Release Date Buffet February 2019

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.


 

Feb 1st

Beirut – Gallipoli
Producer: Zach Condon, Gave Wax
Label: 4AD
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.
Link

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.
Link

Choker – Dog Candy EP
Producer: Self-Produced
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.
Link

Deer Tick – Mayonnaise
Producer: Self-Produced with Adam Landry
Label: Partisan
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.
Link

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary
Producer: Self-Produced with David Tolomei
Label: Anti-
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.
Link

Grandchildren – Grandchildren
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Ernest Jennings Record Co.
Genre: Dreampop

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.
Link

Largos Agotadores – El Palacio de Linares
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
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.
Link

Mandolin Orange – Tides of a Teardrop
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
Label: Yep Roc
Genre: Folk

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)
Link

Spielbergs – This is Not the End
Producer: Self-Produced
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.
Link

Feb 8th

Choker – Forever & a Few EP
Producer: Self-Produced
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.
Link

Crocodiles – Love Is Here
Producer: Self-Produced(?)
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.
Link

Ghost King – Dunbar Swamp
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
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.
Link

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.
Link

moonweather – Overgrown
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
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.
Link

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.
*sips*
Link

Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Third Man
Genre: Garage Rock

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!”
Link

Feb 15th

Anemone – Beat My Distance
Producer: Miles Dupire Gagnon, Chloe Soldevilla
Label: Luminelle
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia

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.
Link

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?
Link

Golden Daze – Simpatico
Producer: Self-Produced
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.
Link

Ladytron – Ladytron
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
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.
Link


LOS BONSÁISHinoki
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.

Link

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?
Link

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs
Producers: Derek Trucks, Bobby Tis, Jim Scott
Label: Fantasy
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.
Link

Tourist – Everyday
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Monday
Genre: Electronica

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.
Link

Feb 22nd

The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South of Reality
Producer: Self-Produced
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?
Link

Desperate Journalist In search of miraculous
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Fierce Panda
Genre: Post-Punk

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?
Link

FEELSPost-Earth
Producer: Tim Green
Label: Wichita
Genre: Post-Punk

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.
Link

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.
Link

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.
Link

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.
Link

Nicole Willis – My Soul Sensation EP
Producer: Self-Produced with Ilari Larjosto
Label: Persephone
Genre: Soul

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.
Link

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.
Link

Worn-Tin – Cycles
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
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.
Link

/u/VietRooster has taken up the mantle for the Indieheads subreddit’s weekly New Music Friday threads, rejoice!

And as always:

Allmusic’s catalog for all you databasing nerds out there
Consequence’s megalist for planning your weekends around music
HipHopDX’s widget for all you hhh’s out there in need of a weekly fix.

Release Date Buffet: January 2019

Jan 4th

Mark Deutrom (formerly of Melvins)The Blue Bird
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Alternative Rock, Neo-Grunge

Mark Deutrom decides he likes grunge and grunge likes him. So a slap a country album cover on this baby and see how many confused alt-fans can fit inside. With a voice that inspires Albarn and riffs that respire Sonic Youth, you can still hear why them damn dirty Melvins were so pervasive in 90’s record collections.

Spotify

Jan 11th

gnash – we
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Alternative R&B

Internet sensation gnash has returned with a full length long-player, after dealing in nothing but singles and EPs for a solid
few years. gnash will probably only be recognized for his single “i hate u, i love u” with Olivia O’Brien and which, much like the crazy ex so missed and so maligned, still manages to elicit a melancholy is does not deserve. Oh, hate it all I want, it still stands as a centerpiece and easily the best track in what amounts to an awkward record that vacillates between G-Eazy and Jason Mraz. The production is pasty, the sentiment is soppy and the music is too mushy. Sorry love, but turn this record off and find something better.

Spotify

Jan 18th

anaïs – darkness at play
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Universal Music, Virgin EMI
Genre: Alternative R&B

My remerciements to Vice for this one, tossing out a French R&B queen suggestion, I wanted to listen to before the article was even a quarter-read. She’s some kind of born-again D’Angelo this girl. A sonic counterpoint to the up-and-at-em feisty fighter person (no a) of Janelle Monáe—shit the force must exist, because this record is balanced as all things should be—but let’s forget the memes, darkness at play is serious business and anaïs will make you feel it; she’s got every poor sucker hanging in suspense on her “paper wings,” spitting freestyle that would make a spirit-mama Lauryn Hill proud and with a sonic that pops cranes out of last year’s Origami Harvest jazz-like spoken-word fortune-teller’s. Crafting something elegant from something complex is always hard, and it’s not like she did this knowingly but so too does the butterfly evolve without a care to the moth. anaïs is just a young swallowtail from Africa, breaking out of the pupa with some damn grace.

Spotify

Deerhunter – Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?
Producer: Self-Produced, Cate Le Bon, Ben H Allen, Ben Etter
Label: 4AD
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, “Garage Folk”

Yes, garage folk. This record has an imperfect sound, as if still unsure what it wants to be—folk, garage, neo-psychedelic? It tries to merge it all by zig-zagging to-and-fro with no particular destination in mind, just as long as it gets them away from that hazy lo-fi production (which they don’t do completely—they are lo-fi DIY after all). This is represented in the all-star cast of producers, which some how features continuity and stutter-step musicality, and showcases how a record can use with a more centralized approach rather hodge-podge populism. It’s not for every record, but for this long-player it certainly would not have hurt.

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James Blake – Assume Form
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Polydor
Genre: Alternative R&B

James Blake comes on back to us with Assume Form, an effort more in the vein of Chet Faker rather than The Colour in Anything with its Four Tet by Pharrelite low-and-slow electro-R&B simmer. To be fair, Chet Faker can still simmer and so too can James Blake; but he’s yet to release anything beyond its parts. This is just equal sum, expertly done and put together, cohesive and concise where its predecessor predicated as a smooth rambler. Problem is, I could sing praises on his sleepy R&B all day, but really Blake made these tunes in such obvious midnight minutiae that I don’t exactly feel impressed when I yawn, just bored. It’s not like say, the xx, who yes make music one can sleep to—but that’s just a nice side effect—you should stay awake and listen to those duet dirges, that minimalist thumping beat, those isolated guitar- and basslines. They give a certain immediacy to those instruments that never comes across in James Blake’s senior effort. I’m not listening to the record as I write and I yawn just scrawling about it.

