Top 10: Xiu Xiu, Cut Copy, Robyn
Women as Lovers
Kill Rock Stars
Release Date: Out Now
Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart has one of those voices you fall in love with because it sounds so tortured. He doesn’t so much sing as often as he whispers and murmurs through the tracks on the album, accompanied by 808s and electric guitars. The effect, when paired alongside the lyrics, is often chilling and uncomfortable, and in the end, good, lasting art should leave you with something akin to those feelings.
BoogyBytes Vol. 4 Mixed by Ellen Allien
Release Date: March 31
We throw the term “Renaissance man” around a lot on XLR8R.com, but this might possibly be the first time I've ever used the phrase Renaissance woman, though no one is more suited to that title than Ellen Allien. As expected, the producer, DJ, clothing designer, and label owner delivers a mix of unlikely surprises on this latest installment of BPitch’s Boogybytes series. From minimal beeps and dreamy, 4 a.m.-style synths, to hypnotic beats and the mournful ballad by Little Dragon that closes the mix, Allien keeps us guessing.
Release Date: April 2008
You've got to be pretty damn clever to sneak a line about Rick James into your track without it sounding forced, but that's just one of the many tricks Swedish pop princess Robyn proves she's capable of on her self-titled full-length. Over the course of 14 tracks, she serves up tongue-in-cheek raps, addictive, hook-laden programming, and heaps of attitude. The word on the street is that she can belt out a melody in the live setting as well as she does on this record.
Fabric 39: Robert Hood
Release Date: April 14
If you want techno presented in crystal-pure form, look no further than the latest Fabric compilation, on which Robert Hood tears through 32 high-speed dancefloor numbers tailored to imitate a night at the club. Hood's an undisputed innovator and master of the genre, and here he proves his chops once again, opting for stripped-down, minimal tracks by artists who, while they might not be playing the next Ibiza super-club, nonetheless represent Hood's idea of techno as an art form.
Release Date: March 18
This London/Paris-based trio has a lot more to offer on this album than just punchy, energetic dance-rock tunes (although that aspect in and of itself is a compelling reason to buy the release). Tracks here tell stories and wryly comment on sex, hipsters, Facebook, spring break, playing in a band, and numerous other elements of the youth of today. When archeologists finally decide to study the current throwaway pop culture in which we live, all they’ll have to do is give this disc a listen.
Soundtrack to a Vacant Life
Release Date: Out Now
Given his somber disposition, and the fact that he makes breakcore on the side, one would expect Benn Lee Jordan to arrive at a bleak title like Soundtrack to a Vacant Life for his latest album under The Flashbulb guise. It’s a misleading name though, as the release is anything but vacant. A quiet, static-filled drone turns into chugging rock guitars, followed by intricate electronic programming, an accordion or two, and a little heavy metal to finish things off. At 31 tracks, an album like this needs such variety, and Jordan delivers.
Wait 'Til the Ice Melts
Release Date: Out Now
There’s a little something for everyone on this compilation of underground artists from the Lone Star state, and we’re thrilled to know there’s more than country coming from it. The Exponential label has done a great job of capturing the variety of Texas music available, and showcases quiet electronic compositions next to instrumental post-rock, two-step rhythms, and the standout track, a slinky, catchy hip-hop number entitled “Outlines,” from Makestapes.
The XLR8R Podcast Presents Mush Records
Producer, workaholic, Mush Records employee... is there anything Antimc can't do? He furnished XLR8R with a DJ mix recently, and the XLR8R.com staff has sent the sounds of Daedelus, Eliot Lipp, Doseone, Omid, Busdriver, and tons of others blasting through the office several times a day for the last week. Our co-workers hate us right now.
In Ghost Colours
Release Date: April 8
I really, really wanted to hate this album. Unfortunately for me, the latest offering from the Melbourne, Australia trio currently tearing up the blogosphere is a solid dance album that proves the members are adept at their craft and were nicely matched up when they enlisted Tim Goldsworthy to assist with production. In Ghost Colours is the perfect combination of fun party music and intricately tweaked machines, and damned if it isn't playing in heavy rotation on my stereo right now.
Adage of Known
Release Date: April 22, digital only
Joey Sims’ debut full-length is a reminder that you don't need thousands of dollars’ worth of education to make meticulous, compelling musical compositions (like any of us actually need to be reminded of that). The Michigan-based avant-pop maker–who first turned heads with this remix of Solvent's "For You" in 2005–delivers a riveting album of relentless beats, eerie electronics, and perfectly understated vocals I can’t understand but find enjoyable all the same.
Image of Xiu Xiu by Mathew Scott.