By now you’ve no doubt noticed the wealth of coverage we’ve got surrounding the first record credited to ‘Iggy & the Stooges’ in 40 years. How does Ready to Die compare to the feral glory that is Raw Power? I leave it to you to hash it out in the comments. We’ve got that, and a whole lot more, in this week’s New Arrivals roundup. Let’s get right to it.
Iggy & the Stooges, Ready to Die: The first Iggy & the Stooges release in 40 (!) years is as defiant as ever. (Read our interview here, and see guitarist James Williamson’s album picks here.) Holly George-Warren says:
Few albums are so misleadingly titled as Ready to Die. The first release in 40 years under the “Iggy & the Stooges” banner sounds nothing like resignation; its taut 10 songs — clocking in at an old-school 34 minutes — constitute a genuine rebirth of a sneering, vital band, defiant as ever. Iggy Pop’s voice retains its feral power on searing opener “Burn” and lower-middle class anthem “Job,” while his deep croon conveys poignancy on the woebegone closer “The Departed.”
!!!, Thr!!!ler: Dance-punk pioneers return with another batch of jittery floor-fillers. Andrew Parks says:
Considering all the factors working against !!! over the past 15 years — major lineup changes, members who live on opposite coasts, the questionable expiration date of “dance punk” — you’d think they’d be a part-time prospect by now. But no, here they are, delivering a filler-free album that feels like a carefully-curated DJ set, including the disco inferno diatribes of “Get That Rhythm Right,” the convulsive funk of “Station (Meet Me At the)” and the peak house-party hooks of “Slyd.”
Akron/Family, Sub Verses: Akron/Family’s latest finds them working with an adventurous set of influences. Ashley Melzer says:
The tracks skid from one time signature or influence to another, but feel of a whole — like some take on American roots by way of a post-industrial Africa invaded by Eastern shamans. On paper, it sounds haphazard, incomplete. But Akron/Family build these disparate parts into something explosive or holy or both, time and again on Sub Verses. There’s no mythic volcano to stamp the narrative; there’s only a radical harmony, divergent strands threading together.
Daughter, If You Leave: The lovely full-length Recommended debut from this London indiepop trio. Annie Zaleski says:
Daughter’s full-length debut, If You Leave uses chilly atmospheric effects, lyrics haunted by romantic angst and rebirth, and Elena Tonra’s low-lit voice, which is as hazy and tortured as Chan Marshall sounded on early Cat Power records. The results are often hushed and delicate; “Smother” is lovely slow-core, both “Amsterdam” and “Winter” resemble Bat for Lashes, and the relatively upbeat “Human” echoes the whimsy of Sigur Ros’s folkier moments.
Colin Stetson, New History Warfare Vol. 3: To See More Light: Indie rock’s favorite sax man releases the Highly Recommended third installment of his New History Warfare series. Andy Battaglia says:
Colin Stetson’s most formidable and impressive on his own, with just a metal horn and a pair of heaving lungs to help push air through its twisty, peculiar channels. Stetson’s expansive style finds fine form in “Hunted,” an unusual instrumental track that matches ghostly, wordless cries to a sax treatise in which Stetson taps on keys percussively while blowing out sounds as if summoning some strange prehistoric beast. He’s credited for playing alto, tenor and bass saxophones (the latter a burly monster of an instrument), but the presence of each, in all cases, conforms to the whole of his unique sound-world.
Adventure, Weird Work: Some bright, whirring synth-based music on the always-excellent Carpark records. Adventure mainman Benny Boeldt displays an affinity with the kind of gentle, blinking music that used to score early ’80s video games. The music here feels alluringly retro-futurist, blinking blue bands of synth fit to score some interplanetary horror movie. Recommended
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Brooklyn Babylon: The Highly Recommended latest from “steampunk-jazz” composer-bandleader Darcy James Argue. Seth Colter-Walls says:
Some of the pieces feature wooden flutes, others Afro-Peruvian percussion. Ingrid Jensen’s electric trumpet solo in “Building” calls to mind Miles’s best fusion bands. That all these sounds work together so elegantly is evidence of expert execution, not just singular vision; the entire program flows in a way that many modern-classical composers ought to envy. Argue’s curiosity and skill at integrating all his fascinations represent the humanism of the narrative capably on its own. Both florid with moment-to-moment intrigue and a fine document of an artist with a lot to say (and the ambition to match), Brooklyn Babylon is essential listening for all sorts of musical communities.
