Sunday, March 4, 2018

The war rolled on and on: February 2018 music diary

Welcome to the ninth year of reviews at this blog. This entry kind of hurt to write at times and made me feel rather guilty and like an old stick in the mud! Happy reading!!

Housekeeping note: I posted two fairly long reviews of new Beach Boys releases on the appropriate pages during the break. For your convenience, they're linked here, found at the bottom of the compilation and live album pages on my BB discography -- Sunshine Tomorrow 2: The Studio Sessions / 1967: Live Sunshine.

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Charli XCX: Pop 2 (Atlantic 2017) [r]
The poptimist's dreamworld of ceaselessly inventive, challenging music from artists like this is, basically, fiction, and puts too much on the shoulders of someone like Charli who's fine at what she does and really doesn't benefit from outside chatterboxing about how important she is. But this is such an artifact of the critical fannish impulsing of the late 2010s: Carly Rae Jepsen shows up, and the production frequently resembles the self-conscious hipness and airiness of Robyn's albums, weird without being odd. One drugged-out, dark-edged song with a weak chorus ("I Got It") approaches brilliance because of a CupcakKe verse; another feels like a night teeming with possibilities, profane and catchy ("Out of My Head"), but the only one that feels madly and deeply inspired is also the only one that deliberately avoids potential catharsis: "Porsche" is affecting because it skirts sentiment even as it shoots your body through with pleasure, which is also why it really is the noise of youth and abandon and regret. And that's all pop music finally needs to be to approach transcendence.

Dawn Oberg: Nothing Rhymes with Orange (Blossom Theory 2017 EP) [NO]
I'd rather not even review this because Oberg doesn't seem to have a large base of fans (107 monthly listeners, sez Spotify; Charles Manson has 14,479) and even though this blog has even fewer I feel guilty about firing off at someone simply because their sense of humor, to put it mildly, isn't mine and not being much of a "funny song" guy I'm not really in the hypothetical audience I assume she's shooting for -- but a certain renowned critic I listen to out of habit had a lot of praise for this three-song item, so here we go. It's a brief cycle of dreadful anti-Trump "protest songs," supposedly. Being on the right "side" politically doesn't make you witty, nor does it excuse painfully on-the-nose, obvious, Ben Folds-like humor (compare "orange tweeting twat" to "Franklin fucking Mint"). The idea of finding this catharic is genuinely alien to me, but it's not like it will take up much of your time so maybe you should see for yourself.

Shame: Songs of Praise (Dead Oceans) [r]
A London post-punk outfit that seems to meander through an entire career cycle for such a band, in the '80s or now or whenever, in the space of a forty-minute debut LP, which takes us from the Birthday Party impression-making phase to power chords and accents to the Joy Division-Fall-Gang of Four provocateur period to the discovery of retirement accounts and melodies and finally to Future Islands-like schmoozing, goofy and good guitars ("Friction"), new wave ("Lampoon"), and a true masterful keeper called "Angie" that sounds a bit like Stephin Merritt attempting cock-rock but is singular heaven of its own kind, irreducible to any genre definition except the good old Rock Ballad.

CupcakKe: Ephorize (s/r) [r]
Wondering why the breakthrough release from this extremely talented, unpredictable, frequently lovable Chicago rapper wasn't sticking with me like I wanted it to, I eventually focused on the matter of banality; not of Elizabeth Harris' well-chosen subject matter -- nothing is more important than down-and-dirty fucking as far as I'm concerned, and there's plenty here besides that anyway, it's just what occupies her funniest and sharpest verses and one-liners -- but in production terms, with Def Starz toggling between generic club anthems that sound seven years out of date (or more; check out that Ricky Martin backdrop on "Fullest") and unconvincing Slum Village minimalism; Turreekk's three contributions aren't spectacular but demonstrate better layering and at least come off as somewhat eclectic. The best you can say about any of the beats is that they're either big and dumb ("Crayons") or convincingly slick ("Total"). But past the melancholic opener and a slightly slow midsection ("most people already skipped this song cause it ain't about sex or killin'"), this launches into overdrive via "Cartoons" and "Duck Duck Goose" and is one of the fastest funniest virtuoso pieces of recent years: namedropping cartoon characters and Goodnight Moon, "I eat ramen noodles just to humble myself," cum as batter, dick as volcano (after anal), "cut the dick off took it home with me," "bitches wanna box me like I'm Cinnamon Toast Crunch," and all spiked with CupcaKke's constant Migos-like self-commentary, except funnier and better than Migos could ever be. My favorite moment is on the Trina-worthy filth "Spoiled Milk Titties," wherein she talks about viewing her sex tape on a 4K TV and interjects "cine-ma!!!"... and "Crayons," incidentally, is a readymade anthem for the forthcoming gay space communist revolution.

