Nakama – Golden City
Philadelphia’s Nakama is a brand new instrumental quartet who just released their debut album: the Golden City EP. Their sound is a fusion of jazz and instrumental progressive metal, which lends more credibility to the term “jazz rock”. Generally upbeat, the EP is also quite interesting in its choices with time signatures and chords, although these are more widely spread out than I’d have wished. Nevertheless, Golden City is a fun and promising debut for the band!
XL-55 – … Delenda est!
It’s a little hard to find the music of XL-55 to show you, but if you don’t like the sound quality of the live video above, head to the band’s VK page to stream the whole album!
XL-55 is a jazz fusion band from Russia and fronted with an accordionist, a somewhat rare occurence, and undeserved for such a cool instrument! … Delenda est! is the group’s second album, and you will have a good time. Although it’s nothing too surprising or out of the ordinary, I think the use of an accordion as a main instrument made it worth the words.
Elephant9 – Greatest Show on Earth
The next album by Oslo’s experimental jazz band Elephant9 is one hell of a trip in the worlds of psychedelic prog and jazz fusion. Greatest Show on Earth is filled with relatively simple ideas that get expanded again and again until they are unrecognizable, and this is what most of the thirty-six minutes of the album consists of. It’s wild, and the distorted organ sounds make it all the more exciting! Be sure to not miss the beat with Rune Grammofon’s latest hit!
Hinterlandt – Sollbruchstelle
Hinterlandt is not a new name, here. The experimental chamber music band has released many interesting and intriguing sounds to the world, and Sollbruchstelle is but the latest. Laid out in three plans, it is one of the most adventurous of their outputs. Hopping between more straightforward passages and definitively out-there moments, it defies conventions and categorization. One thing that hit me the most was the strength with which the guitar was plucked, at times, making it go way out of tune and enter the realm of accidental and momentary microtonality. Not for the faint of heart, but none of you is… That I know!
Nishaiar – Irix Zerius
Nishaiar is an Ethiopian metal band; that alone is a rarity, but there’s more! The band’s main attraction is how they merge atmospheric black metal with traditional Ethiopian music, as well as a whole lot of new-age-like use of keyboard pads and ambiances. While I found their previous works to be promising, they were a bit lacklustre; either relying too heavily on the metal side of things or just not being thoroughly interesting. That is one thing Irix Zerius improves on. I don’t recall hearing as much atmospheric qualities in their earlier output, and the inclusion of traditional instruments and singing is very well done. While there is still a lot to improve upon – as there always is –, Irix Zerius is an outstanding work of art that merits attention.
Jack Tickner – Reassuring Weight
With his 11-limit 22-tone just intonation music, Sydney’s Jack Tickner does everything except leave people indifferent. Some love this, some viscerally hate it, and nobody is wrong (except some are wronger). Reassuring Weight is a microtonal indie rock album, and the chosen tuning system is far from being the most accessible. This, of course, gives it points from the get go, but all of the four songs on this little EP is as charming as the previous one, and as challenging as the next. One highlight for me is “Ode to Dogs”, which sounds just so odd and clumsy, it’s just how I envision a labrador trying to make popular music and failing miserably, but in such a charming way. I don’t mean any disrespect by saying this, this EP is amazing!
Contraband – Reloaded
Contra, the band, born anew under the Contraband brand, re-released their 2008 album recently, and soon thereafter started to publish live recording videos of new songs (check them out, they’re incredible)! This process happened through all of 2017, and culminated in the release of Reloaded, a brand new album, just ten years after their debut, with seventy-five minutes of new video game music, jazzified. I love their versions especially, since they go above and beyond a mere jazz rendition of the original score, and add a bunch of new sections, complete with improvisation, and a few other liberties. This album is great for video game music and jazz fans!
Stickman – Lawan diri
Lawan diri is a new album from Stickman, an Indonesian alternative rock band that borders on math rock and post-hardcore, but stay on the lighter, poppier side of things. The album is very sweet sounding and is a treat for those who enjoy some lo-fi indie rock. The band is fronted by both female and male vocals, and they are both excellent in their role, as is everyone else in the band. Far from being a platform for musicians to showcase their instrumental talents, Stickman is more of a songcraftsmanship display, as the compositions are on point! On top of that, the art for the album and its accessories are just beautiful; grab one if you can!
עלמה זהר (Alma Zohar) – חיים משוגעים (Khayim m’shugáym)
חיים משוגעים (Khayim m’shugáym) is the latest album of Israeli singer עלמה זהר (Alma Zohar). The album seems to bridge traditional and contemporary worlds, as a sort of electro-folk pop, which seems to fit the label of Mizrahi music, although I’m no expert. Some odd time signatures made their way on disc here, and I think this is because they are at least somewhat widespread in the region’s traditional music repertoire, meaning they aren’t as off-putting to the masses as they would be if played on the radio in North America. Either way, from my perspective, this is an interesting pop album to listen to, so I figured I’d recommend it here!