There’s not a whole lot out this week, probably because everyone is in Austin for SXSW (including eMusic’s editorial team: Follow our coverage here) — except that, oh wait, there’s a new David Bowie record out today! So at least we’ve got that — and a few other notables, below.
David Bowie, The Next Day — The return! Barry Walters, who wrote the review for us, seems to have right measure on this one:
As confirmed by “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” the album’s second single, Bowie hasn’t entirely abandoned his post-heyday habit of leaving his vocal melodies frustratingly underdeveloped. Sometimes when the groove is tight and he pours on the vocal razzle-dazzle, that matters little: The opening title track comes on like gangbusters and — befitting the album’s self-reflexive and iconoclastic artwork — recalls Heroes‘ kick-starter “Beauty and the Beast. “The Next Day ultimately proves itself too musically self-referential to be groundbreaking, but it does capitalize better than the singer has in decades on his own assets: This is Bowie doing Bowie.
Devendra Banhart, Mala — Banhart’s latest finds him musing on the peculiarities of love in his own inimitable way. Dan Hyman writes:
Emerging in the early-aughts as the focal point of the then-burgeoning freak-folk movement, the Texas-born Venezuelan fought restriction with each successive album: Meander alongside him, he offered, down patchouli-scented paths strewn with jazzy asides, sitar-slathered daydreams, acoustic-flecked British folk and Brazilian Tropicália. Mala, Banhart’s seventh album and first for Nonesuch, is, on the surface, no less diverse than its predecessors. Throughout, Banhart sizes up his favorite topic — love’s cruel ways — often in less time than it takes to create an online dating profile.
Carmen Villain, Sleeper — The debut recording by a former model, Carmen Hillestadt, who makes darkly evocative, Sonic Youth-inspired post-punk. Dan Hyman writes:
A former cover model, Carmen Villain’s longtime gig was to effortlessly exude beauty. Things haven’t changed too much: Now a musician, on her remarkably engaging, dark and oftentimes abrasive debut album, Sleeper, the singer and multi-instrumentalist simply expresses her loveliness in a more nuanced shade. Heavy on reverb and made for headphones, the decidedly lo-fi album, its tracks washing up onto another, calls to mind Sonic Youth and Royal Trux.
Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics — A loving tribute to one of the greatest Philly soul groups of all time. Nate Patrin writes:
The original Delfonics lineup split up decades ago, but their legacy has lingered. The hip-hop generation saw to that, using Thom Bell’s velvety arrangements and the achingly sweet falsetto of lead singer William Hart to striking effect. Enter Adrian Younge, the Black Dynamite soundtrack mastermind who’s also collaborated with avowed Delfonics fanatic Ghostface Killah (Pretty Toney highlight “Holla” famously paid homage to “La-La – Means I Love You”). Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics is an unusual type of throwback: Younge’s muddy, lo-fi atmospherics recall low-budget early ’70s local-label 45s more than they do Bell’s vintage lushness.
Various Artists, Sound City: Real To Reel — To hear Ken Micallef tell it, this all-star tribute to a famous L.A. sound studio, masterminded by Dave Grohl, is the best kind of rock-star vanity project:
Writing and performing alongside Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Trent Reznor, Josh Homme, Rick Nielsen, Lee Ving of Fear, Corey Taylor, Brad Wilk and Tim Commerford of Rage Against The Machine, and the Foos, Dave Grohl’s Real to Reel is a nostalgic tribute to L.A.’s closed Sound City studio, the birthplace to Rumours, Damn the Torpedoes, Rage Against The Machine and Nevermind. Sound City – Real to Reel is high on energetic hits, worthwhile rock-star vanity pieces, and one extremely nasty miss. The album was recorded on Sound City’s original analog Neve console, now safely ensconced in Grohl’s 606 recording studio.
Nadia Sirota, Baroque — The violist and leading force in NYC contemporary classical’s second album. Seth Colter-Walls writes:
Nadia Sirota is the violist of choice for the New York contemporary-classical scene, and on Baroque, she follows up here her astoundingly assured debut, First Things First, with fresh works from many of the composers who contributed to that recording.But there are new composers this time as well, even if they are generally familiar to the New Amsterdam coterie. Shara Worden’s “From the Invisible to the Visible” is a brief, attractive offering that introduces keyboards and organs into the mix to considered effect. While more tricked-out electronically than Sirota’s first offering, Baroque retains her aesthetic imprint.
Brandt Brauer Frick, Miami — a new one from this classical-electro trio. Says Ben Beaumont-Thomas:
Classical music and club culture aren’t easy bedfellows, which is one reason why Brandt Bauer Frick are such an intriguing proposition. The Berlin trio plays minimalist techno on classical instruments: Their 2011 album Mr Machine was a clubbing soundtrack re-imagined by a 10-piece orchestra. Miami is another album of groove-led chamber music, although this time, it has a more supple, spontaneous feel, enhanced with guest vocalists.
The Virgins, Strike Gently — sophomore release from the New York quartet.
The Mary Onettes, Hit the Waves — dreamy, summer-ready indiepop from Sweden.
Wild Belle, Isles — the soulful, genre-hopping debut from the buzzy brother-sister duo Wild Belle.