Monday, February 27, 2023

New Music: Gorillaz, Paul McCann, Fringe Benefit

New titles featuring Coachella-bound Gorillaz and Irish singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Paul McCann as well as a marvelous reissue of the self-titled release from Fringe Benefit are well worth discovering.

Title: Cracker Island (
Warner Records/Parlophone)
You might like if you enjoy: Damon Albarn, Bad Bunny, Beck, Tame Impala
Tell me more: Gorillaz' eighth studio album Cracker Island is another enthralling journey showcasing singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Damon Albarn's otherworldly talents fusing art pop, electronica, hip hop and other styles into a signature brew as accessible as it is artistic. On this disc he directs the world's most beloved virtual band to stratospheric heights with collaborations that surprise and expand the project's sonic reach. Surprises abound; just listen to the shimmering "Oil," a track featuring the duel vocals of Albarn and Stevie Nicks. "Silent Running" is a majestic mid-tempo track co-written by Albarn and producer Greg Kurstin featuring guest vocalist Adeleye Omotayo. The hypnotic trip hop romp "New Gold" features the tandem talents of Tame Impala and Bootie Brown to up the quotient. Bad Bunny brings a palpable Latin zest to "Tormenta." The collaboration with Beck, "Possession Island," is a decidedly gorgeous song with a soundscape complete with 
mellotron, synthesizer, vibraphone, pump organ and acoustic guitar providing the perfect musical backdrop for the song. Even in the absence of outside notables, the magic is fully on display; the trippy "The Tired Influencer," dance-minded "Baby Queen" and dreamy "Skinny Ape" reflect the sparkling joyfulness that immerse the listener across Cracker Island. Information:

Paul McCann
Title: Alter Ego (Kool Kat Musik)
You might like if you enjoy: Jason Falkner, Beck, Tom Petty, Roger Joseph Manning Jr.
Tell me more: Paul McCann's new album Alter Ego is a beautiful and deeply affecting listen inspired by the Irish artist's emotions surrounding the death of his father in late 2018. The themes explored across the 12-track album include loss and love, with McCann extending his expert musical touch to other areas of grief including anger and confusion as well. Recording the album during the global pandemic was a challenge, but this singular moment in time also afforded McCann the opportunity to reach out to a number of legendary musicians to guest on the project; guitar great Jason Falkner (St. Vincent, Beck, The Grays), keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning Jr. (Jellyfish, Beck, Air), Charlotte Hatherley (Bat for Lashes, Ash) and Gary Lucas (Jeff Buckley, Captain Beefheart) all guested on Alter Ego. The strong opener "The World Keeps Turning" offers up a melancholy-draped soundscape with layers of nuanced guitar and burgeoning vocal textures adding to the magic. The driving "Lost In This Moment" is an immediate connection; the alluring original blends reflective lyrics and a propulsive power pop sound that lures in the listener with a single listen. The lovely acoustic Baroque ballad "Love Is All That Matters" and explosive melodic rocker "Divide and Conquer" are other early standouts on the album. The funk-flavored "Where Has The Music Gone," elegant "Red River Run," ambitious "Call Off the Dogs," euphoric "Something Has Changed" and progressive closer "Weight of the Bow" impress on the disc's last half. Information:

Fringe Benefit
Title: Fringe Benefit (Kool Kat Musik)
You might like if you enjoy: Badfinger, Power pop, Paul McCartney, The Hotshots
Tell me more: Fringe Benefit  a Dorset, England-spawned outfit whose self-titled debut was released via Capricorn Records in 1977  is back again thanks to a newly-issued deluxe edition of Fringe Benefit by Kool Kat Musik. This writer was sadly unaware of the 45-year old gem until I heard the disc's soaring lead-off track "All In Vain" and was instantly hooked. The album's musical riches definitely extend beyond that timeless track; the tuneful Burt Bacharach-mining "Darling" and "Wanna Be With You," psychedelic blues-meets-prog rock foray "Was God an Astronaut," uptempo rootsy reading of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne" and enchanting "Let A Light Shine" collectively make a compelling case for adding Fringe Benefit to your music library. The Kool Kat audio CD edition features four previously unreleased bonus tracks. 

Robert Kinsler

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