Princess Nokia: 1992 Deluxe (Rough Trade 2017) [r]
The most pure-NYC hip hop record since Heems' Eat Pray Thug, which it resembles in its self-deprecation, affability, artfully restrained anger and weird cornucopia of cultural reference points, this hodgepodge of a prior mixtape and a bunch of bonuses shows off the chops of a talent so New York her album contains shouts to the Village Voice, street corner doo wop, CBGB's and Woody Allen's Manhattan thrown in with a well-earned "fuck-you" to the NYPD. It's also a record that will feel like home rendered anew to anyone who grew up on '90s rap, in the Illmatic era when Queens and the Bronx were the mainstream gatekeepers of the edgiest American music, despite the fact that Destiny Fasqueri herself was born in the title year, and that eternal youth feeling resonates even if you yourself had nothing to do with NY growing up. Out the gate with "Bart Simpson," though, you could swear you were right back in front of TV on a hot afternoon getting MTV's Times Square studio and ads for Creepy Crawlers beamed right into your bedroom. She's that affable, that timeless, and her flow is consistent; the tracks themselves are hit and miss, and one wonders at the decisionmaking process behind adding tracks to a mixtape rather than taking on a fully new project for her debut album. The more strictly she sticks to capturing a time and/or place and/or the thorny vibe of growing up in the city as an abused foster child ("ABCs of New York," "Goth Kid," the wonderful "Saggy Denim"), the more compelling the album is, a complicated and admirably complex celebration. It's less successful as the party record she clearly at times envisions; the choruses on "Chinese Slippers" and "Tomboy" won't leave your head for months, but two different people told me to cut it the fuck out when I couldn't stop saying "Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut / McDonalds McDonalds"... and maybe being annoying is its own kind of catharsis. The arrival of anyone this don't-give-a-fuck individualistic is cause for celebration regardless.

Tune-Yards: I Can Feel You Creep into My Private Life (4AD)
The weird capitalization is officially gone. And Merrill Garbus is officially not a solo artist, Tune-Yards now definitively a duo featuring her new husband and longtime collaborator Nate Brenner. Neither development is a harbinger of bad things, but nor does it feel like a total coincidence that this is the most confused, unsatisfying music yet released under this rubric. We've come too far too long as fans of a confirmed master not to give the benefit of the doubt, but not since John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Some Time in New York City were great artists so utterly and blindly hypnotized by the discourse of the current moment, crafting something that's likely to sound exceptionally weird and dated in ten or even five years. In a series of surprisingly painful interviews from this cycle, Garbus performs verbal gymnastics over liberal feminism and white guilt, thrown like so many of us into confusion in the wake of Trump, talking about taking a "six-month workshop on whiteness," the cringiest sort of privileged tonedeafness that seems so beside the point in relating to, embracing, loving other people. A degree of self-doubt seems to have crept in after the many (to my mind, largely wrongheaded, but it's not for me to say) accusations of cultural appropriation that have plagued this unit since BiRd-BrAiNs, but the diffence between "Gangsta" (a song about white identity and appropriation that wasn't sterile, wasn't phony, wasn't forced, and already was smart enough) and "Colonizer" ("I use my white woman's voice to tell stories of troubles with African men," which sounds like it wouldn't scan and doesn't) is the difference between following one's instincts and questioning them, and the latter rarely, if ever, results in profound art. You could draw the same line of comparison between "Water Fountain," with its sly and clever dramatization of draining resources unfairly slapping the lower classes, and the witless danceable gloom of "Heart Attack"; or the genuinely biting confrontation of "I come from the land of slaves / let's go Redskins, let's go Braves" with the empty sloganeering of "all I know is white centrality." It's not fair to focus totally on lyrics, but the problem is that the laziness of this record in musical terms has made it so easy to do so; there's no bite, as though a determination to keep the words comfortable, safe and colorless has extended to music that falls far too easily into background where whokill and Nikki Nack refused to allow themselves to do so. No one doubts good intentions here, no one suspects a slip in talent (recent work Garbus has done with Mavis Staples and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down precludes that possibility), but all this self-examination is fixing a problem that wasn't there in the first place; it's not as if Garbus' classic eccentricity was solely inward-looking, as she was perfectly capable of making a story of violence and brutality inflicted on someone else startlingly real as in her best song, "Doorstep," or in rendering her own anxieties and torments universal as on her second or third-best, "Wait for a Minute." It's hard to disagree with Laura Snapes in Pitchfork in calling all this "inelegant," or with Frank Falisi implying it to be joyless, and for that lack of joy to be distinctly unproductive, politically and personally. It benefits a little from being played loud; "ABC 123" and "Look at Your Hands" are at least distinctive songs. "Who Are You?" is the only remotely great one. Garbus was once able to attack us with questions that made us really ponder, that appealed on a basic emotional level, and this significant misstep is -- considering its self-stripping, radical intentions -- oddly comfortable and safe, and more than finding the words and music and production here flat and pedestrian, that's what I miss most: the feeling of being actually challenged, not just told how challenged I ought to feel.

