Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings –
Give the People What They Want
Besides having a sound unmistakable from 1960s–70s era Motown and Stax Records, what makes Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings the current standard bearers for classic soul revivalism is their ability to continually release exciting, original songs. It’s reassuring that after big-time recording and touring stints with Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse in the late 2000s, the Dap-Kings are happy to keep making these kinds of albums and know to stick with their bread-and-butter. Their sound has remained unchanged from its raw, funky beginnings, save for a few touches of psychedelia. Bandleader, primary songwriter, and bassist Gabriel Roth is largely responsible for holding it all together, but of course it’s Mrs. Jones’ amazing vocal abilities that keep listeners coming back for more. Recommended tracks: “Stranger To My Happiness,” “Making Up and Breaking Up (And Making Up and Breaking Up Over Again)” and “People Don’t Get What They Deserve.”
Against Me! – Transgender
Despite being the old-school punk band’s sixth studio release, their latest is something of a debut given it’s the first recording since frontman Tom Gabel became frontwoman Laura Jane Grace. It’s difficult to discern much difference in Grace’s voice since her transformation, but her delivery now reminds me of 70s rocker Suzi Quatro. As the title suggests, the lyrics’ subject matter revolves around the singer’s personal struggles, though somewhat indirectly as the story is told from the perspective of a fictional transgender prostitute. So, it’s indeed a bold and compelling statement for a band in its second decade of recording, but does the album rock? Absolutely. The opener and title track is a serious foot-stomper that may be Against Me!’s best song in years, and tracks like “True Trans Soul Rebel,” “Drinking With The Jocks,” and “FUCKMYLIFE666” are reminiscent of the group’s harder-edged early albums. Unfortunately, not all of the songs really work, but the ones that do are killer.
Angélique Kidjo – Eve
This debut album from the British duo is a real roller coaster of a listen that could serve as the soundtrack to your next drive up to Pai. Mult-instrumentalist J. Willgoose Esq. and drummer Wrigglesworth make up PSB, and judging from their stage names one might imagine that their music comes a bit from left field. Filled with clips from old British propaganda films, New Order-like dance beats, and occasional banjo rolls, the odd mix somehow works. The quiet moments recall the work of folktronica group The Books, with the more upbeat parts like a slicker version of The Avalanches’ classic album Since I Left You, and then overdrive kicks in with racing guitars and double-time drums that wouldn’t sound out of place in a sports car commercial. It’s a record best listened to at full-length, and after its brief 43 minutes, you’ll want another ride.