by: Paul McEldowney
Wooden Shjips - West - Thrill Jockey
While my reviews tend to carry a sarcastic undertone with good intentions, I mean it when I say UFO is a pretty garbage band. At the risk of being overly cheesy (a sort of given when writing about music ever), the band and their contemporaries sold-out by default and are totally not self-aware about the industrial-pop-cultural context through which their music is produced. On the other side of the spectrum, you have Wooden Shjips, who continue to be one of the most exciting and interesting bands around with their newest, West. What's exciting about their post-historical psych/space/drone/blues rock is that they deliver the hits with the right amount of sincerity that does not compromise their self-awaringly playful exploration of genre and R&R 'tude.
Cymbals Eat Guitars - Lenses Alien - Barsuk
Orchestral, cinematic and dynamic atmospheric indie rock with heart-on-sleeve vocals and spaced out guitar washes. Really unique and refreshing band, combining asymetrical guitar riffs, abstract composition, and a more universal straight-forward pop-punk sentiment.
Iceage - New Brigade - What's Your Rapture
Stop being down on the dumps and listen to this album. It's raw, emotional and naive post-goth space punk. There are structureless layers upon layers of dissonance, raucous and arrogance, and while on the verge of self-destruction, the album stays in tact with its over-current enthusiasm and positivity. Classic everything.
Helado Negro - Canta Lechuza - Asthmatic Kitty
I went to Fresno last weekend for a wedding--an experience fortunately closed off to the 200 or so people baking in the sun, and an experience shared by native fresnoeans all year round. This album should have been on repeat instead of what was playing--a dialectic of norah jones and 'everybody dance now', with its totally relaxed recliner chair sunny beat-the-heat synth-pop.
Amen Dunes - Through Donkey Jaw - Sacred Bones
In my mind, this is the true and cosmically intended remake of the baby begat from any sci-fi movie and Rosemary's Baby. Maybe something like a renaissancial performance of Event Horizon. Amen Dunes' new album is super dreary dark hazy psyched-out chamber-pop, with an emphasis on pop. While dreary, at times no-wavey, and barely scratches Jandek, the album is super melodic, engaging and beautiful. It's definite essential muzak for space dungeons, and required back-to-ghoul (ouch) reading.
NewVillager - NewVillager - IAMSOUND
Groovey maximalist R&B dance collages with mickey mouse and barry white style pitch shifting. It's all super catchy and confident.
Barn Owl - Lost In The Glare - Thrill Jockey
Barn Owl's newest is perhaps the sound-track to the end of the world when all of the music that sounds like soundtracks to the end of world have gone with the world. On this album, Barn Owl continue their wall-of-sound patient post-apocalyptic drone-folk in a way that is moving, uplifting and hardly nihilistic. Dirty deeds not done cheap indeed.