New Alternative Music | 25 January 2019

James Blake feat. Moses Sumney | Architects | The Gloaming | Cochemea | Witt Lowry

Hello again friends, freaks and fans of new alternative music of the kind that used to turn the pretty girls at school off you.

This week’s mix features the much-anticipated return of dubstep/electronica wunderkind, James Blake. His new track – this week’s Charm Offensive – got me shaking my bootay in the way I typically reserve for weddings and when I want to ward off unwanted female attention in clubs (you wouldn’t believe how often!)

For the world-inclined amongst you, there’s a bit of Ireland and Native American music in there from The Gloaming (whose name used to be second only to Elbow in my Miserable/Bland Band Names Top 10 list) and – pictured – Cochemea (whose actual human name is something to do with murder, instantly taking him above Guy Garvey and co. in the aforementioned list).

And there’s some brilliantly executed metal and rap in the Military Coup and Quiet Riot sections respectively.

Have a wonderful time, won’t you.

| The Charm Offensive |
James Blake feat. Moses Sumney: Tell Them

James Blake has always been cool. But he used to be cool in an ice-cold kind of way. A dubstep-y, sparse arrangement-y, spooky-lyrics-about-siblings-who-won’t-speak-to-him kind of way. A frankly bloody freezing kind of way.

This last week he returned and he’s got a new cool; a swaggy, funky kind of cool. The kind of cool that, were I a rapper writing on Twitter I might use the fire emoji to describe.

Tell Them is a tantalizing mix of trap beats, flamenco-style handclaps and an intriguing little arabesque string part that builds in prominence and urgency as the track progresses.

The fact that Blake matches his not inconsiderable powers with those of Moses Sumney just adds the cherry to the proverbial cake. It’s not the first time the two have collaborated to awesome effect and the fact that they’ve done it again has basically meant I’ve decided that the duo are the modern Bonnie and Clyde, Kanye and Kim, and Obama and Michelle; in short, THE ultimate rock n roll power couple (I’ll leave it to you to decide which falsetto-voiced beauty is the ‘first lady’ of the relationship.

Tell Them comes from the album ‘Assume Form’, which was released last Friday.

| The Military Coup |
Architects: Change (in the House of Flies)

When Deftones initially released their seminal 2000 album, ‘White Pony’, Change (in the House of Flies) was placed at the end of the record along with the equally tawdry Pink Maggit (Back To School). Tacked on. An afterthought. Funereal dirges soundtracking the somewhat drawn-out death of what had been – up until that point – an album of breathtaking ambition and execution. I was disappointed they’d included them on the album to be completely honest with you. And when they later released both as the album’s lead-off singles I was, well, as devastated as a 16-year-old angst-ridden emo kid can be about such arbitrary things. Which is pretty devastated, to be fair.

So when I saw that one of my favourite emerging metal bands, Architects had covered Change, I was braced for further disappointment. Alas, I needn’t have fretted. For apparently turd-polishing is, in fact, a thing. And that thing is a thing at which this Brighton-based metalcore band are adept, it would appear.

The secret ingredient is undoubtedly the orchestral arrangement – not present in the original – which propels the track to near Kashmir levels of heaviness. Not content to merely fill in the sound, the score here is adding its own notes, its own melodies; passing comment on the tone and vibe of the song in much the way that Michael Kamen’s did so exquisitely on tracks like Devil’s Dance on Metallica’s ‘S&M’ project.

Recorded at Abbey Road Studios as part of a Spotify Session, all the stuff you loved about the original is pretty much intact – Abe Cunningham’s scattergun drum-fills, the slow burn and build of the choruses; heck, Sam Carter even does a very passable Chino Moreno impression for a guy more commonly heard screaming his goddamn guts out.

