Release Date Buffet: 9.7, 9.14 & 9.21.2018

September 7th, 2018

Ava Luna – Moon 2
Producer: Julian Fader, Carlos Hernandez
Label: Western Vinyl
Genre: Art Rock
No better a time to craft an art rock record than after indulging in musical and mundane travels—Moon 2 is that record. And it definitely contains the sculpted contours and measured gradients of an intentional piece. Trouble is, where is all the “worldly influence” that listeners should hear? Instead, the record is ironed and wintery and repetive. And after scanning Moon 2’s bandcamp page, three proper nouns disperse the mystery: Vermont, Massachusetts and neo-paganism. Inspired by the tapes of Nineties new age and women’s lib chants for pagan goddesses, Becca Kauffman’s obsession disseminated Ava Luna and subsequently, Moon 2. The album feels cyclical—even if it doesn’t quite engage in the same ouroborosian sonic of Nonagon Infinity or The Wal—and becomes catchier with each spin; a funny trait for a band so committed to fractalization on their debut rather than fusion.

The Daysleepers – Creation
Producer: Jeff Kandefer
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Shoegaze
DIIV’s latest record, Creation, is a true gem, a real polished moonstone that evolves their wildest Clefables into super-stat Clefairies. What does that mean? I don’t know, but neither do I know what to predict for the future besides “Noise is eternal, shoegaze is forever, psychedelia is immortal.” These are values that will stick to bands of modern, chilled out psych for as long this fashion lasts. More than a few will master it. Many will not profit from it. Whichever mondaine direction they head next is entirely up to them, and I do so like to daydream as I listen to audiobooks of their travels.
W-w-wait? It was a dream? No? Wait…it wasn’t a DIIV record.

Estelle – Lover’s Rock
Producer: Supa Dups, Reefa, Jerry Wonda, Harmony Samuels, et al.
Label: VP
Genre: Contemporary R&B, Afrobeat, Pop Reggae
Lover’s Rock is ostensibly named for an English musical adoption of reggae. For Estelle, she’s taken the formula of the Eighties and just modernized it. Transferring reggae references to those of dub and dancehall. She then chills them the hell out with some rhythm and beats becoming of literally anything that has listened to house music in the last ten years. It’s sweet and charming and harmless, but then again, it might not leave a mark entirely because it has no teeth. It’s 48 minutes of Spandau Ballet ballads in dance minor. Screw it, I’m just gonna listen to Spandau Ballet now.

La Force – La Force
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Invisible, Arts & Crafts
Genre: Electropop, Artpop
La Force is Ariel Engle of the Broken Social Scene. And her debut is a smart, 34-minute, self-titled record; short enough not to wear out her welcome, long enough to display her many chops, La Force is just perfectly sized for making a well-paced, somewhat memorable pair of sides. She plays up the lady in red motif for what are ostensibly marketing reasons, and the windblown wraps around her recall every Kate Bush, Florence Welch or Stevie Nicks in this world to tell anyone at a glance: another feminista has entered the ring.

Maribou State – Kingdoms in Colour
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Counter
Genre: Electronic, Downtempo
This record is too positive to be downtempo, yet it is, sitting right there in the 90-120 BPM range, so it would be remiss to say Maribou State did not flip the genre on its head with this record. Rather than headbang and jump as fast as possible, most downtempo is literally made to throw people into an REM state as fast possible. Thankfully, Maribou State’s Kingdoms in Colour exists to extol those virtues without looking across the crowd and seeing a heaping mass of shuteyes.

Menace Beach – Black Rainbow Sound
Producer: Self-Produced, Matt Peel
Label: Memphis Industries
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Indie Rock
No! Do not be confused! Black Rainbow Sound may look like the title for Sugar Candy Mountain’s next record, if not just a complete copypasta of their name, but Menace Beach finds something here: an old eight track from a Ty Segall project, an amplifier from the King Tuff Band circa 2014, a microphone dug up from a cardboard box with the name “Bolan” on it, and, well, they brought the synthesizers. Well… there could be worse handed-off hand-me-downs.

