New month! New music! Here we go!
First things first: as you’ve probably noticed, we invited Moby to take over eMusic this week. He selected the interviews, he talked to us about his new record, and he also picked his 10 favorite records from the eMusic catalog. You can read the full batch of content here. Of his new record, Innocents, Ian Gittins says:
Innocents, his 11th studio album, may be the one to reverse that trend. Recorded entirely in his home studio, it shows the reflective electro-auteur is back on sublimely sure-footed form, balancing the euphoric glow of headphones techno at its most acute with the melancholic ache that has undercut all of his finest work. Where Play famously utilized samples of long-lost Delta blues and gospel alumni and Alan Lomax’s field recordings, this time Moby turns to contemporary leftfield figures for his nap hand of evocative other voices.
HAIM, Days Are Gone: If you have not heard anything from this record yet, I need to first ask: how have you not heard anything from this record yet? Why haven’t you heard anything from this record yet? Three sisters from LA straight-up made one of the best pop records of the year. This one is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Barry Walters thinks so, too. He says:
Nearly every cut exudes the confidence of a single: There have already been four of them, and that doesn’t even count “If I Could Change Your Mind,” a soft-rock plea punctuated by handclaps and hi-hat from the disco gods. And yet there’s plenty of weirdness too: “My Song 5″ features not just Tom Waits-goes-dubstep moves and a righteous double-tracked fuzz bass solo, but also super-distorted virtual trombones that essentially fart along with the vocal. Wilson Philips never thought of that.
Lorde, Pure Heroine: Speaking of the best pop records of the year, New Zealand teenager Lorde has made another one of them. Good God, do I love this record. Lithe dance beats, smart, acerbic lyrics and gently bobbing melodies make for a basically perfect final package. Case in point: lead single “Royals” sounds like it’s an ode to empty materialism, until you listen closely to the lyrics and realize it’s actually a takedown of empty materialism. This one is also HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Jayson Greene says:
The songs on Pure Heroine are funny and legible and shrewd, sketching out a sharp framework and shading it in expertly. If New Zealand teenager Ella Yelich-O’Connor weren’t a solo performer, she’d make a successful behind-the-scenes hit writer. Her songwriting is more subdued and low-key than the radio chart pop of the moment — “Royals” is mostly a fingersnap of percussion, and “Ribs” is a rainy-windshield blur of synth pads and muted drums — but it’s blessed with this same supernatural acuity. These songs are smarter than any 17-year-old I’ve ever known, and smarter than a lot of 40-year-olds I know now.
Oneohtrix Point Never, R Plus Seven: Honestly this is just a non-stop week of RECOMMENDED albums. I’ve loved the strange, moody music Daniel Lopatin has made as Oneohtrix Point Never. R Plus Seven is another fascinating chapter in the ongoing riddle that is his career. It’s a good ‘un. Michaelangelo Matos says:
R Plus Seven is ambitiously detailed, each tendril of sound — whatever its source, human voice or digital static — seemingly painted onto the aural canvas with a fine brush. Maybe he was inspired by his December 2012 participation, with visual artist Nate Boyce, in a multimedia evening at New York’s Museum of Modern Art; there’s a fine-art quality to R Plus Seven‘s gradations. But there’s a public-spiritedness that it shares, along with a few compositional qualities, with the ’70s downtown New York minimalism in whose steps it proudly follows.
Those Darlins, Blur the Line: Alt-country cutups return with a record that is cleaner and more direct than previous efforts. The production is crisper, and the songs are less ragged and sloppy, making for pristine country-rock that goes down smooth.
Basia Bulat, Tall Tall Shadow: OK, look, I’m kind of a mark for Basia Bulat. Chalk it up to the fact that I was a huge 10,000 Maniacs fan when I was in my 20s, maybe? However you slice it: her third record is her strongest to date, and on its final triptych of songs she roams outside the folk-based instrumentation she’s become known for to areas that are darker and weirder and more unsettling. This one is RECOMMENDED Peter Blackstock says:
Bulat’s versatility with guitar, piano, autoharp and charango (a lute-like Andean instrument) allows her to compose on a broad canvas, allowing the tone of her material to range from haunting balladry reminiscent of classic English folk to moody explorations to the instantly engaging urgency of “It Can’t Be You” and the title track. Binding it all together is Bulat’s spectacular and singular voice: She draws you in as if you’re privy to an intimate conversation, then suddenly soars high with sweetness and grace, seeking a revelation somewhere in the astral plane.
Deltron 3030, Event II: Those of you out there wondering when David Cross, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Chang and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were going to be on a rap record: your day has come. Barry Walters says:
That kind of talent roster would be utterly top-heavy in lesser hands, but Nakamura’s finely finessed aesthetic specializes in off-the-wall excess: It’s everywhere on this retro-futurist opus. It’s unclear if the jazzy cop-show grooves that appear throughout out are sampled or freshly orchestrated; they sound like the former, but feel like the latter. All three brothers, despite the long hiatus, are right on time — even if it’s more than a little warped.
