New Music 2016: April

  1. Weezer The White Album

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With each new album, Weezer has a polarizing effect on its listeners. The praises of glory-day releases like Pinkerton are countered by a bounty of justified criticisms. The “return-to-form” Everything Will Be Alright In the End was too quickly assigned its moniker, as many tracks feel just too on the nose and over the top…even for Rivers Cuomo and company. On the flip side, albums with terrible reviews (Make Believe, The Red Album, Raditude) all have amazing singles hidden somewhere in the track listings that fans adore. This new album, which continues the self-titled color scheme motif, eeks above the mediocre pile and sits somewhere around The Green Album in terms of overall greatness. The tunes are catchy and none of them beg to be avoided. If “inoffensive” is Weezer’s new game plan, then count me in. I miss the middle-of-the-road rock tunes Cuomo pens. There here in spades.

Standout Track: “Jacked Up

2. Gallant Ology

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Electronic R&B has a new contender: Gallant. The power falsetto the singer brings is countered with bassy, thudding drum rhythms and thick synth chords. Gallant’s style is a more direct throw-back to 90s era slow-jam R&B than, say, The Weeknd’s pop appeal or How to Dress Well’s alternative lane.

Standout Track: “Bone + Tissue

3. Aesop Rock The Impossible Kid

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Aesop Rock has the most commanding voice in hip-hop. Lots of rappers lean heavily on the production to create a compelling listening experience. Aesop Rock could rap with just a metronome and it would still hold strong as an effective art piece. Because of his overbearing tone, I have found Aesop’s side projects more digestible as he gets to share the microphone with other contributors (e.g. Hail Mary Mallon’s Rob Sonic, The Uncluded’s Kimya Dawson, and the collaborative EP Lice with Homeboy Sandman). On his newest full-length solo project, Aesop tells us amusing tales and showcases his deep lexicon. It’s all fairly even-keeled from track to track and the full-length music video is a lovely visual paring.

Standout Track: “Lotta Years

4. Big Black Delta Trágame Tierra

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80’s synth dance music might never die. And that’s alright. Big Black Delta’s new LP has some sounds that are ripped straight from a 1980’s Hollywood montage scene. Kimbra makes a haunting appearance on the Halloween-esque tune “Bitten by the Apple” and Debbie Gibson lends her vocals to the very dancy “RCVR.” A lot of fun for the dance floor on this release.

Standout Track: “Kid Icarus

Other Solid Releases: Frankie Cosmos Next Thing; Gwen Stafani This is What The Truth Feels Like, Deftones Gore, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Fields PersonA, Suuns Hold/Still

 

 

 

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Favorite New Music: March 2016

  1. Into it. Over it. Standards

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Evan Weiss’ project as Into It. Over It. sounds like the best versions of emo-rock from the mid-late 2000s. There’s chord progression, and even guitar tone, that one might find on Death Cab For Cutie’s Narrow Stairs. Even Weiss’ vocals have Ben Gibbard gloss all over tracks like “Closing Arguments” and album opener “Open Casket.” The drummer, on the other hand, it let loose on the albums best tracks and the duo create some exciting indie rock tunes.

Standout Track: “Adult Contempt

2. Miike Snow iii

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Britney Spears’ pop monolith “Toxic” is my favorite pop song. It’s my go-to karaoke song. It’s one of two cover songs my band has learned. It just rocks. Turns out, two of the three members of Swedish electro-pop group Miike Snow produced that song over ten years ago! Miike Snow’s previous releases (apply titled i and ii) have both had songs on my best-of-the-year lists and this release proves to be no different. The sonic textures here remind me of Foster The People’s debut record Torches when it comes to syth tones and melodic phrasing. And just like FTP, this trio is groovy as hell on some tracks, and pulls out some great lyrical play on others. Not only to mention, the music video for “Genghis Khan” may be hard to beat as my favorite music video of 2016. We’ll see!

Standout Track: “Genghis Khan

3. The Knocks 55

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The Knocks debut album is like listening to the best party playlist your cool friend painstakingly pieced together, but without their incessant sleeve-tugging quips to distract and annoy you. This LP is all over the place, but its core is steeped in nostalgia for places (“New York City”) modernized takes on antiquated grooves (“Classic”) and coupled with like-minded artists just as eager to live in bygone eras (e.g. Carly Rae Jepsen, X Ambassadors, WALK THE MOON). A majority of these songs dip into that anti-party sound akin to Alessia Care’s work, but the party is the point on every track here.

Standout Track: “Collect My Love” (feat. Alex Newell)

4. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down A Man Alive

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Back in 2013, when I first caught wind of Thao Nguyen’s band, it ended up on my favorite albums of the year list as well as setting the benchmark for great band names. Three years later, Thao releases an album that is like a tUnE-yArDs art-rock project. As it turns out, Merrill Garbus herself produced this latest LP and it is cut from the same sonic cloth: distorted mic effects, choral vocal backup melodies, heavy drums, and endlessly interesting lyrics. A huge win here for Thao!

Standout Track: “Departure

5. M. Ward More Rain

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M. Ward has been a busy man as one half of She & Hims many releases, but he’s back for another solo record, and it is just as classic and moody as one might expect. The hollow-body guitar sounds beautiful soaking M.Ward’s usual reverb and delay effects. More of what we love here on More Rain.

Standout Track: “I’m Going Higher

More Solid Releases: Primal Scream Chaosmosis; Baauer Aa; Bent Shapes Wolves of Want; Policia United Crushers; Wussy S/T; Cub Sport This Is Our Vice;