New This Week: Portugal. The Man, Quadron, Jon Hopkins & More

Wondering Sound Staff

By Wondering Sound Staff

on 06.04.13 in Spotlights

Quadron, Avalanche: Like the smooth R&B debut from Rhye earlier this year? Quadron’s latest features half of that duo in a record that draws from both classic jazz and contemporary pop. Barry Walters says:

Like Rhye’s Mike Milosh, singer Coco O sounds as if she spent her tender years wailing along to nothing but Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu and Billie Holiday. And like Milosh, she’s not purely imitative: A growly throatiness, combined with far more idiomatic phrasing than most ESL vocalists can usually pull off, adds subtle twists that set Coco apart from less distinctive students. And her lyrics are similarly uncommon, full of playful quirks: “If for one day I could be any bug/ I’d let him kill me for a taste of his blood,” she sings of the man she’s love-stalking in “Crush.”

Portugal. The Man, Evil Friends: Portland’s Portugal. The Man team with Danger Mouse for their seventh full-length, and second on a major label. Barry Walters says:

Portugal. The Man dig drama: Any band that combines Robert Plant-ian yelps with Ziggy-esque combos of acoustic strumming and power chord thunder while shooting synth lasers toward the darkest side of the moon doesn’t shy away from theatricality. Danger Mouse’s cinematic sensibilities are a fine match, and they set the tone audaciously with opener “Plastic Soldiers”: The rhythm repeatedly drops and reenters as guitars, keys, dubby bass, strings and even horns similarly drift in and out of the mix.

Jon Hopkins, Immunity: He’s worked with the likes of Brian Eno and Coldplay, but Jon Hopkins’s latest finds him asserting his own voice as a musician and producer. eMusic’s Philip Sherburne says:

It’s heavier, and even clubbier, than one might have expected from his resume, underpinned by thundering kick drums and heaving waves of sub bass. Hopkins has said that the album’s sweep is intended to encapsulate the feeling of an epic night out, and that certainly comes across in the music. Stylistically, both Four Tet and James Holden’s deconstructed techno are obvious influences, but what Hopkins brings to the table is a knack for fusing narrative arcs with an almost sculptural sense of form.

The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra, The Benevolence Of Sister Ignatius: Members of Madness and Nutty Boys band together to cover classic-era ska songs. Andrew Harrison says:

From the opening version of the Baba Brooks Band’s “Gun Fever” (party-time ska in its rude essence, all gunshots and spry electric organ), via a sinuous take on Desmond Dekker’s “Fu Manchu,” through deliciously woozy vibe-ups of “Napoleon Solo” and the “Mission Impossible” theme (’60s Jamaica was always big on spies) this is impossibly infectious music, played for the joy of it. Guest singer Bitty McLean aside, the vocals are best characterized as charmingly amateur but this stuff was always life-affirming first and professional a distant second. This is why ska never dates.

Thundercat, Apocalypse – The return of the madcap cartoon genius who made The Golden Age of the Apocalypse. This one, on first listen, sounds pillowier, more chilled-out and unzipped-intimate, than the manic and Technicolor Golden Age. His command of the areas between jazz-fusion, R&B, Quiet Storm, and straight-ahead bachelor-pop pop. It’s gorgeous, and makes a nice hardcore-jazz-nerd companion to the recent Daft Punk album.

Stephen King, John Mellencamp, T-Bone Burnett, and Guests, Ghost Brothers of Darkland County – Wow, that is a marquee right there. Yes, that is the creative team for this project, a musical based in a parched, John Steinbeck-style cruel American heartland; John Mellencamp writes the music and lyrics, Stephen King the libretto, and the project, with a revolving door cast that features Sheryl Crow, Rosanna Cash, Elvis Costello, and MANY others, is overseen by the master T-Bone.

Rogue Wave, Nightingale – Hushed, lovely, modest and classical indie-pop from this early-’00s mainstay.

Jonathan*Fire*Eater, Wolf Songs for Lambs -An old one, showing up on t he site today again for some reason: the debut of Jonathan*Fire*Eater, the band that would later, with a few adjustments, become The Walkmen.

Rhett Miller, The Dreamer – Sixth solo record from Miller, and first for his own Maximum Sunshine imprint, a mix of some live, some demos, some live stuff. Warm, rough, intimate, lovely.

The Spinto Band, Biba! 1 Island, 879 Votes (Original Soundtrack) – The long-running indie-pop band provides the soundtrack to a documentary about two rival groups on the tiny Pacific island of Tinian. Lets Spinto step completely outside of their “eclectic indie rock band” realm and truly embrace some different styles: Hawaiian slack-key, Spaghetti Western. An interesting curio.

Capital Cities, In A Tidal Wave of Mystery – L.A.-based indie-pop outfit; electro-poppy in an OK GO-ish way.

City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm – The former Alexisonfire guitarist continues his evolution as a solo artist with some chunky, pleasingly straight-ahead rock music, grace with his dulcet, quavering tenor.

Ben Folds Five, Live – In the “what it says on the on the tin” department. Featuring renditions of “Brick,” “Song for the Dumped,” and most of the fan favorites.

GRMLN, Empire – Sun-baked, beer-can crumpling Wavves/style pop-punk. Good if you like that sort of thing.

June Tabor, Quercus – Wow, this album is BEAUTIFUL. Renowned folk singer June Tabor joins with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and pianist Huw Warren for a glassy-still, gently bone-chilling take on a series of folk standards. An evocative, misty little clearing where jazz and folk get to put on Renaissance Faire clothes and dance gracefully together.

Giorgio Moroder, From Here To Eternity – 1977 classic Moroder album, hitting the site just as Giorgio is basking in the glow of Daft Punk’s lovely tribute to him on Random Access Memories. Get this if you liked that.

George Benson, Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole – The beloved jazz guitarist and singer George Benson pays tribute to the King, with help from guests like Wynton Marsalis and Idina Menzel.

Latvian Radio Choir with Sigvards Klava, Rautavaara: Missa a cappella – The world premiere recording of the Mass from the popular Finnish composer, whose music is always richly melodic and haunting.

Dorothy Hindman, tapping the furnace – A collection of works by the Miami-based composer Dorothy Hindaman, whose music has the bustling, squawking energy of a busy city block. Cellos crunch with an almost punk-rock gusto, pianos hammer with sweaty, panicky exuberance, and electricity, literal and figurative, courses through every note.
Daniel Wohl, Corpus Equis – The Transit new-music ensemble joins up with an all-star contemporary classical roster – So Percussion, Julia Holter, Nadia Sirota – to record the works of up and coming composer Daniel Wohl.

Hot Chip, “Dark and Stormy” – Hot Chip single! The opposite of its title, unless of course they mean the rum drink.

Jacques Greene, “On Your Side” – Collaboration with How To Dress Well.

2 Chainz, “Feds Watchin” – New single from the gangly, shouting, rope-haired clown prince of Atlanta commercial hip-hop.