Friday, 12 October 2018

Guadalcanal Diary ‎– Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man (1984)

Style: New Wave, Rock & Roll
Format: CD, Vinyl, Cass.
Label: Elektra

A1.   Trail Of Tears
A2.   Fire From Heaven
A3.   Sleepers Awake
A4.   Gilbert Takes The Wheel
A5.   Ghost On The Road
B1.   Watusi Rodeo
B2.   Why DoThe Heathen Rage?
B3.   Pillow Talk
B4.   Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man (Part 1)
B5.   Kumbayah

Like R.E.M., the B-52's, and Pylon, this fine band hailed from the unlikely independent-rock hotbed of Athens, GA. The long jangle pop shadow of R.E.M. is extremely strong on this release, with seven of the ten tracks showing either full or partial influence of that group. Fortunately, the songs here are excellent, exhibiting much variety within this style. "Trail of Tears," a haunting antiwar number, sounds the most like their Athens counterparts. "Fire From Heaven" is more up-tempo, intense, and dynamic, while "Sleepers Awake" is an ominous, slowly unfolding song. "Ghost on the Road" is primarily a fast country-punk number that saves its R.E.M. stylings for its yearning chorus. "Gilbert Takes the Wheel" and the title track are jangly instrumentals, the former being a fast rocker with a thudding beat, the latter being a lengthy slow-tempo selection exhibiting noticeable psychedelic traits. Other territory is touched on as well. "Pillow Talk" is a winsomely energetic Everly Brothers-influenced song. The brilliant "Watusi Rodeo" is a jumpy pop number sporting over-the-top surf guitar licks and inspired hilarious-yet-uncomfortable lyrics about "Ugly American" cowboys in Africa. There's also an eccentric cover of the missionary hymn "Kum Ba Yah," complete with appreciative background audience shouting, an energetic drum solo, and extreme contrasts of loud and soft dynamics (sometimes within the same verse line). This odd yet strong album is well worth hearing.
David Cleary / AllMusic

Fatima ‎– And Yet It's All Love (2018)

Style: Hip Hop, Funk / Soul
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Eglo Records, P-Vine Records

01.   Dang
02.   Westside
03.   Attention Span Of A Cookie
04.   I See Faces
05.   Take It All (feat. Roc Marciano)
06.   Somebody Else
07.   Caught In A Lie
08.   Waltz
09.   So Rite
10.   Movie
11.   Note To Self
12.   And Yet It's All Love

It only takes a couple of listens to start singing along with And Yet It's All Love, the second album from the Eglo artist Fatima. Where her breakthrough LP, Yellow Memories, impressed with its unorthodox approach to modern soul, the follow-up lands on a more modest, immediate sound that still oozes personality. She's assembled a mostly fresh production team for her latest LP, though she's retained the hip-hop beatmaker Flako. Having contributed two tracks to Yellow Memories, his increased prominence on And Yet It's All Love helps give the LP a more modern-sounding palette. There aren't flashy maneuvers like there were on "La Neta," which switched tempos and time signatures, stuffing 20-minutes' worth of ideas into six. The level of musicianship here is still high, but the focus is on making moving, memorable songs.  
All great singers, or rather, the ones who write their own music, have musical trademarks. There are motifs that crop up in many of Fatima's vocal melodies. What makes them uniquely hers is their jazzy ambiguity—instead of simple minor or major keys that might reference single-note emotions, her weird harmonies often suggest a tense counterbalance of conflicting feelings. "Attention Span Of A Cookie" is sexy, sassy and even a little sad, with strange minor intervals offset by a fun bassline. When a songwriter gives voice to that tension—not just multiple emotional notes but the semitones between them—that's when you start to hear the messy magic of real life.  
The LP has a wide range of moods, painting a lively and dynamic portrait of Fatima as a person. There are the hooky singalongs that DJs will love, like "Westside," "Caught In A Lie" and "Attention Span Of A Cookie," which benefit from the album's bass-boosted production. There are moments of audacious self-empowerment ("So Rite"), slow-burning sensuality ("Dang"), manic energy ("I See Faces") and clear-headed confidence ("May I"). There are curveballs where the album gently swerves off-piste, such as "Waltz," which is indeed a waltz, with its pum-pum bassline and sparkly fairytale synths. She closes out the album with the title track, and it's Fatima at her most virtuosic—not only does she have style and grace, but the vocal chops to bring all of her notes to life.
Max Pearl / Resident Advisor