New music to start the New Year

New music to start the New Year

COLOURA, In Between

This four-man group hailing from Cebu bills itself as an experimental band which is partly true if you count mixing ambient sounds with touches of new wave, emo, boy band harmonies and rock and roll to be “experimental” enough. That’s not a complaint because Coloura blend assorted sonic colors into a complete coherent package one song at a time. Like, “First Time” is a funky tune with sections that rock and splashes of cool balladry. Opening track “Drive and Meet You” features the push of hot synth runs and the pull of breathy vocals.  “Let This Go” is a sweet ballad that doesn’t go emo-sensitive on you. “In Between” should be a nice place to start a new year of new music.

PB JELLI, Late to the Party

The lateness referred to in the EP title comes mainly from dance tracks harking back to electronica from way back when. But since everything comes around again for another swing, the electronica boomerang sounds freshly minted, what with our main girl PB Jelli hectoring as well as pleading her case as any good modern RnB vocalist should.  She’s a showstopper in the club anthem “Daydream” and a bedroom dominatrix in “Control.”  She can be a sensitive lover in “Cover Me.”  PBJ may be late but she brings life to the party.

JOCKSTRAP, I Love You Jennifer B

UK’s Jockstrap duo are Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye who studied various aspects of music making in college. They apply their learnings to create music that’s been described as ‘an alchemy of modern pop.’ On their new album, the duo focuses on the restless pursuit of young love and surrounds their songs with the edgy sounds of indie pop. Club beats are de facto all over the record but that does not stop them from dropping a sideways slant to the overall atmosphere. For instance, the electronica in “Greatest Hits” devolves to weepy strings then back again to the big thump. Shoegazey ambiance gives “What’s It All About?” its dreamy quality and a sort of post-punk sensibility exude from the weird “Debra.” Jockstrap simply reflects the continuing fusion of musical forms.

WEYES BLOOD, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow

With a voice redolent of Karen Carpenter, Weyes Blood elevates to greater heights and a wider audience her tales of mankind’s plunders that brought about climate change impacts and the destruction of the environment. In its wake, she enables her own personal agenda of a return to the natural world. The wonder of it all is that Ms. Blood uses a wider musical palette than The Carpenters’ rootsy MOR. She powers her delicate introspections with girl-group harmonies (“Children of the Empire”), layered orchestrations (“It’s Not Just Me, It’s Everybody”) and torchy croon (“Hearts Aglow”.) In her astute hands, Weyes skirts the political subtext of the issues she’s taken up to front-load the hope that there’s still time to reverse an impending catastrophe.

ETHEL CAIN, Preacher’s Daughter

Ether Cain’s previous album titled “Inbred” was about troubled family ties. Her latest release hints at problems with her faith. True enough, the opening track on her new album sports this chorus:  “The fate’s already fucked me sideways/Swinging by my neck from the family tree.”  clearly referring to the tragedy of being born to a preacher man.  The next track, a potentially massive hit titled “American Teenager” milks her gloomy condition in pumping rock and roll by way of The Cars.  The music and the lyrics turn even darker in the Goth of “A House in Nebraska” and on to the Black metal-scarred “Ptolomea.”  The easy conjecture is that Ms. Cain is Lana del Rey’s lost twin but it’s more likely, Ethel Cain is her own person finding unique beauty in a very bad circumstance.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, Malabong Lababo Sessions #01: Squiggle Beware

Overwrought album title aside, the 25-track “Malabong Lababo Sessions #01” collects contributions from nine independent acts — eight from the Philippines and one from Singapore. Proceeds from sales will help fund PH-based The Buildings’ two-week tour of Japan next month.  That’s the goodwill part, and the participating bands are no charity cases, at all. Bird Dens’ blues have The Strokes undercurrent. WAX stomp around in powerful guitar rawk ramblings and The Gory Orgies banner rabble-rousing metal while Subsonic Eye conjugate twee and lounge in easy listening bliss. Buy the album, help the indie OPM cause and have yourself a musical adventure.

Check out these albums on digital music platforms, especially bandcamp.