Maytime, people. Spring brings bounty, and what a haul in the musical sense. King of the crop kicks off the show this week – the new Daft Punk is a bit of a monster, mostly thanks to Nile Rodgers effortless geetar work. Can the rest of the album live up to this??
But there’s more than just the Punk. Terri Walker and Nicole Ray were kinda successful on their own but together they’re Lady and much better for it. Truth and Soul records score another winner, the track we have here is ‘Money’. For fans of Nicole Willis and others of that ilk.
Beats. We have them. Oliver Daysoul, one time singer with Onra, brings us a Marvin influence, while Pomrad and Letherette get boogietastic. Tall Black Guy (and he is tall! Did you see that photo of him with Giles Peterson?!) looks to have a superb LP on the way and the first single is here for you – Mon Amie De’triot. How many love letters have been written to that city?
The Groovers let us get mellow after that before we go all jazz. French jazz! Heavenly Sweetness and Light in the Attic have teamed up on a great compilation called ‘Freedom Jazz France’ (see what they did there?) and WYWR gives you Sylvain Krief’s ‘Israel Suite’. After that, old eccentric soul – Numero have done it again with their comp of tunes off the Dynamite label and you’re getting The Webs and Doc & Sal.
Two story songs next – who doesn’t love a story song? The dude from Iron and Wine has a problem with some guy in a white car, while Bill Withers’ protagonist has been drinking too much.
After that, extended Marvin. The unedited version of ‘T Plays it Cool’ from the recently reissued Trouble Man soundtrack, and then some rare and previously unreleased Shuggie Otis – ‘Walking Down the Country’. Jonti produces Homeboy Sandman (“I’m solid as a buff elk”) after that (hurry up with a new Jonti album already) and Coultrain delivers something slightly different with a free download on Plug Research. His LP sounds interesting too.
The (rather long) finishing straight next: Phoenix get all moody with the title cut off their new album Bankrupt! and then Planet Mu give us a husband and wife project from Mr and Mrs Paradinas called Heterotic. Lovely production, great sound. After that and keeping it relatively smooth there’s two on Permanent Vacation who really had a hot streak a few years back – Sally Shapiro gets remixed by Bogdan Irkuk and Greg Wilson edits 40 Thieves. Both float my (Adriatic) boat.
Toro y Moi is AKA Les Sins for the next one, and then Common Sense channel Sting with a cover of the Police’s ‘Voices Inside My Head’. Am told it’s a lost Loft classic. Futureboogie’s James Welsh gets all craven, Bobby Broswer, purveyor of two fine EPs on 100% silk in the last nine months or so, soundtracks Tony’s Party and then Mandy Smith, she of the 1980s tabloid scandal with Mr Bill ‘Diary’ Wyman, gives us what I am assured (from my Mastercuts Balearic compilation album) is a Balearic classic. I like it.
To finish: ‘Springtime’ by Saint Etienne. Go on, be a lamb, get outside and gambol.
For full tracklisting and links to buy the tracks, head to www.whatyouwantradio.com
Listen/purchase Ceremony by Raashan Ahmad
Listen/download Truly Yours by Thallus
from Baths’ 2nd LP, Obsidian (May 28, 2013).
Three years ago, Baths dropped his startlingly beautiful debut, Cerulean. Released on Anticon, the record blurred the line between post-modern pop and the LA beat scene with devastating emotional clarity. Its tone was as celestial as its album title, taken from a shade of blue typically used to describe the sky.
Cerulean earned year-end “Best Of” recognition from Pitchfork and The Onion’s A.V. Club and established Chatsworth-raised Will Wiesenfeld as one of the finest young composers (and falsettos) in Los Angeles. His sophomore album, Obsidian finds him emerging as one of the most complete artists of his generation. As you might expect, the name hints at darker overtones. The mood is shimmering and pitch-black, the lovely blood flow has turned into lava.
“I’ve always been inspired by really dark material and from the beginning I knew I wanted the songs to be much darker, both musically and lyrically,” Baths says.
Following the success of his first album, Baths spent much of the next year touring to progressively larger audiences. He also released an ethereal ambient project under the Geotic name. When he returned home in July of 2011 to record his sophomore effort, he was bedridden for months because of an E. Coli bacterial infection, barely able to digest solid food and bereft of creative energy.
Obsidian understandably has these scars etched into its imprint. The first song is called “Worsening,” subsequent cuts include “Ossuary,” “No Past Lives” and “Earth Death.” While the mood is often bleak, it’s never bloated. “Miasma Sky” balances being “swallowed alive by the sky” with a gorgeous piano groove and levitative croon that could detonate a disco club night. The album is unusually cohesive, suffused with heavenly choirs, head-nodding percussion, sexually-charged lyrics, and wry humor.
“The songs and lyrics all came out of a pretty fucked and arduous process of trial and error,” Baths says. ”But I hope people understand that I’m not the depressed, suicidal, and death-obsessed person the record may paint me as being. These are just darker areas that I wanted to explore.”
The areas of exploration include reading and research into the Dark Ages and the black plague, different versions of Hell as spied through Dante’s Inferno, the Bible, and old world illuminated manuscripts and paintings. These noirish fascinations met the virtuosic chops of a 24-year old who has been playing piano for 20 years.
“Anything I found that felt like a unique vision of darker emotions or atmospheres, I tried to absorb,” Baths says. “Being a positive and outgoing guy made it that much more difficult getting into that mindset. It was a matter of tapping into that and returning with songs that felt genuine and somehow from my own personal experience.”
This is the power of Obsidian. It combines universal questions with personal pain. On just his second album, Baths exhibits what only a few artists are capable of: painting in any shade they desire.
Slow-dance jam about regret.
Diana’s gift of subliminal seduction will always be her magic. She induces in me a mild vertigo whenever she performs before my camera. She once said that she thought of me as her trainer. I put her through more work and moves than he!
- Victor Skrebneski