Daughn Gibson, Me Moan: On his new LP, the oh-so-melodramatic Daughn Gibson sounds like he’s auditioning for a David Lynch film. Andrew Parks says:
While the sample-driven sonics of Gibson’s early material remain on his second record, they’re grafted onto actual guitars — delivered in bluesy brush strokes by John Baizley (Baroness) and Jim Elkington (Brokeback) — and layers of live drums, strings, horns, organs and what appears to be a bagpipe. Or a melodica stolen from Clinic. Who knows, honestly. It’s nearly impossible to tell what’s real and what was lifted from rural Pennsylvania’s finest record stores; the aim here is to distort reality, not emulate it.
Speedy Ortiz, Major Arcana: Writing them off as ’90s-nostalgia-obsessed is an insult to this rising Massachusetts band — highly recommended. Annie Zaleski says:
The band has an ear for texture: Plumes of distortion shroud the grungy “Tiger Tank”; unsettled strums shimmer and murmur beneath the surface of “Pioneer Spine” and “Casper (1995)”; needling melodies slice through “Plough”; and the taut “Fun” has sinewy post-punk velocity. On the raucous, Liz Phair-reminiscent “Cash Cab,” Sadie Dupuis’s vocals are cracked and disfigured, drowned out by slow-churning riffs, while Darl Ferm’s hulking bass emerges occasionally to add heft.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, That’s It!: The legendary group’s first full collection of original compositions. Stephen Deusner says:
Nothing here sounds obviously new: These 11 rousing tracks are so steeped in local technique that they could believably pre-date the band. Tinges of gospel (“Dear Lord (Give Me Strength)”), vaudeville (“Rattlin’ Bones”) and speakeasy jazz (“I Think I Love You”) suggest the form’s infinite malleability. The piano ballad “Emmalena’s Lullaby” exudes an easy sentimentalism, as though it had been played at the end of the night at French Quarter pubs for a hundred years.
Hebronix, Unreal: Daniel Blumberg, the former Yuck frontman, goes solo. Ian Gittins says:
On Unreal, cannily produced by Royal Trux man Neil Hegarty, Blumberg is devoutly pursuing truth and beauty at the heart of a squall of guitar reverb. The blissed-out title track sounds narcoleptic, love-dazed, like Sonic Youth heard through a morphine haze. Blumberg is clearly in thrall to first-generation UK shoe-gazers such as Slowdive, Swervedriver and Pale Saints, while the blanched guitar haze of the lovely “Viral” recalls ravished 1980s New York romantics Ultra Vivid Scene. Yet there is little that is retro about this immaculate, exquisite music; it is of the moment, and of itself.
Maps, Vicissitude:Maps’ latest is “grandiose innerzone pop for the discreetly blissed-out listener.” Andrew Harrison says:
Vicissitude is a lot lither than its predecessor, 2009′s Turning The Mind. Underneath the baroque electronic stylings on “Built to Last” there’s a “Planet Rock” rhythm, although Chapman clearly likes the song’s nagging synth melody so much he allows it to run on for a good two minutes after the song proper has ended, decaying into a spangly reverie. Elsewhere there’s an imperious boom to the single “A.M.A.” with jittering synths gathering in the distance — imagine Ladytron rearranged for a papal funeral. But the lyric is minor-key neuroticism, a plea for love or at least attention.
Ciara, Ciara - The R&B/pop singer Ciara made some of the best, slinkiest club hits of the last ten years – “Googies,” “Oh,” “Promise.” Her voice has always been airy and tiny, and she floated it over enormous, snarling beats. She fell out of style for a few years, as everyone in pop does, but this album brings her to the fore again with the singles “I’m Out” and “Body Party.” Her voice is a little tougher and louder, but the production is still the same state-of-the-art mix of club-pop and deep-South rap.
Araabmusik, The Remixes, Vol. 1 – Araabmusik takes his all-systems-go, hit-everything-at-once style to a bunch of other tracks he likes, reshuffling and stripping them all down until there is no doubt that You Are Listening To Araabmusik. This stuff plays incredibly well at huge outdoor festivals; I’ve seen Araab flatten hundreds of people with just his MPC. I don’t like his albums much, generally, but I like this one a bit more than usual: The source material smuggles some different moods into Araabmusik’s world. A lot of this is surprisingly moody and muted. At least until the beat drops.
A Grave With No Name, Whirlpool – This London duo makes pretty, yawning dream-pop, and Whirlpool is their richest and fullest-sounding effort. This is a beautiful-sounding record, a strong effort.
Coffins, The Fleshland - This long-running Japanese death metal outfit does its gurgling-tar-pit, horrible-production, melody-free dentist-drill thing, and it’s as awesomely satisfying as ever. Sometimes, you just want unrepentant, warty filth. Go to Coffins.
Whirr, Around - Talked-about new indie rock band, heavy gurgling guitars with light, feathery coed vocals floating on top. The songs stretch out for nice six-to-eight-minute lengths, and build to slow, crashing crescendos. Heavy MBV vibes, in other words; lots to get lost in here.
Skylar Grey, Don’t Look Down - Skylar Grey was almost a thing in 2009 or so, when she wrote “Love the Way You Lie,” Eminem and Rihanna’s dark, queasy domestic-abuse duet. She’s a talented singer/songwriter, but on Don’t Look Down she also suffers from a small case of “what do you want me to be, music industry?” There are some capable pop-folk songs, some weepy piano balladry, some raunchy strutting songs, some fake Drake songs, some ersatz Amy Winehouse. There’s a lot of skill and not much in the center of all of it; Grey has a nice dark, full voice, but a lot of this album feels like a shuffled row of demos for other pop singers. Which it might have been, but you should be able to hear the singer the song was “meant for.”
Dark Furs, Dark Furs EP – Self-released, sounded lo-fi but interesting, a strong sound: a good lead female voice, smoky and mournful, with just some watery electric guitar and some synth streaks behind it. Appealing.
Plankton, Humble Colossus - Blues-rock jam band, with lots of dueling leads, FM-rock riffs, and an oddly persistent bongo player.
Pillar Point, Diamond Mine - Grooving, brainy, gawky synth-pop, touched with some Hot Chip wistfulness.
The So So Glos, Blowout – Twelve tracks of relentlessly fun and ingratiating punk rock, some real King Tuff charm here. Splices some Buzzcocks energy and songcraft into sunny beach-pop.
Shintaro Sakamoto, Don’t Know What’s Normal - This is a great moment to point to Hua Hsu’s excellent piece for us on the Japanese underground-rock phenom Shintaro Sakamoto; these two songs perfectly encapsulate his skewed, Ariel Pink-ish charm.
No Age, “C’mon, Stimmung” – First gritty blast from the L.A. punk duo’s upcoming new record. Sounds promising.
Mariah Carey, “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey’s excellent new single prominently features R&B savant of the moment Miguel – it’s basically a Miguel song with Mariah on it, and it is infectious and wonderful. Here, A$AP jump on it, adds a few smears of his cartoon graffiti to it.
Kate Nash, “OHMYGOD” – Kate Nash’s upbeat single, plus EIGHT remixes and an extra track.