Welcome to the Release Date Buffet! A round-up of all the records I’ve been listening to this month. Usually it’s a weekly thread, but has been transformed into a monthly thing while I am living in France because of travel. Just a heads-up on the (?)’s: some groups are really bad about putting down a producer or labeling if they self-produced the record. The (?) is just a disclaimer for an assumption—don’t take it as fact—as well as belying my discontent for bands who don’t properly credit people who help with records or even themselves for what is a pretty important skillset.
Beirut – Gallipoli
Producer: Zach Condon, Gave Wax
Genre: lo-fi soul
Zachary Condon’s has always had an obsession with the Smiths since Gulag Orkestar but his music never really had the legs to match it. One can only listen to that Morrissey moan so long before ripping their eyeballs from their head. And in the 4 years since No No No, Condon’s been working out—moving between continents, writing, lo-fi soul searching with a one-forgotten farfisa organ on the fritz and pondering on the candor of a sad ex-pat angel. What did he find? Horns, lots of horns. In the same way the Johnny Marr loved the guitar from The Smiths to Strangeways, Condon has found himself enamored with rich, fuzzy, jazz horns hoisted from a Duke Ellington record that on first listen I was caught calling Gallipoli the Smiths-Mariachi crossover LP you never knew you wanted to hear.
Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready
Producer: Carlos de la Garza
Label: Secretly Canadian
Genre: Garage Rock, Noisepop
You really like Cherry Glazerr. You need a record to prove to someone they are not a waste of time. Something that’s quick and easy like a supermarket sandwich or a premade fruit plate. So is Stuffed & Ready. Aptly named, efficacious packaging, no superfluous marketing. Ten cuts, 32 minutes, one record. Absolutely mint. Theres almost no fat on this record—just patent flavours and Clementine Creevy’s haunting Siouxsie-Sindie rock wail howling, cooing and howling again on everything a young woman has to be hyper-stressed and overly anxious about. And even though there’s not much variation, the quality is so good it never strikes of sameness. Talk about some serious market magic.
Choker – Dog Candy EP
Label: Jet Fuzz
Genre: Alternative R&B
Part two of Choker’s EP series, because apparently LP’s bore him, or something. More likely, it’s just because his output has been erratic and unconnected to anything other than a blitz of small-spurt artistry. A refreshing thought that the music might just be as attention-deficient and incoherent as the mind that spawned them. By no means is this bad—Choker has just proven himself a master vignette vintner and now he’s just letting people into his cave. Moreover, Dog Candy transitions from the chilled-out contemporary of Mono no Moto to a more frenetic alternative aural space, beeping at a faster minute and putting the pace on the clock with clap and snap beats galore, oh, get Timbaland on the phone! He takes that Toronto Sound and cuts it against a little bit of MIA and a little bit of Anderson .Paak, but everyone should know: it’s all Choker.
Deer Tick – Mayonnaise
Producer: Self-Produced with Adam Landry
Genre: Garage Rock
Deer Tick, the country-band that doesn’t want you to know they’re a country band is back at it again, releasing their southern grunge style across the land like a pair of Allman Brothers who loved Kurt Cobain and Pavement. It’s a record of b-sides, but much like Cake, I have to ask, is it bad when I like the B-Sides more than A-Sides? Or when the B-Sides are the first pieces of material from a band that finally hit the sweet spot? Point of order, it seems I have some re-exploration to do.
Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary
Producer: Self-Produced with David Tolomei
Genre: Indie Rock, Power Rock
This might be the smartest power rock record released this year, triangulating itself at the crosspoints of Dream Wife, Chastity Belt and Japanese Breakfast, What Chaos Is Imaginary shouldn’t be as alluring, intelligent and moving as its genre typecasts it to be. It shouldn’t be something you equally headbang and drink wine to, but here I am, two glasses in, quietly rocking and rolling to Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s vocal and riffwork. Just enough pop to dream, just enough punk to inner scream.
Grandchildren – Grandchildren
Label: Ernest Jennings Record Co.
