New This Week: Prince Rama, Isis, E-40 & More

J. Edward Keyes

By J. Edward Keyes

on 11.06.12 in Spotlights

Jayson Greene and I are tag-teaming this week’s roundup, and you can tell who wrote what based on the initials at the end of the blurb. I’m mostly doing this for Jayson’s benefit, so people don’t think he was the one who went to a goth club in the ’90s.

Dirty Projectors, About To Die EP: A short, lovely EP that follows up on their sunray of an album Swing Lo Magellan, which remains one of the best and most life-affirming records of the year. [JG]

Prince Rama, Top Ten Hits of the End of the World: Scrappy dance-rock duo Prince Rama play Halloween-style dress-up with their latest. Laura Studarus explains:

The conceit for Brooklyn art-duo Prince Rama’s sixth album goes like this: Life as we know it finally ends in the long-promised apocalypse. But lucky for us, Prince Rama has provided a glimpse into the future: Top Ten Hits of the End of the World, which is billed as a compilation of the 10 most popular songs on the day everything came screeching to a halt, are written and performed — not by band members Taraka and Nimai Larson — but by the various musical alter egos that they’ve channeled. What the complex mission statement ultimately translates to is a headlong dive into the sisters’ hedonistic brand of dance music.

James Ferraro, Sushi: Experimental electronic musician James Ferraro offers a playfully glitchy, retro-futuristic music that feels lit softly by the cathode rays of old, flickering televisions. Comforting in mood and disturbing in texture, it’s full of clonks, bangs, zips, squelches and other vaguely cartoony sounds, beneath which he has laid some softly sighing vocals that bring everything back into human focus. If Heaven were a pinball machine. [JG]

Isis, Temporal: Beloved Boston art-metal band releases a vault-clearing two-hour survey. Andrew Parks says it is as essential as any of their recordings:

On paper, the nearly two hours of rarities and previously unreleased material on Temporal looks more like an attic-clearing exercise – the proverbial nail in the coffin of ISIS’s 13-year career – than a must-listen .. Temporal paints a different picture, hinting at the five very different voices that were vying for attention at every turn. Meanwhile, the Melvins/Lustmord remix of “Not In Rivers, But In Drops” and Thomas Dimuzio’s widescreen take on “Holy Tears” show what kind of creative wells ISIS tapped in other acts.

Ne-Yo, R.E.D.: if you’ve been paying any attention to contemporary R&B lately, you’ve no doubt noticed a trend towards something we’ll loosely call “auteurism” — artists with a singular vision, voice and approach fiddling with the boundaries of the genre and figuring it out a way to brand it with their distinctive character. Well, Ne-Yo was already on that came years before any of these newcomers arrived. Secretly one of R&B’s strongest songwriters (he wrote Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable”), his voice has only gained depth and texture over the years, matching his always-mature songwriting. [JEK]

Aerosmith, Music From Another Dimension: This is Aerosmith’s first studio album since 2001. They sound exactly the same, and I mean exactly: “Can’t Stop Loving You” is a textbook histrionic, Alicia Silverstone-era AeroBallad, with Carrie Underwood providing radio-country trimmings on the side. Ditto “We All Fall Down,” their bid to stay on Lite-FM radio; it could have been on any Aerosmith album of the past twenty years untouched and sounded of its era. And rockers like “Lover Alot” and “Legendary Child” are as rubbery and lean and bluesy (ahem, “Bloozy”) as anything they’ve done. They are an ageless band, and honestly? God bless the institution that can keep itself this consistently preserved in cheap whiskey. [JG]

Sugar Minott, Sufferer’s Choice: 1983 record from the classic reggae vocalist features the kind of easy-rolling rocksteady for which he became famous. Minott’s got a light, sweet vocal tone, which makes him the perfect vehicle for these lover’s rock-style bouncers. A classic. [JEK]

Too $hort and E-40, History: Function Music: Two Bay Area rap titans team up for a dual album celebrating their 20-year dominance; two old guys who still sound young. [JG]

Mr. MFN Exquire, Power & Passion EP: The rough-edged Brooklyn rapper Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire cleans up his name ever-so-slightly for his major label deal but still manages to call his first single “Telephuck.” [JG]

Teen Daze, The Inner Mansions: Glowing-obelisk synths and breathy vocals power this wisp of a dream-pop record. [JG]

