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Michael Wimberly: TMR Presents Afrofuturism (album review by Christa V.)

Wimberly is a jazz drummer and a staple of the NYC jazz scene. This is his first album under his name, and it showcases both his jazz roots as well as African rhythms, spirituals, and stylistic melodies. He’s joined by an all star group of musicians which all together generates an incredibly tight and fascinating album. Many of the songs interact directly with contemporary events, such as “Revolution” or “Radio.” And obviously there are African drum rhythms all throughout the album, but a few are even in African languages such as “Djeli Song” and “Solei Traditional.” Which is quite the contrast from the first few songs at the beginning of the record, which could be modern pop songs that you’d hear on the radio. Finally, of course the title track is there in multiple forms, the radio edit and the extended mix. The groove is simple and effective, making it one of the most catchy tunes on the album!  Favorite tracks: 3, 4, 7, 12

GUM: Out In The World (album review by Christa V.)

GUM is the solo project of Jay Watson, an Australian musician who is also a member of the bands Tame Impala and Pond. He has released several albums under this name, and clearly is building on his experience making psychedelic rock with his other groups. Many of the songs feature fascinating ambient sounds in the background of chill vocals. Some even manage to make a horn section sound ambient, which is quite the feat. Some of the tracks also manage to incorporate more elements from pop and rock, such as “The Thrill of Doing it Right” which starts with an awesome horn section opening and has a catchy beat under pop style vocals. “Don’t Let it Go Out” is similar, but with more of a rock feel with guitars and synths. Whatever track you listen to, it’ll probably be catchy and fun while still retaining a relaxed quality to it.  Favorite tracks: 2, 4, 7

Django Django: Glowing in the Dark (album review by Christa V.)

Django Django is a British rock band with a psychedelic sound that still has fun, catchy choruses. Nearly every song has a great beat to it and a catchy chorus! The feel of the song ranges from folk rock to the Beach Boys but they all come together cohesively. The opening song, “Spirals,” starts with a sequence of notes that get progressively faster, which is sure to get your attention as your anxiety levels raise. Once it hits its stride though, it sets up a really fun groove. Track 4 then has more of a rock feel with interesting vocals, it easily slides into track 5 with a cool backing beat. Especially at the chorus. The best song though is track 11, “Glowing in the Dark,” which has an incredibly fun chorus and an awesome beat that makes this unquestionably a bop. Definitely worth a listen!  Favorite tracks: 1, 4, 5, 11

Detroit Illharmonic: There Are Seven Levels (album review by Christa V.)

The Detroit Illharmonic Symphony is a band with a wide range of musical styles! Their songs go from instrumental to classic rock to hip hop to punk. The result is a very diverse album that showcases their talent. Many of the tracks are instrumental, such as the first track, “War High Ning Cube”, that consists of percussive industrial noises and piano. These parts seem like they shouldn’t fit together as well as they do in the song. Tracks 4, 6, 7, and 11 are also instrumental only. Track 7 then is the title track, “There Are Seven Levels,” and it clearly was influenced by Indian music and Eastern styles. Their vocal tracks also feature a huge range, from creepy atmospheric noises on “I Don’t Wanna Be Human” to classic rock on “Who Loves You”. Their album is a powerhouse, and it keeps you guessing.  Favorite tracks: 1, 7, 9, 10

Dawes: Good Luck With Whatever (album review by Christa V.)

Dawes is a folk rock band consisting of a pair of brothers plus their friends. They have a really interesting sound that’s a blend of folk, rock, and country; where the lyrics come through clearly, but there’s plenty of interesting instrumental parts as well. The lyrics themselves range from light and fun to sad and deep, and often have religious themes or symbols within them. The best track is probably “Who Do You Think You’re Talking To” (track 6) which has a fun beat and a catchy chorus, but it then builds up to one intense ending. “St. Augustine At Night” (track 5) is also excellent since it is the most melodic and soft-spoken song on the album. As a result, it has enough room to breathe, and serves as a respite from the faster songs as well as a turning point in the album from the lighter lyrics to the more personal.  Favorite tracks: 3, 5, 6

Cloud Seeder: The Sea of Alexander Von Humboldt (album review by Christa V.)

Cloud Seeder is a band with a fascinating sound, their songs are almost ambient music, but featuring the guitar instrumentally. It would be really cool music to talk over while making announcements. The best tracks on this album are the ones where they do just that: both the opening and the closing track features found sounds of someone speaking, as well as track 8. It adds an extra element to their music, and a direction for the ambiance to go in. Many of the other tracks sound very cool even without the vocals, such as “C-Beams Glitter in the Dark” which is more uptempo and groovy, or “The Absence of Small Fish” which has some sick guitar playing. Favorite tracks: 1, 8, 11

Cayucas: Blue Summer (album review by Christa V.)

Cayucas is a surf rock indie band from California (of course). Their songs tend to name check various west coast beaches, and their sound has definitely been influenced by the Beach Boys and other surf rock bands. All of their harmonies are super tight and create a very relaxed atmosphere to vibe or dance to. One of the best songs here is “Malibu ’79 Long” which has a really fun melody and a catchy chorus featuring nonsense words that you can’t help but hum along.“California Girl” is also upbeat, it has some steel drums playing in the background which adds to the beachy island flair. The other tracks are cute and fun to just chill out to. Favorite tracks: 2, 3

Stephen Hamm: Theremin Man (album review by Christa V.)

I think that this is the first time I’ve heard an entire album dedicated to the theremin! Hamm’s first solo album (he was in the Evaporators, with Nardwuar, and comedy duo Canned Hamm) showcases the titular instrument, but also brings in elements of hip hop, pop, and EDM. The theremin might be known for creating otherworldly space noises, but that sure is not its limit within this work. There are tracks like “Inner Space” that are entirely instrumental where the theremin sounds lyrical, like a violin playing an aria. And others like “Stranger Friend” that incorporate vocals and feel like a typical pop song. Clearly space is not the limit for this artist! Favorite tracks: 2, 3, 7

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