Grandchildren are just making albums shorter and shorter as they go on. And transferring logical axioms befitting Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond (the lighter the supercar the better the supercar means to have no supercar is to have the best supercar), that means Grandchildren are approaching their best album ever: no record. Right? No. That’s just petulant strawmanning, because we have here the best Grandchildren long-player sealed on wax. The opening riff on “Phantom Pains” doesn’t just tip the scales, but bends them—tapping all the right spots on the neck. The record takes a page out of the folk script and plays for aural comfort without settling for emotional safety. It’s possibly the best album of the week.
Largos Agotadores – El Palacio de Linares
Label: Pretty Olivia
Genre: Pop Indie Rock, Pop Psych
Sneaky quick record at 27 minutes, Largos Agotadores are gone as quick as they come. But if you’re gonna cite bands like Real Estate, the Feelies and the Go-Betweens as prime influences the long-player best not run long. If anything it allows El Palacio de Linares to run over itself to great effect and little fatigue. Dabbling in popular psychedelic and independent music tastes without drowning in them. And despite only being only three minutes longer than Grandchildren, it’s three-times less memorable. Instead of risking anything in the deeper ends, it stays to the shallows of innocent, innocuous, ingenue pool music.
Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop
Label: Yep Roc
With a title such as Tides of a Teardrop, one expects this record to mope on and on like a metaphysical poet singing in sonnets, but no. Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz go the full W.S. Merwin and just start dealing in cold, hard bluegrass. They don’t mince words, they don’t mix genres, they don’t miss a note. And forget about location, it’s harmony, harmony, harmony. By “Into the Sun,” they’re not crying, you’re crying and by records end the cathartic cloud, thick and strong, parts after the rain. No thunderstorm, just a consistent drizzle perforated by the sound of fingerpicked mandolin teardrops plucked from the heavens. A Mandolin Orange slice of post-romance paradise (sorry, Grandchildren)
Spielbergs – This is Not the End
Label: By The Time It Gets Dark
Genre: Alternative Rock
The Spielbergs really enjoyed the mid-2000’s emo-rock movement. Like, really enjoyed it. Taking their cues from equal parts Thirty Seconds to Mars and equal parts Muse, the Spielbergs are loud, proud and don’t give a damn about dynamic sound. This is an emotionally draining record because of that, and despite having a fair few tasteful nods to idols of a bygone era, this record never quite transcends them. Mileage will vary depending on whether or not one liked the new-wave goth of the nascent century. But as for a tried-and-true Purist Cure fan (a Curist, if you will), blegh, Parquet Courts and IDLES already tick the righteous anger boxes.
Choker – Forever & a Few EP
Label: Jet Fuzz
Genre: Alternative R&B, Singer-Songwriter
Choker’s final extended-player in the trilogy steers listeners towards a more acoustic route, enhanced still samples and vocoders. It’s worrying that at first Choker can’t help but recall horrific gnashisms and perhaps might pour it on thick with Jason Mraz-like sentimentality. But no, he stays on course, as if walking the Venice boardwalk with .Paak before breaking it down with his own spin on the Toronto sound. Interestingly, the trilogy seems to take on an afternoon-night-morning time cycle, with Forever & A Few using the acoustic guitars and percussive instruments to sound off a relaxed breakfast in bed approach. Stitch this EP with its older brothers and you have yourself the perfect Sunday morning record.
Crocodiles – Love Is Here
Label: Deaf Rock
Genre: Garagepop, Pop Punk
I don’t go to punk shows for love songs, goddamnit. And as much as I like Crocodiles latest reminding me of a nuclear fusion fallout of the New York Dolls by Violent Femmes (one’s got sonic, one’s got vocals) spiced up and all ready to fuck on the first track, “Nuclear Love,” I just wish it had a little more bloody grit. Because all this pronounced poppy production is pulling Crocodiles of their teeth. When they mask those tendencies, though, well boy howdy, then I finally get what I paid for on “I Was a Fly” and “Far Out Friend.” A little screech, a little scratch, a little tit, a little tat. Yeah, Crocodiles, Nuclear Love is good when it sticks to that.
