Happy Friday! This week has seen a marvellous dump of new music from some of our favourite artists including Kevin Morby, Kornél Kovacs, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Kevin Abstract and a lot more artists with names not beginning with K. Have a listen for yourself and, as always, find some words on our particular stand out favourites below.
Kevin Morby – Oh My God
Admittedly, Texas’ indie-rock demigod Kevin Morby doesn’t seem like the kind of artist to fancy himself a concept album. His previous four albums, culminating in 2017’s inimitable City Music, earnt the 31-year-old adoration for his down-to-earth style of classic Americana/folk-rock. And yet, Oh My God seems to be the closest thing to it.
The record’s motif is taken from Morby’s 2016 single ‘Beautiful Strangers’: “Oh, my God, oh my Lord / Oh, my God, oh my Lord / Oh my God”. The original track was written in the wake of Paris’ Bataclan shooting, with all proceeds going to charity, and though Oh My God’s opening title-track lacks ‘Beautiful Strangers’ specificity of the Parisian tragedy, its bright, spacious piano, heavenly choir and ever-so-soft saxophone still give its simple refrain a deep, moving power.
Less a devotion to a specific religion, Morby has created a record that acknowledges and seeks to reflect the metaphysical power of religion in the general sense, its ability to cleanse and regenerate, particularly in a time where modern evils seem almost biblical. JB
Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY
Having forgone convention and released this project over the course of three weeks, with new additions each time, the completed record is now with us in full.
This unorthodox approach shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. After all, Abstract fronts hip hop collective/boyband Brockhampton who released three albums in one year, before following them up with a record essentially written and recorded in ten days.
Stylistically, the album reflects the more mellow, tender, and introspective elements of Brockhampton’s output, with fellow member Romul Hemnani on production duties alongside Jack Antonoff. And this equally applies to the lyrical content and vocal delivery, Abstract’s characteristic self-examination, honesty, and raw emotion taking centre stage throughout, ‘unencumbered’ by the multitudinous voices that enter the fray on Brockhampton’s work.
That said, the record does not fall into the trappings of repetitiveness or predictability – with the polished production, guest vocals, and Abstract’s contributions themselves varied enough to result in a hugely engaging and well-rounded project that comfortably meets the incredibly high standards set by his, and by Brockhampton’s, previous work. JK
Ezra Collective – You Can't Steal My Joy
Of all the groups from the deep and vibrant London jazz scene, Ezra Collective seem the one destined to rise the highest. If you want to see why, just check out their new album You Can’t Steal My Joy.
Over thirteen tracks the quintet show off their versatility, weaving in and out of trad. jazz, R&B, hip hop, Afrobeat, and Caribbean and South American sounds with ease – dub/reggae on the aptly titled ‘Red Whine’, UK funky on ‘Quest For Coin’, boom-bap on Loyle Carner collab ‘What Am I to Do?’, and samba on ‘São Paulo’ to name just a few.
To my ear what separates them from their contemporaries is the fact that amidst all of this, they don’t lose sight of the more traditional jazz roots that are still so central to their sound, and to that of so many of their contemporaries.
Rather than focusing exclusively on the dance floor, they maintain a link to the world sometimes shunned by the new vanguard of young jazz musicians, creating slick muted sounds that would be at home in Ronnie Scott’s to go alongside the livelier tracks more suited to the clubs and bars of South East London. Add that to their ability to draw fans from varied scenes with their aforementioned versatility, and it makes sense that Ezra Collective are a group gaining support from all corners. AW
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Fishing For Fishies
Expectedly, King Gizz have cast their widening net on their latest full-length release, and today’s catch is unabashed rhythm and blues. Authentic harmonica wobbles and boogie-woogie bass-lines take precedence on Fishing For Fishies, but the Aussie septet layer multiple sonic textures, that their versatile instrumentation allows, atop the blueprint of Delta Blues.
Rather than roaming fantastical/nightmarish and mostly nonsensical scenarios, the 9-track album’s lyricism is rooted in reality, and is surprisingly affecting; ‘Plastic Boogie’ laments the environmental indictment we’ve reached with mass production of the synthetic material, by way of a playful, bouncy blues groove. Fear not, it’s not all doom-and-gloom, with the album’s final pair of tracks, ‘Acarine’ and pastiche sci-fi bop ‘Cyboogie’ revisiting their whacked-out modus operandi.
Dab-hands at most music genres they tend to explore, who knows what the sonic theme for the follow-up will be. Neo-classical? Mumblecore? Liquid funk? Ambient dub? Who knows, not I. On the infectious and perky Fishing For Fishies, however, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have us hook, line, and sinker. TC