Bad Rabbits – Mimi
Producer: B.I. Lewis
Genre: Synth Funk, Contemporary R&B
Just two years after their statement record American Nightmare, Bad Rabbits return, riding on the seven-track train for Mimi (Evidently, artists of late must have been nostalgia reading Harry Potter for the 21st anniversary of The Philosopher’s Strone. Hell, at this point Kanye might think that “the boy who lived” is autobiographical)—but the choice that works out for three reasons. The first is obvious: topicality. The second is timing; two years is a short period of time to produce another eleven quality cuts, so seven allows for a certain type of focus. Speaking of, focus is the third reason; by limiting themselves to just seven tracks, there is no overextension, no loss of momentum. All seven of Mimi’s tracks want to party and all of them have the means to do it. What results is a clean, punchy effort that by all rights should be in the same playlist as The Now Now.
The Coral – Move Through The Dawn
Producer: The Coral, Rich Turvey
Genre: Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
This record is a very simple question hidden by the bright tinsel: did The Coral give Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder a magical guitar that sucked out all their talents and juice up The Coral’s sound, because this record is straight Monstar—it’s the garage Space Jam meets Eagles meets acid in Japan—it has no right to be as good as it is and I can imagine the only reason there’s a lion on the cover was because of a counterpunching “why the fuck not?”
Cordovas – That Santa Fe Channel
Producer: Kenneth Pattengale
Genre: Folk Rock
This is as Grateful Dead ca’ 1970 as short-shorts and tight-tees. Healthy doses of cowboy ballads, drawling guitar lines, penned country dust-ups, all sung by bandleader Joe Firstman, compose a record that just sounds nice but not overbearing. And if you asked Firstman, he would say this is it: this is The Cordovas’ true form, a better example of (almost) everything Firstman aimed for on Cordovas, personally, I’ll let him sing with it—his aim is true and his voice is smoother than Jerry’s.
Elley Duhé – DRAGON MENTALITY EP
Producer: Joe Janiak, Haze Banga, Rahki, Jordan Ware
Genre: Alternative R&B
DRAGON MENTALITY should be written in all caps. Anything less is a disservice considering the production work is best known for affiliations with Tove Lo, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Kendrick Lamar and Diplo—yeah, it’s easy to see where this EP gathers its confidence. Step, rap and beat genres meld together with attitude to spare. She’s a biological weapon of vocal destruction and from Duhé’s lips spits wildfire: “You didn’t wanna be loyal, loyal/ You didn’t wanna be ki-i-ind/Overestimated yourself there baby/ Underestimated my time.” Say what you will about her basic appeal but be warned: cross this woman and prepare to be burned.
Foxing – Nearer My God
Producer: Chris Walla
Label: Triple CrownGenre: Indie Rock, Art Rock
Foxing may have the most ambitious set of influences, I swear—no, never mind, fuck me if I swear. Conor Murphy can swear for me—he’s the indiehead I wish I could be. Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Belle and Sebastian, Mitski, Notwist, WHY?, are all cited to have influenced this record and the hipsterisms are pungent. Who are these cats? Their beards must smell fresh with the morning dew of a Maple farm and their flannel must be crisper than the sunrise over the rockies. Whatever the truth, Foxing’s third effort doesn’t quite hit the mark—even if I can’t say I ever liked Bon Iver or Sufjan Stevens or Mitski or Belle and Sebastian—because I truly just don’t care enough to like it. It’s quite clearly indie rock and it’s quite clearly reaching for something, but the second half of this personal Sistine Chapel ceiling blossomed from a different school of my same field in indie rock and such a block prevents me from enjoying Nearer My God. This record will blow someone’s mind, hélas, it is not mine.
Liz Cooper & The Stampede – Window Flowers
Producer: Liz Cooper & The Stampede, TJ Elias
Label: Sleepyhead, Thirty Tiger
Genre: Folk Rock, Psychedelic Folk
Window Flowers is as good as any record to explain the merits of psychedelic folk as a genre: it’s great for pulling influences and inducing moments of the holy “whoa, dude,” but when Americana goes full psychedelia, it might sound crickets—a compelling auditory narrative when the wood cabin ceiling wiggles its way down the walls and the trees fractalize like chestnut lightning rods, but a little dry when stone-cold sober. Instead, psych-folk plays the informer while folk rock plays the mover and shaker. It’s the C-3P0 to R2-D2, the Daryl Dixon to a Rick Grimes, the Hawkeye to a Hulk. Too much and it’s overexposed, even annoying, tropism, but just enough, and it balances the joke/anti-joke, compelling/impelling, opposite/interlinked elements of punchy and psychedelic music. Too much psych, not enough fun, too much punch, not enough to munch. But Liz Cooper balances just fine; she and her Stampede have sure feet.
