“We are not accidents.”

“Beautifully Human” by Naomi Wachira | If I’m to be honest with you, I was not feeling this the first time. But funny how contexts can change things. After a particularly frantic phone call – it was thirty minutes long, I think? – I returned to this song, from Kenyan-born, Seattle-based folkie Naomi Wachira, and it snapped into place. If you’ve heard of her, you know she leans heavily on her African heritage, a sound that defines her previous records, and is set to define her new record, Songs of Lament. “Beautifully Human” is a song about, well, how good we all are despite our differences – a well-trod road, but one made easy by that effortless mix of heritage and modern sensibility. Now I shouldn’t have said that first sentence, but, well, we also have to be true to ourselves if we’re all to be, as the song says, not accidents. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“I can’t get to sleep with you next to me.”

“Next To Me” by Columbus | Normally Brisbane band Columbus are happily bouncing around, punky sound in tow. Well, it’s the Aussie way, or at least one of them. But on Friday they’re releasing an acoustic EP, Next To Me, which features a new song (this) and a reimagining of some of their past songs. Well, this one’s interesting, because for “Next To Me” they’re clearly trying to bust out of their usual mold, and after a bit of awkwardness, succeeding. This one took a while to grow into a proper sing-along – or maybe it’s the conceit of the music video – but it gets there, and fast. Relatively. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“Give me peace of mind. Take my heart with you.”

“Take Me Home” by Silver Rose | Back to the inbox, and to a song from two years ago. But then, Silver Rose are touring, so this is worth a mention. By the way, they’re not American, but Mexican – we don’t really pay attention to music south of the border, don’t we? (Then again, it’s not my border. I’m halfway across the world.) But the American influence is clear: in the lead-up to their first release, the band’s leader Carla Sariñana spend a few months in Los Angeles and pretty much soaked in the shoegaze-y stuff the place is made of (in places, I assume). The result is a pretty soaked eponymous EP, which feels pretty Los Angeles-y to me. If you’re in Mexico City, they’ll be at Foro IndieRocks on the 28th – Friday! – but then, again, I am halfway across the world. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

Review: The Search for Everything by John Mayer

The Search for Everything by John MayerPerhaps, perhaps, we’re being too hard on John Mayer. Perhaps we all need to remind ourselves that, ultimately, John really does what he feels like doing, which explains his many diversions over his career – although those diversions appealed to the beard-stroking music geek in all of us, never mind whether his excursions towards all-out blues or three-quarters-hearted Americana were successful or not. That perhaps also explains the curious decision to release his latest album, The Search for Everything, in three sets of four. After the first two thirds of the album were dropped in the past couple of months, sparking glee among his not-quite-dormant fans, we have the full album, and, well, it does prove that he does what he wants to do. Unfortunately, that decision to release the album in batches has dulled the whole thing’s impact. Sure, it’s not really a remarkable album – those beard-strokers will see this as a return to bland territory, or blander territory, with actual orchestral flourishes – but knowing that already means listening is not as fun. That, and I have found that listening to John’s albums the first time can be rewarding in its own way. At least he shuffled the album around: “Moving On and Getting On” remains as sublime whether it’s the eighth track in the whole record or it’s the first track in that first tranche of releases. [NB]3/5

Review: Damn. by Kendrick Lamar

Damn. by Kendrick LamarExpectations are, naturally, high. To Pimp A Butterfly was seen as an epoch-marking record, and whatever Kendrick Lamar releases next will have double, triple the anticipation (never mind the surprise release of a collection of demos). Damn. now has to live up to its predecessor, and it attempts to do so in a more subtle way. It’s like he’s gone to that phase where everything’s immortalized – he’s not resisting, he’s still feeling things, but you get the feeling he’s a little more resigned than before. Damn. is quieter: less tonal shifts, but not that far apart from its predecessor, the result being a stronger focus on his already outstanding storytelling. When you have less to listen to – despite the number of collaborators, from Rihanna to BadBadNotGood to U2, you don’t really notice them – you tend to pay attention to the story more, and Kendrick’s attempt to go full circle shines on its own. [NB]4/5