ORB – The Space Between
Producer: Self-Produced, Stu Mackenzie
Label: Flightless
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Noise Rock
Opening track “Space Between The Planets” hails all that is great about ORB: Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath, a little bit of Blue Öyster Cult, and then a whole lot more of Sabbath. But, pretty soon one begins to realize the surfeit Sabbath stimuli brain drain the record; all angles—obtuse, acute or right—are gone as ORB pursues one vector: crushing 70’s metal density without modern metal electronic sonic. It’s just vibrato scratching obsidian. The record is begging to be loved (and in some ways, I still do) but once the veneer of “Space Between The Planets” peels off, the rest of the record fails to experiment enough for the ears. As it were, this record could be retitled Variations and suffer no false marketing. As it is, however, The Space Between is a stale effort that turns Naturality’s truths into truisms.

Petra Glynt – My Flag is a Burning Rag of Love
Producer: Self-Produced, Alice Wilder
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Electropop
A mixture of the late-period Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and Klepackian video game soundtracks, Petra Glynt’s latest record doesn’t just flip the script, it rips it up, defecates on it, and then burns it along with that burning rag of love. The percussion is played by a little drummer boy, I swear, and Glynt’s voices texturizes from a furry Karen O on M.I.A. mélange. This record is also sufficiently out there enough for independent music fans to grab a pair of binoculars and just ogle the hell out of its endangered ass.

Swamp Dogg – Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune
Producer: Ryan Olson
Label: Joyful Noise
Genre: Soul, Contemporary R&B
Autotune receives a bad rap from the world of music fans, casual or otherwise—it’s a metonym for garbage house production, a byword for lack of talent, a shortcut to the shit factor. Yet here Swamp Dogg is on Love, Loss, and Auto-Tune, making a case, much like Cher on “Believe,” for the use of auto-tune. But between the obvious synchronicities with P-Funk and Thundercat (one a contemporary ensemble, one a current commissionaire), the cross-referencing pianos and synthesizers, and that vaunted-autotune tonal work, it’s a major astonishment to read that Little Jerry Williams is in fact the original “d-o-double-g,” a living compendium of Seventies soul, funk and R&B, an Alabaman swamprat’s testimony for encounters of the third eye segueing into sexy-time with every good thought or bad thought he might have. And to do it with such a combination of Toronto-style production? Get out of town, this man cannot possibly be more than a quinquagenarian—well, he is. And even if he doesn’t rock the world, he will seduce the headphones.

Teleman – Family of Aliens
Producer: Dan Carey
Label: Moshi, Moshi
Genre: Indie Rock, Progressive Twee (I shit you not)
What in the—who in the? Progressive?!? Twee?!? What the hell is progressive about a pop album? Where in the infernal name of pre-teen bubblegum-pop, bobby-sox rockin’, red, white and dysotopia a la Leave It To Beaver (even though it’s actually a term of English origin) type genre name is this? Well it originated to cover Midlands pop, I just think Twee says more to the mood of rock-like pop music that I loathe to call pop, but agree, is generally not of a hard rock nature. Pop is short for popular of populous—many people listen to it yes, a sizeable amount are predicted to find that music preferable (why not, it’s pretty jolly, a weird mix of nostalgia for a fashionable nostalgia for 50’s motifs in the 80’ mixed with eerie progressive notes to the synthesizer work of Teleman reflects a condensed wizardly recalling Rick Wakeman of Yes or Richard Tandy of Electric Light Orchestra or Brian Eno, of, well Brian Fucking Eno.

/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


September 14th, 2018

Black Belt Eagle Scout – Mother of My Children
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Saddle Creek
Genre: Indie Rock, Post-Rock
Fortuitous that the week Mogwai has appeared once again on the listening roundtable that a post-rock album would also make my radar. Seriously, Black Belt Eagle Scout’s leading cuts off Mother of My Children are gorgeous little things of timbre, as punchy as ambient music can come, which is to say not at all, but still easier to listen than the more experimental leanings of Mogwai, Sigur Rós, Caspian, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and If These Trees Could Talk. The jury is still out on the Native American influence, however. Like, yeah, Katherine Paul may be native American, but at this point any want for heritage influences outside of the lyricism is left, well, wanting. But at least the record leaves me wanting more rather than just wanting it to leave.

