Top 10: Windmill, Shocking Pinks
Release Date: July 8
For those with patience and an ear for thought-provoking, slightly abstract music, this is an album worth jumping on. Throughout its eight tracks, this EP is a battlefield where sweetly sung lyrics are pitted against feedback, ethereal choruses meet fractured guitar chords, and everything, from pianos to vocals, sound slightly off-key. Sound messy? I dare you to throw this one on the stereo and not fall in love with its pleasantly disorienting feel.
Karl Hector + The Malcouns
Release Date: July 9
Karl Hector isn't exactly a household name, having appeared on one lone 7" back in 1996, but with this album, he has stepped out of obscurity and teamed up with Poets of Rhythm producer/guitarist Jay Whitefield for 19 tracks of what a press release has labeled "Afrodelic Kraut Funk." What that term roughly translates to is a mash-up of tribal rhythms, James Brown-style guitars, brazen horns, and funk-driven keyboards. The album very much feels like an improv jazz set, with all the energy and risk taking involved with that particular style of music.
The Omni Recording Corporation
Release Date: June 17
Outsider electronica artist Bruce Haack is an obscure name, even a couple decades after his death and nearly forty years after his first (and only) major-label release, The Electric Lucifer. Using homemade electronics and circuit-bent Casios, Haack cut an album a year for most of the '70s, including Haackula–perhaps his most dark recording session. This disc features two enthralling bonus tracks as well. "Party Machine" is an unexpected collaboration with a young, pre-Def-Jam Russell Simmons and "Icarus" is a 32-minute soundscape worth the sticker price itself. Wyatt Williams
Release Date: June 17
I had this urge to rock out to some proper doom-metal the other day, and lucky for me, this one came through the mail. The Roller is a four-piece from Austin, Texas, and these are some seriously pissed off dudes. While an army of shredding guitars and pounding drums assault your ears, vocalist Mike Morowitz roars into the mic with such vehemence it's a little bit scary. Meanwhile, author Rebecca Bengal has penned a story to go along with the album, and it's equally bleak, with abandoned landscapes and animal carcasses. Nice.
Keak Da Sneak
Release Date: Out Now
An average day at the XLR8R Yay Area office:
10 a.m.: Online Editor Jennifer Marston opens promo package for Keak Da Sneak's Deified and wonders what The Prodigy is doing on the disc. Turns out it isn't that Prodigy.
Noon: Keak drops by to talk hyphy etymology with Managing Editor Ken Taylor. An argument over correct pronunciation of "Yadadamean?" escalates into accusations about whether Keak really was the first person to rap 'hyphy.'
2 p.m: Rich-Media Editor Bryant Rutledge gets blunted in the bathroom, spends the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out if the "That Go" remix on Deified is actually a different song than the "Whisper Song." He eventually decides it doesn't matter.
4 p.m.: Trunk Bois show up to race photographer Chris Woodcock on scraper bikes. Woodcock loses.
5 p.m.: Publisher Andrew Smith calls it a day, ghost rides the Audi whip home to Potrero Hill while bumping "That Go" remix featuring Prodigy. No one has the heart to tell him that it isn't that Prodigy. Wyatt Williams
The Best Of
Release Date: Out Now
Talk about a time warp. I think the last time I listened to "Karma Police," I was driving my beat-up Nissan to tenth grade. Not surprisingly, the tracks on this disc (and the gazillions of others the label probably wanted to include) have more than held up over time, and the selection is a fairly comprehensive look at how the band's sound evolved and changed over time, from the power chord driven numbers in the early '90s to the more abstract compositions in recent years. Kudos to Capitol for including "Idioteque," which is possibly the best song I've ever seen performed live.
Release Date: Out Now
While we're on the subject of going back in time, I stumbled on this one while going through my iTunes recently and threw it on for a listen. Still as captivating as it was in 2007, when it was released, Shocking Pinks is a perfect example of how indie rock can be experimented and tweaked to sound original again. Rather than sticking to the traditional guitar/drums/bass setup, Nick Harte incorporates laptop-generated sounds, tambourines, and ambient choruses into the tracks, which lead to unexpected twists and surprises and in the musical structure of the album.
Release Date: July 29
Mastering the art of noise-rock is tricky business, and more often than not, attempts at this kind of music sound akin to a garbage truck tipping over at four in the morning when you're trying to sleep. Not so with this Japanese trio, who will be introduced to the world outside their homeland for the first time with this release. Armed with screeching guitars, frantic drum solos, and enough feedback to blow a set of desktop speakers, Nisennenmondai–which happens to consist of three petite ladies–shows the rest of us how to properly manipulate a set of instruments. Added bonus: Kim Hiorthøy did the cover art, which is as much a collage of ordered chaos as the album itself.
Puddle City Racing Lights
Release Date: July 15
Puddle City Racing Lights is the debut album from Matthew Thomas Dillon, a U.K. musician whose career has risen quickly since his stage debut in 2005. Here, Dillon has created an album of poignant tracks weighted in minor chords, rolling piano notes, and strings, but he's no scratchy throated, broken-hearted singer. Rather, his voice is extremely high-pitched and a little off-key, which creates an interesting juxtaposition with the music and keeps the album from being thrown into the pile of mundane songwriting.
All India Radio
This is probably my favorite one for the week. All India Radio has taken dream-pop to the next level with some mind-numbingly gorgeous songs that use pianos, strings, and organs to their fullest potential and sit somewhere between the realms of Portishead and Boards of Canada. This is also the band's first album with its new singer Leona Prue, whose voice pulls the listener into a trance-like state from almost the first note she utters.
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