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Sharon Van Etten – Remind Me Tomorrow

Producer: John Congleton
Label: Jagjaguwar
Genre: Indie Rock, Synthpop

Curiosity got the better of me and Sharon Van Etten’s record did demand it—as I couldn’t quite nail it, working out this record like some kind of PJ Harvey with a taste for popular music. What could have triggered this sudden swerve to the goth-light? This mild, middle management mask on some deeper, long-term depressive episode? One sniff and a snoop on the website and I found the explosive answer per Etten, “I gave [John Congleton] Suicide, Portishead, and Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree as references and he got excited.” Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree? Well goddamn, there’s the cherry bomb trigger. It’s not synthpop made to glow, it’s indie rock made to live in the mish-mosh moment with some scratching and clawing just to get it done.

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Toro y Moi – Outer Peace

Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Carpark
Genre: Alternative R&B, Synth Funk

The conceit of this record came straight of the clubs, no really—Chaz Bear said so upfront. But every time I give this record a listen, with its references to Daft Punk and LCD Soundsystem, Mexican synths with some downtempo bass and drums, all I can think of isn’t the modern nightclub but just pure silly Wham tropicalia, a chillwave “Club Tropicana.” Just a half-an-hour long experiment in ostentatious pastiche and booping-beeping-bopping, hip-hopping doldrums. Y’know the sort of stuff: flattened percussion, synthesizers fluent in extended Owen Wilson (wooooooaaaaaaaw), a sultry SZA-type slow track feat. ABRA, it’s all fucking there. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of it; a welcome change of pace from the downbeat Boo Boo and the daydreaming What For?, but don’t expect to go into this club finding long-term love—that’d be ridiculous, bub.

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Jan 25th

Choker – Mono no Moto EP
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Jet Fuzz
Genre: Alternative R&B

So, poppier b-sides from Honeybloom but still just as slick, all slapped together on a short ten-minute EP? Alright, then, I’m cool with that—spin it and enjoy it, but fair warning: you may not remember it.

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FIDLAR – Almost Free
Producer: Ricky Reed
Label: Mom + Pop Music
Genre: Pop Punk

Since when the fuck did FIDLAR’s Elvis Kuehn start picking banjos? Since when the fuck did Carper harp the evils of gentrification on a harmonica? That is some jug band punk shit. And what to follow it up with? Oh you know, a ukulele and some clapbeats with a Foster the People choral part. From the first tracks it’s clear: FIDLAR have just given it up—popping paint balloons over a canvas with random abandon. I just—I can’t—this—I MEAN WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING?!? Who are you anymore FIDLAR? On the one hand they live up to the name “Fuck It, Dawg, Life’s A Risk,” on the other hand, a risk implies more to lose than a nihilistic approach to record-making is willing to own up to and this record is certainly a pop punk stab in the dark. Shanking any proper blow-by-blow rhythm, the best punk albums have a flow to them—but this long-player smashes track-upon-track-upon-track like a pile of train cars, whether one cut is better than the last is made totally irrelevant by the jarring, jagged entrance of the next.

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Santana – In Search of Mona Lisa
Producer: Narada Michael Walden
Label: Concord
Genre: Blues Rock, Psychedelic Blues

Nobody should doubt Santana’s guitar abilities, that’s a given. I just doubt what Carlos surrounds that guitar with because in the time since Supernatural, what exactly has changed? If anything Santana IV had less bite than your abuelo’s piños and had increased the bobo factor tenfold; so Carlos el viejo needed to make a statement for Concord and well, the title track of the EP is kind of standard fare 2000’s Santana, the reverbing tone is there, the virtuoso playing is there, but it’s smothered by the damn lyrics. So Carlos, la proxíma vex olvidas las letras bobas por favor. Your guitar speaks on its own on, either reminding us of a samba from another time or remembering a treat from younger days. It’s like me trying to speak in Spanish—unnecessary and distracting.

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Sneaks – Highway Hypnosis
Producer: Self-Produced with Carlos Hernandez, Tony Seltzer
Label: Merge
Genre: lo-fi R&B, Alternative
Lo-fi it may be, but there’s something low-ley about how fierce Eva Moolchan, aka Sneaks, attacks her third record like MIA on a whisper. Her music is a minority report with a point, or ten, to make. On “The Way It Goes” she musters up enough mustard to spice the hot dog and make your Cardi B’s and Nicki Minaj’s think twice about biting in. The whole record is a vibe like cayenne pepper dust, with a heat level that never burns the lips, but still let’s you know it’s there. So is she more of an artist because her style is underground? Nah, no one should ever make that point, she’s just underground, alternative and she wears it on her sleeve, proud to still be kicking three LPs in.
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Swervedriver – Future Ruins
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Dangerbird, Rock Action
Genre: Shoegaze

Swervedriver pulled a Slowdive this year, reforming not to reformulate but for old time’s sake. Except, Slowdive’s wasn’t just any old and tired, get-the-band-back-together affair. It was an ensemble effort encompassing new recording techniques into a classic band, pulling from a couple new-school genres to refresh the product: solid, singular shoegaze. That Swervedriver might not offer up anything new was the clear and present danger, but they do; either venturing into post-rock or just snooping around electronic, they inject just enough to make sure the classic sound preserved well. Slowdive set out the formula and Swervedriver followed it to a tee. Top work, men.