If you’d like to hear more of Architects, I highly recommend last year’s debut ‘Holy Hell’.

| The Peaceful Protest |
The Gloaming: Sheehan’s Jig

Perhaps you can settle an argument for me, dear reader. My wife doesn’t think Sheehan’s Jig sounds sad. I, on the other hand, think it’s the saddest, most wonderfully wistful, misty-eyed piece of music to have ever come from the emerald isle (sure, most of what U2 have released since ‘Achtung Baby’ makes me want to cry too, but that’s for different reasons).

She’s probably right, of course. After all, though by no means an expert in Irish folk music, I am at least versed enough to know that a ‘jig’ is, by its very definition, a dance and, therefore, intrinsically joyful in its conceit.

Perhaps my interpretation comes from knowing that the song was created by a band whose name is the most miserable sounding word in the English language. Perhaps it’s because I’m a massive fan of said band’s 2013 eponymous debut record and all the unrelenting melancholy that that contained.

Ultimately, what comes through The Gloaming’s first single in three years is a sense of comfort. And comfort, of course, can take many forms. The aroma of warm apple pie and coffee. A long walk on a crisp Spring morning. Heck, some people really enjoy the smell of their own farts.

That comfort, for me, appears to manifest itself as a deep and profound sadness is interesting and potentially somewhat troubling, but nevertheless extremely satisfying when it gives me the excuse to listen to this little number.

| Guerilla Warfare |
Cochemea: All My Relations

Cochemea Gastelum’s parents were mad bastards, you know. Of Yaqui and Mescalero Native American ancestry, the name they gave their son – their own flesh and blood ­–literally translates as “they were all killed asleep”. I’m not alone in being god-smacked by that, surely?

With a back-story like that, I don’t blame the lad for having spent the last 15 years of his career focusing on – shall we say – the lighter, breezier arts; jazz, funk and soul (readers will be most familiar with him as the saxophonist in Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings) rather than delving too deeply into his own ancestral music.

But with All My Relations – as the title would suggest, the focus has shifted back to being closer to home. His forthcoming album of the same name promises to be 10 tracks of “mesmerizing and spiritually ascendant instrumentation”.

Certainly, this lead track sets that tone; a percussion, flute and chant-heavy piece it manages to conjure an ancient tradition that even a basic understanding of American history will inform you has its fair share of struggle and death.

What makes this track particularly interesting is that it also maintains enough signature Gastelum swag to sound like a track from a modern Tarantino western.

The album from which this comes is out on February 22.

| The Quiet Riot |
Witt Lowry: HURT

Lyrically, this is not the sort of song that was ever really aimed at me; a married, 30-something father of one. Far more its target audience, the young, single (read: recently-single!) crowd, as acknowledged in the Tinder-inspired video.

It’s been a long time since I was “busy at the club flirtin’” while “friends just keep feedin’ [me] bourbon.” Far longer since someone “played games with my fuckin’ heart.” Unless you count my wife promising me a ‘dirty weekend’ only to take me to Go Ape.

However, I’m nothing if not a sucker for conviction. And there’s just something in Mark Richard Jr (as Witt Lowry is known to his Mum)’s delivery that makes me believe him completely. The way his voice breaks in numerous places reminds me of my favourite verse of last year – Joba’s on BROCKHAMPTON’s J’Ouvert.

And all the rest of the ingredients fit perfectly into place – the stirring strings, Deion Reverie’s The Weeknd-esque falsetto and the powerful crescendo. I think my 13-year-old self would approve.

HURT comes from Lowry’s upcoming fifth album ‘Nevers Road’ due later this year.

The Outro

And so we reach a cease-fire for this week. You can find all of the tracks reviewed above in the 45 Revolutions per Minute playlist below or click to access the 45 RPM Playlist on Spotify itself.

If you like what you hear (or even if you don’t), please engage in dialogue with me @45rpm_Reviews on Twitter. And, if you’d like to receive updates weekly, please subscribe to the email list to get these recommendations sent to your inbox weekly.

The silence is broken again next week when I’ll return with five more selections for your consideration. Until then, thank you for reading and go in peace.

– SV –

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