Howl, Bloodlines: The sophomore release from Howl is a little less bleak, but still as ugly as ever. Says Jon Wiederhorn:
Howl can still stomp and drone, but they’ve added new tricks to their arsenal, including southern power-groove riffs, twin-guitar harmonies and unexpected shifts in rhythm; the tempos range from mid-paced (“Embrace Your Nerve”) to double-time (“Your Hell Begins”). Clearly, Howl worked exhaustively to overhaul their sound (captured expertly by producer Zeuss and they’ve done so without sounding like a completely different band than the one that recorded Full of Hell.
Brooklyn Rider, A Walking Fire: Rightly-lauded Brooklyn string quartet returns with vibrant, lively takes on Eastern European music (their version of Bartok’s Strink Quartet No. 2 is the centerpiece) and moody avant-gardism. This is the rare album that is both adventurous and playful: the group balances forays into the outer edges of classical music with jubilant gypsy waltzes. Recommended
Coliseum, Sister Faith: Since their last album, Coliseum have evolved from a storming, metallic hardcore powerhouse to a more musically refined post-punk band. Says Jon Wiederhorn:
As much as the music seems driven by the members’ collective record collections, Ryan Patterson’s lyrics seem to stem from an inability and unwillingness to fit into the mainstream and the toll it has taken. “All my life, failure, All I see, failure/ All my dreams, failure,” he barks in “Last/Lost” before concluding, “See clearly from failure, live freely from failure.” And on “Fuzzbang,” he rails, “Gotta get away, wish we could close our eyes and dream it all away.” Patterson’s resigned discontent shines through Coliseum’s tunes, which steamroll without obliterating and cut without leaving scars regardless of tempo or intensity.
Charlie Poole, the Complete Paramount & Brunswick Recordings, 1929: The title lays it out in plain english: these are the sides banjo player Poole recorded for the Paramount and Brunswick labels in 1929. That relatively straightforward title, though, betrays the loose-limbed joy lurking in these tracks. There’s gamboling piano, swinging violin and Poole’s pinched-but-earnest vocalizing, making this a sunny and essential slice of American music. Recommended
Denison Witmer, Denison Witmer: Personal bias: Denison is an old friend of mine, but even if he wasn’t I’d still describe the tender, melancholy music on this album as ‘hard to resist.’ Fans of Mark Kozelek and early Iron & Wine will find lots to love here. Witmer’s voice is gentle and feathery, and the music leaves plenty of space for it to drift down slowly between the bars. The perfect music for a warm spring night.
Mark Kozelek & Jimmy Lavalle, Perils from the Sea: Speaking of Mark Kozelek. On this collaboration with Jimmy Lavelle from the Album Leaf, MK roams way beyond his comfort zone, laying his cracked tenor over blipping electronics. Here’s the thing: it works pretty well! It’s nice to hear Kozelek try something new, and Lavalle’s productions are simple enough that they complement, rather than distract.
R.A. the Rugged Man, Legends Never Die: Do yourself a favor sometime and Google R.A. old stories about R.A. the Rugged Man. He’s been notorious for years now, but all of his late ’90s antics distract from the fact that he’s still a really good rapper, with a distinctive voice and a nimble flow. Despite its somewhat pro forma title, Legends is a slab of solid throwback hip-hop that lets R.A. go barrel-chested over great, dusty production.
Altar of Plagues, Teethed Glory and Injury: Anyone who knows anything about heavy music knows that Profound Lore has become the go-to destination for boundary-pushing metal. The latest from Ireland’s Altar of Plagues is just further proof. Existing at the intersection of black metal and the harsher strains of electronic music, Teethed Glory is a roiling, riveting listen. Recommended
Human Eye, Into Unknown: Some pretty terrific, scuzzed-out UFO-rock from Tim Vulgar, also of Timmy’s Organism. Human Eye are more direct than that project (though just barely), and are still dripping with gunk and smeared with Vulgar’s beery vocals. God bless ‘em forever.