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Weezer – The Teal Album
Producer: Mark Rankin
Label: Atlantic
Genre: Alternative Rock

Sometimes you don’t need to write good material, you just need to jump a shark to be remembered. And that’s exactly what Weezer has done. Don’t look it in the mouth, worry about the teeth, just hold on to Rivers Cuomo, Patrick Wilson and Brian Bell as they make the jump. This isn’t their first aquatic rodeo, mind you, and they definitely don’t bring much new flavour to the arrangements (just adding some slight alternative sonic before letting the original sounds take over hardly qualifies as groundbreaking). But damn do they execute, execute, execute. Forget about location, composition and all’a that—it’s all about the execution on The Teal Album

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White Fence – I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk

Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Drag City
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, lo-fi rock

Tim Presley need no introduction, he’s just as fried-out as his buddy Ty Segall and last year’s Joy saw them going toe-to-toe just to show hard the vibe can feel. It was a hard album to like that one and I Have to Feed Larry’s Hawk shows it: it’s not quite a shot thorazine, more like medically regulated CBD. Is it weird though that the record sounds like a lo-fi tour of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory? Between the organs and synthesizers and the absolute lack of oompa-loompas, Presley sounds all alone on this record, forced to use his imagination with a minimal fascination. He’s still all on that West Coast Pop Art groove, that Love sensation, that 13th Floor Elevators level, but now he’s just having fun with the medical cocktails.

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Release Date Buffet: November 2018

Nov 9th

Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers – Bought to Rot

Producer: Laura Jane Grace, Marc Hudson

Label: Bloodshot

Genre: Garage Rock, Folk Punk

The punk idea of a good time: taking the piss of everything and everyone. As demonstrated by Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers on her new solo project away from Against Me! Bought to Rot finds the punk rocker playing…punk rock. Yeah, There is no real divergence from the mean on this record, it’s all anthemic, it’s all easy-listening punk and perhaps the most surprising thing is that Grace has counted Tom Petty among the bigger influences for this long-player. Hold the presses, Tom Petty? Well, I’ll top you one better, because Bought to Rot doesn’t sound much like Tom Petty mixed up in an underground club on the wrong side of town. It sounds like a Flogging Molly Record with all of the folk chantry, but none of the downright Celtic pride buffoonery and silliness. Er wha-?

giphy

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Grapetooth – Grapetooth

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Polyvinyl

Genre: Hypnagogic Pop, Alternative Dance

Two opinions for this one. First, it’s a really good record—Chris Bailoni and Clay Markel take the MGMT attitude and rub it together with some Depeche Mode, Madness and a bit of Talking Heads. All the subversive yet fun stuff and not too much of the experimental, heavy side. The resulting record makes a self-confession of being “somewhere between the doomy disco of 80’s new wave and the woozy laments of artists like Arthur Russell and Jeff Cowell.” True, there’s some down moments, but the long-player doesn’t dwell long on them. It would much rather take the piss with you. Hence my second opinion: This is what happens when the Beastie Boys try to sing New Wave.

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/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here

Nov 16th

Anderson .Paak – Oxnard

Producer: Anderson .Paak and Dr. Dre (executive)

Label: Aftermath, 22 Tone

Genre: Neo-Soul, West Coast Hip Hop, Funk

.Paak’s gone G-Funk, yet somehow it sounds like so much more. Peg it on executive and professional rapper daddy Dr. Dre—it would be impossible for his influence not to filter into Oxnard. The man who helped put West Coast gangsta rap now helps the man who has reinvigorated the West Coast funk-rap-soul megafusion genre. The result is a finale of the beach series that throws the entire kitchen sink of artist features. The result: an album that sounds like the musical equivalent to Dark Knight Rises or season eight of Friends, good, choc full of awesome, but weirdly all over the place and too familiar. Sure, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman kicks ass, but we know it’s Anne Hathaway, not whoever the hell Catwoman’s alter ego is supposed to be. Similarly, we know that it’s Kendrick Lamar spitting fire on “Tints,” we know that’s Snoop Dogg licking his lips on “Anywhere,” we know that’s Q-Tip waxing philosophical on “Cheers.” We know. So the best part of this record is never when the Batman fights alongside Joseph Gordon Levitt, it’s when .Paak trains, hones and flexes what he does best again: cutting and jibing and ribbing the American Paradox all by himself on “6 Summers” and “Saviers Road.”

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The Good, the Bad & the Queen – Merrie Land

Producer: Self-Produced with Tony Visconti

Label: Studio 13

Genre: Art Rock, Alternative Rock

Playing through most of its runtime like the soundtrack to a Hammer Films production, if not a George Romero, Roger Corman, Christopher Lee or Vincent Price project, Merrie Land is B-film fodder in spite of a star-studded cast. Mad scientist Damon Albarn, evidently on fumes since his half-baked revival of Gorillaz has resurrected his alternative rock supergroup, The Good, the Bad & the Queen. Calling up his equally mad bandmates, Paul Simonon (The Clash), Simon Tong (Blur) and Tony Allen (Africa ’70) for a second run. “The English Job,” as it were: saying goodbye to the European Union. And while, they sum up the societal malaise of a country caught in limbo, there is no hint of horror, just weariness. The record is all calm and no storm. Even worse, it sounds like Albarn and no one else playing. Like sure, they all probably contributed ideas, all probably gave input, all probably made good banter; but is anyone really kidding themselves that Albarn isn’t the scriptwriter, director and producer of this record’s thrust? Tony Visconti’s name is just there to make sure we all don’t catch wind of the hoodwink. The heist, however, has no stakes, no bite and almost no point. And a half-assed Damon Albarn record would be a tragedy on the scale of Brexit, if I hadn’t been so desensitized to them by Humanz and The Now Now.

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Ryley Walker – The Lillywhite Sessions

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Dead Oceans

Genre: Psychedelic Folk, Jazz-Rock

There is one and only one thing about this record I find bloody amazing: I appreciate the Dave Matthew Band’s influence more. Whether it’s because the trio of Ryley Walker, Andrew Scott Young and Ryan Jewell are the real deal. I can’t speak to Dave Matthews, but I can speak to what I hear: sprawling folk and jazz rock fusion galore. Doesn’t matter if ambiguous yet firm sound was on the original sessions material or added for new flavor—they take it and make it sound fresh. And speaking as someone who loves jazz, the extended interludes, bridges and outros—all instrumental—bring a calming smile to face. It can start weird, with an oboe, but eventually it’s all Jack Johnson without the campiness; all Dave Matthews without the baggage. Put it down to Walker’s ability to evoke both Dave Matthews’ and Five For Fighting’s beautiful falsettos; put it down to Young’s bass lurking in with menace or drenching with tone; put it down to Ryan Jewells solid skill to move between jazz and rock drumming styles; put it down to the three sounding like a cohesive unit almost immediately. In fact forget everything else I just said and remember this: if Walker, Young and Jewell don’t end up doing more together it would be an absolute crime against music.