Ty Segall: Freedom's Goblin (Drag City)
Segall does his muddy classic rawk thing and there's nothing you can do about it, so why complain? He knows his people (I'm not one, usually, though I can tolerate him and I dig the sprawling-ass Hot Chocolate cover) and delivers the goods. Props to Drag City for having the integrity to make the current go-to record to recommend to your grandma and grandpa to prove to them that "new music" is still "good" if you "look for it" impossible to check out legally unless you have Apple Music, because integrity is important, unless you're an Apple Music customer.

Nils Frahm: All Melody (Erased Tapes) [r]
German electronica producer-composer. I rather liked the chilly vibes of his score for the experimental movie Victoria, and this is even better ambient-with-a-very-mild-kick, almost flawless dinner music. Not much else to say besides "it's nice innit."

No Age: Snares Like a Haircut (Drag City)
No Age does their melodic-punk-but-subdued-and-minimalistic thing and there's nothing you can do about it, so why complain? They know their people (I'm not one, usually, but I like the song about how the guy looks like his sister) and deliver the goods. Props to Drag City for having the integrity to make the current go-to record to recommend to your mom and dad to prove to them that "new music" is still "good" if you "look for it" impossible to check out legally unless you have Apple Music, because integrity is important, unless you're an Apple Music customer.

Rhye: Blood (Loma Vista) [hr]
There isn't a single original thought to be found on or around this piece of wax: not the seductive strings or the lilting melodies or the Willie Dixon-like, deliberate, feather-soft arrangements; not the beautiful cover image of singer and now sole "actual" band member Michael Milosh's girlfriend calling back to the Ohio Players via the Strokes; and certainly not Milosh's own voice, an abstract approximation of soul filtered through a million hazy memories. Coversely, there is not a single misguided moment across its forty-two minutes of time-stoppingly blissful music, and not a single reason you could possibly regret bringing what Brandy Jensen called "this extremely horny album" into your life, commute or relationship. So indiscriminately carnal it borders on incoherent, like Stevie Wonder's inarticulate mumble on "Boogie On Reggae Woman" stretched across an LP, yet so musically focused it feels like you could sharpen a knife with it, it's easily the equal of Rhye's heavenly predecessor Woman, and every song commits to its moment -- from the blown-out, maddeningly restrained rumble of "Please" to the irresistible lite-funk knockouts "Stay Safe" and "Phoenix," whose bass-driven hooks are only marginally the cream. Indulge your need for a decadent weekend, turn off your cursed brain and fall headfirst into this.

