January 28, 2020

School of Language – 45 – Memphis

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 17, 2019

You might have heard of School of Language — aka David Brewis — before; he’s best known for Field Music, his duo with his brother Peter. But Brewis teams up with some very, er … different album partners on this set, namely soul music and politics. These tracks pull no punches; it’s very clear which “side” Brewis is on, and he expresses his opinions in a Funkadelic/Gap Band-inspired way. The concept album theme wears thin fast, though, and the tracks are hit or miss. For every groovy number like “Nobody Knows,” there’s a too-off-beat tune like the weirdly choral “Lock Her Up.” * ½ 

Chocolate Watchband – This is My Voice – DW Records
Returning to the music scene after a long period of being away is always something of a risk. Will the band resurface revitalized, with more to say — or should they have taken their act on a nostalgia tour? For CW, it’s a little of both. Live, these punkers still push forth much of the same energy they had in their early days. Their album, on the other hand, well … it has its occasional moments of recapturing their distinctive sound (see: “Talk Talk,” “Secret Rendevous”), but there’s not a lot of forward movement. **

Datach’i – Bones – Timesig 
Working on his own custom modular system for this pensive yet candid assortment of both ambient and rhythmic electronica works, Datach’I — aka Los Angeles electronica whiz Joseph Fraioli — presents an intensely personal, enveloping, and innovative roster of tracks two decades after he started in the music industry. The music is clearly affected by the personal challenges and loss he’s endured. Here, you’ll find the spacious tones and burbles of “Rhys” and the painterly “Autuminal” next to more noisy numbers like “Drone Maze,” pulsating with perfectly alternating fits and retreats. ***

The Anderson Council – Worlds Collide – JEM
If you like bands like The Posies, Teenage Fanclub, or Superchunk, chances are you’ll like TAC, which hails from the same school of retro-alternative power pop. The four-piece outfit has a unique way of cranking through its tracks, which, even on faster-paced numbers, still highlight the band’s detailed and eclectic lyrics. Especially worth a listen: songs like “Amazing,” with its references to playground days; the quirky “Mrs. Kirkby’s Refrigerator” (which seems to be an audio sequel to the band’s earlier single, “Pinkerton’s Assorted Colors”); and the twisty-turny pacing and word rhythms of “When I Fall.” 


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