Ghost King – Dunbar Swamp
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Noise Rock
There’s something to be said about this influx of garagerock ripped directly from sixties surfer and psychedelic rock and injected with just the right amount of punkenness like simple Mad Max style engineering, y’know the kind of thing: a mouthful of moonshine spitooned right into pistons of an exposed V8, a carbine that shoots flame as well as a monster sound. It’s small problem for Ghost King, who on their sophomore prove they can fuzz it up with the best of ‘em. But that’s a known quality, a tired trick; Ghost King have yet to prove they might have something else in the bag.
LCD Soundsystem – Electric Lady Sessions
Producer: James Murphy
Label: Excelsior, Columbia
Genre: Alternative, Electronic, Post-Punk
James Murphy is taking his time for another LCD Soundsystem record and it’s paying in dividends; he’s probably noticed Damon Albarn, Arcade Fire and other contemporaries jump back on the horse and go too fast too soon. Instead, Murphy is letting us salivate, the Electric Lady Sessions just serving as a second helping of american dream plus a couple covers (a riotous rendition of Chic’s “I Want Your Love” wins this record) and some oldies but goodies. But aside from the “get innocuous” and “home,” it’s “tonite” and “u wanted a hit” that reminds us that Murphy has the chops for a good record and some good hits. It’s what we all want but now comes the hard part: the waiting.
moonweather – Overgrown
Genre: Dreampop, Twee Rock, “Pop Psych”
moonweather’s second record is an exercise in sleepy indie rock and selling oneself as something else; this long-player came across the radar as a dreampop-psych record and I licked my chops–haven’t heard a good pop psych record in a while. And those pillowsoft oil pigments on the cover were only helping the cause, mock impressionist Muybridge swimmer study that it was. But, disappointingly, there was no brain-revealing moment that billowed opened like lily blossoms on a ripple wave. Instead, moonweather took the the moment to be cute and twee, simple melodies, choral harmonies, keyboard ambiance and soft-stomp tempos were all over this record. The only thing psychedelic about this record? The tracks, just like the melted candlewax acrylic cover, fall right into each other and while that’s a nice tint, it’s not the total hue. Still, falling right into this record is a real winner.
Son Mieux – Faire de son mieux
Producer: Thijs van der Klugt
Label: Universal Music
Genre: Dance Rock, Electropop
Well it might just be “Nothing” but when Son Mieux hits some of those notes he’s hitting some wonderful combination of Bono and later period Alex Turner–that vocal strut has just the right amount of power and sass while the music goes for high and dry inspirational points. Like a Skinny Bitch for the soul self-help book, but not too strong, more like a La Croix version of Skinny Bitch for the soul self-help book. And if that ain’t a mismatched metaphor for a long-player that mismatches tone and genre, well then this wouldn’t be a proper first impressions, now would it. So just leave me to my La Croix, my Skinny Bitch series and my Son Mieux record, damnit.
With their first record Yak squarely put themselves in the Flightless camp of modern prog-garage, despite signing with Third Man, and stood toe-to-toe with the likes of Thee O Scees or King Gizzard. Well, not actualy toe-to-toe, but they did enter the same ring with a so-so debut record. But Pursuit of Momentary Happiness finally manages to get a few punches in, feinting with a flauting Jethro Tull left and then slicing a junkyard right across the bow and then kind of just pouring it on with that right hand all night. Hell, before long, Yak’s sophomore record begins to sound like a record the Arctic Monkeys left behind in 2009—not bad, certainly more visceral than AM or Tranquility Moonraker Lair and Casino— and buoyed by Oh Skees’ over nine-thousand decibels attack. But I could use a little more of that Jethro Tully, proggy sound to go from “oh, nice” to “oh, shit!”
Anemone – Beat My Distance
Producer: Miles Dupire Gagnon, Chloe Soldevilla
Surprising that on the related artists tab for Anemone that Melody’s Echo Chamber does not show her face because this record vibes out with Sugar Candy Mountain’s Do Right and MEC’s Bon Voyage. There’s just an inner pleasure to this softened Currents-era neo-psychedelia sound and Beat My Distance keys in on it, sets it feet, then lobs the javelin with grace. They break no new records, but for nine cuts and forty minutes they toss that Krautrock-influence, never breaking a sweat. They relax a little much in the middle, but they never lose the groove.
