Ultimate Painting – Dusk
About the album via Trouble in Mind…
Dusk is the third album from London-based duo Ultimate Painting, a ten song set that expands the group’s sound from their self-titled debut and their critically acclaimed sophomore effort Green Lanes, about whose tunes Pitchfork raved their “deceptively simple interplay slowly worms into your synapses…” Dusk heads along the same path, albeit in a slightly different direction, forging to new territory by heading inward.
Most groups would kill to have one talented songwriter in their ranks, but Ultimate Painting are lucky enough to be comprised of two singular voices in Jack Cooper and James Hoare. The pair’s distinctive songwriting styles began to blur a bit with Green Lanes, but on Dusk it’s hard to tell where Cooper ends & Hoare begins. Their tunes weave in & out of each other like the duo’s respective six-strings, spiraling around each other in a laconic dance…read more
Drakkar Nowhere – Drakkar Nowhere
About the album via Beyond Beyond is Beyond…
When Drakkar Nowhere rows itself out toward the exploratory sonic sea upon which their debut album so gracefully sails, it’s not just that their destination is undefined; it’s that the very concept of a destination, as reflected in their music, is itself something indefinable. Drakkar Nowhere capture the wind in their sails with a sound that’s boundless, expansive and, perhaps, guided only by the light of the sun and stars.
That Drakkar Nowhere ended up somewhere at all is itself more a result of circumstance than careful course-charting. The history of the album traces back to the summer of 2012, when Daniel Collás (Phenomenal Handclap Band) and Morgan Phalen (Favored Nations, Diamond Nights) found themselves creating new music in the kitchen of a rented apartment in Stockholm, Sweden. Their new project caught the ears of nearby musicians, including members of Dungen and The Amazing, and before long, this extended family of international musicians were recording the songs that would firmly put them on the path to nowhere – Drakkar Nowhere, that is…read more
Chocolat – Rencontrer Looloo
About the album via Beyond Beyond is Beyond…
“Rencontrer Looloo,” Chocolat’s second album after an extended hiatus, finds the band swimming through modal waters, somewhere at the confluence of hard jazz and surf metal, blended with a songwriting tradition that the media, for lack of a better term, often define as folk. A far stretch from the psychedelic kraut explorations of “Tss Tss,” the new opus is a sort of initiatory account of the band’s journey into orbit. Here Chocolat’s kaleidoscopic visions of space have been replaced by manifestations of stark, shiny white boulders, with edges sharper than a wild jackal’s fangs.
First came a band bursting with unpredictable rock and roll violence in the middle of the new millennium’s first decade. Chocolat charmed critics with its Dylan-inspired French chansons, whose sophisticated arrangements didn’t completely cover up the band’s penchant for gritty garage tones. During this period, Chocolat released a straightforward and erotic self-titled EP in 2007, followed by “Piano Élégant” in 2008, a suavely romantic debut opus infused with rock and yéyé influences. Several concerts ensued, including a mini-tour with the late Jay Reatard… then the band completely disappeared from the public eye…read more
Deerhoof – The Magic
About the album via Polyvinyl…
After all the accolades from press and peers, what’s a legendary band to do? Forget the recording studio, rent out an abandoned office space in the middle of the New Mexico desert, set up, plug in and play REALLY LOUD. Starting with hardly a notion of the outcome, by seven days later Deerhoof had found (you guessed it) The Magic: a raw and refreshing 15-song wallop of an album about what happens when you leave your comfort zone.
The version of Deerhoof you hear on The Magic is a most punch-drunk proposition. Everyone showed up in the mood to sing. Satomi, Greg, John and Ed dream up alchemies of punk, pop, glam, hair metal, doo-wop, hip hop, and R&B, late-night car rides, long days, attitude and spandex. Poetry into noise. Volume knob into gratification. Friendship into rock band…read more
Charlie Hilton – Palana
About the album via Captured Tracks…
Though she maintains some reservations about the implications of something as abstract as identity, Charlie Hilton, known up until now for her work in the band Blouse, has now forged a new one with her debut solo album, Palana. The album’s title itself is a nod to Hilton’s given Sanskrit name, an identity she shed completely after high school in favor of the androgynous “Charlie,” and Palana‘s overarching theme can be summed up by a quote from Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf, a phrase Hilton cites as a personal mantra: “Man is not by any means of fixed and enduring form…he is much more an experiment and a transition….”…read more
Andy Shauf – The Party
About the album via Anti…
The album, entitled The Party, is an extraordinary merging of sumptuous pop and poignant lyrical narratives that was recently described by The Independent as a “baroque-pop exercise with echoes of Seventies smarties like Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Steely Dan, though rather more empathetic than them.”
