Great new titles from Veronica Falls from Pissed Jeans, a lost cult classic from Adam Again re-emerges, along with a must-have collection of honky-tonk boot-stompers and more grand spookiness from Lisa Germano.
Veronica Falls, Waiting For Something To Happen: The second charming, surprisingly durable record from this wonderful jangle-pop band subtly deepens their sound. Annie Zaleski writes:
Veronica Falls set the bar high with their 2011 self-titled debut, an exemplary collection of foggy indie-pop with rambunctious guitars, cartoonishly gothic sentiments and a restless heart. On their charming second album, Waiting For Something To Happen, the U.K. quartet stands up even straighter and smooth out any lingering wrinkles. Produced by Rory Attwell (The Vaccines, Male Bonding), the record is a confident and clear-eyed throwback to a time when strummy ’80s college rock ruled the underground.
Pissed Jeans, Honeys: Not the nicest or happiest record you’ll hear this week, but maybe one of the most potent: The sneering, baleful, confessional purge-punk of Pissed Jeans is back. Austin L. Ray reviewed it for us, and he had this to say:
Snarling and spitting, growling and kicking, Honeys won’t surprise those who love Pissed Jeans, nor is it likely to attract those that deplore the band. “Write what you know,” as they say, and Pissed Jeans knows pummeling, antisocial punk.
Adam Again, Perfecta: True story, no joke. I woke up this morning thinking about this record, for no clear reason. It stuck with me so much through the morning that I googled a bunch of information on it just to see what the internet had uncovered in the 18 years since its release. I even, on the way in, thought, “Weird that I thought about this record for the first time since it came out. Wouldn’t it be even weirder if it showed up in Freshly Ripped today?” Friends, this is definitive proof: I am a psychic. Adam Again were a California group who operated from the late ’80s until 2000, when alarmingly gifted frontman Gene Eugene died of a heart attack. They started out making synthy, passable New Wave, but took a huge step forward on 1987′s Homeboys, which chronicled Eugene’s childhood in South Central Los Angeles, and then another massive step forward with 1992′s dark and churning Dig. Perfecta, the record that followed it, was another shift in direction. It was groaning and grim and moody, full of slashing guitars and big, wall-of-sound distortion freakouts. A chronicle of his divorce from bandmate Riki Michele and the subsequent emotional aftermath, Perfecta is an unflinching look at imperfection, loud, clawing and feral. “Strobe,” the one concession to the band’s funk-rock roots, hasn’t aged well. The rest is still cold terror. RECOMMENDED
Fear of Men, Early Fragments: The Brighton group Fear of Men began the way many great groups began: when its founding members began swapping mixtapes of favorite songs. You can hear some of those influences, like the Chills and the Byrds, in their debut, a light and lovely collection of guitar-pop topped with light-as-air melodies.
Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, Cheater’s Game: A lovely duets record from this husband-and-wife team that has, until now, done very little recording together. Peter Blackstock surveys the results and asks, What too so long?
Married for 17 years, Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison have kept their recording careers separate, aside from a low-profile Christmas album. HearingCheater’s Game, it’s hard to fathom why, because their talents are so perfectly matched. Robison, writer of country chart-toppers for the likes of George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, would be hard pressed to find a more sympathetic duet partner for his lyrics than Willis, who earned acclaim in the ’90s as an exquisite singer with a keen appreciation for left-of-center material.
Lisa Germano, No Elephants: I love Lisa Germano. This is a weird, spooky, chilling record, lots of strange arrangements and Germano’s oddball ghostly voice fluttering and floating above and between. If you ever had any love for Chelsea Wolfe or super early Kristen Hersh, you really need to hear this. RECOMMENDED
The Deer Tracks, The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3: The third volume of otherworldly, affecting experimental pop. Laura Studarus wrote the review, and it is one of my favorites, as it contains the phrases “arsonists” and “oversized Yule goat” in its first sentence:
The Deer Tracks (David Lehnberg and Elin Lindfors) hail from Gävle, Sweden, where arsonists regularly celebrate Christmas by burning down the city’s oversized Yule goat. Every year, the goat is rebuilt with the knowledge that, like its forefathers, it too will end up in ashes. It’s that same casual acceptance of the surreal that permeates the experimental pop of The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3 … Like Sigur Rós coated with the debris of an extended pub-crawl, The Archer Trilogy Pt. 3 is anchored by a layer of grit — be it electronics that echo the sinister undertones of Fever Ray or Karin Park, lyrics that revel in sweat and frequently break into glossolalia, or Lindfors’s quirky vocal phrasing.
Foals, Holy Fire: Foals specialize in sweeping, melodramatic British guitar rock, washed in starlit reverb and sent heavenward by Yannis Philippakis, a singer with a neon exclamation point of a tenor voice. On Holy Fire, they score their rafters-aiming anthems with itchy, pinprick guitars provide the music’s caffeinated heartbeat.
Psychic Friend, My Rocks Are Dreams: New outing from Will from Imperial Teen (featuring Patty Schemel of Hole on drums), this bright and bounding pop music, with just a hint of the theatrical. If you want to like fun., but feel that they lay it on a bit thick, this is the record you’ve been waiting for.
Various Artists, Cajun Honky Tonk: The Khoury Recordings, Vol. 2: I mean, this is great. You don’t even need me to say it. Amazing Texas Honky Tonk recorded from 1947 – 1957 that’s full of stomp and twang and bravado, sawing violins, boot-stomping rhythms and bristling banjos. I mean, it’s just super good. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Ulrich Schnauss, A Long Way To Fall: The long-running producer steps delicately away from his longstanding Loveless fixation to let a grit onto the canvas. Andy Beta has more:
Schnauss’s previous two albums, 2003′s A Strangely Isolated Place and 2006′s Faraway Passing Trains drew heavily from My Bloody Valentine’s glorious smeared mascara sound, but aside from it taking him six years to follow up Trains(rather than 22), there’s little in common with that old template of his … Schnauss favors clarity on A Long Way to Fall, which you can tell from the opening coruscations of “Her and the Sea,” the vocal haze he previously favored (and at times got lost in) has evaporated. The synth pads are clearly defined, the modular synth lines contrast against the ambient washes.
The Weather Station, Duets 1, 2 and 3: We are super huge fans of Tamara Lindeman, who records as The Weather Station, on eMusic. These are a trio of singles she recorded — one with Daniel Romano, one with Marine Dreams and one with Baby Eagle, all of them firmly within her time-tested weathered Americana, and all of them RECOMMENDED
The Flowers of Hell, Odes: Here’s a weird one. The Flowers of Hell are a UK/Canada group (naturally) consisting of about a dozen and a half members (naturally) who play lush orchestral music (as you might expect). This is an album of covers of everyone from Joy Division to Bob Dylan, all of them treated to swirling, swelling orchestral reads.
Ivy Dye, Continuations: Chicago group brings on the doomy electro-goth (sorta), blending thumping rhythms with buzzy synths and sub-basement vocals for an intoxicatingly moody final product.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, In Cambridge: Still alone! Umpteenth Casio record continues his time-tested blend of moody vocal melodies and charmingly shambolic arrangements.