Made lengthy and unwieldy by personal events in my life, here’s a pile of stuff I’ve listened to recently, up until the end of June. Better late than never, amirite. I have just cracked into July, so stay tuned for that. In the immortal words of Bill “Fuck it, we’ll do it live” O’Reilly, “Fuck it, we’ll do it live.”
The Good Stuff:
ELUCID – I Told Bessie
Released on Backwoodz
billy woods may have gotten the first, and best, solo album of 2022 from Armand Hammer, but his partner proves that he’s just about as good at creating moody, avant-garde art-rap. woods also shows up several times, as do fellow underground rap weirdos Quelle Chris and Pink Siifu.
Joyce Manor – 40 Oz To Fresno
Released on Epitaph
Short and to the point, as always. They may never recover the heights of Never Hungover Again but they have a deft hand with hooks and make pop punk sound vital instead of hokey, which is rare in this age.
Grace Ives – Janky Star
Released on Harvest
A mixture of bedroom synth work and languid vocals paired with frenetic break work and chaotic near-hyperpop instrumentation. Interesting work, if a little all over the place.
Jamie Leeming – Resynthesis
Released on Sekito
Dreamy, slippery jazz guitar embedded into a breezy array of ideas. This is his debut LP, but his fingerwork has been imprinted on the London scene for years.
Graymatter – mad mad world
A collection of beats to just vibe to. Sometimes that’s all you really need.
Perfume Genius – Ugly Season
Released on Matador
I have already listened to this record more than I have every previous Perfume Genius record, and I’m still having trouble nailing down exactly what this one is conjuring. By taking himself out of the hot spotlight, he’s managed to compose an album made up of so many little moving parts that it takes multiple listens to appreciate. I find new quirks, new sounds; the insistent undertone on the last third of “Pop Song” just jumped out at me, for example. Ugly Season is an album that revels in ideas, the more the merrier. This makes it a more challenging record than his previous ones, but also a much more lasting and rewarding one.
Mt. Joy – Orange Blood
Released on Island Records
Swampy, guitar-heavy indie rock perfect for hazy summer days.
TV Priest – My Other People
Released on Sub Pop
More dour and less nimble than many of their contemporaries, London’s TV Priest still fall squarely within that new wave of post punk circle. It was my first time with “The Breakers” and its wistful, sharply nostlagic synth line that really woke me up to it.
Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever
Released on Loma Vista
Sophie Allison keeps hitting new heights, mining her particular alt-pop by way of Slowdive style for effect. Daniel Lopatin mans the boards and draws out more of the latter, while Allison retains the obsessively listenable confessional songwriting. The end result is excellent, but more importantly it sets the stage for her to conquer the world on her next record.
Note: I was listening to Sirius XMU in the car yesterday and they had an XMU session with Soccer Mommy and wow, it contained a Slowdive cover, colour me shocked.
Zola Jesus – Arkhon
Released on Sacred Bones
The synth goth artist manages to pull herself up out of the muck and presents something halfway coherent. She’s still the vanishing point between Bat For Lashes and Kate Bush, but that comes across as much more meaningful this time around.
Tim Heidecker – High School
Released on Spacebomb
The greatest joke Tim Heidecker ever played on the world is his career as a heartland pop-rocker. It’s got some of that Randy Newman wink-and-snark but it also has a straight post-Born Springsteen thing going on. It’s remarkably heavy, emotionally, but having been an avid fan of Awesome Show, Great Job, I’m wary of the idea that taking it seriously and connecting with the material is part of the joke. Kurt Vile makes an appearance, which doesn’t solve that issue in the slightest.
Σtella – Up And Away
Released on Sub Pop
I want to live in a little stone apartment above a cramped, incredibly old street in the Aegean and drink wine and watch the comings and goings of ordinary people in the scorching summer heat.
Automatic – Excess
Released on Stones Throw
Stone-cold New Wave-inflected post punk with a serious robotic groove thing happening.
Day Wave – Pastlife
Released on [PIAS]
Roger Ebert’s take on rating movies was to ask “What does this film set out to accomplish? Does it?” I’ve been trying to apply that to music and Day Wave’s latest really brings that home for me. I don’t particularly like the band. I wouldn’t seek out their past works to put on while cleaning or cooking or whatever. But they aim for a specific niche of the indie universe and they hit it square on. They are really good at what they do, even if I’m ambivalent on what they’re doing.
The Tragically Hip – Live At The Roxy
Released on Universal Music, Canada
Between Gen X and the bulk of Millenials is a little transitionary sub-generation called, depending on who you ask, “Elder Millenials”, “Simpsons Millenials”, or “Xennials.” We have the peculiar task of being the last generation of Gord Downie; with us, so will go the Hip. Which is insane to think about from the perspective of my youth. The band seemed eternal. Timeless. A weirdly national institution as Canadian as maple syrup or moose. Gen X got caught up in them but we carried it through the Nineties with pride. The Zoomers won’t care, though; there’s something a little too homespun about the band for the Last Generation to really pick up on, so with us goes the band. That’s fine, in a sense. Last one out turn out the lights.
Anyway, this is a prime document of the band at the height of their scrappy alt-country-rock powers in 1991, before they became the National Arena Band. If you’ve never heard of them before, this is as good a starting point as any. They were always a stellar live band – even when Gord was dying and couldn’t really carry a tune anymore they were a stellar live band. This is just more evidence for that. Also it’s got Killer Whale Tank on it.
Shearwater – The Great Awakening ★★★☆
The Range – Mercury ★★★☆ (Domino)
Yoo Doo Right – A Murmur, Boundless To The East ★★★ (Mothland)
The Dream Syndicate – Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions ★★★☆ (Fire)
Final XOXO – Death of a Noiser ★★★ (Pious)
Bloomsday – Place To Land ★★★ (Bayonet)
Erin Anne – Do Your Worst ★★★☆ (Carpark)
The Infloresence – What I Look Like ★★★ (Kill Rock Stars)
Annika Zee – Bleu ★★★ (Vain Mina)
Living Room – New Years ★★★☆ (Fear Icon)
Asian Glow – stalled flutes, means ★★★☆ (Longinus)
Carrie Underwood – Denim & Rhinestones ★★★ (Capitol Nashville)
XYLO – unamerican beauty ★★☆
Petrol Girls – Baby ★★★☆ (Hassle)
MUNA – MUNA ★★★ (Saddest Factory)
Regina Spektor – home, before and after ★★★☆ (Sire)
Porcupine Tree – Closure / Continuation ★★★ (Music for Nations)
Alexisonfire – otherness ★★☆ (Dine Alone)
Robocobra Quartet – Living Isn’t Easy ★★★☆ (First Taste)
Horse Jumper of Love – Natural Part ★★★☆ (Run For Cover)
Hercules & Love Affair – In Amber ★★★ (BMG)
Spencer Krug – Twenty Twenty Twenty Twenty One ★★★ (Pronounced Kroog)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees ★★★ (‘a’)