Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June albums

The sequence of the reviews below is arbitrary. Retro views not included: R.E.M. '84 (posted yesterday), Brian Eno '74 (coming tomorrow). I'm obviously behind on reviewing new music but less so on listening to it, and can tell you nine albums I love that I will be covering here soonish and implore you to check out are the new releases by: Hospitality; Kate Tempest; Lake Street Dive; Lyla Foy; Ratking; September Girls; Sohn; Toumani Diabate; tUnE-yArDs.

Rosanne Cash:
The River & the Thread (2014)

(Blue Note)

RECOMMENDED - Frequently gorgeous, with minimal production and songs that seem stretch outward beyond perception. Cash's voice is undoubtedly among the most expressive in modern popular music, and the record's starkness overcomes most of the pratfalls of country today, though its slick sameness will wear on some, conquered only on repeat listens by the top-caliber writing and performances.

***

Against Me!:
Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)

(Xtra Mile)

RECOMMENDED - It's trite to put the identity questions posed here under a microscope, when the point is much more that this represents punk at its base utility, an act of defiance against an uncomprehending, unsympathetic broader world. There's poetry, triumph, fury in it despite its metallic, blunt-force harshness, and it's a more cathartic experience than Arcade Fire will let us have anymore.

***

Sun Kil Moon:
Benji (2014)

(Caldo Verde)

!! CAUTION !! - I've only sporadically listened to Mark Kozelek's work in the past and remembered liking it, but this dreadful exercise in rampant, whiny oversharing sounds like an Adam Duritz solo album, with a rather astonishing level of ego on display. Can't decide which thing I care least about: Kozelek's history of sexual experiences ("man she could suck"), the time he went to the movie theater to see the Led Zeppelin film, his close friendship with famed fellow borehole Ben Gibbard, or his grandma his grandma his grandma his grandma his grandma his grandma. There are some nice buried melodies but the dude is too self-consciously pained to be Loudon Wainwright, too far up his own ass to be Nick Drake. Blehhhhhhhhhhgh.

***

Architecture in Helsinki:
In Case We Die (2005)

(Bar/None)

Progressive power pop, in case the relative failure of even A.C. Newman in attempting such a concept didn't sufficiently discourage you from thinking it was a good idea. Dusk at Cubist Castle wasn't this busy, and you can dance to Of Montreal.

***

Coming up in July: Young Fathers; Marissa Nadler; Angel Olsen; St. Vincent; Real Estate; Beck; Bo Diddley; the Yardbirds; the non-Yard Byrds; more.

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