Artemeida – “Radio Lyric Irina” – [Alrealon Musique]

puplaif   11/16/2022   A Library, Cassette

Artemeida is the solo project of saxophonist, Irina Tanaeva, who is based in Moscow, Russia. She also performs with the band Moscow Noise Manufactory. She created this album during the COVID lockdown of 2020, while experiencing feelings of unease and confusion. She shares that her “goal was to make a dance mix with an experimental noise sound. Sound as a symbol of the unusual feeling of reality around.” Her expression of these feelings manifests across six tracks. Throughout the album she combines various electronic noises, almost imperceptible vocals, and  saxophone that weaves in and out of these compositions.

Track 1 starts and stops, like a commuter train whose destination is the cosmos. Track 2 has a pulsating rhythm and includes muffled spoken words. Track 3 is more beat driven, accompanied by echoing sax. Track 4 features a distorted vocal loop with haunting tones. The final track takes us back to the station with a marchlike beat. It took me a few listens to really absorb all the sounds happening here, but the more I listened, the more I fell into Artemeida’s trance. 

XEREX – “XEREX Meets Dracula” – [No Part of It]

puplaif   10/26/2022   A Library, CD

Who is Xerex? They’re described as “an anonymous musical project by brothers Karl & Jan from rural Jesse Germany. They’re conjoined twins who also happened to have been grown in a petri dish as elderly mathematicians in 1972.” This album is their first “invisible story” in the spirit of choose-your-own-adventure-style novels. Here is the adventure I chose: 

It all starts with a bidding welcome from Dracula. From there, I enter the cathedral to the sound of the echoing pipe organ. Church bells begin to ring, summoning others to join the trance inducing ambiance. Tracks fade with a breath of silence between them. Along the way I encounter electronic whirrs, insect like chirps, and what sounds like a small boat’s motor sputtering as it churns towards port. The adventure is at times pulsating, in other moments it meanders. I let it wash over me like a warm embrace. 

Anthology of Exploratory Music from India [coll] – [Unexplained Sounds Group]

puplaif   10/19/2022   CD, International

A curated collection of works by India-born sound artists and musicians. No two tracks are alike, though there are some commonalities among the mix. This is pensive, intellectual music made through tinkering, experimentation, and manipulation. An exploration of sound and its connection to time and place, and its simultaneous etherealness. Field recordings, artificial intelligence, and traditional instruments all play a part in expanding interpretations of life and emotion through sound. Curiously, the human voice makes a very infrequent appearance. There’s a lot of beauty to be found here, best explored through close, immersive listening.

Los Bitchos – “Let the Festivities Begin!” – [City Slang]

puplaif   10/5/2022   A Library, CD

Los Bitchos is a London-based band featuring members Serra Petale (guitar), Agustina Ruiz (keytar), Josefine Jonsson (bass) and Nic Crawshaw (drums). Each musician hales from a different part of the world, bringing their unique musical backgrounds together on these fun, instrumental compositions. There are no rules here – the band genre hops from cumbia, chicha, to surf-exotica. As Serra puts it, they wanted to sound like “Van Halen and Cocteau Twins—but from Turkey.” The combination is upbeat, psychedelic, cinematic and celebratory. Each song tells a story. Now cue one up and  “Let the Festivities Begin!”  

Melt Yourself Down – “100% Yes” – [Decca]

puplaif   9/14/2022   A Library, CD

Melt Yourself Down (MYD) is a London-based band led by saxophonist Pete Wareham and vocalist Kush Gaya. 100% Yes is their third full-length album. Driven by a desire to create new sonic pathways, the band’s jazz foundation is infused with Afrobeat, pop, and punk influences. The musicians here feed off one another, fueled by a heavy dose of adrenaline that makes for a very energetic and attention grabbing album. Beefy drums, rhythmic sax, groovy bass, and in your face vocals spew social and political commentary, and an invitation to move your body and come along for the ride. 

Golem Mechanique – “Nona, Decima et Morta” – [Ideologic Organ]

puplaif   8/17/2022   12-inch, A Library

Golem Mecanique is Karen Jebane, a French songstress, composer, and sound artist. Through her music she aspires to transcend herself and listeners to another time space. She takes a minimalist approach to her compositions, incorporating her voice, drone box, a pedal or two, and in the case of this album, organ. Marion Cousin makes a special appearance, contributing vocals and harmonium. 

The album title features the names of the Three Fates, the mythological goddesses who determine human destiny, lifespan, and allotment of suffering. The lyrics appear on the back album cover, and suggest the full on embodiment of the fates through these two, side-long pieces. This sacred music puts listeners in direct communication with these faded goddesses who lurk, waiting to lure you into a state of meditative half sleep. 