Bob Moses – Battle Lines
Producer: Self-Produced with Lars Stalfors
Label: Domino
Genre: Deep House, Synthpop
Oof. It’s hard to call an album uninspired, so with respect let’s refrain from such a crushing condemnation of someone’s creative persona—but also with respect, let’s just state the dirty little truth: a bitter taste to discourage any inspiration taking hold of me. In the end, this is just a trend that most electronic music curves over for without much reason: catchy singles, textbook albums (Case in point: “Selling Me Sympathy” pulses with more activity than the first eight cuts off the record combined). Whether it’s due to a desire for popularity or because the artists themselves just want to pump out the next record in time for deadlines, it’s a sour reminder: forget the albums—go see these guys live to make that talent judgement.

The Chills – Snow Bound
Producer: Greg Haver
Label: Fire
Genre: Dunedin Sound, Jangle
Perhaps it’s just the genre conventions that chafe: heavy keyboards are fun, but only when they flash with pizazz; minimal basslines are great, but edge on no basslines and there goes the groove; loose drumming allows for some great experimental jams, but not when the cuts are given no space to jam. Snow Bound is text book jangle rock. If only it could rock, then there might be some interest betwixt these ears.

Producer: Rob Schnapf
Label: Partisan
Genre: Alternative Rock, Noise
Noisepop!?! Noisepop?!? God damnit, why can’t every punchy post-rock/noise/shoegaze album just be described as, well, fucking punchy. Because Heaven is quite certainly 1992 mikes worth or hardcore thora-noise right to the chest whether Dilly Dally’s proclivities for post-rock are simply for a punch best served confused—why is there so much windershear in this solo?—why shouldn’t there be! They play acutely, with enough Puckish punk rogue-ness to keep the audience en rouge, en vogue and sans cynicism for the pastiche of the fashion. This record fills a niche use, but still a great one: convincing your punk rock friend to find some joy in the utter vibrato bliss of ambience with an epically bad attitude turned up to eleven twisting punk post itself like a Banshee. But that’s all noisepop? Fuck that, this is bona-fide noise.

Guerilla Toss – Twisted Crystal
Producer: Peter Negroponte
Label: DFA
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Zolo, New Wave
Zolo: a crossbreed of progressive and krautrock thematic with new wave sonic. Think in the sense of Talking Heads, but peaking, rather than coming down. With the waving, hyper-sensory fractalizing sounds digitally chewed up, spat out and then rearranged into a Pond-ish effort with slightly more hooks. And somehow this is a genre of the jungle (I mean with a name like Zolo, that’s just too convenient). If anything, if Twisted Crystal is Zolo then so too is Glass Animal’s Zaba a piece of Zolo art. The two live on completely opposite electronic grooves, but they both slither with the same exuded confidence of a post-punk punk gone to the jungle and come back.

The Holydrug Couple – Hyper Super Mega
Producer: Self-Produced…question mark?
Label: Sacred Bones
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia
This took multiple listens to actually understand—but on listen 10 or 11 (not really first impressions, truly) it finally clicked: do you like Portugal. The Man? Do you like Unknown Mortal Orchestra? Do you like Beach Fossils? Well these Chilean neo-psychers must like them too, because this record sounds like a cross of them all. Genres are built together, not apart, so if this storm of neo-pyschedelia wants to continue, then the question of who came first should be answered last. But it does beget similar origins: Sixties and Seventies garage psychedelia borne again, oh boy. The genre-heads will probably rejoice, those who are not, will probably cringe until “Ikebana Telephone Line” convinces them otherwise.

