Light week this week — either that, or I’m just missing a bunch of stuff. Am I missing a bunch of stuff? Because if I am, we have this rad comments section. Feel free to use it to bring things to my attention. In the meantime, here’s what I found:
Bob Dylan, Another Self Portrait: I think we can all agree that “Wigwam” is one of Bob Dylan’s best songs, right? The album from which it comes is, shall we say, “contentious.” (We had a Weekend Discussion about it this past Friday in case you missed it.) Now today comes the latest installment in Dylan’s Bootleg series, which consists of outtakes from that very record, Self-Portrait, along with outtakes from it’s companion piece, New Morning. Winston Cook-Wilson likes both of ‘em, as well as this new compilation, about which he says:
The original Self Portrait eschews embracing anything anyone could perceive as a persona (country singer, folk/protest singer, countercultural rock star) by trying out as many personas as possible. It’s Dylan’s ultimate presentation of himself at a time when he was still miffed by what everyone thought of him, and it remains deconstructive and baffling. The outtakes included on this new release, however, make a convincing argument against the accusations of the album’s fundamental disingenuousness. Even the messiest or most baffling performances sound sincere and inspired here.
The Dodos, Carrier: The Dodos’ latest is heavy but graceful. Ryan Reed says:
Carrier, the duo’s fifth LP, is more obvious in its grandeur. Meric Long layers his guitars in lush harmonies and counter-lines, moving through precise time-signature shifts with Kroeber’s intricate percussion and the subtle moans of the Magik Magik Orchestra. But instead of sounding celebratory, the album’s sprawl is tinted by a melancholy glow: Carrier was recorded following the 2012 death of touring guitarist Chris Reimer, and that mournful spirit looms large.
Sly and the Family Stone, Higher!: Obviously, Sly & the Family Stone are one of the greatest rock bands of all time — period. Their initial six-album run (Because I am definitely including Fresh in there) are as vibrant and revolutionary today as they were when they were first released. And so now there’s a new compilation, with outtakes and alternate mixes and a whole bunch of other things, which Britt Robson explains in his review, which we’re excerpting here, as we usually do:
Now comes Higher!, a 77-song compilation that includes mono masters of all Sly’s major hit singles, 17 previously unissued tracks that range from incendiary live performances to earnest formative studio sessions, a host of deep-in-the-album gems, and more obscure releases on either side of the band’s prime. Aside from the first half-dozen or so songs — amateur, now-anachronistic attempts by then-producer/DJ Sly to capitalize on the regional hit, “C’mon Let’s Swim” that he helmed for Bobby Freeman — nearly all the obscurities are much better than typical completist-baiting compilation-filler.
Goodie Mob, Age Against the Machine: Hands-down the best album title of all of today’s new releases, this is also the first Goodie Mob album with all four members in 14 years. Controversially: I haven’t loved Cee-Lo‘s steady edging toward pop music, but on the other hand, if anyone deserves late-career success, it’s Cee-Lo. I haven’t gotten to listen to this one yet, but I’m looking forward to doing so soon. In the meantime, Nate Patrin says:
Age Against the Machine reintroduces their Dirty Southern sociopolitical edge over a string of beats that are just glossy enough to dupe the unwary into thinking it’s a crossover record. The production slate includes contributions by neo-funk oddball Jack Splash and executive production by Cee-Lo himself. But the only real underlying factor tying it all together is a sense of scale: blasts of fog-machine arena rock, spaceship-takeoff club-rap futurism, and manic chase-scene orchestration run through a record that conflates commercial potential with over-the-top bombast.
Big Maybelle, The Best of Blues, Candy & Big Maybelle: I think this may have actually been released a while ago — maybe as far back as 2006, but it showed up here today and I’m calling it out because it is Big Maybelle and because she is the greatest. A big, tough voice that barrels along clanging piano and big, bloozy saxophone. 17 tracks, all of them great. RECOMMENDED
Matt Cameron, Janet Weiss and Zach Hill, Drumgasm: Points to the title for being both tacky and kind of accurate. Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam, Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag and Zach Hill from about a million other things (lately, Death Grips, when they feel like showing up) deliver a single 39-minute track that is, as you might guess, full of drumming. Pretty much entirely drumming. A weird world where free jazz and indie overlap? Your rate of satisfaction with this will depend on how much you like to listen to 39 minutes of drumming.