At first impression it’s a bit eerie, but if you allow yourself to let go and immerse your senses, there’s an unexpected comfort to be found in the drone’s womb-like pulse and the soft, elongated vocalizations. 

pressed on clear, crushed blackberry vinyl.

May, Ego Ella – “So Far” – [Tru Thoughts]

puplaif   7/20/2022   CD, Soul

Ego (pronounced eh-go) Ella May is a South London based singer and songwriter. She started writing in her early adolescence and got more serious with singing, guitar playing, and producing by her late teenage years. ‘So Far’  is an anthology of her recorded songs, compiled and re-released on Tru Thoughts in 2019. She considers the album to be a final farewell and shedding of her old self. Despite this departure, the tracks here represent an important passage in her evolution as an artist. Her balmy, incandescent vocals meld with compositions and beats cooked up by a number of contributing producers. Together they create a delectable fusion of neo soul, jazz, and alternative hip hop flavors. Her lyrics give you a little peak into what’s going on inside her head as she tells stories about love, music…the things that make the world go round.

Chaz Emphatic – “Base Layer Blues” – [Last Stab Records]

puplaif   7/20/2022   12-inch, A Library

Self-described moody, reflective, instrumental hip hop. Chaz Emphatic has been making music since 1992 as part of the underground rap collective, San Francisco Street Music (SFSM). In addition to SFSM and his solo work, he’s also involved in other collaborative projects on the Last Stab Records label such as Mummy Club. He’s very transparent about the equipment he uses (it’s listed on the back of the album and online) and he’s got a number of videos out there demonstrating his favorite tools for making beats. On Base Layer Blues, Chaz Emphatic draws samples from 90s hip hop, jazz fusion, and beyond, sculpting them into his own unique, beat-driven creations. There’s definitely sonic variety here, while the album as a whole hovers on the chiller side of vibrations. The tracks are mostly instrumental, featuring melodic guitars, saxophone, and keys paired with drum machine beats and periodic vocal blips.

Mr Bongo Record Club Volume Four [coll] – [Mr Bongo]

puplaif   7/6/2022   A Library, CD

An eclectic and all around energetic selection of songs from around the world, curated by David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle and Gareth Stephens. The mix features Brazilian, African, soul, funk, and disco genres and includes works by contemporary artists as well as rare gems from those less known. An excellent companion for road trips or for heating up the dance floor. 

Mu-Ziq – “Challenge Me Foolish” – [Planet Mu Records]

puplaif   7/6/2022   A Library, CD

“Challenge Me Foolish” is an album composed by µ-Ziq (pronounced mu-ziq) in the late 1990’s and released to the world nearly two decades later. µ-Ziq is Mike Paradinas, electronic musician and founder of Planet Mu records. These melodic tracks feature a full spectrum of synths, including strings, trumpets, chimes, and woodwinds, just to name a few. Percussive elements come in the form of breakbeats featuring cymbals, cowbells, and snares, with some songs going full speed ahead into drill ’n’ bass territory, helmed by a robot drummer gone berserk. Several songs are graced by the voice of Japanese vocalist, Kazumi. At first listen, I was reminded of the Final Fantasy VII video game soundtrack, which came out around the same time that these songs were composed. It’s as if the album tells a story, each track carrying listeners along the stages of a journey through a majestic, synthetic world. 

Weaver, Jane – “Flock” – [Fire Records]

puplaif   6/22/2022   12-inch, A Library

Do you look at yourself and find nothing? Jane Weaver ponders this, and other existential queries on her 11th album Flock. 

My ears gravitated towards the album’s whimsical and blissful sounds. The lyrical content is, at times, difficult to decipher among the mix, though that didn’t stop me from singing along! Weaver’s airy vocals mimic the songs of the various birds in her flock. It’s as if she’s summoning them through each song, awaiting their return as depicted on the album cover’s artwork, which features a portrait of Jane seated in a peacock chair, surrounded by a fortress of colorful birdhouses. The overall sound is dreamy, poppy, and a little bit funky. Touches of chimes, flute, and guitar intermingle with space age laser beam synths and drum machine loops. 

Pressed on buttercream vinyl. 

A Compilation – Dorado [coll] – [Dorado Records Limited]

puplaif   6/16/2022   A Library, CD

Another Dorado compilation for our collection. Early 90s experimental dance. Forward thinking; an expansion of and simultaneous departure from acid jazz. Funky, soulful, tracks; a fusion of new and old.  Richly produced by teams of skillful musicians and vocalists. All hail Jhelisa! 

