New Stormzy. New iterations of David Bowie. It’s beginning to look like Christmas.
Apologies that this one is a late one nearing the end of the weekend. Despite the disappointment of the fore-planned Florence tour being postponed due to a broken foot on the Friday at Direct Arena, I had a rather wondrous time navigating the North wandering through Leeds aswell as York for its lovely Christmas market escapade this year.
Here we are, cup of cocoa and keyboard to sort out the obligatory New Music Friday for this week. We’ve got some delicate indie musings set for your cozy autumnal evenings aswell as some feisty hard-hitters to get you through the working week before we run into the Christmas rush of December.
Stormzy: This Is What I Mean. A defining return to form for the London-based Grime MC of Ghanian heritage as he embarks on a new trail after Heavy Is The Head and a Glastonbury headliner slot in the same year. His return wasn’t any short of shy either. The seven-minute stalwart of Mel Made Me Do It – accompanied with a 11-minute cameo-filled video, including Jose Mourinho – was the first track dropped and told us that Stormzy wasn’t set to mess around. The album is a far more self-reflective tonic, as it sees Michael at his most personal. Battling heartbreak grievances, we’re introduced into a more poetically beautiful 8-minute introduction with Fire + Water, “It’s probably best we wait, it’s probably best we found / A fire from this perfect match to burn us to the ground / And even though it’s cold outside / It’s probably best we pray / To lead us from this drought…” into the self-titled guttural hype-up anthem as Stormzy brings the fuel to the fire about his pledge to the music; “But what they gonna do, what they gonna say? (Oh, oh) / Stormz’ got that sauce, this that bolognese (Oh, oh) / Talkin’ ’bout the bread, like it correlates.”
The album is scorned in traditional Shut Up angsty grime feels but also draws attention to some of his most mellow and drawn out moments, as he flexes his songwriting capability of bringing fire where wanted, and lifting calm when needed. Notable mentions are Firebabe and I Got My Smile Back as Mr Owuo sticks to his promise of “an intimate love letter to music”.
David Bowie: Divine Symmetry. It’s been 6 years since the stars’ fateful passing and he has still been prominent as ever. Well and truly one of the greatest stars that will carry on shining till the end of time in the world of music, new iterations, new projects and unreleased material will always keep us smiling. This time, it’s an insightful demo configurations into the journey towards ’71s Hunky Dory – perhaps one of Bowie’s eclipse to monumental fame. A collection for any avid Bowie fan, it features 72 tracks of unfettered demo tracks, John Peel (eesh) concerts, remastering to 2022 and alternative mixes for something a bit… well, alternative.
Elder: Innate Passage. If you’re looking for a little added spice to your evenings, you shan’t have to go too far than Elder’s new addition to the family. A neo-psychedelic stirring to the habitats of rock, Innate Passage is full riffage and full fuzz as an influx of instrumental generosity is met in 10-minute run-throughs. A reinvention of progressive rock metal, Elder’s Innate Passage is certainly not a dethroning to the likes of King Guzzard’s effortless work rate but rather, a true traditional gamut of styles is met. A feeding frenzy for any avid music fan, the powerhouses behind new psychedelic rock are so creatively talented and mesmerising to listen on cheap streaming platforms, never mind played effortlessly throughout in a live setting. Simply astounding.
No Money Kids: Factory. Shooting far east as a double blues-rock sidekick, No Money Kids leave nothing to trace in true shake-yer-moneymaker fashion. It’s hard, it’s persistent and it’s truly rock’ ‘n’ roll. At least in the dirty contemporary editions of today. No doubt succumbing to the stalwarts of The Black Keys and Black River Delta, NWK’s new work of Factory is every bit of that. Queen, Brother and Graveyard are a new reinvention of swampy electronic-blues met with the fuzziness of dirty rock we’ve seen since Dec Rocs and fellow duo comprades, The Blues Stones. All equally emphatic but marking their own chapters in the Big Book of Blues, it’s a triumphant return that will get those fists pumping.
tinyumbrellas: A Small Village. Now for a little something in the relaxing space. A creative individual who makes fuzzy bedroom jams, is back after her successive EP, if the sky wasn’t blue with A Small Village. An even still to the serenity of music to escape to, it is an alternative breeze. It’s also an honourable addition to this weeks’ New Music Friday, just in case your week gets a bit too much for you.
Bonnie Kemplay: running out of things to say, running out of things to do. I don’t want to think about you anymore. It’s not that your bad, it’s not that I’m good. It’s just we don’t balance out, like we should.” An exemplary EP, Kemplay is a stalwart force among the gooey new-wave alternative songwriters in our generation. With influence markings from the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and duo Quiet Houses, the likes of Blushing, Checkers and even Static are autumnal winter warmers that can easily be in your playlists for many years to come.