Published on August 1st, 2014 | by Mike Conlon0
The Feedback Society’s Week in Music
Mike Conlon talks about five albums that have been in heavy rotation for him this week; Sly, The Congos, Amen Dunes, Daniel Romano, and more.
Sly & The Family Stone – Fresh
Released two years after the drug addled (and brilliant) ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On,’ ‘Fresh’ is a move towards a less frenzied, minimalistic sound. It’s as though Sly wanted to get at the essence of funk by stripping away everything that wasn’t absolutely essential to the sound. What we’re left with is a lean masterpiece. The standout track for me is ‘If You Want Me to Stay.’ Never one to shy from confrontation, Sly lays it all on the table with this track, stating, “you can’t take me for granted and smile. / Count the days I’m gone.” Unfortunately, after this album, Sly more or less did disappear, at least from a musical perspective — he’d never again come close to reaching the creative heights that he did here.
Amen Dunes – Love
Though ‘Love’ was the product of an intense year of studio work, the album has a charming casualness to it, as though it were recorded off the cuff in an afternoon. The first track, ‘White Child,’ opens in a cloudy haze and sets a laid back tone for what is ultimately an album that’s totally cool with just hangin’ out. Other highlights include ‘Sixteen,’ ‘I Know Myself,’ and ‘Love.’ Next time you’re headed for a lazy afternoon at the beach, make sure you bring this one with you.
Daniel Romano – Come Cry With Me
If you didn’t know ‘Come Cry With Me’ was released just last year, you’d swear it was an overlooked country gem from the 1970s. Daniel Romano, a 28-year-old ex-punk from Ontario, is an unlikely candidate to carry the classic country torch, but he does so with panache. These ten songs about love and loss will stick with you long after you listen. And though there’s not one song here that’s particularly upbeat, you can’t help but feel good listening to the album — this type of craftsmanship can only inspire joy. In an interview last year, Romano pointed out that, “The type of country that I like doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not trying to save it, but in the back of my mind, I know it’s what country needs.” He’s not humble, but he’s totally right.
Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust
Shrink Dust is a strange beast. In its opening moments Chad VanGaalen sings about cutting off his hands, throwing them in the sand and watching them swim away, “like a pair of bloody crabs.” How’s that for a pretty image? Don’t let the oddness scare you off. Over the course of Shrink Dust, VanGaalen takes folk, country, and garage rock and weaves them into a mesmerizing musical tapestry. There’s not a weak track on this album, and there’s plenty of absolute gems — my favorites are ‘Where Are You,’ ‘Lila,’ ‘Weighted Sin,’ and ‘Evil’.
The Congos – Heart of the Congos
Producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry has been putting out records of widely varying quality for over four decades. But on 1977’s ‘Heart of the Congos’ he was firing on all cylinders. Produced with no budget, and recorded with outdated, glitchy equipment, this album is compelling testimony that limitations breed creativity. Known for his lavish productions, Perry had the good sense to make sure the vocal stylings of Roy ‘Ashanti’ Johnson and Cedric Myton were front and centre in the mix. The juxtaposition of Myton’s searing falsetto and Johnson’s tenor has a haunting quality that’ll stick with you long after listening to these tracks.