The type of sounds I imagine one might have heard at a hip London lounge. The underground and sophisticated precursor to the Eurodance tracks that were pumpin’ at pup’s mid ‘90s family skate nights at the roller rink. 

Bethany Curve – “Murder!” – [Kitchen Whore Records]

puplaif   5/25/2022   A Library

Santa Cruz shoegaze awakened from its slumber. Formed in 1994, this is their first release since 2004. 

Richard Millang / Guitars, Vocals

David Mac Wha / Drums

Nathan Guevara / Guitars

Lisa Dewey / Vocals

Murder! delivers a dose of hypnotic narcotic guitars and distortion, transporting you to an ephemeral dream inspired landscape. Delicate cymbals and percussive sneaker waves bring dynamic shifts and changes in pace. Vocals drift below the water’s surface, delivering oracular messages across submarine peaks. 

Submerge yourself in this subconscious driven sonic atmosphere. 

Tam, Phuong – “Magical Nights: Saigon Surf Twist and Soul -’64-’66” – [Sublime Frequencies]

puplaif   5/25/2022   CD, International

Phuong Tâm was one of the first Vietnamese singers to record rock and roll music. 

As a young girl, she was intrigued by the rock and roll sounds emanating from a nearby neighbor’s radio and she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a singer. 

In her teenage years, she began performing at Saigon nightclubs, where she met and connected with other Vietnamese musicians. Together they wrote, recorded, and performed original Vietnamese rock and roll songs incorporating surf, twist, soul, and other influences. Phuong’s powerful voice brings both grit and sweetness to these songs about love and loss. 

In 1975, Phuong and her family fled Vietnam, ultimately setting up roots right here in San Jose. Thanks to some serious digging and collaboration spearheaded by Phuong’s daughter Hanna, we’re able to enjoy Phuong’s musical legacy today. Magical Nights revives 25 of Phuong Tâm’s songs, recorded in Vietnam from 1964 to 1966, and re-gifts her music to the world after nearly being lost to the forces of cultural erasure. 

La Doña – “Algo Nuevo” – [Self Release]

puplaif   3/15/2022   12-inch, Hip Hop

La Doña is Cecilia Peña-Govea and she does exactly what she wants. La Doña operates across multiple spheres of influence, as a daughter, an educator, as an artist in a constant state of change.  Growing up in San Francisco, she started playing in her family’s mariachi band at the age of 7 where she learned to play trumpet.  La Doña is very proud to have self-released Algo Nuevo in 2020. 

La Doña boldly presents her feminist perspective through poetic, lyrical messages that cover topics from gentrification to the push and pull of love. Spanish is the dominant language throughout the album, with sprinkles of English on a few bilingual tracks. Set to genre-blending rhythms, La Doña incorporates elements of Bay Area hip hop, reggaeton, son jarocho, and more. The overall sound is catchy and highly dance-able. 100% hyphey maravilla. ¡Que la disfruten!

Bad Waitress – “No Taste” – [Royal Mountain Records]

puplaif   3/8/2022   A Library

What is a ma? What is a ma? What is a mother to do? Bad Waitress, Toronto based punk band, has more than few thoughts on that. 

What began as a duo known as Nude Dogs, the band has evolved to its current manifestation as a quartet, with Kali-Ann Butala (she/her) and Katelyn Molgard (they/them) on vocals & guitar, Eva Moon (they/them) on drums, and Nicole Cain (she/her) on Bass. No Taste is their debut full-length album, released in 2021. 

It sounds like…

Layers of drums, guitars and vocals coming together in energetic collaboration. The sound is rich, bold, loud, and pulsating. It’s in your face both musically and lyrically. The collection of tracks swings across a spectrum of moods, vacillating between rage and allure. As bassist Nicole describes, it’s basically a self-defense album. Let No taste be your shield; the fuel to empower your own protection. 

For the ultimate cathartic experience, Pup recommends singing along. 

Epps, Stacy – “Awakening, The” – [Japanubia Musik]

puplaif   2/15/2022   CD, Hip Hop

all aboard the mothership. it’s 2008 and our captain is the multifaceted femcee, vocalist, artist, and human extraordinaire Stacy Epps. “The Awakening” is Epp’s debut solo album, a humble offering from her heart. 

it sounds like…

a boom bap dream. vocal clouds traverse sampled looped landscapes. the lyrical healer brings love and light. conscious messages of oneness and lived experience expressed through multiple voices.  tracks melt from one to the next, unfolding with surprising distinction. give it a listen to find out which ones you like. 

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