Todrick Hall: Straight Outta Oz

Todrick Hall calls his album, Straight Outta Oz, “Lemonade meets Wizard of Oz” (replete with its own visual album), so of course I love it! You can watch the visual album in its glorious entirety on Youtube and listen on Spotify. Local Kanawha Co. library card holders can also download it for free on Hoopla.

Todrick Hall Official Site

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The Definitive Leonard Cohen Cover

Allison Crowe’s definitive Leonard Cohen cover, “Hallelujah,” and her haunting choral rendition of Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” are featured on the Muruch.com Presents Allison Crowe album.

Allison Crowe Official Site

Tegan and Sara: Love You to Death

Some bands have made such consistently good music for so long, I sometimes take them for granted. I haven’t posted about Tegan and Sara since before the great crash of ’04 wiped out Muruch’s early archives. Their new album, Love You to Death, is a vivid reminder of what made me love the Canadian singer-songwriter twins so much in the first place. Their trademark immersion of lyrical depth in summery dream pop, such as in “Walking with a Ghost” and “Where Does the Good Go,” is alive and well in new songs “Faint of Heart,” “Boyfriend,” and “Dying to Know.”







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Tegan and Sara Official Site

Fantastic Negrito: The Last Days of Oakland (Album Review, Videos & Full Album Stream)

Fantastic Negrito’s debut full-length album, The Last Days of Oakland, churns classic blues, soul, and funk with modern garage rock like somebody spun Lead Belly, Buddy Guy, Otis Redding, and Black Joe Lewis records in a blender.

Fantastic Negrito, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Xavier Dphrepaulezz, first caught my attention jammin’ with Jamal in a club on Fox’s Empire. At the time they only had a couple of EPs out, so I was very excited for this album’s release. It more than lives up to the anticipation.

The entire album is a nonstop brilliant and bombastic rumination on injustice and inequality of both social and economic natures. My personal favorite tracks…

“Working Poor” has a fiercely catchy guitar riff and twisted refrain of Little Richard’s “Keep on Knockin'” with lyrics about the working class’ struggle to survive despite working as hard as we possibly can.

When I was curating Muruch.com for RAINN, I tried and failed to arrange a worthy cover of the traditional Appalachian folk song “In the Pines” (aka “Black Girl” aka Lead Belly/Nirvana’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”), so my heart just about exploded when I saw the song title on The Last Days of Oakland‘s tracklist.

Fantastic Negrito not only delivers a magnificently revamped, reverberating rendition of “In the Pines,” they also composed a new, gut-punch verse envisioning the “Black Girl” as the single mother of a son shot by police. It is the most perfect cover, beyond anything I could have imagined.

photo credit: Robbie Welsh

Other highlights are “Hump Through the Winter,” which follows the same theme as “Working Poor,” “Rant on Rushmore,” and the song they jammed with Jamal, “Lost in a Crowd”…

Fantastic Negrito Official Site

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