Doubtful Sounds is dedicated to bringing you the best news, reviews, interviews and associated ephemera from the wide world of music. From indie and americana to electronica, experimental and metal - we aim to keep you informed across a range of genres.
Herbie Hancock has been playing jazz onstage for nearly sixty years and even though this was his second show of the day in the Opera House’s Concert Hall, the septuagenarian seemed to have boundless energy as he took the audience through a spellbinding two hours of jazz fusion.
Hancock has always been one to evolve with the times and branch out from traditional be-bop jazz into soul, funk, classical and more. Tonight he was still sounding like he was channeling the future with a lineup of Lionel Loueke (electric guitar), James Genus (electric bass) and Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and himself on piano, synth and keytar. At one point he introduced a song as one he wrote in the ‘70s and as the audience cheered he added – “2070, I’m ahead of my time!”.
The focus of the set was firmly on songs he wrote as technology was changing and electronic music was becoming established and often taking the lead in jazz, funk and soul music. Actual Proof was a real highlight. Hard funk and ridiculously virtuosic soloing from the band, especially Colaiuta on drums. What made the band so impressive was their ability to work as a cohesive, fluid and rhythm-based unit and then pull things back to spotlight individual solos that never outstayed their welcome. These were some of the finest players in the world yet there was very little ego emanating from the stage. Hancock was flashing grins and kicking out his leg from beneath the piano, clearly revelling in the musical interaction with his band. As he introduced them he seemed genuinely and humbly in awe of their talents.
Hancock himself divided his time between his various instruments, pacing himself before going deep on a solo, notes near flying off the keys in a blur of fingers, whether it was light, dancing runs or heavy, slamming chordal accents. He remains a dazzling and inventive player, still taking his music to thrilling and otherworldly places. For the most part the set was upbeat and constantly in motion. A comparatively quieter moment came with the soulful Come Running To Me featuring Hancock’s synth-manipulated vocal adding yet another element to their sound.
Late set highlights came in the form of two of his masterpieces and most recognisable compositions in Cantaloupe Island, recorded in 1964, and the closing future funk encore of Chameleon,from his 1974 album Head Hunters. Hancock took centre-stage with his keytar, swapping solos with Loueke and at the age of 79, leaving the stage with an airborne jump to signal the final note as the audience rose to their feet in unison.
This was no artist playing it safe at the tail-end of his career, this was a celebratory night of music and creative spirit par excellence, from a true innovator and legend of modern music.
We first cottoned onto Babe Rainbow with their great infectious single ‘Johny Says Stay Cool’. There was plenty to love about last year’s self-titled album so we’re stoked that they’ve followed it up quickly with this aptly titled stoner soul jam ‘Something New’.
Swirling, driving, insistent psychedelia is the order of the day on ‘Mantra’, the new track from Detroit band 3ft. It’s one of those songs that feels like it could spiral on endlessly, much like Wooden Shjips or Stereolab at their most hypnotic moments. 3ft have more of a droning psych-rock edge though, filtered through Krautrock, The Clean and Velvet Underground style jangle and verve.
The song comes from their recently released album 21st Century Drone which has plenty of great tracks like this one.
Christopher Willits is an acclaimed ambient composer and musician who has opened for the late Jóhann Jóhannsson and released two albums with Ryuichi Sakamoto and productions with Tycho as part of his impressive back catalogue.
The five compositions on his new album Sunset move from warm to cool designed as a soundtrack to embrace the day’s end. ‘Coast’ rises and falls like the ocean currents, a tidal blend of synth and field recording that conjures up a sense of immense space and the calming zen-like hypnotic nature of the sea.
Written by Christopher Willits Recorded at SnowGhost in Whitefish, Montana
Produced by Christopher Willits
Mixed at The Dojo in San Francisco, California and Overlap Studio in Oakland, California
Straight outta Vancouver, Tanglers cut a fine figure of slinky indie rock on this track ‘Tallboy’. It slithers and skulks along in the shadows like a mooching private investigator. Subtle melodies that sink into your memory cells and a great rhythm section make this a great first introduction to the band whose debut full-length album ‘Tangled in Time’ was released on May 4th, 2019.
Here’s the debut single from Sydney singer-songwriter (and guitarist for Julia Jacklin), Blain Cunneen. ‘Feelin’ Kinda Fragile’ comes from his four track EP The Prizes We Demand which is due out later this year and finds him crafting a fine line in art-pop that reminds us of Beck, Sparklehorse and dEUS .
The song’s melodic hooks are draped over some wonderful angular and interwoven instrumentation, where a light psychedelia is built on simplicity and strong musical ideas rather than being oversaturated in effects or weirdness for weird’s sake. We’re looking forward to hearing the rest of the EP later in 2019.
A while ago we posted about a track from Joey Beltran called Childhood Memories which was our first taste of this new compilation Pure Sounds of Michigan, an ambient album that invites listeners to take a sunrise-to-sunset tour of Michigan from coast to coast as interpreted by some of the state’s most talented musicians. The album came out a few weeks ago on Detroit-basedAssemble Sound, and was imagined, created, and released by Michigan’s tourism arm, Travel Michigan.
This track is by ambient stalwarts Windy & Carl, and it’s a beautiful piece, soaked in environmental sounds and melancholic wanderings through a real and digital landscape. There’s a sense of wonder and curiosity that permeates the sounds coming out of the speakers.
“I am a musician. I am in love with sound, and parks offer me so much of what i am in love with. […] To this day, Carl and I would rather be outside than in. We would rather see the wind cause the trees to sway and dance, listen to all the voices of the forest animals, and hear the chorus of insects, than be stuck inside […] I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have been invited to be involved in a project to celebrate the anniversary of State Parks in Michigan– To have been given a way to say THANK YOU to everyone along the way who said that this space needed to be preserved and protected; to every one who understood how a human body and mind needs to sit in the trees and see the sky and listen to the sounds of a park; listen to the sounds our body knows and understands. What a wonderful gift we have all been given in the creation of our state and local parks. It’s a gift we can all share in, everyday, all year long. We are all so lucky.”
More wacky spellings but more great psychedelically-infused music from Australia. Dan Lean and Liam Eaton are the pair behind The Frownsss and ‘Zanatras’ (their second single) is a loping, loose limbed creature (or robot) of a song that has a twist of Link Wray guitar thrown into the mix.
Playfulness in electronic music can be a hard thing to capture, without sounding like pop music and lacking depth and nuance. Silvermannen (Sweden) have got the balance just right. ‘Gryning’ is light on it’s feet but still has a weight of gentle melancholy to it. It’s definitely more autumnal than summery in its vibe. There’s more than a whiff of nostalgia in the synth sounds – harking back to early Depeche Mode and elements of Kraftwerk. Lovely stuff.
‘Gryning’ comes from the new album Mitt i Bilden which is released today, June 7th.
Beauts hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia and on this track they’ve dialed into that melancholic indie rock vibe that hovers somewhere between The National, War On Drugs and the jangling insistence of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. It all flows effortlessly – maudlin yet gently propulsive and wistfully melodic. After releasing a couple of EPs, the band are working on their debut album, set for release later in 2019.