by: Paul McEldowney
Washed Out - Within And Without – (Sub Pop)
There is a sense in which Chris Isaak lives in the periphery. His 1989 hit Wicked Game is still one of my favorite songs in how its self-aware of its own tackiness and future demise, as the song is about the quasi-cosmic external forces always at play. Isaak's commentary is especially apt to the music world, as commercially successful movements such as 90's R&B and Isaak's career itself are seen as points of degeneration and artistic voids. Ignoring the felt spookiness of this introduction, Ernest Greene sentimental and sensual groovy sedative synth-pop in his debut album picks up where Isaak leaves off, celebrating Isaak's cynicism by recognizing that all pop is past-pop, and going beyond that cynicism by playing with classic pop, R&B, and adult contemporary conventions in an original way. I think this is what makes the album so listenable. Every song is its own numbed-down hazy 'teenage dream', and it's all a great night time album for when you want to just hang out.
Little Dragon - Ritual Union – (Peacefrog)
The Lil Ds return with more noir electrip-hop bum shakers with vocals which make the thighs shake. Contrasting with the current hazy R&B revivalist movement, LIL Ds' new album features an upfront vocal presence, heavy synths, and a mix of live and electronic poly rhythms. It's like walking down the street late at night feeling pretty good about yourself.
Com Truise - Galactic Melt – (Ghostly)
There's this game called Kinetica that came out on the PS2. It's a highly stylized futuristic racing game where the cars are really people wearing wheels on their arms and legs, traveling at speeds of 350mph and above. The physics are out of whack, the levels are highly imaginative urban/metropolitan settings wherein every aspect of the environment is coincidentally designed to be raced on, the playable characters are beyond fitting--one of the racers sports a high waisted g-string presumably to sacrifice speed for mobility, and as a whole, the game is a total conceptual nightmare if you start to think about it for a while. I suppose to Taketh the fruit, and let the chaff be still, kinetica like all good racing games use racing as way to navigate and reimagine existing settings for new forms of play, creation, sociality, or something like that. There has never been a more perfect analogy for what Com Truise and their new age retro-synth mamma jamma contemporaries are doing with their music. Also like kinetica, the art on this album is pretty groovy.
Eleanor Friedberger - Last Summer – (Merge)
New solo avant folk-pop album from the fiery of the Fiery Furnaces. While departing from the more extravagant art rock compositions of the Fiery Furnaces, Last Summer is more sentimental, restrained, and direct. As expected, Eleanor's signature vocal stylings dominates the album, as the album is a lyrical and tonal pinnacle.
Sons & Daughters - Mirror Mirror – (Domino)
Coming off a tour with Morrissey, Sons & Daughters develop their brand of dark post punk from across the pond in the vein of echo & the bunnymen and sioux.
Brian Eno With Rick Holland
Wacky cold futuristic gitchscapes and drums of Brian Eno with the matching surreal sci-fi poetry of Rick Holland. It's like if Eno wanted to make a completely auditory version of 2001 or solaris. Goes from very elegant symphonic moments to computers crying. Poetry's kinda weird.