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/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here

Nov 30th

The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships

Producer: George Daniel, Matt Healy

Label: Dirty Hit, Polydor

Genre: Art Rock, Alternative, Electropop

Inheritors of the bobbysox, rejoice! The 1975 are back to prove I Love It When You Sleep was not a fluke. Mercifully, they decided to keep the record name a mere six words long. But that didn’t stop them from another hour-long effort. Thankfully, this one doesn’t lull as hard as its predecessor, but it does take longer to start-up. The fat in the middle is cut out and replaced with a rock solid core. Forget about “Give Yourself a Try” and “TooTimeTooTimeTooTime” that’s all the lace and frills—the “She’s American” and “Love Me” of the record—the real craftsmanship in this record begins with “Love It If We Made It” and continues on to “The Man Who Married a Robot/Love Theme.” The latter contains the album conceit in a singular cut, but its “Be My Mistake” which really continues the excruciating arc and thread of relationships fated to fail from I Love It When You Sleep. Some publications have compared this record to a milennial OK Computer, others point to John Coltrane’s style before the spiritual breakthrough. As a fan of the record, I just chuckle at /r/Indieheads next top roaster /u/thesmash: “listens to 22 A Million once – The 1975.” Ah fuck, turn me over, fam, I’m done on this side.

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No /u/giraffeking this week 😦

Looking for the lists?

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

Release Date Buffet: October 2018

October 5th 2018

AlunaGeorge – Champagne Eyes EP
Label: Self Released
Producer: George Reid
Genre: Alternative R&B, Synthpop

AlunaGeorge kicked off their freshly independent career with a rather standard affair of alternative rhythm and beat music. Paradoxical, but no less true; Not a single cut lacks in snap beats, reverb and filtered vocals. Not a single piece dares venture further than three-and-a-half minutes. Not a single piece has lyrics beyond body-rock and soul-motion. This isn’t a complaint. This is just the truth: standard affairs for standard fare. Still, an EP of such is much more welcome then say, a whole album. Enjoy it for two listens, and then move on; the heart will thank you grow fonder.
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Cat Power – Wanderer
Label: Domino
Producer: Self-Produced
Genre: Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk

What was it that Q-Tip said? “Industry rule number 4080, record company people are shady?” And whether they smoked crack or not, I can’t believe Matador did this. I can’t believe they told Cat Power to make a record like Adele. And all’s fair, Cat Power did make a very piano-heavy record. But here’s the difference: Cat Power is an engine on her own—she hires people to work with out of choice—Adele needs people out of necessity. So where the latter is a stageshow, immaculate and powerful in production, the former is a chamber rock peer. The cuts on Wanderer were made with no observers in mind and damnit, that’s just fine for the rest of us, Matador.
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/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here

October, 12th 2018

The Dodos – Certainty Waves
Label: Polyvinyl
Producer. Self-Produced
Genre: Indie Rock base, Psychedelic Folk side and some Metal garnish

No really, if a modern mid-life crisis had a record. This would be it. It’s got everything, the speedmetal and grunge phases of your teenagerdom, the worldbeat psychonaut traveller stage of your twenties and then a weirdly out-of-the-blues obsession for country from your thirties. Except, it’s no so weird for The Dodos who have been pounding the dirt-trail some miles now since their formation. What is weird though is how cow the metal tendencies to allow for the folk to really work it’s expansive magic. They’re the only Folk-Metal band I’ve heard of where the Folk so thoroughly controls the Metal and not the other way around.
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Kurt Vile – Bottle It In
Label: Matador
Producer: Rob Schnapf, Shawn Everett, Peter Katis
Genres: Folk Rock, Singer-Songwriter

This is a Kurt Vile record defined by its dogged defiance. Like all those old Seventies guitar-auteur albums piled and stacked and heaped up in haystacks at any old garage sale, street market or flea-fair galore. Look, it even has a ready-worn disc impression on the jacket! Oh yes, this record anticipates sunbathing and warping to summer heat as a pastime, and I’m kind of jealous. That’s a sense of purpose that I wish for on the daily. Dogged defiance to have a day. Which sort of makes it, like, any Kurt Vile record, really, this one just didn’t faff about it and hoped that I got all my bandshirt-and-jeans kicks out before I bring it back to barter for another. But then that’s problem: I wouldn’t want to give up a record so honest in the first place. Damnit, Kurt.
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St. Vincent – MassEducation
Stripped down rendition of Masseduction
Label: Loma Vista
Producers: Self-Produced with Thomas Bartlett
Genre: Art Pop, Piano Rock

There are times when the great mysteries of the universe can be confronted. That time is roughly between one and 3 AM-in-the-fucking-morning if your brain is anything like mine. And that’s just when mysteries such as “is there a God?” or “Who’s really watching the Watchmen?” or “Why did American English drop all those u’s’ or “Is jam or jelly?” or even “Did we really need an all acoustic record of St. Vincent’s MASSeduction?” All these questions are quite intimately related with my insomnia, none the least because Annie Clark could have just released an EP and sated the curious. She could have then washed her hands clean of the universe and been done with it. But no, she didn’t and instead what fans now have is an all-acoustic long-player of a stitched seamless from two-days’ worth private concert sessions with piano maestro Thomas Barlett. And instead of moping about it, wrestling half-clothed in my bed with it, I’ve just decided to just lay back and enjoy it. Whether by divine inspiration or simply dumb luck, we’ve a record that is sonically superior to its own source material. And that—just like creating a living, breathing, ever-expanding soup of consciousness that spans across an infinite time-space continuum—is a really fucking hard thing to do.
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/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here

