Getting right into it with the first album that features six artists who have covered a song, but with a twist, the pronouns of the characters in the song have changed. The album is called Universal Love and feature Bob Dylan, St. Vincent, Kele Okereke, Valerie June, Benjamin Gibbard, and Kesha. Dylan croons his way through his take of "He's Funny That Way" and shows the master lyricist still cares about what's going on in the world though he may not write about it anymore. St. Vincent takes on a 60's hit single and makes it completely her own with some of her signature guitar work. Really anything she has done lately has just been gold and I really hope she plays this song live with her band when she goes back out this summer. Kele kept The Temptations feel for the most part on his take of "My Guy". Valerie June's version of "Mad About the Girl" is glorious and she was happy to tackle the song as the original writer Noel Coward was gay and his version wasn't released in 1932 due to homophobia. Ben Gibbard keeps true to The Beatles with "And I Love Him" and it's right in his wheel house. Finally Kesha does her best Janis with "I Need a Woman to Love". The whole idea of the project was for these songs to be used at same-sex weddings and be anthems for them. All six artists jumped at the chance to be part of it, as did the writers of the original songs that had to be asked if their lyrics could be changed for the occasion. I love the project and it makes me happy to love so many artists that are on board with this. People should be able to marry and be with whomever they want as it only affects them, not you, so you know let people love who they want to.
I can honestly say I have never heard a song by Eels before but scrolling through new releases the artwork struck my eye and then I started to listen to his latest record The Deconstruction and I was blown away. The point of this album, as stated in an NPR interview, is that life is in constant motion and this comes through in a majority of songs. "Premonition" talks about how life will continue to go on no matter what. I mean if that isn't perfect when talking about life being in constant motion than I don't know what is. This is a collection of sad songs, but they carry a gigantic weight of hope. "The Deconstruction" starts the album off with strings and weird electronic sounds and I believe the song is about once you're completely broken down, you can bring it all back together. The music swirls around and eventually comes back together again. He did a great job of making the music fit the lyrics and I cannot believe I've never heard of Eels before this. There are a few songs that are less than a minute on the record and are instrumentals and feel like a reset button on the record each time to move to a new mood. "The Epiphany" is a haunting orchestral two minutes of pain and suffering and is followed right by "Today is the Day" that is this lovely upbeat rocker about starting over again. These back and forth between pain and joy is all over the album and though there are 13 songs, I could have taken even more.
Traversing all over the world to record their latest record, Unknown Mortal Orchestra has made a psychedelic monster in Sex & Food. The album's loose theme is about what we consume and how it makes us feel and what it does to our body and mind. A lot of people may not eat right, but at least they can put on this album and forget their troubles for a bit in that department. This record is part peak 60s peak psychedelia and part 70s ripping stoner rock and roll and part 70's funk and soul. There's heavy guitar distortion on "American Guilt" and then wispy dream like playing on "Ministry of Alienation". On "The Internet of Love (That Way) the band stretch out and slow things down with some soothing sounds with what sounds like a Hammond B3 and change their sound yet again and keep that vibe going into the next track "Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays" that turns into a dance track. "The Doomsday" has a dark acoustic groove that mixes with the haunting vocals and just hangs overhead for the entirety of the track. Recording these songs in a bunch of different countries truly affected how this album sounds, but its still cohesive. With the feeling of the whole world being turned upside down over the past few years, many of the places they recorded in (Seoul, Hanoi, Mexico City, Auckland, and Reykjavik) slipped into these songs, possibly even unconsciously. The album ends on "If You're Going to Break Yourself" and it is a call to take care of yourself because if you're hurting, you're probably affecting others around you. I like that this sad song closes this record calling on people to take care of themselves because most likely others are watching this happen to you and they would love to help you, but it's hard to see that sometimes. Taking a break from certain things is a must in these times to help yourself and others around you.
When a debut album comes out, there are a lot of expectations put on the artist by literally everyone. Not everyone's debut album turns out the way they want to as it's usually the first time that the artist is working "professionally". Kali Uchis's debut Isolation is how you do it correctly. The whole record is stuck in the 70's musically but somehow it fits in perfectly to today's world. Kali already had a mixtape and an EP, so this isn't her first go around, but this is the first time she has been able to collaborate with so many people, and when she collaborates she makes sure that those people are used just right, a lesson I believe she learned from Damon Albarn when helping out with Gorillaz's Humanz. "After the Storm" has Bootsy Collins and Tyler, The Creator both doing what they do best while not overshadowing Kali. "Tyrant" includes Jorja Smith who compliments Kali while they both talk about the politics that come with sex today. The last two songs of the record "Feel Like a Fool" and "Killer" are all Kali and really show off what she can create. Her voice is smooth and the songs drip of funk and soul.This is Kali at her best. I honestly wasn't expecting to be taken aback by it, but I'm hooked by Kali. This is just the start for this 24 year old wonder.
Sometimes a project gets announced and you just get really excited about it. Like the kind of excited that there is literally zero chance it lives up to your expectations. Also sometimes that project is in your queue for a few weeks and you feel bad it was left to the wayside. I have only known about the bands Dungen and Woods for about a year or so, but when I heard they made an album together I flipped out. This is quite the heady combo and to say they met expectations and honestly blew past them would be an understatement. Clocking in at roughly 30 minutes, Myths 003 is heavy on the wild psychedelic rock and warm feelings of spacey folk rock. "Loop" starts us off with what I believe to be some kind of a flute mixing in with great guitar work in a short instrumental that sets the tone. "Turn Around" was covered in New Music Volume 2. "Marfa Sunset" is clearly named for where the record was recorded and it definitely has the feel of the day ending and night slowly coming on with the constant eery high pitch early Pink Floyd sounds and the tambourine or symbols that constantly being played. The night is in full effect when "Morning Myth" comes along despite the name and things get funky and weird. "Jag Ville Va Kvar" is this laid back easy going song that feels so different from everything else on the album. I really like that these guys stretched themselves out and got so many amazing sounds on the record and really went for it. "Saint George" is a piano led monster fusing some jazz into the mix of the record before becoming an absolute onslaught of a rocker. There's a lot that goes on in this song and on multiple listens you can find something new each time. The record closes with "Just For the Taste" is a great send off for this collaboration, but hopefully not the end. It's an upbeat instrumental with a twangy guitar settling in above the drums that really drive the hell out of this track. These seven songs are glorious and I really hope we get some more from these two bands working together again down the road.