New This Week: Hurray for the Riff Raff, Emika, The Chills & More

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 07.02.13 in Spotlights

Super light this week this week, probably on account of the holiday. These are the few that I found — scold me for what I missed in the comments!

Hurray for the Riff Raff, My Dearest Darkest Neighbor: eMusic Selects alum, and longtime favorite, Hurray for the Riff Raff return with this covers collection. The approach is pretty straightforward — bare-bones, country-style instrumentation, with most of the focus put on Alynda’s warm, rich voice. Her version of “People Talkin’” crushes me absolutely every time.

Owen, L’Ami du Peuple: The latest from Mike Kinsella, beloved by some of us lapsed emo acolytes for his work in Cap’n Jazz and American Football, is richer and more multi-layered than previous releases — the roiling “Blues to Black” recalls early Death Cab for Cutie, “Bad Blood” lurches and stomps, and “Where Do I Begin” swirls slowly, like dry leaves in an autumn breeze.

The Penetrators, Kings of Basement Rock: Our pals at Slovenly have dug up another winner. With a ragged, rough-n-ready punk sound that recalls the primitive howl of Rocket From the Tombs, Syracuse group The Penetrators deliver deliberately unpretty rock that coughs and sputters and oozes like the carburetor on an old Pinto. This comp collects tracks they recorded between 1976 and 1984, just the shot of grim grime you need to make your July 4th a winner. RECOMMENDED

Pretty Lights, A Color Map of the Sun: Restless, thumping electronic music from Derek Vincent Smith, the songs on A Color Map swing from deep boom and grind to hazy, expansive sountrack-like work. In spirit, it recalls the early days of trip-hop, full of eerie, mysterious vocal snatches and distorted, detuned takes on classic genres. Talib Kweli and Eligh show up for vocal cameos on two songs. If you were real into Roni Size and Goldie back in the day, the aesthetic here will seem familiar.

The Chills, “Molten Gold”: It is impossible for me to adequately express how happy this makes me. The New Zealand group the Chills are one of my all-time favorites, but they seemed destined to be filed under Flying Nun also-rans — a cruel fate considering the effortless pop chops of frontman Martin Phillips. Their story is too long and too turbulent to be succinctly blurbed, but in broad strokes: after a string of beautiful and fetching singles for the legendary NZ label Flying Nun (including the stone classic “Pink Frost” which, if you somehow have not ever heard, you should remedy right now), the group signed to Elektra and released the incredible Submarine Bells. You can read more about that album — and what happened after it — in this excellent piece Douglas Wolk wrote for us back in 2010. While you’re doing that, enjoy the excellent new single, which makes an effortless case for the Chills as the sonic godfathers for folks like Belle & Sebastian and Camera Obscura.

About Group, Between the Walls: Latest from the group comprised of John Coxon, Charles Hayward, Pat Thomas and Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor is all-over-the-map fascinating. Some moments have the skronk and clatter of free jazz, others the lock-step groove of dead-eyed motorik, still others the clean glide of silky R&B. The songs feel collaborative — they emerged from practice sessions, and you can hear that live, loose energy and that sense of improvisation in the final recorded versions.

Emika, DVA: Twinkling nighttime electronic music from the British musician Emika (and Executive Produced by Hank Shocklee of The Bomb Squad!) DVA is one long, slow, haunting pulse. Emika favors low bass throbs, whcih she drapes in gauzy layers of synths and tops with her mournful alto. The results are rich and hypnotic.

Beautiful Swimmers, Son: Really engaging throwback-style electronic music — think synthetic handclaps, firefly-like synths, four-on-the-floor percussion and a sense of summery abandon.