This week’s roundup of new titles comes complete with spooky-fun marshmallows.
The Avett Brothers, Magpie Dandelion: I never felt worse for the Avett Brothers than I did this past summer at Governors’ Ball, where they played opposite Kanye West’s only scheduled live appearance of 2013. Troopers, these guys. I would imagine they’re troopers, I mean. I was also watching Kanye West. But I’ve seen them before, and they never fail to please. I’m going to shut up now and let Britt Robson talk about this odds-and-ends comp:
Magpie and the Dandelion came out of the same sessions that produced last year’s The Carpenter, but this is clearly not a collection of outtakes. It is at once more intimate and less emotionally freighted than The Carpenter, permeated with issues of independence and commitment instead of life and death. In other words, Magpie and the Dandelion is about the process of gaining enough maturity — internally balanced independence — to make love last. It’s a classic topic that reiterates how much the Avetts are a classic band.
Cults, Static: The New York duo’s sophomore LP is a window into the strains and complexities of their relationship. Carrie Battan says:
For better or worse, Cults haven’t been able to shed the swooning hallmarks of their music, largely because of the syrup-sweet nature of Follin’s vocals. But they have, with the help of go-to producer/mixer Ben Allen (who’s worked with the likes of Deerhunter and Animal Collective), successfully added nuance, spinning some of the friction of their dissolving relationship onto record. Follin is often crooning behind reverb and ambience, Oblivion’s guitars wobbling back and forth.
Lucius, Wildewoman: The long-awaited debut from the mesmerizing Brooklyn quintet Lucius. eMusic’s Laura Leebove says:
In the title track of the band’s first full-length Wildewoman, they paint a picture of a mischievous gal with wild hair and ripped jeans — “she’s no beauty queen, but you’ll love her anyways.” The women in these songs, or the voices that sing about them, won’t be held down — and all of Wildewoman exudes this confidence as it seamlessly combines organic, soulful voices with a wider, more electric range of instrumentation.
Nobunny, Secret Songs: Reflections from the Ear Mirror: Everyone’s favorite masked maniac returns with more revved-up garage punk classics that play out like a lunatic’s rock & roll history. Evan Minsker says:
On Secret Songs, Nobunny once again delivers a parade of earworms, but this time, the emphasis is more on the hooks than the caricature behind them. It helps that Nobunny has near-total mastery of the ’70s-rock songbook: “Do the Stooge” begins with Hasil Adkins’s trademark cackle; there’s a Down South jauntiness to “Trouble in Mind” that’s a far cry from the 30-second snot punk of “Buried in a Bong.”
Luke Temple, Good Mood Fool: Here We Go Magic’s Luke Temple shows an affinity for soft rock contours and mid ’80s world-beat. Abby Garnett says:
Unexpectedly, Temple populates this setting with disenchanted, sometimes vaguely lewd confessions à la Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen”: the ear-wormy “Katie” buries lascivious hints in sugary layers of drum machine and spiderweb falsetto, while “Jessica Brown Findlay” takes an uncomfortably close look at the titular actress during an in-flight movie. Meanwhile, softly churning “Sue” (“sorry, it’s true”) examines a spoiled relationship, and doomy jam “Those Kids” takes aim at MTV to evangelize about the fear of aging.
Matt Kivel, Double Exposure: Formerly a sideman, Matt Kivel gets quiet on his solo debut. Stephen Deusner says:
For several years now the Los Angeles musician has been paying his dues as a bass player in the Sleeping Bags, Gap Dream and Princeton (the indie-pop band, not the New Jersey college town), but on his own record, he jettisons the bass almost completely. In fact, these songs have been whittled to their barest elements: fingerpicked guitar, ambient synths and Kivel’s curious falsetto, all accentuated by occasional flourishes of drums and organ. These arrangements are so minimalist in nature that silence sounds like just another instrument in his musical arsenal.
The Men, Campfire Songs: While they were recording this year’s stunning New Moon, the Men took time to sit around a campfire and record a bunch of that album’s sogns acoustically. Originally available as a tour-only EP, it gets a wide release today. Austin L. Ray says:
The five very literal campfire songs — recorded acoustically around an actual blaze just outside a house in rural upstate New York where the Men ended up recording more than 25 tracks — of Campfire Songs may not appeal to every casual listener of this oft-noisy Brooklyn quartet. But for those who have been following it for years, ones that might like to close their eyes and imagine the guys strumming through a version of “I Saw Her Face” or a delightful, shaker-accented rendition of “The Seeds,” this stopgap EP satisfies.
