SERvin' Up! - w/c March 17, 2017
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Hurray For The Riff – The Navigator
Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Real Estate – In Mind
Angie – Shyness
Chicano Batman – Freedom Is Free
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The Shins – Heartworms
Various Artists – Desert Divas Volume 2
Various Artists – Synthesize the Soul: Astro-Atlantic Hypnotica From The Cape Verde Islands 1973 – 1988
Having run away still in her teens from her broken family home in New York, Alynda Segarra hopped trains al over America. She made New Orleans her home after befriending that city's street musicians who encouraged her to start playing guitar and since then the band she formed, Hurray For The Riff Raff, have been a loose collective of that city's varied players led by the strength of her songwriting vision. Committed fans of the band – a growing number with each album – know that you can pick a Segarra song but not so much her style, having worked in the cracks of Americana with a rough n' tumble approach that bucks and kicks against staid roots music norms. On the latest album, The Navigator, you'll find Segarra somewhat a little more refined but also turning over yet again towards the tough but literate rock style fostered in her original New York home by the likes of Patti Smith, fused with the warm, communal sounds heard in Puerto Rican community she grew up in in the Bronx. Joy and openness define Segarra's songs as much as their lack of frippery – life in America is one big glorious mess and she intends to swim right through it all, having a damn good time being as serious as she wants to be.
If you've missed the edge in the breezy, crafty indie-pop fostered by The Shins in their early years, you've been missing it a long time, with their hallowed debut Oh, Inverted World going all the way back to 2001. Where James Mercer's songs were nimble and full of intimate insights dropped without a hint of cloying, later efforts tended towards the slick and cutesy. Now, having taken the reins of The Shins solely and wholly back to himself and self-recording and producing the new album Heartworms, it feels like the real James Mercer has stood up and reclaimed his idiosyncrasies. Heartworms proves the difference is often in the detail.
The new album from Chicano Batman, Freedom Is Free, is flower-power positive and unrelentingly funky – if that sounds like an old bongo-addled flatmate then fear not because the LA band show a deft hand with the message in their music, not to mention humility and humour. Snatches of soul, r ' n b, the tropical, psychedelic side of Brazilian pop and Spanish caballero music are sublimely filtered through their tight rock package, so infectious that it's hard to resist.
The second volume of Desert Divas comes from NT Music's initiative to mentor and record emerging indigenous female artists from the Northern Territory, and on display is a wonderfully diverse array of artists who move from country to soul to atmospheric electronica, often concocting a captivating sound from all three and then some. With mentors like Hiatus Kaiyote's Nai Palm and Leah Flanagan on board, it's a great reminder of the creativity that comes from some of the more far-flung reaches of Australia, well away from the hustle n' brand type sounds devised by our major cities' industry players.
Also, new tunes from Sydneysiders Flowertruck, Melbourne duo Heat Wave, a new Sydney do featuring Infinity Broke mainman Jamie Hutchings and Crow's Peter Fenton called The Tall Grass, Adam Gibson & The Ark-Ark Birds and Clark.
Enjoy it all on 2SER,