Noname – Room 25
Producer: Self-Produced with Phoelix
Label: Self Released
Genre: Neo-Soul, Conscious Hip Hop
Arriving from the same city as Common, Kanye West, and Chance the Rapper (special emphasis on the latter), it’s no wonder that Noname would need to find a way to space herself from digs replete with idols of the conventionally unconventional. However, it would be unfair to just call this simply jazz rap—Room 25 coos and pets akin to a softer Erykah Badu project or an Alicia Keys idea with the volume turned almost all the way down, espousing the gentle soul of rap, as much as Chance preaches the gospel of rap: street poetry. Observations of just as dangerous corners as those “with the fo’s and the mo’s” of Calumet Heights, Noname’s record opines on the intersectional oppression committed by governments, religions and her own people and then spits on how this is all just as addictive to indulge in like the umpteenth innocuous trap record without actually listening to the lyrics (which, in the context of rap, are more important than any melodic or rhythmic layer she could add). So do Noname a favour when this record is put on: open a net browser, go to Genius, search the record, and just plumb the new-age beat poetry of a woman who has complete demolished her prudish shell.

/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


September 21st, 2018

Lupe Fiasco – DROGAS Wave
Producers: Soundtrakk and Rossy Timms, among others
Label: 1st & 15th, Thirty Tigers
Genre: Conscious Hip Hop, Pop Rap, Abstract Hip Hop
It’s not even a debate, DROGAS Wave sounds off Lupe Fiasco’s best outfit of work since 2006’s Food and Liquor. Maybe it’s because Tetsuo and Youth never caught me at the right time, maybe it’s because Lasers was so bad, it poisoned the well, maybe it’s because The Cool was a worthy but still lesser follow-up to Food and Liquor or maybe it’s because Food & Liquor, Vol 2: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 was a mouthful of years-old rehash browns, but god damn, I had not thought about Lupe once for three years and after DROGAS Wave I haven’t gotten him out of my head for three days. It doesn’t matter how his next record hits me: Lupe Fiasco is another jewel in the crown of Chicago-style hip-hop.

Metric – Art of Doubt
Producer: Justin Meldal-Johnsen
Label: MMI, Crystal Math
Genre: Indie Rock, Synthpop
An unforgivable lie: I knew of Metric before this record. Releasing their seventh LP, Toronto-based indie rockers weld together a eighties synthpop that begot CHVRCHES and Bastille with a punky, power garage style becoming of Blondie or Hole. And whether they have done this successfully on albums before is not the point: with Art of Doubt they craft these two disparate genres together with no problem. But the real highlight of this record? “Now or Never Now,” an anthemic call-to-action that hits just right, hitting with all the emotional poignancy of singer-songwriters with all the majesty of the arena. It’s as opulent as independent rock can, well, rock and it is the keystone to this record opening the passage, because this album is a passage, a passage from not knowing who Metric were, to loving every second of a Metric record. So instead of some stupid declarative lie, I’m left with a happy, if declarative, truth, a grateful truth: I am glad I know Metric exists after this record.

Mutual Benefit – Thunder Follows the Light
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Transgressive
Genre: Indie Folk, Chamber Band
Oy vey, indey folk, ay-eh (ok I’ll stop)! If only this were a genre that my heart loved so badly it would claw out of my chest like a Xenomorph and fall, dead on the ground, sanglant and glistening with a rust-red message scribbled with an “I love you.” But, it’s not visceral enough to be loved in such a way. Instead desperate sighs and musty highs meander over the thin passage between my ears. The volume just isn’t there: if Thunder Follows the Light is meant to be anything. It’s meant to fulfill quiet afternoons, perched on the couch like a feline fixed to catnap Sunday away with a good book leisured atop the torso or while the latest binge show plays episode ad episode ad infinitum. Either way, this record perfectly fills Graham Nash’s very, very fine house with two cats in the gardens.

Porto Color – Fake Feeling
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Neo-Pyschedelic Smooth Jazz from fuckin’ Moscow
It’s like Maroon 5 enjoyed the romantic nihilism in Fathers & Sons and the silently expressive shadow-work of Self-Portrait in Panama. I will say though, the Police did it first with the Russian literature—promptly running with Lolita, the only book of pure terror and major league nopeness, to describe how he feels about the plucky, youthful spirit of the English language compared to his stoic and coldly exquisite Russian. But Porto Color never take it there, no they play it hip, from the same stuff as Mile’s Davis’ Sorceress mixed with an innocent Zolo-mania. It’s Moscow New Wave Jazz, darker than Maroon 5 and still filled with Talking Heads camp. Astonishing, now put it on Spotify!

