a sophisticated fusion between hip hop and jazz that serves as the soundtrack to his stormy past. The idea of abuse and trauma is becoming a central element of contemporary culture. With the iconic To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), Los Angeles rapper Kendrick Lamar brought the legacy of jazz to hip hop, forever blurring the porous boundaries between genres in African-American music, and Navy Blue picks up the baton from that album to create an even more abstract and rich sound on a harder album than the previous one in which he stands out for the sincerity and sensitivity with which the artist narrates his difficult childhood. At startup, Dreams of a Distant Journey, recalls the “lessons” of his father when he recommended to his “troublesome son” that he take a gun and adds: “If you’ve never felt pain, he was never really alive.” In the lounge Self Harm sings “getting hurt is not the way to do it, but at the last minute it is a way to deal with it.” The most melodic song is the bluesera Enough, next to Zeroh, in which he says “there are demons in my head but life is special / I have love in my eyes”.
Sen Senra: Chrome heart
Great album by this Galician rapper who is fond of singing with falsetto in which he practices a very pop melodic rap that sometimes reminds Justin Bieber doing ballads and sometimes the rhythmic and tormented sense of another famous angelina like Billie Eilish. Sen Senra makes pretty songs with lots of keyboards and an r & b point in which she tells her little worries with honesty and grace. Many call this sound “bedroom pop” that inherits from rock (where bedrrom rock has a long tradition) the ability to sound fresh and spontaneous in a genre that is supposed to be more produced. My favorite song on the album is Sublime, in which she unleashes that romanticism so typical of the rag-tag generation, and adorns it with a sticky and luminous chorus, and there are more jewels like that Lying in the garden watching sunset with an eighties point.
Justin Bieber: Justice
In his last and not very accomplished Changes (2020), Justin Bieber broke a five-year silence to return as a mature guy too young to be that old. At times very intense, the Bieber hyper was missed mainstream able to compose big hits, at the end of that go the superstars. On Justice, the star greens laurels with an album dedicated to his wife (he loves her very much) in which he offers up to 22 collaborations, some with a high profile, of course, such as that of the underground ragman Luli Uzi Vert in the funky There She Go, a classic hit by the singer that works in part thanks to the ductility of his voice, always his greatest asset, or Chance the Rapper in Holy, a sensational ballad that reminds us of the ability of pop to express emotions. It is good news that Justin Bieber returns to making commercial pop records, he does them well, as we heard in the precious and beautiful Lonely.
Django Django: Glowing in the Dark
This London-based Scottish quartet rose to fame in 2012 with the stupendous Default, in which they mixed glam rock with electronics in a rabidly contemporary song. Three albums later, the British shine with this album in which they sound more psychedelic and more experimental than ever in a music that sometimes reminds of Tame Impala and other times of Grimes due to the constant use of electronic breaks and more electronic breaks that seem to be taken from a broken computer. The song that gives the album its title has strength and sounds powerful in these dark times and they go beyond virtuosity cool in the sophisticated Spirals, where they reinterpret Kevin Parker’s tortured universe even more dramatically.