The Field, Cupid’s Head: The Field’s Axel Willner makes house music for the ears, not the body. It’s always rich and fascinating. Bill Brewster says:
Cupid’s Head continues Willner’s exploration of the fertile common ground between shoegaze and the wide-open spaces of Manuel Göttsching, or the post-acid house Wild Pitch mixes from Chicago’s DJ Pierre. Pierre, in a way, provides Willner’s template, with his layers of subtle keyboard sounds, treated vocals and percussion, the overall effect being an ever-ascending aural illusion of spiralling sounds. Willner’s samples, however, are microcosmic, sometimes less than a bar in length, and they stack up to provoke a sense of dizzying abandon and release.
Yuck, Glow & Behold: Poor Yuck, man. Just when that ship was leaving the dock, their lead vocalist leapt out and scurried into the arms of Neil Hagerty to make a solo album full of songs twice as long as they needed to be. Yuck soldiered on, though, god bless ‘em, and their second record is less Dino Jr and more MBV, full of big washes of sound tempered by guitarist Max Bloom’s gentle, cumulonimbus vocals.
“>Leverage Models, Leverage Models: Breezy, breathy electro-indie record from Shannon Fields, aka Leverage Models. Kind of a Lightning Seeds vibe in spots, kind of early Erasure vibe in spots. Fields’ parents were Pentecostal preachers, apparently, and there’s a definite sense of otherworldly euphoria to these songs. Sharon Van Etten sings on one of them. FYI.
The Four Mints, Gently Down Your Stream: Excellent sweet soul reissue from overlooked ’60s R&B group (via the always-excellent Numero Group), the songs on this record blend the gorgeous harmonies of doo-wop with the cotton-glove delivery of soul music. Also the title track has one of the best double-entendres I’ve ever heard in a pop song, and they get away with it by singing it like sweet nothings whispered in a lovers’ ear. This sucker is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Blind Boys of Alabama, I’ll Find a Way: Latest from legendary gospel group is jam-packed with guest spots, including Justin Vernon, tUnE-yArDs, My Brightest Diamond, Sam Amidon and more. And the extra bonus is that Blind Boys of Alabama on their own are awesome, so there’s that. This is grizzled, southern fried rock & roll, smoky and irresistible.
Dr. Dog, B-Room: More everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink rock songs from Philly group moseys around the corners of classic soul, ’60s rock, low-grade psychedelia and other dusty crate-digging styles. This one is as shaggy as previous outings, its songs having a loose, band-jamming-in-a-room feel.
Blitzen Trapper, VII: Portland roots-rockers roots-rock on back with another batch of batter-dipped choogle-core. Lots of Skynyrdy licks and Dylany vocals, as warm and worn as an old flannel shirt or as weathered as an old straw hat. That’s enough imagery right? No? As sturdy and slow-burning as the coals in a corncob pipe.
Elf Power, Sunlight on the Moon: Latest from long-running Elephant Sixers; where other bands in this collective took identifiable forbears (The Beatles, Beach Boys, etc) and turned them inside out, the Elves (as I call them in this writeup) forged their own weird path, dipping lo-fi indie rock in an acid bath, sounding at times like an ad-hoc Roxy Music.
The Fuzz, Fuzz: Ty Segall is at it again! Except, holy cow, this time it’s full-on Sabbath-sounding! I was not expecting this! The last time I saw Ty he covered “Paranoid,” but this is next level — a whole batch of sun-fried stoner jams, the kind of thing that would give Blue Cheer a run for their money or would sidle up nicely next to Masters of Reality. RECOMMENDED
Rapsody, The Idea of Beautiful: Rapsody was my favorite rapper in the group Kooley High, with a lightning-crack flow, gallons of attitude and a knack for incisive social commentary that didn’t feel like preaching. This is her full-length debut, and it’s a suitable showcase for her talent, situating her wry, young-Lauryn Hill flow amid smoky productions. RECOMMENDED
Melt-Banana, Fetch: Woo-hoo! More bonkers greatness from Japanese noiseniks is as scabrous and woozy as you might expect. Stabbing shards of guitars, panic-attack drums and desperate, yelping vocals make this one a spectacular blender of noise. Everythig is loud and moving at light speed, so fast it’s impossible to get your brain around it. This one is RECOMMENDED
Mole City is spilling over with crisp, witty rock songs, punctuated by bonus noise doodles. Weiss is a piledriving drummer most of the time (she tones it down when the songs call for it, but it’s really fun when she cuts loose), and Coomes favors super-fuzzed-out instrumental sounds and massive riffs to set off his weedy smart-alec voice. And they’re as locked into each other’s sense of rhythm as any two musicians can be.
Nelly, M.O: Is it getting hot in here, or is there a new Nelly record out today? Man, remember how Nelly was one of the biggest superstars on the planet, and then he released an individually packaged double-album Sweat and Suit, and then, mysteriously, he wasn’t anymore? Well, he’s back. The lead single from this kind of sounds like “The Whisper Song,” which doesn’t bode well for anyone. The rest is comprised of skittery beats topped with Nelly’s speak-sing delivery and a few naked bids for “Hot in Herrre 2: Electric Hot-aloo.”
Tired Pony, The Ghost of the Mountain: This band has a weird resume. It’s Peter Buck (naturally), the singer from Snow Patrol, Jacknife Lee (who produced recent R.E.M. and U2 records but will always and forever be known to me as the guitarist from Compulsion, the drummer from Belle & Sebastian and a bunch of other folks make a bunch of songs that sound more or less like what you’d guess a bunch of songs by those people would sound like.