Top 10: Health, Daedelus, Audion
- Words: Jennifer Marston
Release Date: Out Now
If Health's debut album was something of an assault on the ears, this collection of remixes should ensure they bleed. The L.A.-based synth-punk outfit hand-picked a collection of artists to rework tracks off its self-titled full-length. The resulting Health/Disco features Crystal Castles, C.L.A.W.S., Nosaj Thing, Curses, and Acid Girls (who deliver the standout tracks) reworking Health's originals into an array of musical styles. A careful attention to track arrangement on the part of Health makes this sound like a proper album and not merely a collection of remixes.
"Monday (The Glitch Mob Remix)"
We dropped this one on our MP3 section a few weeks ago, but nary a day has gone by since then I haven't pulled it up in iTunes and let it blast, particularly in the morning. What better way to charge into a busy day than with this pounding, glitch-heavy number that features piles of synth chords, distorted feedback, and a bassline that will rival the next big quake we have here in San Francisco? Imagine what would happen to my speakers if these guys ever release a full album together...
Oh No vs. Oneness of Juju
Oh No vs. Oneness of Juju
Indie hip-hop meets '70s funk on this disc, a collaboration between producer Oh No and celebrated saxophonist J. Plunky Branch. The two connected when Oh No sampled Branch and his Oneness of Juju band for a track, and a match made in heaven ensued. Here, crisp rhythms meet crooning, hip-swinging funk and soul flavors made by electric guitars, saxophones, and vocals smooth as a gourmet coffee. As yet, this comp is unavailable to the masses, so you best begin spamming the inboxes of Stones Throw employees to ensure it becomes an actual release. Photo by Dan Monick.
Release Date: Out Now
Emmanuel Jal was a veteran of two civil wars by age of 13. He learned to carry an AK-47 before he was as tall as the gun. Such is life for a youth in Sudan–the country has been paralyzed by violence, slavery, and forced displacement in a civil war that has been fought off and on since the '50s. For a former rebel fighter now in his mid-20s, Jal is lucky–he's alive and outside of the conflict that continues today. Needless to say, his solo debut, Warchild, sees him working through some heavy memories, which makes for a captivating listen. Neal Pogue (OutKast, Talib Kweli, TLC) contributes his smoothed-out production skills to the album, leaving a glossy varnish on these rough tracks. Wyatt Williams
Nobody Presents Blank Blue
Western Water Music Pt. 2
Release Date: Out Now
Talk about a concept album. Elvin Estela, better known as 31-year old producer Nobody, teamed up with vocalist Niki Randa for this album, which is a marriage of their respective talents and an epic tale of Armageddon, destruction, poisonous mushrooms, and a population living under water. Each song features a different character's point of view in the story, from an omniscient narrator to a psychic fish, to victims of the fallout. Musically, Estela's production is at its best here, with gorgeous arrangements of guitars, percussion, floating synths, and harmonies that do, at times, feel akin to gently floating underwater.
Billy Says Go
Release Date: May 26
Matthew Dear returns under his Audion guise and rolls out another three tracks of unadulterated minimal techno. The title track bumps along amid an array of percussion sounds, spooky choruses, and not much else. "Snap Into It" plunges the listener into dance music's netherworld, with a heavy, persistent bassline that hypnotically repeats itself until the end of the track. Finally, "Against All Odds" is an unsettling number that takes its good old time to climax, teasing you with one laptop-generated sound after another until the entire thing explodes somewhere around 5 minutes and thirty seconds. Nice!
Love To Make Music To
Release Date: July 15
On this, his first full collaboration with Ninja Tune, Alfred "Daedelus" Darlington knows no middle ground–not that he ever paid heed to it before. In fact, one of the best things about this all-over-the-map producer (who seems to release something every two months) is his ability to tackle multiple genres in ways the rest of us would never even think of. On Love To Make Music To, he covers banging electro, soul, hip-hop, and all those sub-genres in between while simultaneously telling the story of a man who gets trapped in a morgue at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. As always, the energy is relentless and the eccentricity in full force.
Release Date: July 8
This is, as its straightforward name indicates, the third full-length from N.Y.-based duo Ratatat. What have the kings of guitar-driven synth noise been up to since the release of Classics in 2006? Continuing to dabble in their particular version of instrumental rock, though this time around, Mike Stroud and Evan Mast focused mainly on pianos and layered up the synthesizers instead of their usual guitar fare. Songs feel more meticulously constructed here when compared to the duo's first two releases, and there's a touch of melancholy that crops up from time to time and creates another level of depth to the music.
He Can Jog
Release Date: June 27
The cover of this disc–a girl clad in white standing in a bleak, wintery woodland–hints at the contents of this release, the latest from Midwest-born producer Erik Schoster. Combining dreamy pop music with experimental electronics (not to mention an arsenal of bells, harps, acoustic guitars, laptop-processed bleeps, and static), he has created an album that would please both laptop scientists and kids wanting something pretty to listen to while driving a car. And yes, the album is named after the George Eliot novel.
The Delta Fiasco
Smoke and Mirrors
Release Date: May 22
With the hybrid of dance and rock music being a particular fascination of the XLR8R crew right now, it's appropriate as ever to profile these three lads from Liverpool. They may look like your average hipster outfit making throwaway tunes no one will remember in two years, but in actuality, this band fuses the energy of current dance music with the traditional indie rock song structures, and does so quite well. Most notable here is singer Nathan Walczak as he belts his lyrics with as much ferocity as the best of today's broken-hearted indie musicians.
Pictured above: Health at the House of Spirits in Echo Park. Photo by Health.
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