October 19th, 2018

Esperanza Spalding – 12 Little Spells
Label: Concord
Producer: Self-Produced with Matthew Stevens and Justin Tyson
Genre: Vocal Jazz, Jazzpop

This is not a good Spalding record. Oh it sure, it’s serviceable. It features a jazz darling that is expanding boundaries akin to Kamasi Washington. But instead of expanding it via pushing the circles of musicality and listenability further and further away on the venn diagram, Spalding has taken a different approach and begs a different question? How little records of coffeeshop jazz can a artist can throw out before she is permanently and unequivocally jailed in with the part-time baristas and liquid granny shit expressos. Because this record doesn’t aspire for much—a noted difference from its two immediate predecessors, Exposure and Emily,s D+Evolution. Let’s all forget the padding on the back that this is a rainy day jazz record and just say it: its predecessors may have been funky and fizzled at points, but at least they weren’t as bland as that extra-lite breakfast sandwich, Karen.
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Greta Van Fleet – Anthem of the Peaceful Army
Label: Republic
Producers: Marton Young, Al Sutton, Herschel Boone
Genre: Hard Rock, Blues Rock

Well. It was a chance; a chance that the brothers Kiszka and li’l Danny Wagner might differentiate themselves from the obvious influences of Zeppelin, Zeppelin, Zeppelin and… Zeppelin. And what do we have here but a band that doesn’t just want the crown, but wants the role. Rampaging stadium riffs in the style of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” big bruising basslines that daze and confusion, slow burn ballads delivered like a handwritten thank you letter to their one and only gal they could never not love. It’s all there, in the music. But to keep it fresh to a limit, it sounds as if Josh Kiszka has been listening to the other Zeppelinites, namely Guns ’n’ Roses and Coheed and Cambria. The range reaches, but is no longer a tower of vocal power—it’s tinny and high strung and it makes me wonder when they start covering “Welcome Home” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” in concerts. But this all low-hanging fruit, my ears will really pique when they start ripping off lightly borrow from Muddy Waters, Skip James and Howlin’ Wolf.
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Rüfüs Du Sol – Solace
Label: Reprise
Producers: Self-Produced with Jason Evigan
Genre: Deep House, Synthpop

Give it enough time and this ambient house record might just grow on you. Actually, give it enough time and anything ambient starts to reveal the cosine-wrinkles whisper-by- whisper. Such is their wont. I didn’t just fall in love the Jamie xx deep cuts on Coexist and In Colour from a single listen, I let them invade my life and sooth me to sleep and bandage me up while in need of emotional rescue. So it feels just plain wrong to be callous to Rüfüs Du Sol’s attempt when I haven’t let it ooze over me like in my mental and sentimental sloppiness. But I won’t lie, their downtempo house style still hasn’t got old. It was just the right balance between active and chill. Just enough to let the good times roll. This record, however, is for going home and *yawn* passing… zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
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/u/giraffeking on the indieheads subreddit compiles a fantastic list of independent music, rock or otherwise, here

October 26th, 2018

Ty Segall – Fudge Sandwich (Cover Album)
Label: In the Red
Producer: Self-Produced
Genre: Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Psychedelic garage artists are a very productive lot of people. Like holy shit, Ty Segall, King Gizzard and UMO must just be taking turns locking themselves into basements around the world and mastering cassette tape master after cassette tape master of solid genre-records. At least Segall took it easy this time and just repurposed everyone from The Dils to George Clinton to to Neil Young to Sparks to the Dead. For the most part it works, making psychedelic into punk, punk into neo-psychedelia, funk into garage and garage into… well even headier garage. But there is one curious track: the opening cover of “Low Rider;” a baritone affair of grinding, grinding and more grinding guitar riffs. And it’s doubly confusing because the rest of the record sounds nothing like it. It’s an awkwardly heavy opener, cover or not.
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Unknown Mortal Orchestra – IC-01 Hanoi
Label: Jagjaguwar
Producer: Self-Produced
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Jazz Fusion

Yep. Jazz Fusion. In Hanoi. Vietnam. Why am I listing all of these things? Because make more sense that what is actually on this record. And it makes more sense than how I feel about it. This record noodles, thrashes and then just fizzles at ends both weird and well, unexpectedly expected. But from “Hanoi 4” on to the end, a nice cadence takes to the record. Like, maybe you were in Hanoi. Like, maybe you were in the building that this record finding the air to breath, yes. And maybe you could hear the sound seeping through the walls. And maybe you would think, well, “that’d be an interesting long-player, just needs some—nay, a lot—of work.” And maybe Nielson would say at that very moment: “fuck that, let’s just record it and slap it on them black discs.” And I really admire that. That he would have left it as a sketch. Even if it’s not their best, it definitely settles an itch that I never knew I had until “Hanoi-6” came out flaming in lo-fi jazz fusion drag. And maybe my inner Seventies Miles Davis junkie thanks you, Mr. Nielson, maybe he thanks you very much, sitting there behind a cheshire smile, ascot tie and sequin sunglasses. Aw well, he always was a crazed junkie, anyhow.
Spotify

/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

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.
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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.
*snorts*
W-w-wait? It was a dream? No? Wait…it wasn’t a DIIV record.
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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.
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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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
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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.
Spotify

/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

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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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
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DILLY DALLY – Heaven
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.
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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.
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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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

/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

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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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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!
Bandcamp

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

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.
Spotify

/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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Release Date Buffet: 08.24 & 31.18

August 24th

Basement Revolver

Producer(s): Adam Bentley

Label: Sonic Unyon

Genre: Indie Rock, Shoegaze

Self-proclaimed disciples of ambient Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and the “strident” Pixies work (it’s hard to say if the Pixies were ever truly ambient), Basement Revolver’s record sounds more a comrade to the DIIV bands of the urban world. Inner-city shoegaze punctuated by anti-hooks peppering the middle of tracks, it’s not quite old hat, but neither is it surprising; it’s not a bad look or sound either—it helps that the first long and extended players play with a style honed from listening then playing, finding inspiration first then milking it for all it’s worth. But this street is cobbled out of bare necessity, the art doesn’t sound by plan, but rather by convenience. Basement Revolver needed a sound to springboard from, and indeed they do sound like they have unlocked the garage door and sprung into action and into music.