Hookworms: Microshift (Domino) [hr]
You can typically take it or leave it when a band "adds electronics," so to speak, but occasionally somebody like Hookworms finds some way to make you wonder where the keyboards and samples and beats were in the first place; the dreamlike void in the quintet's towering guitars was always appealing, but the filled-out noise they make here is an emotive thrill ride making the argument that the human capacity to throw ourselves totally into things with wild abandon isn't connected solely with adolescence. It's not just about the songs but also the spaces between them, the moments when the droning becomes hypnotic, and the abrupt transitions when the songs change or jolt back into shape. The best description may be "Built to Spill with synthesizers" but there's no distance to the vocals, no defensive irony, no sense of showing off. Despite its clear evolution from the group's earlier work, it's classic college rock in the best sense, and hey, a narrative: the stakes are high by "Ullswater" and the world sort of disappears around them all while the one they've created envelops them. Everything is dynamic, the build and release on "Opener" a catharsis, the redemption of "Each Time We Pass" an unexpected moonlight dance of sorts (if also a lift from Arcade Fire's "Haiti"). And it's all well matched by lyrics that exhibit both a tormented and a philosophical lovesickness. It's a glorious ride, and demands immersion.

Field Music: Open Here (Memphis Industries) [r]
Fun, unpredictable British group's seventh album (fifth this decade) finds them easing into a surprising niche, songwriting-wise; they come off like Sparks covering Thompson Twins numbers, and my goodness do they commit to the eccentric arrangement and production ideas entailed by that concept. Sometimes it's about the song ("Share a Pillow") but more often it's about hooks piled on top of hooks piled on top of bizarre but ear-friendly ideas, resembling a more organic and equally frantic Apples in Stereo. Songs like "Goodbye to the Country" make you retroactively mourn the ink wasted on Foxygen, and the classicist Beautiful Music segue from "Daylight Saving" to "Find a Way to Keep Me" (those violins!) is funnier than Lonely Island.

James Hunter: Whatever It Takes (Daptone)
something something great-grandparents something something Daptone something something 45rpm analogue something something sorry it's late

MGMT: Little Dark Age (Columbia) [r]
I know nothing about the ins and outs of MGMT's deal with Columbia except that I remember them mentioning that the label raised not one objection to the courageously unexpected tones of their still-miraculous Congratulations, which stands with Smiley Smile and Tusk as one of the most challenging "follow-up" releases by a popular rock band. When Congratulations came out I couldn't believe what I was hearing; I liked the band's druggy, danceable pop-indie already but did not expect Forever Changes. This is a roundabout way of saying that I think we can trust that VanWyngarden and Goldwasser follow their muse without outside interference, and that this record -- which sounds simultaneously like a parody of Oracular Spectacular and a belated sequel to it -- is truly their current "vision," yet somehow the album would perhaps be even more audacious if we found out some label exec was pounding on their door demanding they make it bounce like "Kids." You can get a handle on the thing but only briefly, and it's often irritatingly smarmy -- it opens with a wildly stupid, wildly catchy song called "She Works Out Too Much" that's about exactly what it sounds like it's about, then moves into the stupider, catchier, better title cut -- but its most consistent trait is the disruption of comforting but engaging and lively synthpop with notes of self-conscious violence and bitterness ("go fuck yourself," it casually repeats while you bop), music that wants to trick you into having a good time even though it isn't particularly fond of you. That insincerity is bothersome and disturbing and even fascistic, like a liberal southern rocker's faux-patriotic power chords, but the resulting album is mind-bogglingly interesting because you instantly realize it's the generational washout from the pre-Funeral, pre-You Forgot In in Peoplke indie rock era when detachment and disaffection for no particular intellectual reason (not irony, not protest) was the foundation of many extracurricular college educations. In other words it's a record that heavily implies our old mistakes left us fucked over. It's a Devo record that doesn't announce itself as such, a terrifying notion. Then it turns the gun further into the past, at AM pop on "James," at pretty New Romantics on "Me and Michael," at a totally damn convincing facsimile of MTV 1987 on "One Thing Left to Try," and finally surrender Arthur Lee's apocalyptic despair to Jim Morrison's cheap nihilism on the Doors parody "When You're Small." In fact the band this most recalls, though not aesthetically, is the Turtles, whose wit was buried under a complicated, often disdainful relationship with their audience and with pop, who could've wiped the floor with Jim Morrison just like this band probably could with James Murphy. When the record somewhat respectably peters out in that more traditional, stoned manner of their other LPs, you wonder if the story you've made up about it is just a fiction, if in reality it's just a workhorse band shoving out new material... but I really doubt it.