14KT, Nickled & Dimed: New from our pals at Mello Music is the latest from Michigan producer 14KT. The album hews toward the classic sound of hip-hop, which is fine by us, but spikes it with spaced-out synths and cannily inverted samples, and is rounded out by guest appearances from folks like Black Milk, MED, Blu and more. The result is a kind of psych-hop — the hip-hop equivalent of, say, Psychedelic Shack-era Temps. It’s adventurous and consistent and RECOMMENDED
Bad Sports, Bras: It will come as no surprise to anyone who regularly reads these roundups that I love this band. As you might guess, they’re trashy and punky and lovably greasy — nasty, beery licks, sneering vocals and breathless choruses make for a winning combo.
Big Sean, Hall of Fame: Big Sean is a Michigan rapper who rose to prominence after signing a deal with Kanye West‘s G.O.O.D. Music imprint, as people are wont to do. Musically, he splits the difference between old-style soul bangers (“Fire) and doomy, synth driven ice-cold new-style songs (“10210″). He’s divisive to be sure — commercially successful but has met with varying critical opinions, so maybe do your own math on this one.
Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action: The first time they’ve tried to make a “Franz Ferdinand album.” Michaelangelo Matos says:
Thirty-five minutes short and largely shorn of the frills that marked 2009′s Tonight, Right Thoughts may be the band’s most curious album: The first time they’ve sounded like they were trying to make a “Franz Ferdinand album.” They’re still good at it, even when they slow down, as on “The Universe Expanded.” “Goodbye Lovers & Friends” closes it out with singer Alex Kapranos avowing, “I don’t play pop music/ You know I hate pop music…This really is the end.” If it is indeed the band’s last gasp, it’s a sharp one.
Flaamingos, Flaamingos: Continuing the strain of moody, dark goth-pop for which Felte is quickly becoming known, Flaamingos lace spiderwebs of guitar through eerie, ghostlike synthesizers. It’s as spooky as a phantom’s howl at 3am, full of sorrow and longing.
Black Joe Lewis, Electric Slave: Existing in some unlikely middle ground between the Black Keys and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is Black Joe Lewis. This is roaring, blues-based rock & roll that’s kept admirably sloppy and scuzzy. Even the horn players sound wasted, which is a plus in my book. The grime in the gears is almost tangible, and Lewis’s unhinged howl is the perfect complement to the music’s ragged, bracing charm.
Helado Negro, Island Universe Story Two: The second in an ongoing series of EPs from Roberto Lange, this installment is tripped-out and delirious, ranging from woozy mood pieces to the frenetic sonic panic attack of “Enters.” There are as many moods and sounds here as there are colors on the album cover, and though it’s only a half-hour long, it feels like a full, considered journey.
Lumerians, The High Frontier: The latest from great space-age weirdos Lumerians, this is more sci-fi psych (psych-fi?) crammed with woozy organs and lockstep motorik drumming and phased-out keys, so the whole thing feels like the soundtrack to a lost grindhouse outer space movie.
Various Artists, CT5: Five Years of caputred Tracks: Man oh man do we love Captured Tracks. We did a label profile on them waaayyy back in 2010, when they were first starting to gain some momentum. They turn five this year, and are celebrating with parties in their home town of Brooklyn, NY, and this outstanding sampler. If you have yet to discover one of indie rock’s best and most satisfying labels a) Why? and b) Why wait any longer? RECOMMENDED
Boom Said Thunder, Exist: The cover for this one is striking — a punk-and-black tiger’s head with the title in its mouth — and the music is just as aggressive. Nasty, gnawing guitars and belted vocals that recall a more-feral Karen O. A refreshing discovery that’s RECOMMENDED
Ghost Wave, Ages: THIS ALBUM IS OUT ON FLYING NUN. REPEAT: THIS ALBUM IS OUT ON FLYING NUN. Holy shit! This is, like, the first bona fide brand-new Flying Nun release in like 15 years! Get psyched, people! Matt LeMay is! This is what he has to say:
Listening to Ages, you can imagine Matthew L. Paul driving an open-air Jeep to the beach with his bandmates playing along in the back seat. His unflinchingly cool vocals are set off by the bouncy bass lines, exuberant keyboards and simple, distorted guitar riffs that distinguished Flying Nun flagship artists like The Clean and The Bats. Add in some shimmering keyboards and strategic reverb-soaked tambourine hits, and you’ve got a perfect warm-weather record, capturing the laid-back excitement of a summer day trip without slouching into slackerdom.
Dent May, Warm Blanket: Dent May ditches his ukulele but continues with his guileless summer-pop tunes. Ian Cohen says:
May gives you exactly what you expect from the album title, and Warm Blanket goes even further into the guileless summer-pop that’s become his trade. He self-recorded the majority of Warm Blanket on the gulf coast of Florida and this is all snuggly comfort sounds — acoustic guitars, stacked harmonies, analog synths, chintzy drum machines.