With The Party, Shauf masterfully creates a cast of memorable and unique characters. They show up “Early to the Party,” reveal secrets (“To You”) or try to reveal nothing (“The Magician”). In “a city the size of a dinner plate,” everyone knew the guy who keeled over after smoking what he promised would be his last pack of cigarettes (“Alexander All Alone”). There’s the girl dancing by herself in the middle of the room, with the “Eyes of Them All” upon her. One moment you’re dancing with someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to your ex (“Martha Sways”) and later slagging your best friend as way of endearing yourself to his recently dumped ex (“Quite Like You”).
All of this is set to ornate arrangements of fuzzed-out guitars, string sections, clarinets and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars and rainy-day drums…read more
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
About the album via ATO Records…
“Nonagon infinity opens the door,” sings Stu Mackenzie, frontman of Australian psych-rockers King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard. It turns out, though, that once the door’s open, it never closes. That’s because the Melbourne septet has ingeniously crafted what may be the world’s first infinitely looping LP. Each of the nine, complex, blistering tracks on ‘Nonagon Infinity’ seamlessly flows into the next, with the final song linking straight back into the top of the opener like a sonic mobius strip. It’s exactly the kind of ambitious vision that prompted Rolling Stone to dub the band “one of the most compelling collectives of art-rock experimentalists in recent years.” But far from a simple conceptual experiment, the album is both an exhilarating shot of adrenaline and a remarkable feat of craftsmanship, the result of painstaking planning and an eye for detail years in the making…read more
Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
About the album via Bandcamp…
Whitney make casually melancholic music that combines the wounded drawl of Townes Van Zandt, the rambunctious energy of Jim Ford, the stoned affability of Bobby Charles, the American otherworldliness of The Band, and the slack groove of early Pavement. Their debut, ‘Light Upon the Lake’, is due in June on Secretly Canadian, and it marks the culmination of a short, but incredibly intense, creative period for the band. To say that Whitney is more than the sum of its parts would be a criminal understatement. Formed from the core of guitarist Max Kakacek and singing drummer Julien Ehrlich, the band itself is something bigger, something visionary, something neither of them could have accomplished alone.
Ehrlich had been a member of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, but left to play drums for the Smith Westerns, where he met guitarist Kakacek. That group burned brightly but briefly, disbanding in 2014 and leaving its members adrift. Brief solo careers and side-projects abounded, but nothing clicked. Making everything seem all the more fraught: both of them were going through especially painful breakups almost simultaneously, the kind that inspire a million songs, and they emerged emotionally bruised and lonelier than ever…read more
Quilt – Plaza
About the album via Mexican Summer…
Plaza is the third album by Quilt; a name implying a meeting place, a crossroads, a coming together. In the space of ten songs, Plaza clarifies Quilt’s musical stance of a congregation, mixing folk, pop-psych, and wanderlust into a common ground where each form takes on the characteristics of one another to create something wholly satisfying, styles and sentiments hand in hand, the purest and sharpest distillation of Quilt’s group aesthetic to date.
Plaza came together through the happy collisions of friends, family, and well-wishers, individuals who came to realize that home for one is escape for another. Quilt had made its home on the road for the better part of 2014, coming to rest in Atlanta for three weeks by a collaborator of sorts. A bizarre cosmic boomerang had led them here: while on tour in Oregon, the band randomly met a man named Matt Arnett who turned out to be responsible, along with his father, for the “Quilts of Gee’s Bend” traveling art exhibition from which many of the quilts were sourced as visual material for Quilt’s first record in 2011. The serendipitous meeting led the group to stay in touch with Arnett, who in turn invited the group to start demoing and constructing new material at his Grocery On Home; the historic building near Atlanta’s Grant Park district in which Arnett hangs his hat…read more
Sonny & The Sunsets – Moods Baby Moods
About the album via Polyvinyl…
The modern age sends love letters on yellowed, empty pages. It’s got telepathic advice gurus in its timeline and deep sea creatures washing up on its shores. It’s got plugs, buttons, and illusions, and a grocery store whose aisles correspond to Dante’s infernal circles, plus a nebulous sense of ephemeral weirdness. It’s got Moods Baby Moods and the existential angst it yields has Sonny Smith in a funk, but he’s turned it into funk.
On previous records, the Sunsets have plundered a wide spectrum of musical appropriation (garage-rock, forgotten AM radio fodder, Modern Lovers, late-era Clash, Doo-Wop, and the Velvet Underground, to name a few.) Mood Baby Moods follows suit, and on this outing we find the Sunsets, along with producer Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, repurposing early ‘80s funk and new wave with rap beats and collages from both sides of the ocean (be it Niles Rogers, Jah Wobble, The Gap Band, Orange Juice, Trans-era Neil Young or The Tom Tom Club.) These are songs that juxtapose the haze of today with a vibrant and colorful explosion of sounds and 180 degree turns…read more