Spotify

Blood Orange – Negro Swan

Producer: Devonté Hynes

Label: Domino

Genre: Alternative R&B, Sophisti-pop

Hate all people want, but humans are still a species of categories—but Blood Orange and Frank Ocean work apart yet together in defiance of classic categorizations of R&B, soul, funk, jazz and rap, crafting bizarre recipes of contemporary R&B and artistic soul-rap. Drastically mixed, but still recognizable confections criss-cross their records and yet no one bats an ear. It’s almost expected and thus the records remain experimentally easy for the brain to compute, categorize and compartmentalize. Perhaps Negro Swan never strays into anthemic territory, but the long-player is still consistently sensual and groovy and relaxed as any, not matter how funky Devonté Hynes may look on the cover or mix behind the booth.

Spotify

Devon Welsh (Majical Cloudz) – Dream Songs

Producer: Austin Tufts

Label: You Are Accepted

Genre: Chamber Pop, Singer/Songwriter

At first glance of this record Devon Welsh looks like a poorman’s Billy Corgan. And on first listen, his debut record sounds like what I would expect of Isaac Slade. But to my surprise there’s a surprising proto-nostalgia, albeit very embryonic (seriously, nostalgia is a twenty-year gestation period). My advice: take it as your dreamy chamberpop record and never look back; For if you get sad-drunk and need a record, you need not stress with this on your shelf.

Spotify

Honne – Love Me / Love Me Not

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Tatemae, Atlantic

Genre: Indietronica, Alternative R&B

Tom Misch, BEKA, Nana Rogues and Georgia highlight a set of solid summer & beats package. Sublime, sunny, soft, danceable. Just in time for the summer to end. Oof, poor timing there boys, poor timing. I’m never 100% sold on Honne records, but hey, at least this one has some sexy hooks: “Me & You” and “Day 1” are great for the kickback, “I Just Wanna Go Back” is a solid ballad and BEKA is employed with tasteful autotune warble on “Crying Over You.” The autotune on the intro of “Sometimes” is a bit much though.

Spotify

The Lemon Twigs – Go To School

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: 4AD

Genre: Progressive Rock, Rock Opera, Glam Rock

This is the mix of Jethro Tull and Queen I have always wanted. This is like Diary of the Wimpy Kid meets Yes. It’s the most wholesome concept album of the year. It’s my favourite record of this month already, fuck it, I can hardly contain how much I love this Beach Boys meets Flaming Lips zaniness this record is. It’s like Queen and Jethro Tull had a baby and that baby read Calvin and Hobbes because the absolutely puckish yet inspirant attitude of this record is like a progressive rock reading of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. All these concepts and more rocket off in my brain when I listen to it, but none as batshit insane as what unfolds: a monkey, raised as a boy, turned a school shooter. That is as dark a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer parody that can exist. It’s really funny and yet it plunges into themes of isolation, anomie and nihilism with as much manic grace as Robin Williams on a marathon run of jokes.

Spotify

Major Love – Major Love 

Producer(s): Aaron Goldstein, Kenneth Meehan

Label: Latent Recordings

Genre: Twee Rock, Indie Soul

A mash-up of twee and soul, it stutters where it should be compelling. There’s no feeling that Major Love is a band that equally enjoyed the Byrds and the Shirelles; Sixties beach rock and Motown in all of their glory. Instead there’s a feeling that, aside from the opening track “Tear It Down” and final cut “Get Together,” this is a record that put together their songs part-by-part by what was most convenient. So sure, it could be professionally made, but…this feels like the indie version of a manufactured sound.

Spotify

Nothing – Dance on the Blacktop

Producer: John Agnello

Label: Relapse

Genre: Shoegaze, Alternative Rock

Balancing noise, shoegaze and metal at all once is tricky business. It’s balancing a triangle on the point of a single record, without making it fall too heavy into one category. Each genre also can obscure emotional responses, a virtue of their overwhelming maximalism. Nesting hooks behind ten anoraks of sound means mobility is a challenge. Thus, this record moves slowly, but no less calculated. Psychedelic daydreams give way to piano ballads which give way to droning choirs.  For those who hate metal, Nothing dress it up into palatable style, forging an enjoyable crossing of the genres of shoegaze and metal and drone. Subcategorizations that don’t find much mash-ups despite, as Nothing proves on Dance on the Blacktop, their incredible number of synchronicities.

Spotify

Rubblebucket – Sun Machine

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Communion

Genre: Indie Rock, Alternative Soul, Electropop

Rubblebucket returns with their indie dancerock effort, Sun Machine, detailing the duo’s breakup from… each other? Aight, this is like Rumours but without the Los Angeles sunshine, ex-fueled vitriol, the mountain of cocaine and Christine McVie hooking up with the sound guy, among other things. And honestly, it doesn’t matter how good the record is, the lack of pettiness begets a lack of interest. The horns are solid, yes, the rhythm guitar can chuck with the best of them, yes, the kick drum slap is a solid ass-shaker, sure, but it’s a break-up album with no bite! Where’s the fun in that?!

Spotify

Steady Holiday – Nobody’s Watching

Producer: Gus Seyffert

Label: Barsuk

Genre: Dreampop

Steady Holiday’s second record, Nobody’s Watching, is a classic dreampop record. Just how classic? Well, I was making good time on these impressions when I popped this sucker on and it sent me into a three-and-a-half-hour coma. Now, if this were any other record, I would be furious, but this dreampop, right? Well, not only is the music lovely if you can stay awake, but it’s also just great for those of us who need music to soothe the brain and help us fall asleep lest we spend the greater half of our night promptly solving world poverty, peace and hunger instead of sleeping for work at 7AM the next day. This record then? Thumbs *yawn* up, excuse me.

