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This month’s haul: four new albums to check out

From Red Hot Chili Peppers' new album, ‘Return of the Dream Canteen’ to a newly mixed version of The Beatles' ‘Revolver’, here are four new albums to keep you company this month

Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in London in 2022. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Red Hot Chili Peppers playing in London in 2022. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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The Swedish band, Goat, has always been shrouded in mystery. They originate from a small northern Swedish village, Korpilombolo, home to a voodoo-worshipping, shamanistic community. None of the band members’ real names are known; nor are their real likenesses—in public performances they are usually in costumes and tribal masks. But the music they make is psychedelic, and draws from a range of genres that include afrobeat, funk, jazz, hard rock, and post-rock experimental music.

Goat, who have opened for the likes of the Foo Fighters, and toured extensively in Europe and the US, have just dropped their fourth studio album, Oh Death, and it’s a funky, heavy, shamanistic buffet that grips you from the get go. The opening track, Soon You Die, has a fuzzed-out lead guitar riff that sets the tone for the rest of the album, which doesn’t disappoint at all, both in terms of eclecticism as well as guaranteed trippiness. The latter being the hallmark of Goat, which is one of the finest exponents of unapologetically psychedelic rock today. 

Chukua Pesa, the second track on the album, begins with an Indian tabla but soon morphs into a mesh of chanted vocals, string instruments and looped guitar riffs. By the time you reach the third track, Under No Nation, on which a giant bass line takes charge of your sensibilities, you are hooked to Oh Death. Don’t say I didn't warn you if you find yourself playing the album on nonstop repeat.

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When, barely six months after Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) released Unlimited Love, their 12th studio album and one that came out after a gap of six years, the band released another new album this month, Return of the Dream Canteen, you could have felt it was too soon. Unlimited Love was a gorgeous double album that many fans of the storied funky were still trying to absorb fully when another one, this also a double, dropped. But more, evidently, makes it merrier.

Both albums have some common factors—like Unlimited Love, Return to Dream Canteen is also produced by the legendary Rick Rubin; and it also features lead guitarist John Frusciante, who seems to be back in the band for good. If Unlimited Love was a return to RHCP’s old and beloved sound of their peak years, albeit with a bit of mature mellowing, on Return to Dream Canteen, the same spirit continues. 

The reunited band members (after Frusciante’s return) seem to be enjoying themselves immensely and, not surprisingly, the guitarist's killer riffs steal the show on most of the 17 tracks but especially on numbers such as Reach Out, and Eddie, which is a grand tribute to Eddie Van Halen, the co-founder of Van Halen. Return to Dream Canteen, clocking in at 75 minutes (two minutes longer than Unlimited Love) will keep RHCP fans busy for a while.

It’s a bit strange to write about a 56-year-old record in a column that is about new albums but then there is a reason why The Beatles’ Revolver makes it to this instalment of First Beat. On October 28, Revolver will be released worldwide in newly mixed and remastered versions as part of a project helmed by producer Giles Martin, the son of the late George Martin, who produced and arranged the legendary band’s original albums. In recent years, Giles Martin also remastered other Beatles’ albums such as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album.

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Revolver is a bit special. It marked the four “moptops” breaking away from their popular (if not extra-sugary) past and becoming more individualistic and creative. In an interview with GQ recently, Giles Martin said: “Revolver” is The Beatles turning [away from] the four-headed beast that wears a suit and has a moptop. They went on holiday, discovered pot, had all these ideas and just exploded into the studio.”

He’s absolutely on point. Revolver is possibly more of a concept album than Sgt. Peppers was. Tracks such as Eleanor Rigby, Taxman, And Your Bird Can Sing, and She Said She Said are epic Beatles tracks that mark their transition from being huge popstars to becoming huge legends. Giles Martin’s remastering has been meticulous and painstaking—separating every instrument and then remixing them in stereo. More than half a century later Revolver is a must re-listen.

It is not easy to be trans or gay in America’s testosterone-driven rap and hiphop industry. In fact, misogyny and sexism exists in large doses across amid the genre’s exponents. So a few years back when Mykki Blanco identified as being transgender and chose “they” as a pronoun it couldn’t have been easy. Neither was it so when Blanco publicly disclosed being diagnosed as HIV positive.

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But Blanco, 36, has been pushing the boundaries with her music for a while. A poet and artist, besides being a rapper, her new project, Stay Close to Music, may be her most ambitious till date. Not least because of the plethora of musicians she collaborates with on the album. The album, recorded some time back, in the pre-Covid years, but released only now features a trove of singers—Anohni, another openly transgender musician and performer from the UK; Michael Stipe of R.E.M.; Devendra Banhart, the indie singer-songwriter; and Jónsi, the lead singer of the Icelandic post-rock band, Sigur Rós.

As expected, such a variety of collaborations has resulted in an album that you cannot just play for casual listening. It requires serious attention and if you care to give it that, the experience is meaningful. Songs that are especially of note include Your Feminism is Not My Feminism, Ketamine, and French Lessons. Not only does Mykki Blanco push the boundaries of making music but also urges you to push the limits of what you listen to.

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