New This Week: Amanda Shires, The Polyphonic Spree & More

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 08.06.13 in Spotlights

Here’s this week’s rundown of what’s new on eMusic!

Amanda Shires, Down Fell the Doves: The Texas singer/songwriter lets her eccentricities run wild on her latest LP. Stephen Deusner says:

When Amanda Shires sings about the devil on “Deep Dark Below,” a standout on her latest album, he “plays a mean fiddle and his bow’s made of bone.” The Texas native plays a mean bow herself: She joined the Texas Playboys at 15 and has backed an array of musicians, including Justin Townes Earle, Todd Snider and her husband Jason Isbell. Members of his band the 400 Unit back her on Down Fell the Doves, creating a strange and spry country sound that fits her fantastical lyrics about emotional risk and unfathomable doubt. Musically and lyrically, Shires lets her eccentricities run wild.

The Polyphonic Spree, Yes, It’s True.: The massive Polyphonic Spree’s first album in quite a while. Barry Walters says:

This time, rainbow-hued tunes dictate the arrangements’ scope, rather than the other way around. The chugging opening title cut strikes a feisty defense against detractors with a sticky self-empowerment slogan — “There’s always more to you than there are of them” — and ringing guitar riffs that skew more U2 than Up With People. What follows certainly has its share of monolithic moments, but now they’re effectively scaled to some of Tim DeLaughter’s most substantial and finessed compositions. He’s still rewriting one of the many pages from the Flaming Lips’ songbook, but when the results are as delicate and thoughtful as “You’re Golden,” his imitation mutually flatters.

Eric Copeland, Joke in the Hole: Black Dice’s Eric Copeland releases his sixth solo album. Andy Battaglia says:

Joke in the Hole shows Copeland as an exploratory electronic artist increasingly in control of his gear. Parts of the album are danceable in a would-be techno fashion (“Kashi Donation”; “Babes in the Woods,” after an extremely weird opening minute or so), and it hides lots of surprises as tracks zig and zag between passages that sound barely related to each other but are conjoined in ways that make sense. There’s a fascinating suggestion of logic to these pieces, even if that logic won’t do anything so logical as to give itself up.

Pond, Hobo Rocket: Tame Impala offshoot tries to capture the band’s live show. Andrew Perry says:

Pond, like Tame Impala, swipe influences from across rock ‘n’ roll’s more cosmically-aligned history, scrub them up with fresh shine and color, and present them as new. Opener “Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide” — a Flaming Lips title, if ever there was one — opens like a lysergic take on Bo Diddley, with ethereal, reedy vocals reminiscent of MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden, but soon erupts into the most twisted Black Sabbath groove since Butthole Surfers’ “Sweat Loaf.”

Dumb Numbers, Dumb Numbers: This record has a pretty weird backstory! Dumb Numbers is just one man, Adam Harding, who happens to have a lot of excellent connections. Consequently, bold-faced indie types like Lou Barlow, Dale Crover, Best Coast’s Bobb Bruno and Dinosaur Jr.’s Murph. All show up here. And the artwork is by David Lynch to boot. Soncially, this is doomy and sludgy, sub basement trudge-core for your rainiest days.

Chris Thile, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1: The mandolin virtuoso takes on Bach. Hilary Saunders says:

The shrill timbre of the mandolin, an unlikely choice for unaccompanied Bach, brings a certain brightness (sonically and metaphorically) to Thile’s interpretations, which honor the disparate dynamics, stretching arpeggios and seamless harmonic transitions of their original texts. His chordal playing is especially apparent in the Tempo Di Borea movement of the first partita and his stunningly speedy precision marks the Presto movements of both the first sonata and partita. However, Thile’s creative liberties conjure the most excitement, as he constantly adapts and improvises fills for his instrument when the original sounds can’t be recreated.

Moderat, II: Modeselektor + Apparat make surprisingly accessible 21st-century pop music. Andrew Harrison says:

Sascha Ring, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary remain in restless magpie mode for this second album, adding abrasive electronic R&B textures, soulful, post-Frank Ocean human voices and especially the midnight clatter and throb of dubstep to their ever-changing scheme of things. The album’s signature track “Bad Kingdom” transplants the snap and bounce of a daytime radio pop-soul hit into the echoing no-space inhabited by Burial or Shackleton; the epic 10-minuter “Milk” is minimal house with a glittering dubstep sheen; “Let In The Light” is a slow jam so thoroughly zonked on shoegazing energies that it dissolves into bleary bliss. Most striking of all is the scale — everything here is big.