Spotify

White Denim – Performance

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: City Slang

Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock

A good day when a neo-psychedelia record does not induce a splitting migraine as if conducting the bones into a choral scream centering on the head. No, this is a neo-psychedelia record that falls away from the Elephant Six canon and actually plays not unlike a T-Rex or King Tuff record. That is a sneakily fun record. There is not nearly the same level of volume or drone—not a terrible trade-off—but there is a more fun, more relatability, more, well, classic rock. And sometimes, being crowded out by all the new-fangled shit that comes out every week, sometimes a record that calls back to classic rock, but never imitates it, is just what was needed.

Spotify

 

/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

August 31st

Alkaline Trio – Is This Thing Cursed?

Producer: Cameron Webb

Label: Epitaph

Genre: Pop Punk

Alkaline Trio derive from that same pop-punk movement of the late nineties that spawned everything from Greenday to Third Eye Blind to No Doubt. This is not new, but honestly, that whole pop-punk Nineties movement was not the jam of my childhood. I listened to such refined acts as the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC and Brittney Spears. Yep. However, 20-years on it should corrected that I very much enjoy the Alkaline Trio’s origins, even if this is not going to spin itself anywhere out of the late-Nineties throwback playlist. But damnit, when that Nineties party finally comes, the playlist will be ready and “Blackbird” will sound the Alkaline Trio for battle.

Spotify

Big Red Machine (Justin Vernon & Aaron Dessner) – Big Red Machine

Producer(s): Self-Produced, Brad Cook

Label: Jagjaguwar

Genre: Art Rock, Indie Folk

Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner are from two of modern alternative rock’s darling bands: the National and Bon Iver and their side-project, the Big Red Machine (named after Cincinnati’s run of World Series appearances in the 1970’s) sounds exactly like what a collaboration between Bon Iver and the National would sound. It’s subdued, it’s quietly intense and it unfortunately peters out by the end. It’s by no means not a contender for album of the year lists, there’s just too much good in this record—it will just take a grind to pick it out. This record is a hard listen, but will probably yield many great little moments for those so inclined.

Spotify

IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance

Producer: Nick Launay, Adam Greenspan

Label: Partisan

Genre: Post-Punk, Art Punk

IDLES have made a record with Nick Launay—a notable collaborator with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Arcade Fire—and my gosh it spits acid like a jolly Johnny Rotten project. The post-punk sonic works wonders across the long-player shifting the effort between straightforward punk whataboutisms and new wave echo-play. But, whatever you do, do not tell Joe Talbot—he’ll criticize the post-punk label with glee. And it is all fair and good, post-punk seems a bit cheap for bands that have so consciously matured well past the expiration date of post-punk complexity. If anything IDLES deserves, just as Parquet Courts deserves, the simple nomenclature of punk. Modern, minced, poriferan punk.

Spotify

Iron & Wine – Weed Garden EP

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Sub Pop

Genre: Indie Folk, Singer/Songwriter

Quite astonishingly, Sam Beam’s afterthoughts are just as pensive as those poised on Beast Epic. Sure and weathered, he’s the opposite of any Jack Johnson or Mumford and Sons mixture—he does not ham it on. And Weed Garden plays with that soft-spoken assuredness—sure enough to make it a point.

Spotify

The Kooks – Let’s Go Sunshine

Producer: Brandon Friesen

Label: Lonely Cat

Genre: Indie Pop

The Kooks are not a one-hit wonder band, but, much in the vein of the Killers or Maroon 5 they are talked about as if they just had that one record that totally made for a generation. It’s understandable for Maroon 5, but the Kooks, the Killers? A decent sophomore follow-up, and then hit-or-miss indecisiveness. This is where we begin to separate the talents from the icons. And unfortunately it sounds like talent on Let’s Go Sunshine has never progressed past they year 2008.

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Mass Gothic – I’ve Tortured You Long Enough

Producer: Josh Ascalon

Label: Sub Pop

Genre: Indie Pop

Mass Gothic is a husband/wife duo moonlighting as a band. No seriously, their music is darkwave that’s digestible, like a goth asking for attention; earnest but disconcerting. It dives right into all the cute little indie references of shoegaze, electropop and hypnagogia. In that way they do sound like a pop gothpunk version of Tennis (some of their sophomores tracks bop and hop with all the enthusiasm of a goth). But I do have a question: is loving a record really meant to be this easy? Eh, maybe the moment will pass—but there was moment with this long-player.

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Tash Sultana – Flow State

Producer: Self-Produced

Label: Mom+Pop

Genre: Psychedelic Soul, Indie Rock

Probably indie rock’s most “feels good” artist of 2018, Tash Sultana’s new record Flow State is an absolute opaline motherlode. While her extended-player, Notion, was a testament to her streetside improvisation and a love note to the stadium rock sonic of the late Seventies and early Eighties, Flow State changes gears—Tash Sultana reveals another trick: she can mix like nobody’s business. She mixes between mind-melding riffwork and rasping, Amy Winehouse vocals while the music shakes to psychedelic punchbowls. That she completely flipped the script on her latest record demonstrates three things: Sultana has recording chops, Sultana has musical chops and Sultana cannot be stopped.

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Wild Nothing – Indigo

Producer: Self-Produced, Jorge Elbrecht

Label: Captured Tracks

Genre: Dreampop, Electropop

Eighties nostalgia, what a thing—right on schedule too; the music was due for a fair review (Yacht rock in particular was done dirty post-1991) and the video games are classics and the movie aesthetics were puckish to the last (maybe because it was all about those pesky teenagers). It’s a comfortable world to enjoy and so it’s no surprise then: Wild Nothing fell into the same pit as Death Cab for Cutie! Flock of Seagulls, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News, all this and more must have inspired Wild Nothing just as they did for Death Cab for Cutie. The good news? Wild Nothing pulls it off better than those hailers of Death Cabs.

