Round-Up, March 12th-18th

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Pino Palladino and Blake Mills – Notes With Attachments

★★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on New Deal Records

Pino Palladino is a globe-trotting session bassist best known for his work on Paul Young’s 1983 cover of “Wherever I Lay My Head” and for joining The Who after John Entwhistle’s passing in 2002. Blake Mills is a producer and player who has worked with Alabama Shakes, Perfume Genius, and John Legend. Together, they put together a restless set of Afro-Cuban/jazz fusion pieces that chase lumbering rhythms and eschew any pop-crossover melodies. Both sound as though they are challenging themselves and each other, and there’s not much more you can ask for out of a project like this.

Valerie June – The Moon And Stars: Prescriptions For Dreamers

★★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Fantasy Records

When an artist wears their influences on their sleeves we sometimes unkindly call that derivative. Then there are artists whose sound has a certain timeless appeal: it’s not so much about an era or a fashion as it is a place, and the best of it can speak to the sweat and the sweetness embedded directly in the folds of the Earth. Here, that place is the American South and that artist is Valerie June, and the medium is that sweet intersection between country and soul.

The Underground Youth – The Falling

★★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Fuzz Club Records

Let us reflect on the possibilities of modern existence: that a band in its thirteenth year has released its tenth album, an album of haunted psychedelic goth rock, into an online world that seemingly doesn’t know or care about it. The band has no Wikipedia page, no Metacritic entry, no Pitchfork reviews. Their version of early-80s post-punk, fronted by a man whose voice is a threeway between Nick Cave, Richard Butler, and Leonard Cohen, is seemingly out of fashion in the larger mainstream currents. Yet they apparently have a dedicated following and a spin through The Falling will quickly show you why. This is the stuff they used to make between Seventeen Seconds and Seamonsters, the Eighties that they aren’t talking about when they tell you how much they love the cultural touchstones of the Eighties.

Nubiyan Twist – Freedom Fables

★★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Strut Records

The reviews so far indicate that there’s a weird need for jazz, especially the hot London scene, to be deep and rich in metaphor and capable of being deconstructed in a post-modern dissertation. “Yeah it’s funky, but kinda shallow”, but jazz is rooted in party music so who cares? This is a record that moves; disjointed, to be sure (to be expected when there’s multiple guests coming and going), but a shaker all the same.

Cool Ghouls – At George’s Zoo

★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Melodic Records / Empty Cellar Records

All the British Invasion worship of mid-period Guided By Voices with none of the surreal wonder or air kicks.

Really From – Really From

★★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on TopShelf Records

I honestly wanted to hate this record. I don’t know why; I don’t really like Pinback all that much and when people call this a Midwest emo record that’s the sort of tone they’re referring to. I also can’t stand the flat-voiced vocalist; usually I like flat deliveries but there’s something about his voice here that seems amateurish, and not in the good way. But. But but but. This record is like someone took a jazz record and American Football and put them in a saucepan with garlic and onions. The other vocalists, who do the bulk of it, carry the day easily and the intricacy of the arrangements puts the math in math rock.

Dust Moth – Rising // Sailing

★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on A Thousand Arms Music

A Seattle supergroup of sorts, Dust Moth features members of Undertow, These Arms Are Snakes, and Minus The Bear. As is sometimes the case with these kinds of groups, no one wants to step on toes and they all just end up playing it safe. It’s fine, as far as it goes; it just doesn’t go very far.

The Vices – Looking For Faces

★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Mattan Records

This Dutch entry in the Next Big Radio Rock Band is saved from mediocrity by dint of their being more than a little of the Stone Roses in their painfully FM-scrubbed sound.

DJ Muggs the Black Goat – Dies Occidendum

★★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Sacred Bones Records

First you remember his work with Cypress Hill (among others) fondly, and then you see the record label. Then you put it on. Then they come to devour your young. They’ve placed maggots in the eyes of your neighbours. It’s already too late.

Coral – Spoon

★★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Feverish Records

Gossamer and fragile, yet possessed of a tough inner core, Spoon is the sort of record much bigger singer-songwriters started with, so jot down some notes and pay attention.

The Anchoress – The Art Of Losing

★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Kscope Records

The last time I listened to an Anchoress record I was bored stiff. This time I am decidedly less bored, although the album still goes on for too long. Still, the tension and drama that was only sort of hinted at previously is in full force now. Let’s keep going in this direction.

Baby Boys – Threesome

★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Grand Jury Records

The album is fine and all – varied, bouncy, showing some strong ideas in places – but it just doesn’t live up to that title/album cover combo. I wanted this to be better.

Grouplove – This Is This

★★★

Released March 12th, 2021 on Atlantic Records

A wildly mixed effort that drags in many places but it must be said: when they’re on, they are on.

Harmony Woods – Graceful Rage

★★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Skeletal Lighting Records

As the name implies, this is a record on fire, an album that takes cutting aim at what really sounds like a specific, if unnamed, target. Songwriter Sofia Verbilla launches full-bore artillery at a man, or men; at an abuser, at a creep, at someone she trusted that betrayed her. Whoever it is sounds like they deserved it, and it makes the alt-rock anger on display here all the sweeter.

The Paper Kites – Roses

★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Wonderlick Records / Nettwerk Records

If you’re really into soft coffeshop folk mixed with Eighties AOR ballads, here you go. I’ve got some pablum in the back for you as well, if you like.

Landon Caldwell – Deep Strand

★★★☆

Released March 12th, 2021 on Trouble In Mind Records

The Indianapolis-based ambient artist presents a series of short pieces that reflect on the small long-distance conversations between people struggling to remain human in the face of distance and despair.

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