February’s New Music for Te Awe Part 2

You can check out our first round up of new music for February here.

Silver / Say She She
Mark Says: This sophomore album from New York trio Say She She ended up on some of the Best of 2023 roundups. Three classically trained vocalists create dreamy disco-soul, channelling early 80s NY, with a core band behind them providing an ever grooving funky backbeat. Smooth silky vocals float in and out of the fun, frothy beats, each track taking it’s time to peak, and revel in all the elements at play. At 16 tracks (all close to the 4 minute mark) it’s perhaps overlong, but still takes you on a relaxing journey.
Neil Says: The sophomore album from Say She She is a soulful, disco focused outing that has echoes of the disco gods Chic. However, this album is much more than a homage, it pushes the boundaries of both these popular forms, without losing sight of what makes the genres so successful in the first place. There are even a few moments of very dreamy lite-psychedelia thrown into the mix. The feather smooth tight interlocking vocals are fantastic, and this modern twist on the soulful funky disco vibe is sure to win lots of fans.

Rainbow revisited / Ntuli, Thandi
Mark Says: A collaborative studio album by South African pianist-singer Thandi Ntuli and American ‘Ambient Jazz’ composer/producer Carlos Niño (producer of André 3000’s debut solo album New Blue Sun) deconstructs more Jazz orthadoxy via the inherent improvisation a the heart of African music. Essentially a solo piano-and-voice session, recorded in 2019 in one Venice Beach afternoon at the studio of LA multi-instrumentalist Niño. A minimalist affair, with some minor overdubbing & post-production, it’s fluid delicate runs explore the nature of freedom and the beauty of the natural world with feelings of hope, loss and serenity. A very intimate, vibey type album; you have to be in the right mood and place for. Made the Guardian’s Top 10 Global Albums of The Year, and ended up on Mojo’s top 10 Jazz albums of 2023.

Los Angeles / Tolhurst, Laurence
Neil Says: Two of the most influential and innovative drummers of modern times Budgie ( Siouxsie & The Banshees) and Lol Tolhurst ( The Cure) team up with star producer Garret ‘Jacknife” Lee and an amazing variety of guest musicians and singers to deliver a drum driven creative powerhouse of an album. They deliberately treat each track as its own entity so there are tracks that have trip hop rhythms, Goth inspired electronica , blues roots, warped funky beats or tribal drum driven tracks. The guests range from Bobby Gillespie to Mark Bowen, to The Edge & James Murphy, and all put on sterling performances. The main unifying aspects of this release is its exploration lyrically of the darker, sinister side of Los Angeles, and the quality of all the musical components on show. Sure to be on many best of the year lists.

In ribbons / Pale Saints
Mark Says: 30th Anniversary reissue of the 2nd album from UK Alt-rock band Pale Saints, released originally in 1992 by 4AD. Formed in Leeds in the late 80s the 3-piece band was augmented in 1990 by Meriel Barham, the original vocalist of Lush, who joined the band as second guitarist and vocalist. It could have been the start of something bigger but was more of an end, as founder/bassist/vocalist Ian Masters left the band in 1993, so this is the only album with this line-up and the dual vocals of Masters & Barham. Off-kilter tracks push the ‘shoegaze’ boundaries into some different sonic territories, with everything from noise elements to baroque chamber-pop. A bit of a forgotten band the in shoegaze scene, the album has gathered a bit of a cult following over time, and Pitchfork would go on to rank it at number 34 on its list of the 50 best shoegaze albums of all time.

Iechyd da / Ryder-Jones, Bill
Mark Says: The fifth studio album from English singer-songwriter (and ex-Coral member) Bill Ryder-Jones, after 2018’s Yawn. A lovely warm album, full of gentle self-reflection. Strings, lush vocal backing chorus’, and his soothing vocals all provide a rich layered sound to the album, which is one of those rare gems that seems deeply personal, but also universally resonant, as he sifts through painful past issues & trauma’s, but arrives on the other side with hope and renewed strength of spirit. Reminded me a bit of prime Mercury Rev.
Neil Says: The Corals co-founder Bill Ryder Jones has, since his departure from the band, cut his own unique acclaimed path as a singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. ‘Iechyd da’ is his latest delicate, intimate, melancholic and haunting solo release, a release that is also underpinned with hope and transcendental beauty. His battles with his mental health and childhood trauma are well documented, and inform the album without overwhelming it. The lyrical honesty he brings to the project make it ultimately a very uplifting work.

Big sigh / Hackman, Marika
Mark Says: The fourth studio album from this English musician who emerged as part of the nu-folk scene, before shifting more into Alt-Pop territory. Beginning with a series of EPs she toured with Laura Marling as her support act, and her last 3 albums came out on the Sub Pop label. [We have 2017 album I’m not your man]. Her latest album, on which she plays most of the instruments & co-produced, emerged from a period of writers block and is a more hushed indie-rock sound, her vocals high in the mix with synths, horns and string backings. Intense and often visceral lyrics dig into toxic, unhealthy relationships and feelings. Reminded me both vocally & musically of an edgier, darker version of Tracy Thorn’s solo work.

All that was east is west of me now / Hansard, Glen
Neil Says: For an artist who views themselves as first and foremost a live performer Glen Hansard has been surprisingly busy in the studio or remotely during the pandemic . Recent projects include acting in the film Cyrano. ‘All that was east is west of me now’ brings his live energy intensity to an album release. The album has a sense of bearing witness, a state of the nation address or a musical old testament sermon a la Nick Cave, both in the music and the lyrics delivered in his trademark gruff croon. The album at points is raucous and powerful, and in other subtle and reflective. For points of reference, it reminded me on occasion of a Neil Young Crazy Horse release with lyrics by Leonard Cohen. A release that has brooding fire and brimstone in its soul.

Madres / Kourtesis, Sofia
Mark Says: The debut album by Peruvian/Berlin-based producer Sofia Kourtesis ended up on a lot of last year’s Best of 2023 lists, and it’s easy to see why. Chill, breezy house music, that weaves in Peruvian/Latin American rhythms & textures and Central American field recordings to create buoyant & euphoric music that also feels deeply personal, touching on autobiographical elements around her parents activism, her father’s passing & her mother’s battle with cancer. The crossover breakthrough album of last year, it really fulfils the mantra that music can make you feel better.
Neil Says: Peruvian producer Sofia Kourtesis debut album is a glittering ecstatic house release, carefully crafted to reflect and capture her own musical personality. It utilises cumbia rhythmic patterns with metallic edges, sunny slabs of euphoric harmonic synth underpinnings, and combines club dance vibes with lyrics that on occasion encompass protest song motifs. Sofia’s unique personal take on the cool, club, house , dance music scene.

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