Audiophile : Akwitz

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#NewMusicFridays – A Month-long Sabbatical Edition

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Musicheads,

It’s been over a month since my last post and it is more than overdue.  However, with everything that has occurred in the last month, one might understand why the content has truly fallen off as of late.  Starting this Thanksgiving week, I begin a new job with a new company and will be commuting to the DC suburb of Bethesda daily. 50 miles each way and an hour commute each way without traffic (unfortunately there is always traffic) will limit my capacity to post as often as I want.  Either way, I have no intention of shutting down or stopping altogether and am very excited for this new chapter.  All that being said as well, as the year begins to wind to a close, the number of releases tends to also taper off as the Holiday season picks up.  In light of the Holidays, it looks like the music world wanted to give us some early gifts.  Just this week we received not one, but TWO  big music festival lineup announcements for 2016, the returns of both Firefly and Hangout Music Fests with lineups for both!  Both lineups are quite strong and offer enough distinct acts between the two, you could easily go to both and see completely different acts, which is a welcome response to 2015’s pretty much boilerplate lineups across all festivals.  I’ve already purchased tickets for myself for Firefly so I look forward to seeing who else intends on joining.

Firefly Fest 2016 Hangout Fest 2016

Then, if that was not enough, what better way to kick off the impending Holiday season with a blockbuster release from Adele!  Her return with 25 marks her 3rd album and follows in the same naming pattern as her previous releases, a time stamp of her age for when the music was written.

Adele has chosen not to place the album on streaming services, so all you fans will need to find alternative ways of listening to the album.  I went and bought the physical CD myself, like I do all my music on a weekly basis.  The album kicks off immediately with the first single that was released for the album, Hello.  This track is the perfect opener; expansive, elaborate and vocally evocative.  The track lives and breathes on Adele’s voice over simple piano chords and a bass drum which builds ever larger as the track progresses.

This is then followed up by Send My Love (To Your New Lover), a bouncy R&B track that is much more fun, although forgettable.  The third track is I Miss You and once again the track is built around a drum beat pushing the song forward.  This track also includes some ominous supporting vocals that sound more like spirits than a backing choir.  When you move on to When We Were Young, you get a surprisingly spiritual song from Adele with fairly cliché lyrics that will probably become the send single, but shouldn’t be.

Remedy marks a return to the simple piano-led track for Adele, and with it, a successful ballad that falls right in her vocal wheelhouse.  Water Under The Bridge follows this track and once again returns the big production built around a massive percussion section, simple guitar riff and supporting choir.  River Lea, in my opinion, could be the 3rd single off the album albeit a deep cut from the album.  Both the organ and vocal harmonies play very well together and the guitar that shows up later in the track plays a perfect counterpoint for the success of the track.  It also strangely reminds me of Florence + The Machine a bit.  The second single however follows that up without a doubt, Love In The Dark.   It is built perfectly for radio and pop success.  Typical Adele vocals, a string section, and piano ballad all make this a winner.  If this is not the 2nd single, XL Recordings and Columbia will have made a major misstep.  Million Years Ago steps back a bit, but in the best way possible.  With a very Mediterranean guitar rhythm, the track is incredibly emotional and plays with the heartstrings in a very traditional way.  As we come to the end of the album the 10th track, All I Ask has diva-esque tendencies.  This track is simply a showcase of Adele’s vocal talent, and is reminiscent of tracks that can be found on any diva album.  the final track is Sweetest Devotion and is both uplifting and warm.  While the engrossing theme of the album is about love, loss and breakup, the album closer feels like she has made a turn and moved on to a new love.

While Adele is the big release from this week, I don’t want to miss out on telling you briefly about previous week’s releases worth picking up and listening to.  There were a number of notable releases since my last post but not all were really worth your attention.  The first, which was heavily hyped was the latest album from Grimes, Art Angels.  In my opinion, this album was a tremendous flop.  I really don’t enjoy most of the tracks on this album and find them both annoying and tedious with the exception of the only track that had been released previously before Grimes stated she was going to scrap her current work and start again, Realiti.  Outside of that track however, it is unimpressive, unoriginal, and just poor.

Now that I’ve gotten that putrescence out, let’s move onto the other notable releases that ARE worth listening to.  The first of which is a group with a classic sound, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with their album of the same name.

The album is a return to the vintage rhythm & blues, gospel, soul and blues sound and style which incorporates vocal harmonies, hand claps, horn sections and bouncy beats that you can’t help but tap and dance along too.  Fronted by the strong tenor voice of Rateliff (sometimes compared to Van Morrison), the band has an easily recognizable style.  The album is bolstered by a fantastic single S.O.B. but the album has plenty more to offer as well.

The Van Morrison vocal comparison is incredibly visible on the track Wasting Time while other tracks like Look It Here has a completely different feel that is almost Tom Jones-ish.  Don’t sleep on this album!

 

Also acquired earlier in the month was the latest album from UK songstress Ellie Goulding with Delirium.

This album is a bit of a change of pace from where the singer had released previously.  While facing the unrealistic negative connotation of being a pop album, there are a number of tracks worth giving a listen to.  Whether it is the lead single On My Mind, or the track featured in Fifty Shades Of Grey, Love Me Like You Do, the album has mature tracks that are far from canned bubblegum pop.

Other tracks, like Codes and Keep On Dancin’ are also worth giving a listen and although the album may not be as indie or dark as her original releases or as EDM-heavy as her more recent collaborations, Ellie does succeed in the delivery of her newest album.


Since it’s been a month, let me focus on some of the singles that have caught my attention since mid-October.  Since it is Adele release week, let’s start with a cover of her by Wet.

At the beginning of October, The 1975 released a new single to mark their return, Love Me, which is incredibly reminiscent of another former UK star, Peter Gabriel, and his 80’s hit single Sledgehammer.

Then, you’ve got a trailer (albeit not a true full-length track) for upcoming new music from instrumental act Explosions In The Sky which is very exciting to hear about new music from the group.

We also received a fantastic video for the CHVRCHES track Empty Threat off the band’s latest, highly enjoyable album.  The video depicts “rebellious youth” who are having the enjoyable and memorable adventures a teenager should engage in during that time in their life.

Weezer also released two singles in the past month, the first of which, Thank God For Girls, is a return to the band’s classic style, with both witty, yet goofy lyrics and a standard track progression that is highly enjoyable to listen to.

Lastly, I will leave you with a new single released this week from Texas soul artist Leon Bridges which will be featured in the Will Smith film Concussion, titled So Long.


And now, as always, here was everything acquired over the pasty few New Release Fridays:

and be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Spotify Playlists:

-Akwitz

Now Playing: Leon Bridges – So Long

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