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Music We Like

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1983-1988 (CD)

The Egyptian Lover

He of relentless hi-hats, campy Egyptian lore and robot voices comes at us in this non-stop party of a compilation. “EGYPT IS THE PLACE TO BE!!” Yes! “PYRAMIDS ARE OH SO SHINY!” If you say so! Who cares? We’re listening to king of the 808 Egyptian Lover and our sarcophaguses won’t stop shaking. Freaky Afroretrofuturistic electro jams from one of hip hop’s originators that rock from the tomb to the outer limits.

Nonagon Infinity (CD)

King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard

Melbourne’s King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard make records that leave all the other psych-rock pretenders in the dust, employing both chunky riffs and jazzy acoustic fair, like proto-metal and British folk had a tie-dyed baby. Their latest takes the idea of a record that loops in on itself and stretches that into nine acid-fueled jams that make for a non-stop psych party. Opener “Robot Stop” plays like a Japanese punk band covering Sabbath over a heavy motorik beat. It leads right into “Big Fat Wasp,” with nasty harmonic riffs reminiscent of Led Zeppelin on “Four Sticks.” “Gamma Knife’s” ascendant melodies and howls continue into the fast-paced “People-Vultures.” The black opens up a bit for the playful melody and vintage organs of “Mr. Beat,” but those give way to “Evil Death Roll,” which is true to its name. Meanwhile, the jazzy grooves of “Invisible Face” and “Wah Wah” bring to mind weirdos like Mothers of Invention and prog-rockers, but by “Road Train,” the evil beat is back, and the road ends right where it started. It’s a brilliant, psychedelic trip worth taking.

Ocean By Ocean (CD)

The Boxer Rebellion

Fifteen years in, The Boxer Rebellion shows no signs of losing an ounce of creative energy. Their first album since adding guitarist Andrew Smith, Ocean By Ocean finds them at a crossroad somewhere between U2 at their most minimal and Coldplay's fusion of rock and electronic ambiance. With an in-yer-face '80s wink 'n' nod with their neon-colored style and new wave aesthetic, they're now at their most mellow, and their chilly synths lay a blanket of cold air over guitars that sound like surf by way of Robert Fripp. Each track combines the popularization of electronics in '80s music with a feeling of nature and the ocean to create a spiritual Philip K. Dick concept of an album that belongs as much in 1982 as it does in 2016. "Big Ideas" is moody and perfect radio pop that hits you like a breeze on a cold night with its tender lyrics and an atmospheric tapestry of glossy and shinny sounds. "Weapons" is punctuated by slamming electronics and spacious guitars — you could be convinced it was a deleted track off the Drive soundtrack. Ocean by Ocean finds The Boxer Rebellion at their most mature and perhaps at their best musically. With VR becoming increasingly real, this is the aural embodiment of a digital beach that you'll never want to leave.

Love Me Crazy (CD)

Ilian

There's no doubt we're in the golden age of rediscovered recorded music. We're constantly being confronted by rare sounds discovered by crate diggers, sweaty music geeks and aficionados who find something so spectacular, it needs to be given a second chance. Leon Nahat's solo-project, Ilian, offers that sparkling, timeless California sound for nostalgic ears. Recorded piecemeal by Leon Nahat in various studios, Love Me Crazy is a stoned, psychedelic album that sounds like it could've been dreamt up. Starting his first band as a teen in Detroit, Nahat traveled around to Phoenix and eventually Hermosa Beach, while backing up Chuck Berry and Dottie West along the way. After a couple of failed ventures of getting earlier tracks released, Love Me Crazy was released and pressed in a small number by the shady record company Album World. But Anthology Recordings is properly releasing the album, with Nahat's approval, reintroducing its California sound to a new world. The ultra smooth production feels like the optimistic and glimmering Canyon sound of the late '70s that was influenced by Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Hey Denisse," with its precision-sharp guitar jamming and punchy drums, is bright and joyful pop at is best. "See What You Can See" is psychedelia at its most Technicolor that just radiates with light. With bands still emulating the sounds of the '70s, Love Me Crazy sounds almost prophetic in 2016.

