Top 10: Sian Alice Group, Roommate
Sian Alice Group
The Social Registry
Release Date: February 19
Sian Alice Group can improv better than a pack of aged jazz musicians, but they also make some of the most gorgeous, melodic music to surface so far this year. 59:59 combines this London-based outfit's talents, taking the listener from scattered snares to soft, sad guitar ballads accompanied by legions of strings. Sian Ahern's voice can induce weeping if this album is listened to in the right setting.
James T Cotton
Like No One
Release Date: February 12
If James T. Cotton’s Buck! EP was like a shot of caffeine (as it's so eloquently described on the Spectral Sound website), Like No One is the techno equivalent of a speed injection. Agitated, angry, and tightly crafted, the album starts fast and doesn't let up for the duration of its eight tracks, which bring to mind the days of being 16 and tearing up the dancefloor until eight in the morning. Who says dark techno has to be void of all emotion? This album makes me want to hit someone.
Music for Lamping
Release Date: April 29
This album is six long years of Paul Dickow's work weaving synths, vocodors, delays, and field recordings together, and though said elements might lead a listener to think this was just another bunch of yawn-worthy ambient tracks, <>Music for Lamping contains a certain spontaneity that keeps it captivating. One never knows where Dickow is going to take the next few notes, though you can be sure the music will remain the kind perfect for floating away to in the early hours of the morning.
Release Date: February 28
DJ Jamad and Hudson Mohawke are said to be caning this one at the moment, and now the XLR8R.com staff is too. Débruit is one lone Frenchman and many machines, and together they make music so unpredictable and varied in scope it's sometimes hard to keep up with. There aren't many artists who can, in the space of a minute, turn sparse, delayed hip-hop beats into something that sounds like early Daft Punk, then suddenly throw some Modeselektor-esque rhythms into the mix.
Table of the Elements
Release Date: February 19
Even if post-apocalypse freak music isn't your thing, the three members of Neptune should impress. They build their guitars, drums, and cables from things like saw blades, gas tanks, and rust. They use these instruments to rock as hard as humanly possible, in the spirit of bands like Einstürzende Neubauten. Their violent screaming is as captivating as the moments they sing on key. I'm sure their live shows are terrifying, and that makes me like them even more.
Release Date: Out now
This track is a trip through psych-folk, where acoustics meet what sounds like a pack of ghosts chorusing in some bleak mansion. It's surprising to learn that, for how epic it feels, the music is made by one man: Portland, Maine-based Matt Lajoie. The track is off his wonderfully named Wasp Stings the Last Bitter Flavor release.
We Were Enchanted
Release Date: April 15
Kent Lambert and Co. are well known for combining acoustic songwriting akin to Neil Young with disparate electronic rhythms. We Were Enchanted finds the Chicago-based band doing more of this, and lyrically, Roommate is at its best here, exploring weighty subjects about the times in which we live, but completely avoiding condescension.
Thank You Jay Dee, Act 3
This past Sunday marked the two-year anniversary of J. Dilla’s untimely death, and J.Rocc compiled and mixed the last in his “Thank You Jay Dee” series for the Stones Throw podcast in honor of the day. This is the best in the series, showcasing some of the late producer’s brightest moments, enhanced by J.Rocc’s abilities at the mixing board.
Release Date: Out Now
Requium doesn't claim to be a film soundtrack, but I'd bet money some of the music from this album will wind up in some psychological thriller in the near future. Using a combination of programmed electronic beats, pianos, guitars, and dubby basslines, the Cambridge, Massachusetts duo has crafted a gorgeously haunting, suspenseful album. An added bonus: these guys sing the entire thing in Latin, so there are moments when it's easy to imagine walking up and down the gigantic hallways of some baroque cathedral.
The Bird and Bee
One Too Many Hearts
Release Date: Out Now
We couldn't finish off this week's Top 10 without giving a nod to the holiday on Thursday. Greg Kurstin and Inara George have crafted this four-track EP containing three new songs, as well as a version of the 1920s classic "You Belong to Me." Should you feel so inclined, you can email the EP to your other half. See if he or she picks up on the wry, subtle lyrics that indicate love might not, after all, be such a picnic.