Top 10: Steve Bug, Ghislain Poirier, Envy
The second album from Kranky's intercontinental trio, Autistic Daughters, is appropriately titled, and an enormously satisfying trip through the world of "free noise" (if we must call it something). Dean Roberts' vocals are impassioned and tortured enough to rival those of Conor Oberst, but laid over an intricate musical framework where guitars start and stop abruptly, fractured loops fade in and out, and dozens of subtle electronic touches give each track its own individual personality. JM
No Ground Under
Whoa. Ghislain Poirier’s grime-fueled bass riddims on No Ground Under have reached another level of sonic insanity. With many tracks featuring vocalists like French MC Omnikrom, singjay Face T, and Mr. Lee G, this album strikes a fine balance of between abstract hip-hop and dub-fueled bass power. FM
Mike Ladd delivers a Definitive Jux debut that's predictably varied–in the best possible way. He's well-known for dropping spoken-word, rock, and electronics into his particular brand of hip-hop, and the Boston-born, Paris-based producer employs his adeptness at mash-ups in full on Nostalgialator. But then again, would you expect anything less from a guy who, in addition to making music, publishes literary journals and collaborates with world-renowned pianists? JM Listen to the track "Troubleshot".
Japan’s Envy has always been an entity far outside of the typical instru-metal and screamo genres, and for its Temporary Residence debut, Abyssal, the band is in extreme shoegaze mode. This is mandatory listening for anyone with a love for epic vibes. FM
Twilight and Ghost Stories
Former insurance man Chris Schlarb has been fairly public about his devastating divorce, unemployment, and how those things led to the four-year project that eventually became this debut album. The progression of loss, realization, and eventual gain is apparent in the composition of Twilight and Ghost Stories. Strings, bells, pianos, guitars, and dozens of other instruments are pitted against one another in abstract soundscapes, and the overall effect is melancholy, yet somehow uplifting, and a delightful listen all around. JM Listen to the track "Section I".
"A World Without/Cru Sauvage"
Damn. Steve Bug has done it again with his latest single. Side a is a slow, rather ominous build-up of smashing synths, steady beats, and a bassline so deep I thought San Francisco was having another tremor when I listed to this. Flip for "Cru Sauvage," which employs a lighter techno touch, but whose pace is so fast it is almost dizzying. JM
While Skullflower may not be a band you’ll see featured on the pages of our beloved print mag, know that a record like this is gold to a few of our staffers (well, me at least). Crucial Blast has finally reissued 1992’s IIIrd Gatekeeper (originally released on Sympathy for the Record Industry), and damn was this shit ahead of its time. Filled with Sabbath-esque basslines, My Bloody Valentine guitar work, and an infinite amount of psyched-out feedback, this piece of stoner-rock history induces the best kind of paranoia imaginable. FM
Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
With all of the hype surrounding Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox, it was hard to know what to expect with his solo debut under the Atlas Sound moniker. The answer? Some of the best tripped-out and textured pop to surface in ages. This record has it all–’50s pop melodies, mid-’90s indie undertones, and whirlwinds of blissful, atmospheric noise. Why on earth would you not own this? FM
Come Into My House
It isn’t every day a band can pull off straightforward electro lounge-pop that sounds comparable to Arthur Russell. No Kids, formerly known as Vancouver-based band P:ano, is a troupe of songwriters who know the virtues of jazzy drum programming, soulful vocals, and infectious key melodies. Not weird enough to be annoying and too creative to be merely classified as pop, this innovative band is destined for greatness. FM
B.I.P.P.P. French Synthwave 1979-85
If you, our faithful XLR8R readers, perused the pages of our recent Paris Issue, you will know that the current French wave of music has a definite set of roots. Indie label Everloving Records has dug up said roots, with a compilation of underground French music from the late '70s and early '80s. B.I.P.P.P. is a comprehensive history of the original robot rock, as told by a sampling of acts who are now defunct, dead, or doing other things, but who left a distinct mark on the French sound forever. It's like uncovering the original blueprint for Ed Rec Vol. 1. JM
Photo of Envy by Yoshiharu Ota.