Album Review Saturdays 2024 Episode 1

Welcome to the New Year on Album Review Saturdays 2024! Obviously, the new releases are not that plentiful in the beginning of January, but there was a few, and there were two that we were desperate to get to from the previous year, and we finally had the time to. The last two weeks of the year were amazingly packed with shows on the channel, panelists live visits, and our New Year’s Eve “Meal To Music” Special (still being edited at the time of this posting). So, let’s kick 2024 off here on Album Review Saturdays with an absolute fusion blast from an accomplished drummer, YouTuber, and music officianato that we truly respect, and couldn’t wait to get our ears on! Then, well, we tap into alt hip-hop rapper reflecting on his age and times, and finish up with some garage punk from Dublin that actually did take the risky release first Friday of the year! Good for them — and ridiculously great for us!

 

LINK TO OUR YOUTUBE VERSION
[Mark Kuligowski discusses these (3) albums + adds (5) that dropped Jan 1 2024 by (who?)]

 

Andy Edwards – Forbella

If you don’t know Andy Edwards, well, it’s okay. We took some time to figure out the lineage of awesomeness he is besides his great YouTube channel. The well known English drummer (and multi-instrumentalist) started out with rock-god turned solo artist, Robert Plant in his Priory of Brian, and then on to progressive status with bands like IQ and Frost, as well as that rather simple yet utterly informative 2021 YouTube channel bearing his name that we are subscribers of.  So, enough about him, let’s talk about — oh him, and his new album, Forbella, which is only available in digital format, and he seemed to have conceived from like May to September somehow!?

To describe this album as anything other than utterly all-in progressive fusion avant-gard-uoso international would be under describing the complexity, impressive musicianship, and miraculous melding of instruments, emotive ambient, and gorgeous and spastic mixing that produced the feast of Forbella.  But, apparently, it all started from the request to write music for a someone’s dance piece that explored the mystery of BELLA and THE WYCH ELM (okay now we have to do some research, or we just listen to the music — your choice), which is interesting in its own right because that request, according to Andy himself was May of 2023.  That’s right, after you listen to this wicked recording, plus the 30 minutes of additional music if you purchased, you have to wrap your head around the process only being May through September (and even probably less than that considering the release date).

We’re going to drop this like a Mole Sauce recipe, okay.  The ingredients of this list to follow, can only be accomplished by the most dedicated and skillful hands and minds of improv maestros! One quart of heavy whipping progressive rock, two cups jazz, two tablespoons of funk, a cup of electronica half-n-half, two tablespoons of African spice and Latin peppery guitar rock solos, a tablespoon of ambient salt, and set aside sprigs of bells, organs and strings to decorate the digital black circle (plate).  Okay, so I’m not a trained musician at the caliber of Mr. Edwards, but I certainly can understand and appreciate the ingredients, the passion, and the plating of it all!  Comparing him to a chef, and the album to a meal just seems appropriate considering the depth of flavors throughout.  Just consider where ‘Tanggula Station’ starts off with vocal and modulated sound and strings, as it gets slowly churned, paced into a mid-eastern whip, yet still grooved until it’s sprinkled in with Santana-esque guitars and incredible toms (maybe they are) and symbols and electronic drum pads and xylophone?!  Yeah, there might even be some Arabian flute via synthasizer (maybe it is).  Oh, come on, Andy!  Help a music lover like me out!  Come on the program and give us the real recipe.  I’ll give you an hour to explain all of this (to our fifty four subscribers, there’s some incentive — NOT).  Seriously, though, the work, the sounds, and flow fits the man and aptitude for creating and listening to music that we’ve been watching on YouTube, knowing we could not hold a candle to something he mutters, matter-of-factly, on any of his shows.

He’s probably not going to read this, but this is a complicated digital spin, and not only did we appreciate and love it.  We wanted to engulf it!  But, instead, we took our time, like he did (or did he, considering the time table), and savoured it all!  Yes, we’re going back for seconds, when we purchase Forbella for download along with “The Story of Forbella” digital booklet and the extra 30 minutes (which we can only assume is the super deluxe mole recipe)Forbella is definitely a severe miss on our part last year, not getting to it sooner, as it is definitely a Best of 2023 listen in not just the progressive world, but a universe of genres!

The Band

  • Andy Edwards – Drums, and everything else that isn’t happening below.
  • Grace Edwards – Vocals
  • Jack Jennings – Guitar Solo on Tanggula Station
  • Phi Yaan Zek – Guitar Solo on A A
  • Roy Marchbank – Guitar Solo on Sarmouni

Forbella Tracklisting

  1. High Phi
  2. Tanggula Station
  3. A A
  4. Forbella
  5. Sarmouni
  6. Tryptych Part I: Affirmation
  7. Tryptych Part II: The Denial
  8. Tryptych Part III: Reconcilliation

 

 

 

Danny Brown – Quaranta

Danny Brown’s style and beats feel like they never get old, rehashed or complacent.  Quaranta, his newest album, which is a reflective alternative hip-hop, rap-tro-spective is another confirmation that his skill set and attention to having “a beat that’s def” (to quote Tone Loc) are not only completely unaged or damaged by his past, but completely void of the easy shitty trends surrounding the genre.  Even when he uses a loop, it fits what he’s throwing down.  And, throwing it down he is!  With all kinds of bass depth, uncontemporary sampling and looping, allowing the grappling to rise and flow with his voice and the incredible beats and music genre inclusions that give it alternative edge in this 33 minute wallop.