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/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

 

 

Release Date Buffet 08.17.2018

Animal Collective – Tangerine Reef
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Domino
Genre: Neo-Psychedelia, Ambient Pop
This record has taken a beating amongst the critics. I hardly know if Pitchfork would afford it a two or a seven on their scale, the record is so variable according to the listener and it’s not that exciting in the first place. This creates a most interesting venn diagram between the sleepiest, most lukewarm, and most preferred record of theirs, amongst my cacophony of thoughts. I enjoy sleep and I enjoy albums to which I can sleep. Further, Animal Collective’s discography does not produce a fan within my beating heart—it’s migraines all the way down to Sung Tongs (as far as I’ll venture, thank you) and back up to Painting With. So, Tangerine Reef is a shocker; an Animal Collective record that doesn’t manage to give me a headache, but rather lull me to sleep. I’d consider that a winner. But then again, the record isn’t much interesting if you’re not watching the sea coral porn it accompanies.
Spotify

Baked Beans – Babble
Producer: I dunno, probably Eric
Label: Flightless
Genre: Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock
Well there’s no doubt about it. Tame Impala may claim King of All Down Under, but it’s King Gizzard who showcase the real power behind the throne. Even if Baked Bean’s debut LP Babble, is a so-so affair ranging between excellent Gizzardisms and meh Gizzardisms; the cuts that settle well over the bed Baked Beans’ Babble (“Plans,” “Comfortable,” “Easy,” and “Stale”) showcase all that is great about the psychedelic-garage mashup that Flightless has come to flagship. The ones that don’t only serve to remind listeners of the fine line between generic and terrific. In that regard the record feels half-baked.
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Cullen Omori (Smith Westerns) – The Diet
Producer: Taylor Locke
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Pop-Psych, Pop Indie Rock
Y’know the term basic? Well guess what, Sub Pop is one of those labels for which I proscribe myself the term basic. I will follow Sub Pop to the grave even when their labels fails to continue as home for landmark alternative rock. Their roster isn’t bad, don’t misunderstand me—but Bully and Beach House and Father John Misty are nothing if not basic alternative rock as well.  They never quite push the envelope (special considerations given to King Tuff, however) and they all fill the niches to every crease, wrinkle and rumple, well, until we arrive at Cullen Omori, who looks vaguely like a Boba Fett to Colin Farrel’s Jango. And that’s about the most remarkable thing I will say about his latest record, The Diet. This is pop-psychedelic at its most basic. This is pop-garage at its most basic. In other words, I see myself in the mirror of this record, and I am terrified.
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Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You for Today
Producer: Rich Costey
Label: Atlantic
Genre: Indie Pop, Indie Rock
Three things:

  1. When someone says “I love Death Cab for Cutie!” you are allowed to ask them if it’s because of “I Dreamt We Spoke Again.”
  2. This record falls into the same trap as Florence + The Machine’s High as Hope, too few compelling moments; hooks or anti-hooks, for want of better terms.
  3. I vaguely recalled a time when decades received nostalgia in stages, as if on a twenty- or thirty-year cycle. But man, have the 2010’s upended that. Everything is just nostalgic, even shit that happened three years ago (…I just want 2015 back), so even while Sixties psychedelic, seventies disco and Nineties grunge are all finding themselves in neo form, so too does Death Cab for Cutie dig up the sonic artefacts of the Eighties. And that, frankly, is more interesting than this record.

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Kidcombo – kidcombo EP
Producer: Self-Produced
Label: Self Released
Genre: Dreampop
Another indiehead released an EP today and I must say this, while it’s not amazingly spectacular, it outplays Animal Collective’s Tangerine Reef; the EP is melodic as hell and deserving of any Slowdive or late-nineties Mojave 3 comparisons. However, it is slow to the take on the opener—but then again, when is dreampop not a slow burn?
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Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Producer: Patrick Hyland
Label: Dead Oceans
Genre: Indie Rock, Art Rock
Mitski’s latest album is somber. Somber to its last fiber. And it most certainly takes an artist’s stance, presenting the canvas with a sense of gravity that fellow creatives understand: here is my art. Here is my baby. Do what you will, but know I suffered for this. In many ways I can’t help but draw comparisons to St. Vincent’s latest record in tone, style and voice. No seriously, when St. Mitski gets down in the dumps on “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and well, quite literally every cut on Be the Cowboy, I can’t help but feel the goosebumps of similarity.
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The Myrrors – Borderlands
Producer: Nik Rayne
Label: Beyond Beyond is Beyond
Genre: Noise Rock
Prepare for a record that grates headcheese. Borderlands is everything Wooden Shjips wants in a band. Loud, noisey, garage-y, although, not quite psychedelic. But then again, neither are the Wooden Shjips/Brian Jonestown Massacre/Thee Oh Sees wings of modern psychedelic rock. The Myrror’s describe their sound as “desert drone mysticism,” and for a better part of this record (“The Blood That Runs the Border,” “Formaciones Rojas” and “Biznagas”) hit the mark without indulging, but after the mid-point in “Note From the Underground,” they would probably do better not to continue with the peyote and magic mushrooms while so broken-hearted and alone in the desert.
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Object As Subject – Permission
Producer: Paris Hurley, Jherek Bischoff
Label: Lost Future
Genre: Art Punk
If you had told me that an art punk album would be my favourite of this week, I would have called you stark crazy, but here we are—in the world of punk, garage, thrash, riot grrl and all things Siouxsie Sioux and Pat Benatar. It’s still undecided if she would knock either out with stars in their eyes, but I would tune into that UFC cage match.
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Oh Sees – Smote Reverser
Producer: Eric Bauer, Enrique Tena Padilla, John Dwyer
Label: Castle Face
Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Garage Punk
Oh Sees outdo Prince with their list of former aliases (Orinoka Crash Suite, Orange County Sound, OCS, The Ohsees, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees), however they hardly seem to change their approach: noise, punk, garage, psychedelic with a little bit of folk thrown in every once in a while. John Dwyer would whisper ears asleep on Smote Reverser, if it weren’t also just absolutely committed to splitting heads open in a way that recalls 70’s heavy metal. Hell, even the cover is metal as fuck—maybe it’s just a regular ol’ mega-daemon but it’s now registered as a headcanon Balrog. The record isn’t their best by far, but it’s capable and doesn’t stumble too often—but don’t ask for an explanation of “Overthrown”—I don’t think even Dwyer knew what the fuck to do that cut.
Spotify

/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