WEGL’s Friday Picks Nov 4-11
1) Ezra Collective – Where I’m Meant To Be – Nov 4, 2022
Hailing from the U.K, jazz quintet Ezra Collective is back with their second full length album, and it’s their longest one to date. The group is comprised of drummer and bandleader Femi Koleoso, bassist TJ Koleoso, keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi, and saxophonist James Mollison, and together they combine elements of soul, salsa, free-jazz, and hip-hop on this extremely fun album. It’s the kind of record that’s hard not to dance to, with each track evoking its own unique emotion, yet still coming together to make this project much more than a compilation of jazz standards. The band often chooses to highlight a particular instrument on certain tracks, such as the keys on “Smile” and the horns on “Victory Dance,” but the immaculate percussion of Femi Koleoso is the backbone of each moment. There’s not much more to be said about this album that it doesn’t say for itself, so I’ll leave it at this: cultured, clever, creative, and above all, impressive as hell.
Favorite tracks: “Victory Dance” ; “Smile” ; “Live Strong”
- Will Lewis
2) Boldy James & Futurewave - Mr. Ten08 - Nov 4, 2022
Since the beginning of the decade, Detroit emcee Boldy James has proven himself to be one of the most consistent artists on the map. Every year, he drops multiple albums, each of which are entirely produced by one person and never exceed over forty-five minutes. So far, Boldy James has released two joint records this year: Killing Nothing, which is entirely produced by Real Bad Man, and Fair Exchange No Robbery which is entirely produced by Nicholas Craven. Both of these records are amazing on their own and add to Boldy’s growing discography and immaculate consistency. With that being said, Mr. Ten08 is arguably the best collaboration that Boldy James has done thus far in 2022. In fact, one could even say it’s near the top of his discography which is incredible considering the album only clocks in at just over 32 minutes, making it Boldy’s shortest project of the year. Futurewave’s production is ethereal, grimy, and jazzy all at once. The instrumentals encapsulate both the euphoric sensation of being high on cocaine, and the very heavy reality of trying to survive as a dealer. Each of these aspects all tie into the central concept of the drug scene in Detroit, a theme that Boldy continuously portrays in each of his albums. However, what separates Mr. Ten08 is that it also displays concepts of systemic issues influencing both the culture of Detroit and its criminal reputation. Boldy perfectly emphasizes this by connecting his past with cocaine through his cold, dark, and calculated lyrics. Furthermore, the flow of this album is remarkably smooth and is undoubtedly one of his most listenable albums. I encourage avid fans of hip hop to check this project out, especially if you enjoy a sound more reminiscent of the underground.
Favorite tracks: “Smacked” ; “Disco Fever” ; “Indivisible”
- Gerrit Notch
3) Fleshwater – We’re Not Here to Be Loved – Nov 4, 2022
Hardcore shoegaze/metal band Fleshwater have arrived with their hard-hitting debut, We’re Not Here to Be Loved. The group was formed by two members of underground hardcore group Vein.fm, singer Anthony Didio and drummer Matt Wood, but this record sees vocalist Marisa Shirar taking the spotlight. The way she is able to oscillate from haunting beauty to harsh projecting over the heaviest of guitar tones is truly something to behold. Being only 9 tracks and just over 27 minutes long, this album is a quick listen, and feels quicker still. The opening three tracks hit you like a wall of deftones-esque sound and emotion from all sides, trapping you in a fishbowl with the only escape coming at the end of the final track, and my personal favorite, “Foreign.” Maybe the cover is trying to tell us something.
Favorite tracks: “Closet” ; The Razor’s Apple” ; “Foreign”
- Will Lewis
4) Backxwash - HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING - Oct 31, 2022
Zambian artist Backxwash returns once more to deliver an extraordinary milestone to Horrorcore, Industrial Hip Hop, and Experimental Hip Hop. In 2020, she released God Has Nothing To Do With This So Leave Him Out Of It, which highlighted her real time experiences in her adult life. In 2021, she released a sequential record I LIE HERE BURIED WITH MY RINGS AND MY DRESSES which more or less reflected her adolescent/early adult years. On Halloween of 2022, she released the final installment to this trilogy titled HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING which reaches into the environmental influences she had during her youth, and events that pre-dated her existence. This project delves into criticisms of Christianity and how it has been used as a motivator to dismiss her throughout her entire life. This can be seen in various aspects throughout the entire album from her lyrics which point out how she’s faced internalized homophobia, transphobia, and racism to the production which uses horrorcore/metal as a “satanic” medium to dismay the religion. This can even be seen in the track names as each of them are titled after Eastern or Southeastern African words; this is used to symbolize her Zambian background as well as Imperialism influenced by Christianity. Backxwash’s delivery stands out more than anything from HIS HAPPINESS SHALL COME FIRST EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUFFERING as her energy pairs perfectly with every instrumental she features over. This makes sense as this is not only the most personal addition to the trilogy, but she actually produced every track on this LP. Additionally, this album holds an amazing feature from Ghais Guevara, and on top of Backxwash’s production, multiple stellar performances from guitarist Michael Go. I’d recommend this album to anyone who enjoys Industrial hip hop, or fans of the following artists: clipping., JPEGMAFIA, Death Grips, Ho99o9, or Shabazz Palaces. So far, this project is not available on streaming, but to my understanding, it should be available on services such as Apple and Spotify by November 14th. If not, you can stream or buy this amazing album on Bandcamp.
Favorite tracks: “VIBANDA” ; “MUZUNGU” ; “JUJU” ; “MUKAZI”
- Gerrit Notch
5) Joji - Smithereens - Nov 4, 2022
Joji continues to elevate his status from once being a YouTube meme lord to a legitimate artist with his latest album, SMITHEREENS. With Joji's third studio album being teased with singles such as "Glimpse of Us" and "YUKON (INTERLUDE)" which are arguably some of Joji's greatest works, my hopes were at an all-time high for this album. While being slightly curbed, Joji shows flashes of brilliance where he exemplifies why he's been crowned the king of lo-fi pop. The project harkens back more to his first EP, "In Tongues," than anything else. The ethereal, soft, and often romantic ballads mixed with lofi-trap make for a unique listening experience. My biggest problem with this project is that it feels unfinished at points, even having a demo track on the album. I think with a little more time in the oven, this could have topped Joji's sophomore album, Nectar. With a runtime of 24 minutes and some change, it's definitely on the shorter side. If you have half an hour to spare, I recommend going on a nice fall walk to this one.
Favorite Tracks: Glimpse of Us, YUKON (INTERLUDE), NIGHT RIDER