Top 10: Flying Lotus, Arc Lab, Free Kitten
- Words: Jennifer Marston
Release Date: June 10
Steven Ellison pays homage to his hometown of Los Angeles with his highly anticipated follow-up to the Reset EP, his inaugural release for Warp. In Ellison's version of the City of Angels, soft melodies float and hover over deep, glitched-out beats, sinister basslines, and tongue-in-cheek titles like "Beginners Falafel" and "Sleepy Dinosaur." This one should ensure Ellison sticks around on the Warp roster for some time to come.
We Are Free
Release Date: May 20
"Maybe if Suicide had long hair and wore big sunglasses, they'd be a psych band, too," seems to be what Indian Jewelry is saying with this album. "Too Much Honkeytonking" re-imagines Gram Parsons as industrial-goth and "Pompeii" throws a couple of minutes of folk-pop into the dark, reverberating mix. Prior to listening to Free Gold!, I had never asked myself, "Is that a didgeridoo or a Korg synth?" I asked myself that question twice while listening to this album. Wyatt Williams
Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump
Release Date: May 13
You don't have to be a connoisseur of world music to enjoy this compilation, which gathers a wide range of styles and selections from the Lagos metropolis. But if you're interested in the history, the sounds on this disc are primarily from post-independence Nigeria, which simultaneously experienced the exuberance of growing wealth and political oppression in the 1970s. Tracks here represent that juxtaposition, with influences that encompass everything from rock and jazz to Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s Afrobeat and a certain somberness that no doubt was prevalent during the era.
Sian Alice Group
The Dusk Line
The Social Registry
Release Date: June 17
We gave props to Sian Alice Group's 59:59 release a few months ago, and were equally excited when The Dusk Line EP was announced a little later. The four tracks here are taken from the 59:59 recording sessions, but contain a much narrower focus. Sweeping piano melodies and hushed vocals make up the bulk of the musical arsenal, but such restraint doesn't lessen the enjoyment of listening to this group. Rather, it only proves the group is capable of resonating emotionally in a minimal soundscape as much as it does in its more grandiose moments.
The Goodbye Radio
Release Date: Out Now
This is the third full-length for Medard Fischer under his Arc Lab guise, and it finds the producer constructing endless layers of radio static, field recordings, eerie, vocoder-processed vocals, and his signature drum programming. Throw in a harpsichord and some lyrics about the Russian space program and female serial killers, and you've got a intricate, pensive album that makes us hope this isn't the last we hear from Arc Lab, despite the title of this release.
Release Date: Out Now
Truth's working-class Caribbean upbringing is evident on his debut album, as he jumps between lyrics about racism, self-determination versus self-hatred, revolution, the Bush regime, and numerous other political topics. The beats are consistently sharp, and he gets some help in the lyrics department from Wise Intelligent, Doodlebug of Digable Planets, and Stic.man of Dead Prez.
The Lexie Mountain Boys
Release Date: June 10
Five women from Baltimore sing in The Lexie Mountain Boys, and if you think that name is confusing, wait ’til you hear the band’s record. Recorded in the warm, reverberating sanctuary of a Baltimore-area church, Sacred Vacation is an acappella vision quest that explores the limits of human voices without overdubs or effects. I can't tell if they're more influenced by Appalachian shape-note singing, The Beach Boys, Destiny's Child, or just B-more clubs, but it doesn't matter because the result of this combination is totally unique.Wyatt Williams
Release Date: May 1
We've been hearing and seeing a lot about rock reunions from early ’90s lately, and it's been great, even if we're just watching Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine pay off their mortgages. Free Kitten is another member of the Lollapalooza '93 crowd, with Inherit being its first full length in 11 years. Just don't jump to call it a reunion. The band has always been a side-project for Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Pussy Galore's Julie Cafritz, and Boredoms’ Yoshimi, and they'd rather you think the project was on the back-burner rather than broken-up. Either way, songs like "Erected Girl" and "Free Kitten on the Mountain" make this another welcome album of fuzzed-out guitars, understated vocals, and killer drums from an era that apparently isn't finished.Wyatt Williams
Release Date: May 27
Italo-disco's influence on electronic music is well documented today, and we've seen it surface in many different forms over the years. This comp takes the genre back to its roots, with rarities by some of the leading producers of the time. Better yet, many of the tracks here appear on CD for the first time re-edited and compiled by Chicken Lips' Steve Kotey. Pick up the physical disc and you'll also get a booklet of rare photos, original sleeve artwork from the releases, and some comprehensive linter nights by dance music writer Bill Brewster.
Foul Mouth Jerk
Release Date: Out Now
Foul Mouth Jerk's fourth full-length claims to be an homage to "the earliest days of hip-hop, when jams were thrown in the park." Does it live up to this promise label? In this age of throwback albums, it's hard to tell, but this is a hell of a fun release regardless, complete with bouncing beats and lyrics packed with plenty of attitude and a lot of references to growing up in Jersey, FMJ's home state. Masta Ace, Murs, El Da Sensei, and Grandmaster Caz show up for guest appearances, tossing lyrical duties back and forth with an energy and enthusiasm that, well, actually does call to mind the early days of the genre.
Photo by Theo Jemison.
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