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New Music Friday: Bambara (Stray), Habibi (Anywhere but Here), Ben Noble (When the Light Comes In)

Bambara
Bambara

Featured Release
Bambara Stray (Western Gothic/Indie Rock)

Bambara - Stray

If darkness is your thing, check out Bambara. Every band says that they’re unique, but their combination of noir, twang, noise rock, and lo-fi has little precedence.

What really sets Bambara apart, however, are their lyrics, which are mostly unnerving and dramatic short stories. They’re the lyrical equivalent of the band’s music, which fluctuates between eerie atmospherics (“Sing me to the Street,” “Stay Cruel”) and heaviness (“Ben and Lily”), sometimes in the same song (opening “Miracle”).

It isn’t all gloom and doom, though. The swagger of tracks like “Death Croons,” “Made for Me,” and “Machete” keep things from getting too melancholic. “Sweat” is practically jumpy in its raggedness.

Stray, Bambara’s fourth album, is another substantial step forward for the band. To get the full effect of the album, either read the lyrics beforehand or follow along with them. They’re available on the BandCamp page for Stray.

Habibi – Anywhere but Here (Dream Pop/Punk/50s Pop)

Habibi

It’s been a long six years since Brooklyn indie band Habibi released their self-titled debut. They have grown significantly since that time, as Anywhere but Here shows.

Though their songs are still fun, they’re a little more serious and their songwriting is significantly more mature (“Angel Eyes,” “Come my Habibi”). The old school, 50s style vibe of their earlier work is still there, but the punk edge has mostly been replaced by an atmospheric pop feel. Rahill Jamlifard’s dreamy vocals were seemingly made for this new direction.

Hopefully Habibi builds on the momentum of Anywhere but Here and doesn’t wait another six years between albums.

Ben NobleWhere the Light Comes In (Indie/Pop)

Ben NobleLocal songwriter Ben Noble released his debut album, the ethereally folky Whiskey Priest, in 2017. Its follow-up, When the Light Comes In, will similarly please fans of Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens, although he’s a little poppier (which is a good thing) and the drums are more up-front (also a good thing). The melodies cover the full range of Noble’s falsetto, and the lyrics are a good combination of straightforward and opaque. Everything comes together best on lead single “Bluebird.”

Catch Ben at the CD release show for When the Light Comes In at the Parkway Theater tonight, February 21st.

Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.

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