Introducing a new regular feature on Qore Music, where we’ll be highlighting a small handful of noteworthy recent independent and small-label releases. This inaugural roundup includes a low-fi hip-hop concept album, spooky Welsh American primitive guitar and a genuinely impressive EP from a TikTok star.
Gwenifer Raymond - Strange Lights Over Garth Mountain
Gwenifer Raymond describes herself as a “guitar convincer,” which is a wonderfully concise way to describe how she coaxes layers and layers of sound out of the instrument as if they were already there. Raymond is a remarkably talented practitioner of American primitivism -- an unintuitively named folk subgenre that is all hugely complex fingerstyle acoustic guitar playing, often in the form of very showy, foot stomping blues. While Raymond is certainly capable of, on Strange Lights, she transports the genre to her home country of Wales, adding layers of dissonant spookiness that gives the music an almost medieval quality.
Pink Siifu and Fly Anakin - Fly Siifu’s
If you are a fan of a certain genre of sample-heavy, soul-influenced hip-hop -- think J Dilla, Madlib, the Alchemist -- this album is like a warm sweater. Framed as a day in the life at fictional record store, the two rappers trade bars over beats that range from lush to sparse, but always crackle with a comfortable low-fi warmth that gives enough space for both Siifu’s meandering wordplay and Anakin’s more high-energy delivery to shine.
Seba Kaapstad - Konke
Featuring contributions from big names from the world of modern American soul-R&B-hip-hop crossover like Georgia Anne Muldrow, Quelle Chris and Oddissee, Konke is an outstandingly mellow sophomore album from the South African/German quartet. The stars of the show are the group’s two vocalists -- Ndumiso Manana and Zoe Modiga -- but their voices are wrapped in lusciously warm synths, guitars, and programmed drums. The album is a swirl of a huge number of different sounds, befitting a band that represents three nationalities with just four members.
Route 8 - Rewind the Days of Youth
As the title and nostalgic highway shot suggest, Route 8’s Rewind the Days of Youth is a nostalgic album, full of very classic dance tunes that sure would sound great played over the speakers of a 2001 Honda Civic.
Madesinxoxo - Plead No Contest
Madesinxoxo was a beneficiary of a TikTok boost earlier this year when her song “Baby in Blue” went moderately viral on the platform. To her credit, this debut EP doesn’t lean into clippable moments that are good for teens to lip-synch to, as much as it focuses more on carefully layered guitar effects and vocal harmonies.