Friday, December 14, 2012

Also recommended in 2012

This informally gathers albums I liked but didn't have time to review at length, or covered elsewhere on the web. Depending on what sort of stuff you're into, each of these could well be a jewel waiting for your attention.



- Willis Earl Beal: Acousmatic Sorcery (XL)
Reviewed at Metro Times.

- Horse Feathers: Cynic's New Year (Kill Rock Stars)
Reviewed at Metro Times.

- WhoMadeWho: Brighter (Kompakt)
Reviewed at Metro Times.

- Yeasayer: Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian)
Review submitted to MT but unpublished: "Sensuality" isn't a word typically associated with indie rock these days, which is what makes the grown-up funk of Yeasayer's third album so exciting, druggy and lyrically oblique as it may be. With strange synth loops hovering above bass-heavy, adventurous arrangements from the Sign o' the Times school, cuts like "Henrietta" (about Henrietta Lacks, whose cancerous cells were infamously cultured in the 1950s) and "No Bones" have little trouble advancing these Brooklynites from the somewhat tempered pop of predecessor Odd Blood. As before, the vocals are arguably more full-bodied than the music, with Chris Keating's shiver and swagger lighting up songs that would otherwise get wrapped up in prog-fettered busyness. That's the only serious problem with Fragrant World, though it's a sizable one: Yeasayer can't curb their desire to stuff the experimental kitchen sink into each song, leaving us to enjoy the moments that don't get bogged down. Thankfully, only the slogging finale "Glass of the Microscope" fails outright, and when the band's varied ideas snap into place, as on the irresistible groove "Longevity," we get as lost as they do.

- Bonde do Rolê: Tropical/Bacanal (Mad Decent)
As dumb and liberating as anything on top 40, it's halfway between the B-52's and the fucking Baha Men or something -- a giddy, breezy listen in small doses, though.

- Ice Choir: Afar (Frenchkiss)
This (an offshoot of Pains of Being Pure of Heart, of all things) is close to a "highly recommended," but that's the OMD fan in me talking; if you thought Cut Copy convincingly duplicated mid-'80s synthpop, your head will explode when you hear this. It hits a sort of musical uncanny valley, by which I mean it provides such a negligible twist on what it's imitating that it doesn't contribute much... which is why it's a one-off, but it's fun anyway.

- Antibalas (Daptone)
Third-hand, well-recorded Afrobeat will piss off purists; whatevs, the songs are great.

- Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams (PIAS)
Strongly informed by The Shepherd's Dog and the folk rock boom of the 2000s in general, this is an atmospheric series of pastoral selections that fogs up and meanders a lot but is never anything less than enjoyable. Better its harmless, robust prettiness than the robotically disaffected New Order-without-personality dance music that's made so many waves in indie circles this year.

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