Joan as Police Woman: Damned Devotion (PIAS)
Frequent session musician and singer-songwriter Joan Wasser has recorded jazzy, carefully sustained mood music in the past inspired by quiet storm, but with breathy vocals passing into a Nico-like drone. On her seventh album she edges closer to sober, stark chamber pop, with an edge reminiscent of Goldfrapp circa Tales of Us. That said, the best songs are the ones that stick out from the lushly minimal lounge procession occupying most of the record: "Warning Bell" has an addictive, odd, warm groove suggesting a thorny Al Green album cut, and "Tell Me" is the one moment when her voice soars without a certain oppressive cleanliness. The rest is less dangerous, less nervous, but it surely has its place in someone's late night.

Ezra Furman: Transangelic Exodus (Bella Union) [r]
In his liner notes, Furman (like D'Angelo before him) explicitly lays this out as a protest record in a justified effort to prevent anyone from looking past its meaning, a meaning expressed in passionate, observant lyrics telling a metaphorically heavy tale about people in love and on the run from a government that has declared their existence illegal. It begins and ends on the road and only occasionally detours; like many concept albums, it seems to achieve its greatest resonance strictly when it temporarily leaves its plot behind, less because of any shortcomings with that plot than because of the obligations inherent to creating a novel or a film rather than an LP. The opener "Suck the Blood from My Wound," with its righteous hook and watery Springsteen riffing, suggests the beginning to a punk rock odyssey -- capturing the urgency, fear and beauty of running away with someone nearly as masterfully as Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once -- that then never takes off, much tension with little payoff (and maybe that's what it's like to live as a trans person, or as an immigrant or refugee, or a person of color, in 2018), immediately trapping itself into a suite of slow-moving, story-advancing gloom, eventually starting to resemble Colin Meloy's blabber after a session binge-watching war movies on TCM. Nothing else on the record, at least none of the parts about the angels on the lam, is as visceral as that song (or the absolutely perfect cello-driven single "Love You So Bad," a song that works and wounds on its own). And truthfully, "Suck the Blood" also points toward other problems, namely that in moving away from the ferocious, timeless rock & roll interplay of his band the Boyfriends (still with him live under a different name) and toward a parade of filters, electronics, fussed-over production and general aural muddiness that seems designed to imply ambition and importance but instead makes us feel a distancing effect absent on Furman's older work, his last two records in particular. It's not for us to say whether this is a commercial bid (which may work; it's getting him more attention in America) or whether it's what he really just feels like making right now: "Psalm 151" sounds like a David Bowie album closer, a neat example of what he might have been going for, but that's at least partially because it's one of the few songs in which the hooks and melody come through without excessive, distracting dross, and even it has the same sluggish tempo as so much of the rest. It simply couldn't be more obvious that the majority of these songs were derailed by endless mucking about in the studio, like those post-Bill Berry R.E.M. albums, and will come screaming forward onstage: listen to how a potentially dramatic, powerful chorus on "Come Here, Get Away from Me" gets completely sidelined by the intrusion of a loud programmed drum tic (and I like drum machines). More than anything, lyrically and musically, the record feels overly formal in a way Furman's best work doesn't, partially because of the largeness of its ideas, and you could argue it seems that way to me because I'm not its intended recipient (this also happened with To Pimp a Butterfly) and maybe I (we) don't have the right to expect unmitigated juggling joy from an artist in his position, in this country, in the Trump era to which this and so many other new records are understandably reacting. But I also don't think "joy" is strictly what I or you got out of Day of the Dog or Perpetual Motion People, apart from a joy that was intensely hard-won; it's as though, in attempting ambitiously to speak to power and to great important truth, Furman has lost the conviction and ability that allowed him unapologetically to talk about himself, which perversely is exactly what made songs like "Body Was Made" and "Ordinary Life" irrepressibly universal. That's not to say he doesn't use the angelic theme to talk about what he does know, and the manner in which he does it here will undoubtedly be more successful for certain listeners: "Maraschino Red Dress $8.99 at Goodwill" (which I believe but can't confirm employs a musical nod to the first Pet Shop Boys song I ever heard, "To Step Aside") movingly talks of looking nervously over one's shoulder while buying a dress, "Compulsive Liar" mournfully tracks the first traces of his (or his protagonist's) sexuality and his defensive responses to it, and "From a Beach House" both slyly nods in the midst of a story about a convenient hiding place to the weird cornucopia of reference points ("a yellow house full of Beatles and Stones") Furman enjoys as a result of his privileged background and illustrates how identity can wipe away much of that privilege. And on paper, all of the lyrics here are consistently sophisticated and sometimes transcendent ("I believe in God but I don't believe we're gettin' out of this one"), deserving of study as much for their relationship to classical epics and the Bible as to modern mores and social difficulties. And his singing has never been better, but like John Lennon (one of his favorites), he doesn't seem to want us to hear it nakedly without disguise or filter. There's much to admire here, but try as I might, I can't stop getting stuck on the lack of liveliness, on the dramatic stasis; there's a reason "You Really Got Me" means more to me than Preservation ever will, and it has nothing to do with subject matter.

