Tame Impala, Lonerism â€“ Aussie psych-rock band hits new plateau, channels their inner Stone Roses. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and PICK OF THE DAY. Caitlin Dewey writes:
Frontman Kevin Parker sings like a latter-day John Lennon, Instagrammed and amplified and fed through subpar speakers. The whole thing builds to a psych-rock anthem so shimmery, so positively prismatic, that it’s easy to forget that Parker prefers downers to stimulants. There lies the weird, cognitive dissonance at the heart of Lonerism: It’s an album about sadness that sounds anything but sad.
Lord Huron, Lonesome Dreams â€“ Wistful, bucolic indie-folk for fans of Grizzly Bear and others like them. Laura Studarus had this to say:
Lonesome Dreams, the debut album by Lord Huron (aka Ben Schneider), is a dreamy, bucolic affair with wanderlust in its veins. With its acoustic guitars, choral vocal arrangements, and delicate layers of looped piano, slide guitar, and orchestral strings, it sounds like the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Michigan musician has visited Grizzly Bear’s Yellow House, but he isn’t prone to stay in one place for long. His rich harmonies are shot through with an undercurrent of restlessness and a lust for adventure that repeatedly breaks the surface.
Old 97s, Too Far To Care â€“ Demos and a remastering surround the rough-and-ready debut from one of the most urgent alt-country albums of the genre on its fifteenth anniversary.
Paws, Cokefloat! â€“ Bratty/sweet punk-pop, in the vein of Yuck and Dino, Jr. Marc Hogan had this to say:
“She wasn’t only just my mother,” Phillip Taylor slurs over rickety, distorted guitar in the opening seconds of PAWS’ Cokefloat!, continuing, “She was my friend, a good friend.” As an introduction to the Glasgow trio’s rowdily impressive debut album, it could hardly be more fitting, showing off both the band’s throwback slacker-rock style and Taylor’s blunt, decidedly un-macho lyrics. But on this 13-track, 42-minute set, what separates PAWS from so many other garage-bound pop-punks printing out Pavement and Sonic Youth guitar tabs is how expertly – and emotively – they assail a relatively wide range of song types.
Freelance Whales, Diluvia â€“ The Whales return for more Freelancing, and it sounds like it did circa Weathervanes: sweet, honey-dipped falsetto, banjos and acoustic guitar strumming, light electronic embellishments.
Ellie Goulding, Halycon – The woman behind the glimmering, twilit dance-pop tune “Lights” returns with a dusky full-length perfect for rainy driving or bleary 3am apartment dancing.
Converge, All We Love We Leave Behind â€“ The brute-force metallic hardcore lifers pour a careers’ worth of pain and frustration into their eighth album, poignantly titled All We Love We Leave Behind. Jon Wiederhorn, our resident metal expert, says the following:
All We Love We Leave Behind is a revealing glimpse into the kinds of personal frustrations that the band has typically kept behind closed doors. Songs like “Empty on the Inside,” “Sadness Comes Home” and the title track, in which frontman Jacob Bannon laments, “You deserve so much more than I could provide,” vent pain and self-contempt with every verse. Converge have expanded their horizons both lyrically and musically without compromising an iota of intensity, proving in the process that speed isn’t the only path to sonic demolition.
Wanda Jackson, Unfinished Business â€“ The first lady of rockabilly went on a date with Jack White for her last solo record, The Party Ain’t Over. This time, she’s dancing with another young man, Justin Townes Earle. Here’s what Ashley Melzer tells us about the result:
In 2011, Wanda Jackson had a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 29 studio albums to her credit and undoubtedly very little to prove. Even so, the dazzling first lady of rockabilly snagged a date with Jack White, teaming up with him for The Party Ain’t Over, her aptly titled release for his Third Man Records. Just over a year later, Jackson’s back with a new album, Unfinished Business, and a new man at the controls, Americana singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Some people just don’t slow down. The pair delivers a record that favors tenderness and brassy swagger over production tricks or stunt-casting song selections.