Flying Burrito Brothers, Last of the Red Hot Burritos: 1972 album from one of the bands that basically invented alt-country. This one is post-Parsons, which is going to lose some people, but there’s still enough rollicking, boot-stomping country to satisfy those who are looking for it. [JEK]

Lil Fame and Termanology, Fizzyology: Lil Fame of M.O.P. and indie-rap stalwart Termanology team up for the grey-toned rough-stuff NYC rap that they remain lifelong devotees of. [JG]

Kylie Minogue, The Abbey Road Sessions: No one here really has any kind of axe to grind with Kylie, right? Cuz that’s crazy. This one features Kylie backed by a full orchestra and revisiting some of her best-known hits, including “The Locomotion” (!), “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” and her duet with Nick Cave — who reprises his role on this recording — “Where the Wild Roses Grow.” That list alone shows Minogue is a pop performer of alarming versatility. Don’t fight it, people. [JEK]

Laibach, An Introduction to Laibach: Opening with a bizarro German language cover of “Warm Leatherette,” this comp is intended to help folks who always wanted to get into these Slovenian industrialists but were not sure where to start. I am genuinely curious to know how many people that might be. In any event! I was a Laibach fan back in the days when I was painting my nails black and putting on a cape and going to Long Island goth clubs, and hearing some of these again filled me with a sense of, let’s say, “nostalgia.” [JEK]

Califone, Sometimes Good Weather Follows Bad People: Beloved Chicago group emerges with another record full of moody songs that blend country and folk impulses with a decided experimental mindset. The tone throughout is hushed and perfectly restrained. [JEK]

Underoath, Anthology: 1999 – 2013: I was a pretty massive fan of this band a few years back. Their strength is in combining blistering hardcore with moments of alarming melodicism, chainsaw riffs suddenly opening into pained, pelading choruses. They often got lumped in with more commercial screamo, which I thought was a terrific disservice. These dudes had chops. They’ll call it quits next year — this compilation rounds up their best. [JEK]

Megadeth, Countdown to Extinction Reissue: This was Megadeth’s fifth and most commercially successful record, and its reissue comes bundled with a vicious, hyper-clear live set. [JG]

Anaal Nathrakh, Vanitass: YES. Sickening (in the best way) British metal duo uncork another unholy batch of filthcore, with sword-sharp riffs and helicopter-blade rhythms and songs called “Of Fire, and Fucking Pigs.” [JEK]

Barb Wire Dolls, Slit: Bug-eyed, brawny punk rock that reminds me of early Distillers. Which is a good thing, since God only knows what Brody Dalle is up to these days. This Greek group puts an emphasis not only on furious riffing but furious lyrics, restoring to punk rock a spirit of defiance. [JEK]

Featureless Ghost, Personality Matrix: I’ve really been getting into the stuff on the Night People label lately. This is some dead-eyed, minimal synthy stuff — appropriately spooky and stripped back, but with fully-developed, eerily melodic songs. [JEK]

Goldendust, Goldendust: More from Night People, this one even more minimal than Featureless Ghost. It kind of reminds me of The Normal in a way — nasal male vocals and only the barest essential musical instrumentation. [JEK]

Graveyard, Lights Out: Man do I love these guys. Swedish melodic metallers come yowling from beyond the grave with another batch of relentlessly melodic metal. Don’t believe me? Check that second song. It’s basically a ballad, you guys. This is for anyone who is still suffering from the affliction that The Darkness is a legitimate metal band. Meet Graveyard and see what you’ve been missing. [JEK]

Horseback & Locrian, New Dominions: Reissue of 2011 recording by black metallers Horseback and obstinate experimentalist Locrian. Though is there any other kind of experimentalist? Is there an accomodating experimentalist? Or is that just the name of an old Peter O’Toole movie? Regardless. This is 41 minutes of blackened drone, suitable for freaking out your roommates/parents/spouse. [JEK]

Dragged into Sunlight, Widowmaker: Good week for metal, man! Miminalist metal group splits their latest into three 10-plus-minute segments that go from spare to punishing to brutally slow and sludgy. This probably has more in common with classical music than metal in terms of structure if not sound. It demands deep, patient listening. [JEK]

Games, Games: Lovelorn psych-pop from HoZac with a slick of hot-rod-rock grease on it. [JG]