Richard In Your Mind – Super Love Brain
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Rice Is Nice
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, lofi rock
The fourth LP (although Spotify would never let you know it) from the rotating Sydneysider cast of Richard In Your Mind, Super Love Brain is, well a product of the Beatles. Loathsome though it may be that a psych-rock band may be influenced the Beatles—really, it should not come as surprise that they influenced so many of these Aussie pysch-rockers—but is laziness to describe them as such and only as such. However, with Richard In Your Mind, the Strawberry-Fields-Forever-esque vibes are so pronounced it is excruciatingly hard not to just call it a day after that metaphor. So upon listening again, more textures reveal themselves what becomes more apparent is the gentle Elephant 6 influence and crunchy lofi guitars becoming of Cream, they rumble like a heavy muscle car, like a tame Chevy Impala or something or—fuck… whatever acid was in that 2009 Aussie water must have been stronk, because these vibes crossed between Sydney and Perth, traversing every russet ridge in the Outback.

Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire) – Quiet River of Dust Vol 1
Producer: Self-Produced with Aaron Dessner
Label: ANTI-, Secret City
Genre: Chamber Band, Art Rock
Co-produced with the National’s Aaron Dessner, Quiet River of Dust Vol 1 is truth in marketing. It drifts together more or less, the individual levels barely register more than a murmur, but when collaged together they no longer babble with the brooks—they whistle with the wind. It’s more restrained than Toby Driver’s They Are The Shield, but at the same time, it begets a bigger question: where is the rock in this? Because the art has swallowed it whole—one of the worst parts that art rock past or present could do is take the rock and throw it into the fjord without a thought, so it can go back to gazing and probing the sky with little concreteness to bring it back to the mundane. There is no “Great Gig in the Sky” without “Time” and this Quiet River of Dust lacks its loud thunder of rock.

Toby Driver (Kayo Dot) – They Are The Shield
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Blood Music
Genre: Chamber Band, Art Rock
There’s much to enjoy in this record’s opening track, but for the same token, I cannot take it seriously, as it switches back from meandering violin to ambient bars of progressively punchy drone back to slightly more focused strings before finally crafting the same dramatically poignant last third of a BØRNS-type synth-line-on-violin jamboree—and we’re only halfway-freakin’-done!—“Anamnesis Park” pulls back to a finely strung ditty layered and layered with slower piano rhythmic trades until finally breaking into to a technically precise yet swagger-filled robot solo with Toby Driver’s undulating cry-lyrics. This is extraordinarily excessive, exactly in the progressive rock sense of the term: a 10-minute cut filled with insanely addictive arena rock yet as if echoing from the chaste chamber halls of Julliard. So, yes, it is a spiritual successor to the Yes’s, the Electric Light Orchestras and the Gensises of the world. It never cuts off the grandiose self-image so often attained in art and progressive rock. As for a worthy successor, well that depends on how fast one lasts before cracking up at just how absurd yet cleanly-done this record sounds.

/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


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About BenJamsToo

A young dude with an old soul from Portland, OR but currently teaching and writing in rural France. A lover of rock n roll since his mother first spun The Police’s “Roxanne,” he’s also dabbler in soul, funk, jazz, blues, electronic and hip-hop. Perhaps it’s easier to list what he doesn’t like; most gangster rap, country-western and modern metal disagrees with his stomach. Spends all day wondering what Ruban Nielson eats for breakfast, why Danger Mouse hasn't made a through and through GOOD record since St. Elsewhere, if Kamasi Washington is the Kanye West of jazz and just what the hell people hear in mumble rap. Between those things he writes for Atwood and his own blog, Come here for the nice clean thoughts; go there for the ramblings of an insane man.