Various Artists, Mutazione: Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980 – 1988: WHOAH HOLY COW. Weirdo electro — think of the stuff that comes out on Wierd Records and Minimal Wave — but with Italian vocals. Fascinating and unpredictable and RECOMMENDED

Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo, Prince Avalanche: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: EITS and Ola Podrida frontman David Wingo team up to create the soundtrack for the new movie by mumblecore master David Gordon Green. EITS are usually known for their sweep and pounce, but the songs here are tender and meditative and graceful — not too far off from labelmate Eluvium, in a way.

Medicine, To the Happy Few: I like to think that Medicine were getting jealous of all the attention Codeine was getting and decided to get back in the game. The first new Medicine record in almost 20 years (!) retains all of the quirk as their earlier work. The songs here are similar to early His Name is Alive, full of oddly-assembled sounds, drifting, dreamlike vocals and milky sonics.

Pop 1280, Imps of Perversion: Pop 1280′s last record was a straight masterpiece, a smoking slab of horror-goth that brought to mind the best qualities of The Birthday Party and The Jesus Lizard (we loved it so much that we profiled them when it came out). Their new record is different — it’s not as claustrophobic, there’s a greater emphasis on the keyboards over guitars, and the vocals are dry and shoved to the fore. A new look all around.

Bare Mutants, The Affliction: An all-star cast — Jared from Ponys, Seth Bohn of Mannequin Men and Jeanine O’Toole who did some time in the 1900s — along with Matt Holland and Leslie Deckard, produce an album of gloom-pop for eMusic faves In the Red that is full-on weep-psych at is finest. Fans of Crystal Stilts will especially enjoy.

Summer Cannibals, No Makeup: Great, bratty and power-poppy, like Joan Jett if she recorded for Matador instead of a major. Sneering vocals, gritty guitars and motorcycle melody lines make for a great late-summer ride.

The Human Beast, Venus Ejaculates into the Banquet: How’s that for a title? Super creepy minimalist electrogoth with doomy female vocals floating ghostlike throughout.

Eli Mardock, Everything Happens for the First Time: Lovely, weird-sounding orch-pop not too far off from that Kid Silver record that came out ages ago. Lots of dreamy, slack-key guitars, whispery vocals and weird, dreamlike sounds that appear outta nowhere. RECOMMENDED

Eldest Son, I Was Fire: Speaking of psych! I don’t know what the deal with this band is, but the music is pretty dizzying — crazy layers of guitar, corkscrewing time signatures and heavy-lidded vocals. A perfect complement to the Eli Mardock, and also RECOMMENDED

Hugh Mundell & Lacksley Castell, Jah Fire: Gorgeous 1980 record from two great reggae singers. Topically, this is strictly roots — musically, too, actually: low-rolling bass, chicken-scratch guitars and the gorgeous vocals of Castell and Mundell singing praises to the most high over top of it.

The Blind Hole, Dead in the Dirt: Atlanta grindcore powerhouse returns with a record that is just as brutal but far more inventive than your typical fare. Drums explode, guitars speed up and suddenly slam to a stop, and the vocals whiplash from growl to bloodcurdling scream.

Minks, Tide’s End: Plinky synthpop! Monophonic keyboards twitch and twinkle beneath New Romantic-style sad-man vocals. It’s aching in the way all good retropop is.

RocketNumberNine, MeYouWeYou: RocketNumberNine piece together an approximation of dance music. Philip Sherburne says:

Like Lightning Bolt, they manage it all with just four hands, with Tom Page’s live percussion providing the rhythmic muscle and Ben Page’s synthesizers taking care of all the rest. And “live” is the operative word here: Rather than editing and overdubbing, they roll out their lumpen shapes in real time, lending a rough-around-the-edges quality that’s rare for the kind of corkscrewing, groove-focused electronic music that they emulate.