Black Milk, No Poison No Paradise: Legendary Detroit producer and rapper Black Milk continues to expand his impressive sonic palette. His latest features collaborations with The Roots’ Black Thought and jazz icon Robert Glasper. This one is RECOMMENDED Nate Patrin says:
In blending chromed-out digital orchestration, ambitious psych-prog chord progressions, and a sense of deep groove inherited from too many soul-jazz and vintage R&B crates to count, No Poison No Paradise is a producer’s ambition rewarded. It pays off whether he goes macro on “Interpret Sabotage” and “Money Bags (Paradise)” or minimalist on “Codes and Cab Fare” and “Dismal.” And then he’ll throw both Robert Glasper and Dwele on a Tamla-via-Blue Note ’74 session on “Sonny Jr. (Dreams),” in case you weren’t paying attention.
Tim Hecker, Virgins: The latest from Canadian producer and minimalist craftsman Tim Hecker. Sharon O’Connell says:
Impossible though it may be to map the world of Virgins — with its radiant drone and urgent, interlocking rhythmic loops, its crosscurrents of joyously cacophonous harpsichords, its ominous, white-noise hissing, elegant piano interludes and occasional thick crackle which sounds like a radio transmission from deep space — that world has a monumental physical presence. Hecker’s latest is literally awesome.
Heavenly Beat, Prominence: The second LP from former Beach Fossils bassist John Peña. Annie Zaleski says:
This overall livelier atmosphere also permeates Prominence‘s mellower corners — looping sampled nylon strings dart through “Honest,” while the Wild Nothing-esque “Stable” ends with an extended instrumental coda full of tropical rhythms. These jaunty flourishes contrast nicely with Peña’s lyrics, which detail struggles with romantic uncertainty and the shame of desire. Still, Heavenly Beat isn’t defined or limited by its turmoil; as Prominence proves, Peña would rather channel his melancholy into lush, gorgeous music.
James Ferraro, NYC, Hell 3:00 AM: As much an album as a digital-age art project. Andy Battaglia says:
In that way, the album lines up with Ferraro’s previous albums — most notably 2011′s Far Side Virtual — all of which survey the state of a world, both online and off, that’s filled with pop-up ads, preening avatars, and signifiers that are alternately empty and overstuffed. Parts of NYC, Hell 3:00 AM were conceived to address the horrors of 9/11, but even the weight of such a historical event feels fleeting and light, with siren sounds in “Stuck 1″ and news recordings from the day itself turning up in tracks like “City Smells” and “Stuck 2.” If that all seems alienating and strange, it is — and it’s meant to be. But it’s also disarmingly natural, the longer you spend with it.
Gigan, Multi-Dimensional Fractal Sorcery and Super Science: As uncompromising as you’d expect from this progressive death-metal band. Phil Freeman says:
Sure, multi-instrumentalist Eric Hersemann, formerly of Hate Eternal, has vocalist Eston Browne and drummer Nate Cotton there to do his bidding, but as the last founding member remaining, there’s no question that his vision is the one being expressed, in its purest possible form. What that amounts to is an avalanche-like death metal roar, his guitar and bass riffs tumbling over each other unceasingly with only occasional relief provided by squealing solos or brief interludes of sci-fi/space-rock drones.
Tindersticks, Across Six Leap Years: Latest from rich, moody, long-running blokes has all the mood and shadow you’ve come to both expect and love. Paul Connolly says:
Tindersticks were always an ornery bunch. They were born and flourished in the era of Britpop but, despite an occasional fondness for alcohol-fuelled tomfoolery, shared little of their contemporaries’ laddish DNA, and eschewed nursery rhyme Beatlisms in favor of dark, complex, cinematic microdramas. This contrariness is still the band’s calling card. Twenty-one years and nine studio albums on from their formation in Nottingham, they are no more inclined to sling together a best-of to celebrate a milestone than they are to join Shed Seven and Echobelly on an Ultimate ’90s nostalgia tour.