Amorphis, Circle: Grand, sweeping 11th record from this Finnish metal band is broader and more epic in scope than Altar of Plagues. Like all Amorphis records, this one is based around a central narrative — this one about an outsider who taps into his deep spiritual core. The music is appropriately theatrical.
Arsis, Unwelcome: And for those who like their metal a little more straightforward, the new record from technical death metallers Arsis. This one is the full grisly: heart attack drumming, corkscrewing guitars and ragged-larynx vocals.
The Heliocentrics, 13 Degrees of Reality: Playing out like a lost jazz soundtrack to some mid ’70s NY-centric crime film, 13 Degrees of Reality is loaded with tense, queasy greatness. Strings bow, drums stumble and stomp and the bass thumps and rattles like an elevated train. Recommended
Hanni El Khatib, Head in the Dirt: On his second LP, Hanni El Khatib grows as a songwriter, with an ass-kicking band behind him. Bill Murphy says:
Head in the Dirt is loaded with raw, scuzzy, no-nonsense blues-rock, its lyrics telling of misfit isolation, relationship angst and hardscrabble street life. Plenty has already been said about the garage revival spearheaded by the likes of Ty Segall, JEFF the Brotherhood and Mikal Cronin, but what sets El Khatib apart is his fascination with the rootsier end of rock ‘n’ roll — think Bo Diddley and Ballin’ Jack.
David Lang, Death Speaks: The latest from David Lang, with an impressive list of indie-rock pals: My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden, Owen Pallett, The National’s Bryce Dessner, and Nico Muhly. John Schaefer says:
Lang has assembled a text in which Death is addressing us, with a message that is ultimately reassuring, and comforting. The text is built around the many and varied instances in the songs of Franz Schubert in which the figure of Death speaks. The music, as in the other death-themed works named above, has a transparent texture that sets off and subtly colors those texts, and the voice delivering it. That voice belongs to Shara Worden, one of the current breed of musicians who move fluidly between the worlds of classical music and indie rock.
Various Artists, Rough Guide to African Disco: This is as great as you suspect it is. Leaping, jumping rhythms and disco wah-wah get cross-wired with highlife and juju and Afrobeat for irresistible results. Your summer dance party starts here. Recommended
The Melvins, Everybody Loves Sausages: A covers album with cuts from Throbbing Gristle, John Waters, The Jam and more. David Raposa says:
The group (joined by a handful of friends, including Neurosis’s Scott Kelly, Foetus’s JG Thirwell and Mudhoney’s Mark Arm) tears through obscurities from nearly forgotten California punk groups like Pop-O-Pies and Tales of Terror with the same eagerness and fervor that’s bestowed upon faithful renditions of Venom’s “Warhead” and David Bowie’s “Station To Station.” That said, it’s when The Kinks’ fuddy-duddy late-era track “Attitude” is turned into a great Buzzcocks outtake, or The Fugs’ “Carpe Diem” becomes a long-lost Nuggets track, that the adventurous spirit of Everybody Loves Sausages, and The Melvins’ sincere love of music of all kinds, really shines through.
Arrington De Dionyso’s Malaikat Dan Slnga, Open the Crown: Man, I used to love Old Time Relijun. They haven’t been a going concern for a while now, but frontman Arrington De Dionyso has been carrying on their tradition of scuzzy, avant post-punk. This one sounds like another winner, De Dionyso’s demonic preacher delivery yipping and wailing against rusty bars of guitar and what sounds like broke-down dancehall on the second track.
The Backhomes, Only Friend: Nice, light, springtimey indie pop from this Canadian group, this one moves from slow, sparkly, moody numbers like the hazy “Going Home” to the shoegaze groan of “Stay.” Vocals plunged in echo and gently bobbing melodies make this one a sure winner for fans of late period Yo La Tengo or newer bands like Real Estate and Ducktails.
The Body, Master, We Perish: I am pretty into these weird dudes. Maybe you will be, too. A loose definition of The Body would have to include the word “extreme,” but not “extreme” as in speed and distortion and riffery — “extreme” as in mood and tone. This two-man group excels at creating moments of sheer unholy terror — shrieking guitars, panicked vocals, wails, feedback, sludge and apocalyptic droning. Those who like a good scare should look up their video for “The Ebb and Flow of Tides in a Sea of Ash,” which may or may not contain actual footage of a cult mass suicide.