Can you tell we’re creeping toward the holiday season? After last week, new arrivals are slowing to a trickle. Still, there’s plenty of good stuff for those curious enough to investigate. Here’s what we found; as always, let us know what we missed in the comments.
Blood Orange, Cupid Deluxe: Dev Hynes has been making music for a while now, first as Test Icicles and then as Lightspeed Champion, but it’s his recent work, both as a producer/songwriter for people like Solange and Sky Ferreira and his own recordings as Blood Orange, that’s been the most satisfying. Cupid Deluxe is the full culmination of his long-developing aesthetic, an outstanding collection of lithe R&B with melodies that manage to be both infectious and unobtrusive. In short, this is a pop classic, and is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
A Perfect Circle, Three Sixty: A thing about me that I don’t talk about often is that I am a Tool fan. They were another of the bands I got to know as a result of a regular daily paper show-reviewing gig, and I’m glad that I did. A Perfect Circle is one of Maynard’s side ventures — the one that isn’t wine — and while it’s a little more direct than the music he makes with Tool, there are still plenty of tricky time signatures and artful constructions to hold interest. Our blogger Andrew Parks talked with James Iha about his work in APC, and it’s definitely worth a read.
David Schwartz, At Long Last…Music And Songs From Arrested Development: Now that we’ve all recovered from the mild sting of disappointment brought on by the well-intentioned fourth season of Arrested Development we can relive happier times — times when a man and a hand puppet could record moving songs about racial unity and an “Alice’s Restaurant”-biting ode to a banana stand had more subtext than “Puff, the Magic Dragon.”
Various Artists, Rockin’ Legends Play Tribute to Jack White: This is kind of a brilliant idea. A “reverse tribute album,” if you will, wherein older artists pay tribute to a younger one. Colossal no-brainer: Jack White is the subject — though, let’s be honest, he’s kind of an old artist in a young body. Wanda Jackson & Shooter Jennings’ take on “In the Cold, Cold Night” is as fantastic as you’d guess.
Ghost BC, If You Have Ghost: Ghost BC continue to break my heart with this Dave Grohl-produced EP. Not mad that it’s a covers album — artists covered include Roky Erikson, ABBA and Depeche Mode, all of whom are great — it’s just the band has polished up so clean so fast. I think I liked them more when no one knew anything about them. But that is clearly just personal opinion, and also I’m a bit of an asshole.
Maxmillion Dunbar, Woo Daps: I was pretty into Maxmillion Dunbar’s full-length, House of Woo. This FREE mixtape uses that as source material, but creates something wholly other from it — soothing and smooth and hypnotic and RECOMMENDED
C Spencer Yeh, Okkyung Lee and Lasse Marhaug, Wake Up Awesome: Awesome is right. The second release in the Software label’s Studio Series, which pairs artists from across the experimental music spectrum for one-off collaborations, Wake Up Awesome is a riveting blend of menacing drone, electronic scratch and cough and groaning, free-style cello. Lovers of the avant-garde, this is your jam. RECOMMENDED
Ejecta, Dominae: Collabo between Joel Ford — of Ford & Lopatin, Software Records and so many other things — and Leanne Macomber, Dominae sticks mostly with the kind of neo-retro vibe Ford has explored in his other forays. Fat, bounding synths square off with Macomber’s airy vocals for a final product that is pleasantly herky-jerk.
Nils Frahm, Spaces: The latest from Nils Frahm balances antic onslaught with surprising beauty and subtlety. Says Brian Howe:
Berlin-based pianist and composer Nils Frahm is one of those crowd-pleasing young Europeans, much like his past collaborators Ólafur Arnalds and Peter Broderick, who fuses minimalist technique, neo-Romantic mood and indie context into serene, pretty music that evokes Philip Glass when single-minded and Erik Satie when preoccupied, often hemmed with glimmers of electronic disturbance. Prior albums such as The Bells, though lovely in places, also betrayed a tendency toward repetition so austere it was maddening rather than transfixing. In particular, the needling “Said and Done,” shaped around a relentless one-note palpitation, could feel like the pianistic equivalent of “Why ya’ hitting yourself? Why ya’ hitting yourself?” The piece fares better on Spaces, Frahm’s new album-length collage of recast or unreleased live improvisations on themes, where its antic onslaught has a stocked concert hall to menace instead of a private studio.
Fis, Preparations: Another outing from the same great label that brought you Forest Swords and The Haxan Cloak. As you might guess Fis — aka Olly Peryman — walks on the shady side of the street. These songs are all atmosphere, full of menace and dark shadows. Unlike other albums on Tri Angle, these are more noise and percussion-based, thudding and monstrous. RECOMMENDED