Cultural Consumption: 1/17/24

From a phony soundtrack to a real singer-songwriter

Cultural Consumption: 1/17/24
screaming over everything

A memorable band name counts for a lot. This can be a bit of a double-edged sword — just imagine how many mornings John Rzeznik has woken up, remembered he's the frontman for the Goo Goo Dolls, and let out a bone-weary sigh — but in the business of art, anything you can do to make yourself hard to forget goes a long way. So when I come across an act with a name like, say, Lack of Afro, I'm heavily inclined to check out their wares, if for no reason other than sheer admiration.

Turns out Lack of Afro is a one-man project led by a multi-instrumentalist/producer named Adam Gibbons, who's released an album every two or three years since 2007. Given that Gibbons is from England and he came up as a DJ, a person might be somewhat justified in assuming that his music tends toward the sterile end of the spectrum, but I'm happy to report that this isn't the case — at least not based on his 2023 release Square One, which hits the speakers as a savory blend of Muscle Shoals funk and sleek Euro-soul.

Even more intriguing to me is Gibbons' even less Afrotastic side project, 2021's The Last Bastion LP, which appears to be the score for a film that doesn't exist. But even if the movie isn't real, the music makes a solid case for some billionaire to come along and give himself a tax write-off by signing some checks and making it a reality. I don't know what kind of story Gibbons had in mind when he wrote songs like "Here We Go!," but this record really sounds like something I'd like to watch:

But today wasn't all about funk-frosted instrumentals. I also fell into a little singer-songwriter culvert courtesy of an artist named Bre Kennedy, whose 2023 LP Scream Over Everything does a fine job of threading the needle between Top 40 sheen and the modern Nashville sound. You can hear that she's rooted in the latter world, but there's nothing performative or corny about these songs; they're tilted strongly toward the pop side of the spectrum, but not in a way that makes it sound like she's straining for hits. I don't want to oversell the album — I suspect none of these songs will change your life — but the material is well-written, the arrangements have some depth, and the production is interesting. My personal favorite is the closing cut, "Hello":

Watching: Moonlighting S5 E9, "Perfetc," in which a terminally ill man comes to Blue Moon seeking their help in proving he's responsible for the theft of some priceless artifacts 20 years before. Given that he's about to kick the bucket, he's concerned about his legacy — but when David and Maddie succeed in tying him to the theft, he finds out he was misdiagnosed and has a change of heart about his confession. There are twists and turns after that, of course, along with a ridiculous chase involving an art installation; it's the type of episode that probably would have made viewers happy during the second or third season, but at this point, mostly reinforces that the show was sort of amiably spinning its wheels.

Reading: Finished with William Diehl's Thai Horse (the good guys win, natch) and am now on to his next book, 1990's 27, later retitled The Hunt.