“Hey, what’d I miss?”
Happy New Year! Maybe you were camped up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, or perhaps your January was spent occupied with new found fantasies of New Year’s Resolutions springing into fruition. Congratulations, you’re one month in! However, your indie cred appears to be wearing a little sparse. Don’t worry, that’s where I come in, carefully existing as your 2016 tour guide to new music. Take a gander at some of my personal highlights of the first month of the year (alphabetically)…
Anderson .Paak – Malibu
Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/EMPIRE
Hey look, it’s that guy that was on like every song on Dr. Dre’s album last year. Anderson .Paak is here now in 2016 with his own release to show for, with an intimate blend of summery electronics and the staple alternative R&B voice that is dominating the charts today. Malibu is a fun listen, maybe out of season, but the cliches of blunt sexual lyricism and cheesy rap-singing don’t exist here. Instead, a fresh take on soul and hip-hop collide, with Anderson .Paak taking control every step of the way.
Basement – Promise Everything
Run for Cover Records
Beyond what expectations may or may not exist with the reformation of Basement after a few years away, Andrew Fisher and company return with the short and sweet Promise Everything. Combining dabbles of grungy guitars and emo vocal harmonies, maybe it’s easier to christen them a Deja Entendu era Brand New turned down a few notches, but then again, Fisher’s lyrics are equally as gritty with sorrowful malaise.
The Black Queen – Fever Daydream
The Black Queen
Fever Daydream is a brooding, tender mix of synth-pop and drum machines wrought with icy cold landscapes. Personally, I can’t help but imagine myself navigating the “Phendrana Drifts” in Metroid Prime, but snapping back to reality, Greg Puciato’s falsetto is always on point, in The Dillinger Escape Plan and now translated here. The Black Queen have an obvious love affair with Depeche Mode, but in turn, they’ve also reeled me in with my favorite record of the month (and consequently, the year).
Black Tusk – Pillars of Ash
Properly saluting their roots as sludge metal aficionados, Black Tusk roar into the new year with a flurry of hardcore punk headbangers on Pillars of Ash. Conscious of any effort to avoid wearing their influences on their sleeves, the boys undoubtedly pay homage to the Mustaines and Dios of yesteryear whether they like it or not. Pillars of Ash is fun, evidenced further by the continuing narrative commenced in Tom Waits‘ spotlight. God is not away on business anymore, he’s on vacation!
Chairlift – Moth
Caroline Polachek’s voice is a most wonderful personal discovery. Masterful of slick ability to warp her vocals in a robotic fashion or in animated beauty in stressing syllables, Polachek, complete with Chairlift’s breakneck new record swirl in a whirlpool of synth-pop bliss. The album just as quickly makes a turn for a few slow burners, but the power lies within you to appreciate them to fullest potential.
Cross Record – Wabi-Sabi
Ba Da Bing! Records
A little research goes a long way in order to deconstruct the lush Wabi-Sabi. Emily Cross’ dreamy whispers soothe almost as a lullaby, yet the production and experimental qualities of Cross Record’s new album really push a distinct quality into it’s own realm of evaluation. The concept of wabi-sabi is derived from both Japanese culture and Buddhist philosophy concerning the art of imperfection and asymmetric reflections in appearance. Taking this record face value, the jumbled mixture of loud instrumentation and acoustics certainly makes for an interesting listen. In fact, the execution is reminiscent of other heralded “freak folk” outputs.
Grieved – Grieved
I could spend time arguing why this isn’t like the other metalcore chug-fests that seem to plague the scene, but I’m not going to. There are elements of your typical scene band that warped tour seems to obsess over when they book acts, yet Grieved are seasoned. The band’s self-titled hits like a whirlwind, and despite not possessing much originality in the flow of things, this record is heavy, and pulls off a tender array of punk flair and death metal terror all in one package. It’s not even a long listen, just go for it!
Immune – Breathless
Vaporwave, just saying the name makes me roll my eyes. In true Dream Catalogue tradition, Immune release an eerie, chaotic rush of ambient soundscapes, but also display a little sensibility and sophistication. Breathless not only tailors to those with affinity for shoegaze noise (contrasted by the similarly titled Loveless), but it also stuffs the package deeper in the pockets Billy Mays style, throwing in techno, dub, and house loops absolutely free! But ya gotta call now!
Tortoise – The Catastrophist
*Actual email excerpt sent to my boss earlier this week*
Good morning sir,
I wanted to let you know that Tortoise released a new record a few weeks ago. They are a longtime staple of post-rock with a touch of math influence. Their new record is called The Catastrophist, and is a good representation of a veteran band trying to add some new elements to their sound, particularly electronic keyboard samples. I have attached a video to this message carefully detailing a new song of theirs, featuring Georgia Hubley of Yo La Tengo on vocals. I thought this would be a good example to showcase the band to you, as this track actually has vocals on it, whereas most of their work doesn’t have anyone singing. I think they do tend to play it a little safe on the album otherwise. Nonetheless, there are some fun songs on here, and I hope you will take a few minutes out of your day to listen. See you at the meeting this afternoon.
Be sure to check out these other January reviews…