Rich Krueger: Life Ain't That Long (Rockink)
Songs about sex and shitting from another singer-songwriter with an evidently tiny audience, though in this case I sort of wonder why; not only is it agreeable enough in that ranty Randy Newman fashion, it sounds like what Father John Misty will probably be peddling in thirty years (one song contains the words "Susan Sarandon's lovely tits" and the words "she let me put my fingers in"). It's "moving" cause he's so "regular" and while it can be truly fucking banal at times ("Jesus fucking Christ I loved her), like hanging out with somebody who pulls out the guitar in the closet "for the first time in years" about once a week, and its sentimentality about suffering is the specific kind of old-person claptrap that gets my goat (the song about how nice it is outside despite hemorrhoids and back pain may only frustrate me for the same reason things like Everlast and Julien Baker start to sound unbearably trite and superficial after you've had actual tragedy in your life), and even though the arrangements sound like shitty MIDI covers of "Sweet Jane" and "Memories," even though all the songs are five or six minutes and feel longer, I can't slam a guy who's this romantically stuck on the Sex Pistols.

U.S. Girls: In a Poem Unlimited (4AD) [hr]
Meghan Remy writes "experimental pop," sez Wikipedia; but nah, this is disco, this is ABBA ("M.A.H."), this is Feist's "One Evening" ("Rosebud"), this is A Flock of Seagulls, this is Debbie Harry and Patti Smith, this is the Go-Go's, this is totally convincing throwback asserting itself as an individual statement from a highly capable solo performer, helped along here by the Cosmic Range, who come from a fusion background but apply laser focus to these consistently terrific songs. You almost can't hear Remy's well-laid out protests, amplifying everybody's angst right now, over the sonic pleasures but the groove peaks on "Pearly Gates," all delightful syncopation of drums, keyboards, vocals, followed on impeccably by "Poem," ending it all with guitar solos that call back to the David Byrne-Alex Weir exchanges that closed "Crosseyed and Painless" in Stop Making Sense. Even the plodding song, "L-Over," is plodding in the best, most strangely invigorating sense. It's a lovely dance record you can imagine doubling as a communal touchstone, because eventually those protests do ring out, there for you when you need them.

Marlon Williams: Make Way for Love (Dead Oceans) [r]
Depending on mood, this is either maddeningly grating or really ethereal and beautiful, which probably speaks well of it if anything. Williams hails from New Zealand, commits to no particular genre, doesn't sound like the guy from Papa Roach like seemingly every other male singer-songwriter of recent vintage, and has a bigger voice than the Mark Zuckerberg-like visage on the cover suggests as possible. This is best toward the front end, moving from the entertaining Daptone-isms of "What's Chasing You" to the pleasingly baroque doo wop "Beautiful Dress" and the genuinely driving "Party Boy." He even evokes Beatle memories on "Can I Call You," though it really sounds like Ringo and John singing a drunken duet on a demo the latter might've written and discarded. And "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" achieves what Beck ("Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime") and R.E.M. ("Everybody Hurts") couldn't quite: it offers a "You Can't Always Get What You Want"-"Oh! Sweet Nuthin'" sized sadsack anthem for the kids (read: young marrieds) of today!