The Impossible Kid (CD)

Aesop Rock

Indie-rapper Aesop Rock opens up about his personal life, going deep on topics like depression, family, and the turbulent years that led him to leave San Francisco to live in a barn out in the woods, where he recorded the foundations of this album.

The Ship (CD)

Brian Eno

Brian Eno’s latest album combines the minimalist approach to his ambient work such as Music for Airports with the intrigue of his more pop-oriented work. On “The Ship,” individual tones, thick, thin, solid and wavering create a transfixing horizontal drone. Vocals enter after a few minutes, deeply intoning strange truisms behind some swan-diving notes and radio noise that sound like a TV left on in another room. “The time is still, the sky is young,” the voice says, and the music feels eternal while the found sound of advertisements feels ephemeral. The Ship is a little unsettling but ultimately gives a sense of peace, a contemplative reminder of our short time on a greater vessel that sets us free from our preoccupations.

Post Pop Depression (CD)

Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop finds the perfect collaborator in Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme on Pop’s 17 th solo album. With Homme, QOTSA’s Dean Fertita and Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, Pop has a backing band worthy of a man who also fronts The Stooges. Homme gets Pop closer to his Berlin-era ideal as he has been in years, after dropping off from rock ‘n’ roll over his past few, loungey solo albums. “Break Into Your Heart” is hauntingly Bowie-esque, sounding not unlike something off his late friend’s last album, Blackstar , as Pop declares his intent on achieving the titular phrase like it’s a threat. On the flipside, “Gardenia” is a bit of smooth pop with a guitar effect akin to The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” Homme and co. provide Pop with thumping grooves in “American Valhalla,” and rumbling beats and sick riffs on “In the Lobby.” Musically, it’s quite similar to Homme’s other band, and he provides warm backup vocals, but Homme and the rest of the band never upstage Pop, whose gothy cries on songs like “Vulture” command attention. Even as Pop has matured in style and has said he may retire from music, it’s great to hear him in classic form one more time as he rails against information overload over a saucy strut on “Paraguay,” declaring, “I don’t want any of this information, I don’t want you!” before shouting, “you take your fuckin’ laptop, just shove it into you goddamn foul mouth.” Nearly half a century after the first Stooges album and Iggy Pop still can shake you out of your coddled existence like no other.

Ohana (CD)

Pepper

Hawaii's native sons Pepper couldn't sound any more Hawaiian on Ohana if you threw spam, leis and poi on top of it. Recorded as a straight-to-tape studio album to give the feeling of a live-performance, Ohana is sunshine ska, with clicking rhythms and island attitude. Sculpted to be the soundtrack for summer, Ohana is like a warm hug, as lovely lyrics, reggae beats and sassy vocals embody the mood and atmosphere of what resting in the sun, swimming in the ocean and holding someone you love feels like. "Vacation" treads into pop-punk/ska mode as it goofily tells you to take it easy, enjoy yourself and get away for a while. "Start You Up" could've been a lost Sublime track, if they were less ironic and more emotional, as Pepper get spacier and more romantic with their song of conflicted love. But "Reckless" shows the band's edgier and more dangerous side, feeling intimidating and sexy. When rock music sometimes takes itself too seriously, Ohana is the just a load of fun that wants you to have a good time. Put on some shorts and flip flops and take it easy with Pepper.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (CD)

Florence + The Machine

With a four year hiatus since her last album, Florence Welsh returns with a major evolution and leap from her previous efforts. Each track is an artful morsel of Kate Bush-like vocals and beautiful, poetic arrangements as she falls deep into the abyss of lonesome tragedy. Without making her tracks feel like compromised radio pop, her dense productions and smokey vocals are ready to get dancey as percussion pounds out over her lost voice. But even with the behemoth production, Florence + The Machine remain surprisingly lucid and revealing as you hear the conflict of feelings fighting in her soul. Regret, anger, depression, and frustration all get yelled out of her throat in pain. Remorseful, Florence Welsh's latest masterpiece is a cathartic release, equally uplifting and powerful. Few pop singers possess the ability to move you the way she does.