Again, I’m going to reiterate the commitment to the beats, deep and very rich and telling.  They wrap around his rewinding memories, contemplations and vocal delivery like panther skin at times, or in others like leather coat on a dank, dark and cold Detroit night, and in other instances maybe a bullet-proof vest.  Any which way, the sound moves you and compels you your attention to lyric as well as pace. His vernacular hits the spot and hangs on a little of that old-school approach, leaving the vulgarity to where it needs to be — not for repetitive effect.  This is not a dumbing it down album to be digested easily by the soul-sucking masses that have temporarily stunted this genre of music.  Danny Brown respects the process, the life, and realizes; while rap saved his life, he is able to combine (not separate) his life and his passion.  This is his style, cultivated hip-hop/rap piece that he and others that listen to can be proud of and know it has a true feel.  At 40, he’s got one of 2023’s best hip-hop records, hands down, and I’m ‘Down Wit It.’

The Band

  • Danny Brown – Vocals, Beats, Lyrics
  • Bruiser Wolf – Vocal on Y.B.P.
  • Kassa Overall – Vocal on Jenn’s Terrific Vacation
  • MIKE – Vocal on Celibate

Quaranta Tracklisting

  1. Quaranta
  2. Tantor
  3. Ain’t My Concern
  4. Dark Sword Angel
  5. Y.B.P. (featuring Bruiser Wolf)
  6. Jenn’s Terrific Vacation (featuring Kassa Overall)
  7. Down Wit It
  8. Celibate (featuring MIKE)
  9. Shakedown
  10. Hanami
  11. Bass Jam

 

 

SprintsLetter To Self

The Sprints Letter To Self has this beginning that’s not for the anxiety ridden – trust me.  And once you hit the 2 minute mark and the song finally kicks off, you know the garage rock-punk angst and fever you are in for.  The question is, are you ready, were you prepared.  Letter To Self is perfect for the world we’re in, the pace, the need, the want, the desire, and the impossibilities we all feel weighing on every moment.  ‘Heavy?’  Well, hell yes!  That’s the second song, and it is exactly that!  A world go ’round kind of song that’s catchy and sonic.  Perfect for when your daughter in the hotel room can’t sleep because she’s got a big try-out in sports and is blaming your breathing, walkers in the hallway, and/or the room’s lack of utter darkness for her inability to fall asleep.  Her pain becomes — just became yours.  Welcome then to the lobby –  pal!  Good thing you’re now listening to ‘Cathedral’ and asking yourself the same question “Is anyone happy?” as lead singer Karla Chubb asks.  This is their debut album, on the very first release day of 2024, and it’s a brutal, flickin’ thing of beauty!

So in answer to her question, “Is anyone happy?”  I can reply, yes!  This album’s pressure pot delivery, pointed lyrics, and perverse realism is massive in minutes, and it drops the mic.  Then your ears are aware of the silence, the questions, and lingering need to go at it again, whether it’s a living nightmare reminder or just a fun romp in the train wreck of a life.  You ‘Can’t Get Enough of It’ is exactly right!  And upon the second listen and third listen, you are now pulling out the clever musicianship in the simplicity of it.  You are hearing the subtle vocal shifts in her voice, the undercurrent in her under her breath lines, the screams that start to beautify the angst, and the harmonies are suddenly in the forefront, spitting to you louder than you heard before.

It’s an all out winner on the very first release day of the year!  And, I for one, can just audio-imagine how cool this is going to be live.  They’re going to take that angsty energy and it’s going to kick the crowd’s asses at every show.  They’re going to make the stage a one night stand — like it should be, hot and heavy. ‘A Wreck!’  Letter To Self, Hello self, buy this album, see this band, engage in life at an all-out pace, repeat! I am alive!

I gotta go the devil’s knocking at my door. I think he wants me to turn that shit down. He’s an asshole!

The Band

  • Karla Chubb – Vocalist, Guitar(s), Songwriter
  • Colm O’Reilly – Guitar(s)
  • Jack Callan – Drummer
  • Sam McCann – Bassist

Letter To Self Tracklisting

  1. Ticking
  2. Heavy
  3. Cathedral
  4. Shaking Their Hands
  5. Adore Adore Adore
  6. Shadow of a Doubt
  7. Can’t Get Enough Of It
  8. Literary Mind
  9. A Wreck (A Mess)
  10. Up and Comer
  11. Letter To Self
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