• By: OLM Staff

Album Reviews: Billy Woods & Kenny Segal, Lankum, Wednesday

Billy Woods & Kenny Segal – Maps
(Washington, D.C./New York City & Rockville, MD)

On this latest collaboration, Billy Woods and Kenny Segal find intense synergy, letting their two obtuse styles feel like they were always meant to be one and the same. The album sets off on the glitchy and blown-out “Kenwood Speakers,” with Woods seemingly contrasting the new highs of life with the deepest lows. There’s a more dizzy and fuzzy tone to “Soft Landing” as Woods repurposes the classic “Feeling Good” hook to reflect the deeper complexities in his own life. There’s a B-movie smoke and neon on “Year Zero,” where the whole track takes on a more menacing growl and crunch, while Danny Brown joins into help revel in the struggle. The jazzier base to “FaceTime” lets that chorus really glide, and Segal’s details as a producer shine the brightest on the whole record, in a track that feels as much like a beautiful interlude as it does a place for Woods to show off.

Blumarelo Maybe You’ll Win This Time (Single)

In an ode to those stuck in a cycle of setbacks, Blumarelo reflect on trying to keep perseverance strong through all that hardship. This mix of hope and despair is plain in the song’s touch of malaise amidst sunny guitars, with Vincent Teetsov riding the emotional line in his vocals. Even the repetition of the song hits hard on that sense of monotony the song discusses, and each chorus drives in how many times you live through this same conversation with yourself. However, the solo gives one break from all this, shifting to a moment of light, and suggests things are looking up for them as well, as the song breaks its own cycle.

Lankum – False Lankum
(Dublin, Ireland)

As much as the word folk gets thrown around to describe varying waves of rustic acoustic music, but Lankum is a rare band that feels born from some sort magic. Soothing at times and dangerous at others, this record is an experience that simply needs to be heard to be understood. While the slow chanting makes “Go Dig My Grave” almost feel like a traditional for a moment, it opens into this terrifying cinematic shriek of instrumentation ripped right from a horror movie that brings such a vivid visual and textural quality to the music that it makes you sick (in the best possible way). This feeling of danger allows a fascinating duality to bloom in “Clear Away in the Morning,” as track constantly alternates between these harsher and sunny tones to create a song that plays just enough in its more structured songwriting to let the haunting harmonies and weird spirit-like instrumentation really grow on you. Taking what seems like their most classic folk track and taking it through demented turn after warped turn, “Master Crowley’s is a marvel of production to behold, as the track plays more as a wild mutation of its original melodies. While “Newcastle” shows the banned stripping things back over a strong base of a song, there’s just a great sense of growth and layered magi to “Netta Perseus” that takes it that much further in the strings, vocals and horns that makes the mystical feel tangible to us mere mortals.

iLLah Desire (Single)

There’s a mature and determined energy to iLLah’s lyricism on “Desire,” showing an artist ready to take their life by the reins. Every line drips with an urgency to move forward, gain something new from life and better oneself, with the smoke of the synth and sax sounds creating a kind of rising sonic tapestry to match iLLah’s elevated goals. Every struggle feels temporary under iLLah’s belt, with that confidence from the delivery alone inspiring you to grow with him. Mixing his own more modern choices with the classic sounds in the production make for an instantly infectious track that you’ll be repeating right away.

Wednesday Rat Saw God
(Asheville, NC)

While Wednesday calls to many indie bands you’ve heard before, listening to them sounds like hearing a supergroup that doesn’t actually exist. Brutal and overloaded with emotional grime, this is a ferocious record for when you just need to let it all out. There’s such an immediacy and fire to “Hot Rotten Grass Smell” that it yanks you right into this record in its explosive fury, with all the wailing guitars drowning out any other thoughts. The rolling speed feeling to “Got Shocked” has an unsettling edge to it that lets the songs more poppy moments feel comforting, even amidst all the dissonance, as the band strikes a colourful fire in their already chunky sound. The slight country burn to “Chosen to Deserve” is a refreshing touch, letting their more bluesy crooning hit its over-the-top peak and feel even more surreal as a result. “Quarry” takes a very “Waterloo Sunset” approach to its otherwise melancholic and frustrated sound, leaving you entranced in the pop as your body thrashes to the weight around it.