Friday Five: French Ship, Reena Pang, Ayany Jowi, Darrin James, Loamsy
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features electronic pop by French Ship and Reena Pang, Kenyan fiddle music by Ayany Jowi, rootsy rock by Darrin James, and a dance mix by Loamsy.
French Ship, We Say Hello To What We Want
The new six-song mini-album by Ypsilanti's French Ship mixes electronic-pop songs—"Highway," "Breathe," and "Okay This Time"—and experimental funk. The off-kilter groove "Easy Chair" gives off Prince vibes with its pitched-up vocals, and "Zargon" sounds like a brooding, Jon Hassell-esque Fourth World experiment in rhythms and ambiance. So good. Check out the group's terrific 2021 releases, too: Your Plan EP and Tell Me How LP.
Reena Pang, Cult of the Nu Girl and Dusk EP
Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Reena Pang explores electronic art-pop on her two recent releases. The Dawn / Dusk EP has more of a low-key, jazzy, piano-bar vibe, but Cult of the Nu Girl is an expansive electro-pop concept album that Pang describes like this: "In the near future, an artificial disaster only known as 'The Noise' is grinding society to a halt. The times captivate the strong and pulverize the weak. Corpros rush to engage the remains in extreme rent-seeking. Isolation is a routine cost-saving measure. Green is nowhere to be found. Three survivors coalesce in the shadows of catastrophe."
Ayany Jowi, Orutu
Following the recent compilation Thum Nyatiti: Recordings From Western Kenya, 1930-1970, Ann Arbor's Dagoretti Records has dug deep again to feature more music from the Luo people of Western Kenya. Where the first comp focused on the numerous players of the nyatiti, an eight-stringed lyre, The Raging Buffalo focuses solely on Ayany Jowi jamming on the orutu, a one-stringed fiddle. These songs come from 1970s singles, capturing Jowi living up to his name, which means "wild buffalo." The music is nervy, nervous, relentless, and powerful.
Darrin James, "Born for One Love"
Ravine Records leader Darrin James also leads the funk band Disaster Relief, but his solo work is squarely in the roots-rock realm. "Born for One Love" is a gravel-voiced mid-tempo ballad and James' first release under his own name since the 2016 album Strange Storm.
Loamsy, Fruits of Our Labor, Mix 001
Immaculate Conception is a new music collective dedicated to promoting creative projects by women and gender-nonforming people, started by Ann Arbor's Dimitra Colovos and Loamsy, who first came to my attention through the UMich student-DJ group MEMCO. Loamsy's first mix for this new collective runs the gamut from dark and brooding to dancefloor slammers.
Christopher Porter is a library technician and the editor of Pulp.