Superchunk: What a Time to Be Alive (Merge)
It's dawning on me that every single well-intentioned veteran indie rock band is gonna release their Trump Record now and they're all going to require basically the same "well props to them for doing this, yelping out lyrics about Chelsea Manning and the wall and Reagan youths over those sweet power chords blending together" review so can we skip it? It's a question of Responsibility and that's fine. The years will go on and, hopefully, we'll all survive and get past it. It remains to be seen if any mere guitar group can actually bring down the government. It remains to be seen if any guitar group can shut the world out sufficiently to respond to our Situation and still craft something that will last. Good and conscientious as they may be, revolution isn't Superchunk's strong point.

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FURTHER INVESTIGATION TO COME:
* Lankum: Between the Earth & the Sky
* Daphne: Joli Mai
* Andrew Bird: Echoloations: River
* Cindy Wilson: Change
* Sidney Gish: No Dogs Allowed
* First Aid Kit: Ruins
* Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo
* Shannon and the Clams: Onion
Courtney Pine: Black Notes from the Deep
Curtis Harding: Face Your Fear
Lost Horizons: Ojala
Bibio: Phantom Brickworks
James Holden & the Animal Spirits: The Animal Spirits
Maylee Todd: Acts of Love
Call Super: Arpo
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds: Who Built the Moon?
Nabihah Iqbal: Weighing of the Heart
Miguel: War & Leisure
QTY
Belle & Sebastian: How to Solve Our Human Problems, Pt. 1 EP
Jim James: Tribute to 2
Robert Finley: Goin' Platinum!
L'Orange: The Ordinary Man
N.E.R.D.: No One Ever Really Dies
G-Eazy: The Beautiful & Damned
Dean McPhee: Four Stones
Shopping: The Official Body
Xylouris White: Mother
Dream Wife
Calexico: The Thread That Keeps Us
Stick in the Wheel: Follow Them True
Stef Chura: Messes
Red River Dialect: Broken Stay Open Sky
Poppy Ackroyd: Resolve
Rae Morris: Someone Out There
Everything Is Recorded: By Richard Russell
The Orielles: Silver Dollar Moment

REJECTS:
The Used: The Canyon
Lee Ann Womack: The Lonely, the Lonesome and the Gone [NYIM]
Baxter Dury: Prince of Tears
John Maus: Screen Memories
Sam Smith: The Thrill of It All [NYIM]
Spinning Coin: Permo
Quicksand: Interiors
Taylor Swift: reputation
Gun Outfit: Out of Range
Syleena Johnson: Rebirth of Soul [NYIM]
Karl Blau: Out Her Space
Chris Stapleton: From a Room, Vol. 2 [NYIM]
Peter Hammill: From the Trees [NYIM]
Alien Stadium: Livin' in Elizabethan Times
Camilla Cabello: Camilla
Bahamas: Earthtones
Marmozets: Knowing What You Know Now [NYIM]
Django Django: Marble Skies
The Soft Moon: Criminal
Alela Diane: Cusp [NYIM]
Son Lux: Brighter Wounds
Jim White: Waffles, Triangles & Jesus [NYIM]
The Spook School: Could It Be Different?
Franz Ferdinand: Always Ascending
Brandi Carlile: By the Way I Forgive You
Laurie Anderson: Landfall [NYIM]
Loma
Dabrye: Three/Three [NYIM]

RATED/NOT REVIEWED THIS MONTH:
The B-52's: Whammy! (Warner Bros. 1980) [r]
Carl Perkins: Dance Album (Sun 1957) [hr]
Eddie Cochran: Singin' to My Baby (Liberty 1957) [-]
Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps: Bluejan Bop! (Capitol 1956) [hr]
Jerry Lee Lewis (Sun 1958) [r]

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