Welcome to A&A. There are 12 full reviews in this issue. Click on an artist to jump to the review, or simply scroll through the list. If you want information on any particular release, check out the Label info page. All reviews are written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.|
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A&A #337 reviews
One part Miami pop, one part disco, one part electronic experimentalism and a dash of funk. The duo that makes up Afrobeta prefers to not use their real names (Cuci does the singing and Tony Smurphio takes care of the music), but they should reconsider. There's no need to hide when you make such infectious music.
Slinkier and funkier than yer average dance pop act, Afrobeta also throws in some intriguing electronic song construction. One track, for example, is a slice-and-dice of the "Family Man" theme. There's also a fairly routine run-through of "Whip It" alongside remixes from the band's first album and a handful of originals.
So I'm guessing this is some sort of placemarker EP, but even so the engaging spirit of Afrobeta shines through. The best pieces here are the originals. Can't wait for the official second edition.
Johnny Bertram and the Golden Bicycles
The sound is much more electric, but the arrangements are as far-reaching and orchestral as before. Bertram and his band have decided to embrace the rock roots of their ambition, even while keeping touch with the subtle grace of their first album.
I've been on a 70s rock kick for the last few months, and the way Bertram fuses grace with power reminds me a lot of the best examples of that sound. The easiest comparison, of course, is the difference between the Posies first album and their Geffen major-label debut. The bones are the same, but the sound is so much more.
And yes, more electricity and volume do amplify the gorgeous settings of these songs. In truth, beauty runneth over here. These songs are so well-proportioned that I can hardly thing of a better way to put them together.
This one has a real chance to become a classic. The songs are exceptional, and they're played with a charmingly loose flair. But it's the gracefully lush production that simply makes this album timeless. Absolutely wonderful.
Ku-Thar'-Tik (Sad Songs for a Sad World/Cat Years) double EP
I think this ended up being released in two pieces, with Cat Years being the more recent entry. Not sure, and it doesn't matter. To my ears, Sam Densmore has finally found himself as a songwriter.
His stuff with Silverhawk was okay, but generally up-and-down. The work on these two EPs is more subdued, but also much more consistent. He's got a voice now, and his songs work much better.
The sound is extremely muddled and lo-fi, but that suits Densmore's understated delivery. These songs sound old, and the production plays that up to the hilt.
Is it folk? Rock? Americana? Something else? Yes. Densmore sounds like he's simply tossing off song after song. But after a while, it becomes apparent how good these pieces really are. No matter how you might classify this release, it's a a winner.