Fading Frontier (CD)

Deerhunter

Deerhunter’s seventh album continues to refine the band’s once murky and psychedelic sound into taut guitar pop. There’s a warmth to the sound here that rounds out their more brittle tones and dark subject matter. Check out the jaunty opener “All the Same” or gently grooving “Breaker,” with co-vocals by Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt—Deerhunter have never sounded this comfortable in their own skin. Cox is more engaged than ever, seeking direct emotional connection with his lyrics (“What is it you’re after? Don’t just stand there,” he cajoles in “Take Care”). Like one of his influences, Johnny Marr, guitarist Pundtt comes up with a variety of guitar tones while delivering a consistent style of garage rock chords looping, clean guitar lines. Synthesizers and drum machines play a more active role, laying the floating foundation for a tune like the dreamy “Take Care,” while the scuzz-funk of a tune like “Snakeskin” shows Deerhunter willing to take chances without futzing with their sound too much. However much Deerhunter whittle their sound, eschewing the noise of previous album  Monomania  and the more ambient aspects of some of their work, save for maybe the gentle synth waves of “Ad Astra,” Deerhunter are still malcontents at heart—over an uplifting organ and acoustic guitar on “Carrion,” Cox sings “What’s wrong with me?” in a slightly off-kilter croon. They’ve just made their exorcisms more listenable than ever.

Art Angels (CD)

Grimes

After three years and a false start, Grimes aka Claire Boucher has returned with the follow-up to her breakthrough,  Visions , and it’s a brightly colored collection of artpop magical realism. The drumline beats and sunny guitars and melodies of “California” and the title track could almost pass for something on mainstream radio, if not for Boucher’s clarion voice cutting through. Similarly, the nimble “Flesh Without Blood” might not be the most original song Grimes has put to tape, but it’s the catchiest and is damn near irresistible. Yet in between those songs we get “Scream,” which has none of the safety of her more accessible tunes, between Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes’ twisting flow and Boucher’s curdled screech. The previously released “REALiTi” throws fans of her more straightforward electro-pop a bone, though it continues with the posi vibes and influences of K-pop and early ’90s house that flow through the rest of the album. Meanwhile, “Venus Fly,” her spacey hip hop duet with Janelle Monae, is a pure delight, coming off like a futuristic art-school spin on the Spice Girls, and “Kill vs. Maim” has the feel of the drama kids taking over a pep rally with Boucher’s yelp simultaneously spirited and demented. Boucher has no use for genre boundaries and is seemingly allergic to negativity, all of which gives  Art Angels  an unbeatable all-embracing energy. The biggest change from  Visions  is that Boucher’s personality is more front-and-center; whereas that album could be more cold and cerebral in its in-between tracks,  Art Angels  is entirely engaging, and even its most digitized moments are stained with blood. 

A Raw Youth (CD)

Le Butcherettes

Mexican garage punks Le Bucherettes have a lot to say and an awesomely corrosive way of getting their social commentary across on second album A Raw Youth . With The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez at the production helm, drummer Chris Common, bassist Jamie Aaron and frontwoman Teri Gender Bender tear through these 12 songs with the ferocity that comes with speaking up for those whose voices go unheard. “Take a second, open your mind” Bender entreats on the fierce “Shave the Pride,” her glammy, androgynous vocals leading the way through a punky rave-up that feels like a call to arms. Songs like “Reason to Die Young” or the are powerful yet dark, with lyrics like “Who do we think we’ve become? No sign of life in this hell hole,” while the Berlin-esque “Sold Less Than Gold” deals with women sold into marriages or sex slavery, but their vibrant delivery and dreamy synthesizers keep things from skewing too bleak. Iggy Pop shows up to lend demonic vocals to the snaking “La Uva,” while John Frusciante pours molten guitar over closer “My Half,” but this is Bender and co.’s show, as she pants and moans like PJ Harvey over the atmospheric proceedings. A Raw Youth is the rare album that inspires with pure energy and solid songcraft, calling to its listeners to stand up for what they believe in. 

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