by: Sam Farzin, KUCI Music Director
The Thermals - Now We Can See [Kill Rock Stars]
Are The Thermals a pop-punk band? Probably. Are they the most illustrious, intelligent, and indelible pop-punk band in America? Yes.
Joker's Daughter - The Last Laugh [Team Love]
Weird folkie a la Vashti Bunyan teams up with Danger Mouse and makes unarguably pleasant weird folkie record.
Reigning Sound - Live At Goner Records [Goner]
Greg Cartwright of the infamous 90s garage-destroyers OBLIVIANS has helmed this somewhat more reserved (but only relative to his older band) trio for some time now. Here they play at the Goner Records brick-and-mortar store in Memphis.
Superchunk - Leaves In The Gutter [Merge]
Essential "indie rock." This band's lead singer/songwriter is the founder of MERGE Records. Yes, the label that released basically all of your favorite "indie rock" albums of the last 10 to 15 years.
Storsveit Nix Noltes - Royal Family - Divorce [Fat Cat]
Ok, so this is WORLD music but holy moly is this not AMAZING. Beirut is to Storsveit Nix Noltes as Sizzler is to Ruth's Chris. Period. I want to have a party where this band is playing and everyone pretends like there are no computers or clocks.
The Balky Mule - The Length Of The Rail [Fat Cat]
Among the most interesting blends of acoustic and electronic instrumentaion and processing I can recall in recent memory. This dude is apparently a member/involved in a number of feedback-happy shoe-gaze bands (Flying Saucer Attack, Movietone, etc). Here he presents some songs that freely glide through electronics like a knife through hot butter.
Ryland Bouchard - Seeds (A-Sides) [Swim Slowly]
Ryland Bouchard is ex-The Robot Ate Me. The Robot Ate Me was a one-man "band," that is, a name under which one musician released and performed his music. That one musician is Ryland Bouchard. Ryland Bouchard is The Robot Ate Me, but now he is only Ryland Bouchard. Ryland Bouchard is a master of death-cute without being cloying or depressing (mostly). Here are songs that are often happy but sad but catchy yet discordant. He seems to live on destroying song-complacency. It is pretty awesome. Note: this album doesn't have a tracklist. The tracklist can be seen here: http://rylandbouchard.com. It is on the right side (the middle panel if you sideways-scroll). If someone takes a couple stickies and transcribes the track list and attaches it to the jewel case, they can have 15 or 30 minutes of STAFF HOUR POWER.
Adam Balbo - Fix [Self-Released]
Adam Balbo wrote one song a day for a long time and these are a selection of them (as I understand). These songs are rather endearing and his knack for witty lyrics is really apparent, especially in finding prettiness or quality in the stupidest or crassest things. Many of the best songs on the record are OPI-riddled, though :(.
Sleepy Sun - Embrace [ATP]
Dude, this band is so like totally psychedelic and oh man, woosh pew pew pcheeeeen zap!
Boo And Boo Too - No Tempo [Ironpaw / Chomp Womp]
I added this band's first record last week and recently recovered their more recent offering of a couple months ago. This band can be called "mildly-brutal shoegaze." The word brutal is so charged, it's like giving your sentence a Jamba Juice boost, or paying $.50 for bolding your auction on eBay.
Dengue Fever/Various Artists - Sleepwalking Through The Mekong OST [M80]
This band is pretty neat, and, as LBC locals, popular! They play Anglo-Cambodian rock-n-roll. Here is an album of songs by them and other Cambodian bands that serve as a soundtrack to the film about Cambodian rockroll "Sleepwalking Through The Mekong."
Bill Frisell - The Best Of BIll Frisell Vol. 1 | Folk Songs
I am listening to this while writing these bleurbs. It is mostly Bill Frisell by himself, bein all folk-lazy. Lazy in that the songs are fairly relaxed and unhurried. There is other sounds too. Some of it is particularly jazzy. Track 8 is incredible. "Shenandoah." Gettin all epic in here, Bill Frisell.
The following two adds are explicitly WORLD jammers.
V/A - Irish Pirate Ballads And Other songs Of The Sea [Smithsonian Folkways]
O Smithsonian Folkways. You are so awesome. I don't have to explain what this sounds like.
Amadou & Mariam - Welcome To Mali [Nonesuch]
Two blind, married Malian maestros make majestic Afro-blues musics. Three tracks helmed by producer-slut Damon Albarn. Though they may be new to me and you, these fine folks are beginning their third decade of cranking impeccable multi-ethnic tunage.