Copeland – Blushing
Producer: Aaron Marsh
Label: Tooth & Nail
Genre: Alternative Rock, Alternative R&B
Electronic Evanescence never seems like it could be stylish, but Blushing, sipping on its coffee and sitting behind computer boards and filling the bandwaves with saxophones, chamber pianos and contemporary snap and click beats. To call it alternative soft rock would strike so derogatorily, but the combination of R&B, electronic, rock and jazz elements means Copeland can stand toe-to-toe with modern teen-dream darlings, The 1975, with a sound just as similar. Is it ironic then that The 1975 is somehow the more political band despite being the overwhelmingly younger one? Or is that the nature of getting older?
Golden Daze – Simpatico
Label: Autumn Tone
Genre: Psychedelic Folk
Jacob Loeb and Ben Schwab’s second dueting psychedelic folk record is sleepy, no doubt about it. But those interlocking guitars, respiring the one after the other, keep interest alive. Simpatico sounds like a much relaxed version of the Barnett-Vile effort, Lotta Sea Lice , which is unfair to Loeb and Schwab—but hey, from the sound of their sophomore record, they don’t care. They’re just playing their sound, a Dream Academy folkishness that should remind every pair of ears that Beach Fossils exist and now have some damn fine company. Let that dream folk play boys, just promise me you won’t forget the guitars.
Ladytron – Ladytron
Genre: Electropop, Synthpop, Shoegaze
Electric rock and roll, shoegaze synthesizers and trancing trouncing, boinging, bouncing musicality abound on Ladytron. They’re back after a lengthy hiatus and read to let us all know that the party is too. As a record, it’s a tower of power of adrenaline pumped shoegaze. It’s like they fell into a vat of toxic waste while playing around with shoegaze guitar riffs and electropop synthesizers and exited with a juiced up electrogaze sound or have just acquired genre-bending powers to combo together bits and pieces that should not work together just off tone alone. I mean, Is that even legal? I guess Ladytron made it legal and that leaves us just trying to enjoy it.
LOS BONSÁIS – Hinoki
Producer: Self-Produced (?)
Label: Elefant, Darla
Genre: Dreampop, Surf Rock
Self-advertised as the perfect crossover between Galaxie 500 and the Smiths, LOS BONSÁIS never really diverge from this dreamy beach scene. The Spanish only adds to the mystifying aura that tingles around Hinoki, the music as serene as the Japanese cypress but just as strong. From there the tunes proceed slowly from the sunny beach to the lazy couch, transforming the record from a melodic arbor to a musical potato. No thump or added season about it, just plain dreampop that plods. If the sides were switched, mayhap it would allow for the record to grow into itself, but alas, it leans, tilts over and then spills on itself.
SWMRS – Berkeley’s on Fire
Producer: Rich Costey
Label: Warner Music
Genre: Punk, Garage Rock
I LIKE THIS TREND OF BANDS IN ALL CAPITALS. I MEAN, REALLY, WHO NEEDS LOWERCASE TO EXPRESS ONE’S GROUP NAME—IF YOU WANT TO GET NOTICED, SHOUT THAT MOTHERFUCKER OUT LOUD AND LET THE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ABOUT: PUNK MUSIC AND A PATHOLOGICAL HTRD FR VWLS. THATS WHAT SWMRS WANTS YOU TO KNOW THE BAY CAN GET DOWN AND MOSH TOO, ALL YE VENICE BEACH FIDLAR SKULLFUCKERS: THAT’S RIGHT, OAKLAND CAN PUNK OUT TOO. ND Y’KNW WHT? M RLLY LKNG THS TRND FR N VWLS, LTS JST FRGT LTTRS ND TH CLFRNN DVD ND MSH T BRKL N FR, SHLL W?
Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs
Producers: Derek Trucks, Bobby Tis, Jim Scott
Genre: Blues rock, Country rock
In aftermath of Let Me Get By, a dream was conceived in the segue from “Crying Over You/Swamp Raga” to “Hear Me.” A dream that this fusion project of individual bands had finally turned a corner, that the Tedeschi Trucks Band were finally finding that perfect jam band balance between blues, rock, soul and jazz and were able to capture that live show aura on Live at the Fox Oakland. Well, lead single “Hard Case” cut that sentiment deep, deep, deep, I say goddamn deep. “Oh no, they’re going country now.” It’s a repeat of Made Up Mind, why does it have to be a repeat of Made Up Mind? Made Up Mind not being a bad album, just a step-back in ambitions, a soul food record. And we all need that, but every other long-player? C’mon Tedeschi Trucks, every record of yours is already legitimate soul food, but let’s not lay it on thick, I mean just look at that Nat Geo thousand-piece puzzle cover, ah, Christ, at least Made Up Mind had some damn attitude, but Signs, despite all its technical proficiency and skill, just sops a little too hard and slows down too much. Its a record that aims low despite TTB having proven they can shoot high and hit. And man, that just depresses me.
Tourist – Everyday
Thin air is a real winner, in the most cyclical of relationships, the most backwards of climactic effects. Some truant tautology about the notes you don’t play that brings electronic music closer and closer to jazz the more it evolves. And ambiance is never really played, it’s either recorded, sampled, filtered and layered, or it’s not. A space between the music that is either filled or left to breathe. For Tourist, aka William Phillips and contemporaries like Chrome Sparks and SBTRKT, they have this penchant to fill it with those rustling recordings. It makes those raining “oo’s” and “yer’s” sting a little more when that wind dies down and pull back for the ever-employable “I need your love” refrains. But I have to stop deriding this record for its cliches, because this record is relaxed enough to let them work, and more than any thump, bump and grind affair, they really fucking work.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
Label: Sony Music
Genre: Psychedelic Rock
King Tuff fans be still, your beating hearts will pitter patter pounce on the first notes of South of Reality as the head swirls with Tuffy-Beatles connections. A contemporary of two eras—let’s not play dumb—Sean Lennon emulates his Dad’s more Magical Mystery Tour fancies in stunning fashion and Les Claypool brings the drone. Yes King Tuff and Lennon may find a similar vocal frequency, but its Claypool’s bass and Lennon’s guitar which split the difference; building upon the haunting noise-rock sonic fusion between sludge metal Sabbath and space-rocking Wooden Shjips, the Claypool Lennon Delirium now sparkles where it once mired, giving mind to the empyrean moments—the infinite pearls—among the milky cosmic slop. Yet, while admiring the latest skystone to grace these heavens, I keep crashing down to earth. Call me a practical, historical buzzkill but when does this kaleidoscopic gravy-train groove thing come to end? When do we tire of the perhaps permanent psychotropic revolution? We have our 50th anniversary Woodstock, sure, but when comes the new Altamont?
Desperate Journalist – In search of miraculous
Label: Fierce Panda
I suppose female post-punk vocals wouldn’t be post-punk if there wasn’t some throwback to Debby Harry or even Siouxsie Sioux and frontwoman Jo Bevan keeps the pace. I’m just not necessarily a fan of their need to insert a Slowdive-inspired sonic on top of the hungover punkery. It makes the record seem less haggard—a big no-no if you want to cash in on the burnout of torn-knee jeans, frayed leather jackets and smashed cruiser sunglasses. It kind of just burns a hole in the bottom of their boots and what would a punk be without some rock-solid footgear? Post or otherwise, how they gonna kick some ass now?
FEELS – Post-Earth
Producer: Tim Green
FEELS are a little too poppy on this one—it’s most definitely in that post-punk sound, but it follows the Police school of post-punk: totally, but not really. There’s no piss and vinegar, just simmering discontent in this suburban LA outfit. That said, I’ll gladly trade the rainy existential dread-and-breakfast sounds of Chastity Belt for their sunshine shades of post-consumer puke. They’ll fit in so snuggly aside the Cherry Glazerr, Speedy Ortiz and La Luz record collection.
Gary Clark Jr. – This Land
Producers: Gary Clark Jr., Jacob Sciba
Label: Warner Bros.