Blut Aus Nord, 777: The Cosmosophy â€“ Inscrutable art-metalers Blut Aus Nord deliver the capstone to their mesmerizing trilogy of records that began with 777: Sect(s). Jon Wiederhorn also weighed on this one for us:
Blut Aus Nord never let the listener get too comfortable, shifting through post-metal, prog-rock, doom, industrial, minimalist drone, liturgic and Satanic music styles. On paper, it might seem like a confusing mess, but Blut Aus Nord have the elusive gift to make jarring compositions flow like pop tunes, causing minutes to flow by in what seems like seconds. Often, it seems like the mesmerizing, harrowing and gorgeous washes of sound were jammed out in a single, carefree take. Intensive composition never sounded so spontaneous.
Metz, Metz â€“ Screeching, Jesus Lizard-influenced post-punk riot from a Canadian trio. Evan Minsker says:
On their debut album, Canadian trio METZ has delivered a sound that’s reasonably scarce in 2012: post-hardcore, pre-grunge, noise-addled punk rock. You can hear the influence of the Jesus Lizard in particular everywhere: in Alex Edkins’s strained screams; in Hayden Menzies’s crashing drum assault; in their relentless wave of screeching guitars, in the frenzied pace of “Wet Blanket,” in the sludgy industrial instrumental “Nausea,” and in their grim, dour lyrics.
Kaki King, Glow-The virtuoso acoustic guitarist returns with her first all-instrumental release since her debut. Richard Gehr reports:
On her sixth album, guitar-thwacking virtuoso Kaki King loops back to basics with her first all-instrumental release since Everybody Loves You, her 2002 debut. As an artistic reboot, Glowconfidently recapitulates a decade of development. King augments her basic technical vocabulary — rapid-fire fanning, fingerpicking, fretboard tapping, harmonics scattering, and idiosyncratic tunings — with fresh ideas from classical and international musics, while still honing to her essential sound.
Robert Glasper, Black Radio Recovered â€“ The iconoclastic jazz producer/pianist Robert Glasper spins out another variation on last year’s landmark Black Radio record, which willfully mixed up modern jazz, mainstream R&B, and bohemian hip-hop into a brilliant tangle worthy of its title.
The Wallflowers, Glad All Over â€“ Jakob continues to prop his ne’er-do-well father’s career with his stalwart brand of rangy, soulful folk rock.
Lang Lang, The Chopin Album â€“ From the “What it says on the box” department, the world’s most famous pianist tackles Chopin. The packaging and the marketing has all the charm of a corporate takeover, but Lang Lang, when he runs it in, is still a dependable performer and a spectacular entertainer.
Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Untogether â€“ Buzzy, iridescent indie-pop, equal parts computer burble and Cure guitars.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, The Heist â€“ Ultra-earnest and humble blue-collar rapper Macklemore has built up an incredibly devoted fanbase through years of dedicated, old-fashioned underground grinding, and he is popping up on bigger radar scanners these days: XXL Magazine included him in their annual trendspotting new-rapper “Freshman” roundup. He is the kind of rapper who treats every verse like a confessional booth; he’s both endearing and talented.
Mellowhype, Numbers â€“ The stoner-rap department of Odd Future continues to spool out their agreeably dazed, low-stakes, wordplay- heavy hip-hop. Earl is here, and so is Frank Ocean. From the “OF is quietly surviving its 2010 hype tsunami” department.
KISS, Monster â€“ This is, indeed, an all-new KISS album. It sounds alarmingly like old KISS albums! It actually rocks way, way harder than I expected it to — the chug of the guitars is titanium-grade; Paul Stanley’s howl is in good working condition: and the mud-hog that it the KISS sound rolls forward dependably.
Enslaved, RIITIIR – New one from long-running Norse metal gods demonstrates their now-patented mix of growls and grim howls, mixing murk with melody for an icy metal classic.
Big Boi, “Mama Told me” (single) – One day, I will be able to write the sentence “Big Boi single featuring Kate Bush,” but today is not that day. Until that glorious occasion: this is a single from Big Boi’s hotly anticipated second solo record that blends his whipcrack vocal delivery with bright, blipping production.
The Deftones, “Tempest” – Thundering new single from Deftones’ forthcoming seventh record excels at all the tricks this band has perfected over the last few years, blending a kind of celestial spookiness with grand, thundering riffs.
Dave Sumner’s Jazz Picks
Not a huge drop this week, but several albums that will deserve some attention on year-end Best of 2012 lists. Plenty of choices for straight-ahead jazz fans, though I did get to mention Minimoog twice in this article, so go figure. Several solid candidates for the Find of the Week (for debut artists or historically under-the-radar musicians). Let’s begin…
Jimi Tenor, Mystery of Aether: Mix of jazz and afro-beat, informed by Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders (Thembi-era). A buoyant octet date that makes music that is both complex and joyful. A mistake to take a pass on this one. Pick of the Week.
Jeremie Ternoy Trio, Bill: Very cool album in the New Piano Trio style… use of electronic and effects, brooding melodies, and the infusion of rock-like tempos. This is one of the better ones released lately, and should definitely appeal to people who need an E.S.T. fix on a regular basis. Highly Recommended.
Ivo Neame, Yatra: Lively large ensemble release from UK pianist Neame. Modern jazz, but isn’t afraid to look over his shoulder at Jazz’s past for inspiration. Music doesn’t move in a straight line, but Neame keeps the angles tight and clean. Features some strong names from the new generation of UK jazzers, including fellow Phronesis bandmate, bassits Jasper Hoiby. Recommended.
Jussi Fredriksson, Jazz Wars: Intriguing sextet date that includes piano, guitar, trumpet, bass, drums, and sax. I believe the term nu-jazz gets used for albums like this one that have a bit of modern fusion mixed with post-bop jazz inclinations. Moody and introspective. Has some fire to kick it to life, but the flame is found in bright orange embers. Quite nice. Find of the Week.
Michael Blake, In the Grand Scheme Of Things: Odd but compelling release by tenor saxophonist Blake. With moog, synthesizers, trumpet, electronic effects, drums, and Fender Rhodes. Avant-garde in the Cuong Vu way of mixing jazz and electronics, though Blake has his unique way of drifting on the sea of effects. Marvelous how he slips in and out of avant-garde and straight-ahead post-bop without missing a beat. Something different.
Houston Person, Naturally: Quartet date with Person on sax, Cedar Walton on piano, Lewis Nash on drums, and Billy Drummond on bass. Truly, a super-group of jazz vets. Nothing flashy, just pure jazz. Nice ballads, some up-tempo, plenty of swing and sway. Unfussy and nothing flashy, just straight-ahead goodness.
Abel Cross Neo-Bop Quintet, Abel Cross Neo-Bop Quintet: Nice straight-ahead jazz from a young crop of jazz musicians from the Sydney, Australia scene. Plenty of swing and bop, but a track like “Scattered Showers” great for just kicking back and closing the eyes. Plenty here to like.
Meshell Ndegeocello, Pour une ame Souveraine: This dedication album to the music of Nina Simone works far better than one might assume. Ndegeocello shows some remarkable versatility, whether on her own albums or, say, as a sideman on Daniel Freedman’s Bamako By Bus, and the way she takes ownership of these tunes not only allows her to give them her own voice without losing the spirit of the originals (in most cases), but, more importantly, they’re just plain enjoyable to hear. A couple tracks I might personally drop from my playlist, but an album more than deserving of mention here.
Hanna Paulsberg, Waltz For Lilli: Nice sax led quartet date. Straight-ahead modern. Sax and piano do a fine job working the front of the house together, drums and bass keep the back room running smoothly. Some very catchy melodies throughout. Good stuff.
Jana Herzen, Passion of a Lonely Heart: More folk than jazz, this likable recording matches vocalist-guitarist Herzen with bassist Charnett Moffett. Flickering tunes perfect for the quieter moments of the day. Track “Sodade” has the potential to grow addictive.
Ted Nash, Sidewalk Meeting: Not a new release, but out of print for a decade, and really, a wonderful little album, so I wanted to get a quick mention in here. Saxophonist Nash, with Wycliffe Gordon on trombone and tuba, Matt Wilson on drums, Miri Ben-Ari on violin, and William Schimmel on accordion. A variation of the New Orleans sound, with a little Klezmer thrown in. Whimsical, fun, and light. Confirm to be sure you don’t already own it, and if not, you probably should rectify that right now.