by: Matt Buga
Phosphorescent- Here's To Taking It Easy [Dead Oceans]
Similar to Wilco in its singer-songwriter style in a more classic sort of style and structure, but with a little more Americana twang but not exactly "country." Excellently produced with this nice sense of air-y-ness to it.
Grand Lake-Blood Sea Dream [Hippies are Dead]
Great 4-piece art-rock out of Oakland that plays a little all over the place, from slightly art-damaged melodic rockers that have a small echo of 90s emo to nice ballads complimented with a nice string section. Ugh, I love this balance in this kind of music: forward thinking styles that compliment hooks instead of impeding them.
Tender Forever- No Snare [K Records]
A delicate French femme-record. Nice vocals with sleek production. Similar to El Perro Del Mar or Cat Power with more minimal electronic production.
Coliseum-House With A Curse [Temporary Residence]
Great new release from this Louisville power trio playing Motorhead-fueled punk/metal, but this time they've stepped a little further away from their more straightforward earlier sound. Don't worry though, they've still retained the harsh vocals, heavy riffage, pounding drums and all that chutzpa, but just added more nuanced and complex songwriting. Sort of like a more tasteful High On Fire (not less tame). So tasteful they even have Bonnie Prince Billie do vocals on a few tracks.
Gayngs- Relayted [Jagjaguwar]
Cool album full of mostly sensual slow jams. As in put on the candles dim the lights and put this on, but maybe make a playlist skipping an odd song or two on here. Smooth crooning vocals on top of sometime minimal instrumentals, reverb, some keys, synth textures here and there. Its all downtempo, but from track to track it switches between inflections of jazz, RnB, soul, electronica, and even dub.
Tame Impala-Innerspeaker [Modular]
A+ grade psych-rock out of Australia with extreme pop leanings ala Beatles pop leanings. This almost sounds like psychedelic-era Paul McCartney (even vocally) fronting some collaboration of Spiritualized and the Flaming Lips (Flaming Lips' and MGMT's producer actually produced this.). Anyway, if any of this appeals to you, you will dig it, because to me it sounds like they nailed exactly what they were shooting for.
Ratatat- LP4 [XL]
What more can I say about Ratatat? The King-duo of indie-electronica are back with more dance-beats, and thankfully they've kept evolving. Still got the signature guitar-age going on, but throw in a Herzog film sample, and more epicness and you get this.
The Blank Tapes-Home Away From Home [White Noise]
Hurrah for non-lo-fi home recordings! Anyway, this Oakland dude brings us a non-filler record of indie rock wearing influences from more soulful classic stuff to like Creedence to the catchy slacker bravado of Pavement.
Neverever-Angelic Swells [Slumberland]
A welcome release from Slumberland. Still has the staple dream guitar sound, but this one stands out from the rest with its throwback to 50s pop styles with a little bit of Siouxie Sioux feelin'.
Various Artists- Absolute Belter [Finders Keepers]
This archival album is a 50th anniversary retrospective of Spain's independent label, Belter. Lots of stuff from more garage-y stuff, rnb stuff, prog, and pop with Spanish horns to cool covers of the Rolling Stones and David Bowie.
A bunch of remixes of "Alive" in a variety of styleessss.
Stars-The Five Ghosts [Vagrant]
A new release from these ultra pop crew with pretty female vocals. Totally sugar-y and a lot of songs leaning towards dance-y synthness despite the somewhat bitter lyrics :o.
Various Artists-Nigeria Afrobeat Special: The New Explosive Sound in 1970s
Great retrospective of 70s afro-beat from Nigeria including a Fela Kuti track. Great funk and horns and energy, highly recommended for listening at all times of the day.
The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder-San Patricio [Blackrock Records]
A mix of Irish traditional music with Mexican traditional music produced and even featuring Ry Cooder of Buena Vista Social Club fame. The two styles actually go hand in hand very naturally so you might not even think of "fusion" on a first listen.