Genre: Blues Rock
Rarely are the blues made synonym to modernity and cultural critique. On “This Land” Clark sets out to update blues rock into a modern forum to take on social plagues rather than its traditional base. That’s not to say blues has never dealt with racism—it’s very foundation arises from segregation. But I can’t say I’ve ever heard racial epithets used in such an abrasive manner. Clark backs it up with some strong guitarwork throughout the record but in the wake of leading cut, “This Land” it all seems relatively toothless; for a record that was ready to take and give some punches, now it just seems like its punching down on love and vague references to social stigma. Fine, sure, over an hour and twelve minutes it would be fine to keep up the theme of discord—but this shouldn’t be the bread and butter. On first listen, the explosiveness of This Land peters out on a wet fuse.
Jocelyn & Chris Arndt – The Fun in the Fight
Producer: David Bourgeois
Label: Bridge Road Entertainment
Genre: Blues Rock
Brother-sister duo Jocelyn and Chris Arndt are like the Greta van Fleet of blues rock. Chris plays like a man who listened to Stevie Ray and Satch back-to-back-to-back-to-back and then did it all over again with a guitar glued to his hands. Meanwhile, Jocelyn sings like Lou Ann Barton before the whiskey sets in. Given these ingredients, producer David Bourgeois lives up to his name and make some facile, easy-to-appreciate (or deride) blues rock. No more, no less—it’s pretty hard for a modern record to actually “sound” bad. Most derision comes from derivativity in modern criticism, and in that view the Arndt’s musicality resembles the van Fleets’ quite stunningly. The difference? The Arndts aren’t such insufferable twats about it.
Julia Jacklin – Crushing
Producer: Burke Reid
Label: Polyvinyl, Transgressive
Genre: Indie Folk
The opening tom-tom kick drum counts lied to me: I thought this record was going to be our opening minimalist folktronica record of year much in the way Loma’s self-titled effort decided to get off on the sad foot for 2018. But no; cheated, here I am wallowing in an indie folk record that for every self-admitted “sad girl” cut comes counterpart with a halcyon track taking the folk-approach. Jacklin’s voice hits too high a note to be mistaken for Joni Mitchell and her electric guitar warbles too much for Joan Baez’s tastes, but the record is a kinswoman to Snail Mail’s Lush, matching Lindsey Jordan’s electric joy ‘n’ blues with her own laidback acoustic healing ‘n’ heartbreak. So maybe I do feel cheated that this doesn’t bend as many genres as I’d like; but now I have a damn good folk record to get over it with.
Nicole Willis – My Soul Sensation EP
Producer: Self-Produced with Ilari Larjosto
Bass melodies, chucka-chucka rhythm guitar and smooooooooooth female vocals, fit for long nights in the Magnum P.I. memorabilia man-cave all while drawing a direct line to our modern day Random Access Memories Daft Punk and the Toro y Moi of latter-day Outer Peace. Yeah, this EP has little going for it creatively besides just being a solid chunka soul, so sit back and enjoy the sound of the ‘79 cool cat lounge with your King Kamehameha cocktail and no Higgins on your back.
Sunwatchers – Illegal Moves
Producer: Self-Produced with Charles Burst
Label: Trouble in Mind
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Noise Rock
For being outspoken garagemen, Sunwatches don’t sing much. To be fair, they know the jist of their music: droning incursions with instrumental sallies into jazz, blues and world music. An electric orchestra befitted full of knick-knack apparatus ranged all around them: they must stumble along the studio like a mad scientist’s lab—the key to all of this music is just lying around here… somewhere—and Sunwatchers profit from all that time searching by making some noise, literally. If you’re anything like me and enjoy using noise-rock as a meditative base, then I suggest taking this record to the park with some headphones to watch them clouds.
Worn-Tin – Cycles
Genre: Pop Psych, Surf Rock
Worn-Tin is kind of like your softer version of Ty Segall. Well, he looks it anyways, baseball cap and blondie that he is. But don’t take it as a reason to disregard his music as a lesser form of what /r/indieheads regards to be the crazed one. No one ever gave Fleetwood Mac a hard time for being a soft-rock version of the Eagles and Worn-Tin’s got more immediate concerns, like drying out his suit and plucking some damn fine guitar melodies across the space of 48 minutes. He does pretty damn well on the latter (Thank yoooouuuuuu, “Chartreuse”), dunno how he fared on the former though.
/u/VietRooster has taken up the mantle for the Indieheads subreddit’s weekly New Music Friday threads, rejoice!
And as always: