Release Date: April 22
I've been inexplicably bummed out for the last several days, and this bunch of skittish, freeform tracks seem the perfect companion to my bad mood. Chaos reigns on this latest release from the Baltimore-based trio, with guitar riffs, snare drums, organs, and percussion sounds bouncing off one another, accompanied by hyper-processed vocals that are deliciously cathartic. It’s like a teenager’s dream jam session in the parents’ garage, not to mention, a nice distraction from the harsh realities of life.
Rap Beats Vol. 1
Release Date: Out Now
The first thing we did upon getting a copy of this in our hands was to post a track in our MP3 section and send 20 MySpace bulletins singing the praises of this sampler. Los Angeles-based Sam Baker has posted a slew of unreleased songs on his MySpace page and made them available for purchase via PayPal, but that's not really what's exciting here. What gets me moving are the finely crafted, dusty hip-hop rhythms on Rap Beats, the fact that Baker will custom-make the artwork for each CD-R he sells, and the fact that this kid is 23 years old.
I Love Math
Getting to the Point is Beside It
Release Date: May 27
This one's not going to help my bad mood either. I thought I Love Math would be some weirdo electronic-rock act. In reality, it's the lush work of singer/songwriter John Dufilho, and he delivers a tear-jerker of an album in which guitars twang and basslines swing while he waxes poetic about burning bridges, chasing after unattainable dreams, and... clowns.
Release Date: May 26 (Vinyl), June 19 (Digital)
There's a reason Freerange has made the XLR8R Labels We Love feature year after year. It's because the U.K.-based label consistently puts out solid dance tunes that encompass house, techno, minimal, and the like, and the latest single from Manuel Tur is no exception. On “Vabanque,” the über-prolific producer serves up a deep, dark house number complete with a rather hypnotizing vocal sample. For the flip, Germany-based producer/remixer Stimming adds a few elements of funk to the original.
More Love Now
Release Date: May 13
Damn, here's another melancholy album, this time courtesy of Berlin electronic act Dominique. With bandmember Thomas Goldhan's beautiful string arrangements and Richard Davis' superb production standing out, the album blends acoustics and electronics together with a slow, steady precision on some tracks and a grander, mildly psychedelic feel on others. The varieties of tempo and style here are joined by underlying minor chords and the vague and distant suspicion that the world could, in fact, end this afternoon.
The Devil, You + Me
The Notwist has dabbled in numerous musical styles throughout its two-decade-long career, from experimenting with grunge-metal in the '90s to an electro-jazz-rock album to collaborations with Alias and Lali Puna. The Germany-based band is often labeled as indie rockers, though that doesn’t really encompass the whole of its releases, blends its older, heavier sound against a more minimal, electronic-driven one on The Devil, You + Me, for an album of gorgeously haunting songs, downplayed? vocals, and some rather pensive lyrics.
Release Date: May 20
The first artist to be signed to Hans-Peter Lindstrøm’s and Smalltown Supersound's Strømland Records, Dominique Leone delivers a self-titled album of unpredictable turns that cross many genres and often explodes into interludes of static feedback and what sounds like glass breaking. The Texan-born musician shows off his classical music training well here, with intricate string and piano arrangements, even more meticulous drum programming, but also manages to have fun on this release with some quirky samples.
"My Blog Foggy"
Yes, the other members of the XLR8R staff will likely pelt last week's cupcakes at me for putting this alt-country crooner on XLR8R.com, but come on. Dude wrote a song about his blog, and it's actually a half-decent little ballad about how his blog is not, in fact, bi-polar, as fans apparently claim it to be. The track is even funnier if you actually visit the blog, a site that proves, beyond a doubt, that Adams going a little loony in his N.Y. apartment, reading the dictionary and watching Conan the Barbarian. At least we got a laugh from it.
Release Date: April 15
Patience is a virtue, and if you're ADD like I am, you'll find this compilation from the Germany-based duo a wonderful lesson in exercising some. The duo, which describes its music as "raving with reason," has crafted a DJ mix that unwinds sparse, minimal compositions, slowly layering more samples and strength as the tempo increases. Though a musical explosion of the late-night rave kind never happens, tracks from the likes of Trentemøller, Mathias Kaden, and DJ Koze provide ample suspense, along with enough bounce to keep you moving.
Since this week's Top 10 appears to be all about gloom, I might as well get a little more Doomsday on your asses and include the latest from Australian electro wizards The Presets. 2006's Beams provided an apt introduction to a duo all about deep-throated vocals and heavy-handed synths. Apocalypso, as its name might suggest, takes these elements further, with tracks veering off on dark, ominous excursions into doom-pop. The energy here is incredible... it nearly put me in a good mood.
Photo of Thank You by Nate Dorr.