The great holiday wind-down continues. We’ve got just a little more than a dozen notable new arrivals today. Fortunately, all of them are great.
Milosh, Jetlag: A new, super-intimate LP from Milosh (aka one half of Rhye). Barry Walters says:
Mike Milosh — the androgynous voice of the initially mysterious duo Rhye — here teams with his wife Alexa Nikolas, the muse of that group’s debut album Woman, for a record that’s strikingly, and at times almost uncomfortably, intimate. Unusually warm and explicitly corporeal, it feels as though it was recorded in their bedroom. Featuring found sounds recorded during their international travels as well as samples of their more recent Los Angeles domesticity, that intimacy is literal as well as metaphoric. Like Woman, Jetlag celebrates their newly intertwined physical and emotional states.
Shearwater, Fellow Travelers: Shearwater takes on a collection of cover songs, performed with the band’s past tour mates — no gimmicks here. Ashley Melzer says:
Fellow Travelers appears on the surface as lacking thematic depth, but instead Shearwater treat the songs as an opportunity to explore a deeper theme. Many of their selections explore the notion of the road, in all its tiresome glory: On “Hurts Like Heaven,” it’s a grind that zaps exuberance, while on “Natural One” it’s a source of swagger and success. Despite the wide range of bands represented — Coldplay, Xiu Xiu, Clinic, the Baptist Generals, to name a few — the results still resemble a Shearwater album, no small feat.
Soundgarden, Screaming Life/Fopp: Reissues of a pair of Soundgarden EPs from 1987 and ’88 that represent the first concerted efforts of the Seattle greats. The sound is appealingly grim and muddy, and Chris Cornell’s voice is more siren wail than the titanic hard-rock bellow he developed in later years.
Various Artists: Kill The Hippies! Kill Yourself! The American Nation Destroys Its Young. Underground Punk in the United States of America, Vol. 1. 1973-1987: Merry Christmas to EVERYONE, man. The great people at Soul Jazz deliver a stunning (and stunningly comprehensive) cross-section of American punk and post-punk. What makes this compilation so crucial is the fact that the lineup falls far outside what is typically showcased on compilations like this. Brand names are forsaken in favor of forgotten greats like The Electric Eels, Tuxedomoon, The Zeros and more. This one is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Nightmare Boyzzz, Bad Patterns: Great, scuzzed-out punk rock from Huntsville, Alabama. The Nightmare Boyzz stick to the melodic side of things, pouting out lyrics like heartbroken ’70s soft rock heartthrobs, but beneath those pouty melodies are 20 tons of raging guitar. From the good folks at Slovenly, naturally. This one is RECOMMENDED
The Gories, The Shaw Tapes: Live in Detroit 5/27/88: Jack White’s Third Man Records rescues an out-of-print recording of a house party Detroit legends the Gories played in 1988. The band sounds as fierce as ever — even more so, thanks to the spartan recording set up. The guitars lunge and scrape, the drums clatter and pound and the vocals are appropriately wild and loose. Covers of John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and others round out this RECOMMENDED set.
Josh Tillman, The History of Caves: AKA Father John Misty. The History of Caves is the soundtrack to a film of the same name, directed by Tillman’s wife Emma. If the music is any indication, the film is stark and slow and sad and has a general atmosphere of despair and sorrow.
Kevin Morby, Harlem River: Speaking of slow and sad! Kevin Morby is in the Babies, but his solo album feels most inspired by the late ’50s and early ’60s. Dewy-eyed doo-wop style ballads rub elbows with folk ramblers, all covered with enough reverb to bury Joe Meek all over again.
Esoteric & Stu Bangas, Machete Mode: Long-running Boston MC Esoteric pairs with producer Stu Bangas for a typically harrowing hip-hop outing. Bangas’ scuffed-up old school-style production are the perfect match for Eso’s tough, punchy rhyme style, and the whole thing has the violence and tenacity of a high-stakes prizefight.
Fast Times, Body Talk and Beat Detectives, Music 2: Two new outings from one of my favorite labels, 100% Silk. They specialize in super-lo-fi, super-weird, super-riveting synth music, and these two outings aren’t much different. Fast Times is a project by Jorge Day, who’s worked with the minimal-electrogoth label Wierd Records. The music here is stripped-down, dollar-store house music (I mean that as a compliment), bare-bones, pulsing and enthralling. Beat Detectives is a little more song-oriented; there’s still the same pulsing backbeat, but there’s also some singing, which puts some shape around the sound. For fans of electronic music with a decidedly lo-fi aesthetic, this is catnip and HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Teengirl Fantasy, Nun: Brief EP from Teengirl Fantasy focuses on their moody, ambient side; synths are layered and stretched, percussion flickers and crackles like static.
Horrible Houses, Family Tapes Vol. 3: Fantastic Swedish no-fi band retains that classic Scandinavian knack for candy-coated melodies, but filters it through a deliberately chintzy aesthetic. Everything is fuzzed-out beyond belief — tons of static and distortion, but that only makes the songs feel that much more endearing and homemade. RECOMMENDED
Cheap Time, Exit Smiles: Fantastic Tennessee band has the vocal ruthlessness of the Fall and the sharp, serrated edges of many of that band’s post-punk contemporaries. Like a slowed-down, brattier Oh Sees or a meaner, more gnarled, less frenetic Ty Segall.
Chris Letcher, Hyperbalist: I’ve been on this dude for a while now, convinced he was going to break out, but it hasn’t happened. He’s got the same complex, intricate arrangements as St. Vincent and a melodic spookiness shared by, say, Mercury Rev. His albums are always strange and strangely beautiful, and his songs are fascinating to listen to, full of dizzying, interlocking parts. Like his last two, this one is RECOMMENDED. Treat yourself to this today — you’re in for a nice surprise.