Moses Sumney – Black in Deep Red, 2014 EP
Genre: Experimental Soul
Another case of the artist providing a better example of a genre than the one I found attached to this record: experimental soul. Sounds a hell of a lot more compelling and informative than art pop. Nothing about this record should pop, it’s about blood-bathed soul, it’s made from the pews in the church preaching the gospel of Officer John Smith: six shots and a prayer that it doesn’t happen to someone you love. Moses Sumney takes no prisoners, making sure audiences understand what he’s seeing and feeling.
Mr. Plow – Maintain Radio Silence
Producer: Jeremy Dudman
Genre: Stoner Rock
Some genres are made to take the piss. And anything stoner-hyphenated should be placed in that category—not front and center, Jesus, Karen, these are stoners, after all—let ‘em sit in their corner in peace and wax in the slow drawl of metal without all the death and gloom! Mr. Plow’s order to Maintain Radio Silence should come with all the terror one could have for a 10-year-old ordering the beginning of a silent contest. Though it isn’t hard for them to wax on radio silence, considering it’s their first record in a dozen years—most relationship records (Rumours, Blood on the Tracks, Songs About Jane, Come Away With Me, to name a few) run on two year treadmills. Most chanteuses switch out the relationship theme every other album, if not at least penning two songs of love exalted or love scorned for each year in between. But this is all boring, he-said, she-said gossip surrounding the actual music. There was no gossip to tell on Maintain Radio Silence. Only the order to maintain silence on the favours we can now enjoy. It should be no surprise then, that with help of some friends, I enjoyed the second listen more than the first.
Notches – Almost Ruined Everything
Producer: Alex Bourne
Genre: Pop Punk, Indie Rock
Pop Punk is a genre I like. It says everything it needs to: punchy and punky. To be fair, punk is already filled with punch, but instead of punches to your gut, pop punk puts punches in your cup even if it doesn’t look like it. It’s bit like packaging Sunny D in a paper bag. Why they hidin’ that cheer behind a screen of mirth? Sure, they don’t sing happy, but that doesn’t mean their music sounds unhappy. Beigeness aside, Notches are upbeat companions to Chastity Belt, more stripped down than Parquet Courts, more pronounced than the Meat Puppet patriarchs of garage. The only problem? They take half an album figuring this all out.
Bandcamp, because it ain’t on Spotify yet.
Tirzah – Devotion
Genre: Alternative R&B, Hypnagogic R&B
This puts like… the xx in sexx (Forget it, he’s rolling). Like, it fully embodies nearly every phase associated with “sleeping” with someone. The foreplay, the sexx, the sleep. It’s downtempo fun and hypnotizing to the last song. Even the cuts that never quite make it still bewitch the ears. Tirzah’s voice whispers soft hauntings and hormonal hints. In a Bangsian spirit, she’s a true “tease.” But more then that, her record is a comfort—gentle love was poured into this record from top to bottom and Tirzah’s talent glows past the grime of her underground upbringing.
The Vryll Society – Course Of The Satellite
Producer: Joe Fearon
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
Liverpudlians of the Vryll Society take this week to showcase an Englishman’s take on the modern psych renaissance—although the band will attest a mixture of hip-hop, krautrock, psychedelia and dark dancehall—and I like that. More psych the better, right? Not really—Course of the Satellite has its moments, the first three cuts are solid, but the rest of the album falls flat. It doesn’t brood like Warpaint, nerd out like King Gizzard or cut and jab like Unknown Mortal Orchestra. The true inkling of talent however, is that the recording technique just recalls Tame Impala but with even more R&B influences (even that cover is eerily familiar). When that aspect manages to overtake all others, well, you might just call it hope.
Want to see if you missed anything else? Then here’s a couple of lists I refer to constantly:
/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here
HipHopDX has an incredible interactive month-by-month releases widget here
AllMusic also does its fair share of listing, providing a good sieve for good records here
And Consequence of Sound will prep you for next week with a summary list here