Best Coast - Fade Away (CD, LP or Download)
Best Coast's new EP marks a confident start to a new era for the band. Their previous album, The Only Place, featured more mature songwriting as Bethany Cosentino grew more confident in her voice, yet Jon Brion's smooth production didn't always jibe well with Cosentino's rough around the edges approach to confessional pop. The first release on her own label, Jewel City, Fade Away takes back some of the reverb and distortion of her early material but keeps the assurance she displayed on The Only Place. The result plays out as the most refined version of Best Coast yet. Cosentino sounds pissed in opener "This Lonely Morning," a rocker about a dude who won't stick around. "I Wanna Know" is one of her best girl-group jams yet, all desperation buried beneath sunshine and "Be My Baby" drums. Several songs take on quarter-life crises ("Who Have I Become," "Fear of My Identity"), while her heartbreak songs are equally riddled with introspection, as on the great Mazzy Star-ish ballad "Baby I'm Crying." One of Cosentino's best tricks is sneaking existential dilemmas into songs and lyrics that are on the surface straightforward and simple. By the end of the seven-song Fade Away, you're emotionally exhausted, as Cosentino gives it her all throughout. With Fade Away, she's given fans more than just a stopgap release, and one that leaves fans hungry for what's next.
Omar Souleyman - Wenu Wenu (CD or LP)
The first time you hear Omar Souleyman, it might be tempting to say aloud, "what the f*ck am I hearing?" The Syrian artist doesn't quite sound like anyone on the planet, unleashing wild synthesizer solos and chanting in Kurdish and Arabic. His latest release ups the fidelity from some of his previous compilations (the man has released some 500 albums, so compilations are a godsend), allowing those gloriously distorted keyboard melodies to shine. The title track bounces on a dance beat with digital cheers that make it an awesome global party starter. "Ya Yumma" moves fast and funky on a simple beat and bassline, while Souleyman spouts like a wildman and the synthesizers go truly nuts, hitting stratospheric, impossible notes and sending your head spinning. Tired of only being exposed to BS fusiony world music that could put a coffee house to sleep? Let Omar Souleyman take your brain out for a joyride—you'll never be the same.
Black Hearted Brother features Neil Halsted of shoegaze greats Slowdive with Mark Van Hoen of ambient greats Seefeel and Nick Holton of several bands on Halsted's label and who has worked with him on his solo material. The resulting project is not the slow-motion soundscape you might expect; songs like "My Baby Just Sailed Away" move on genuine dance beats, while "(I Don't Mean to) Wonder" is a classic shoegazezr that will have Slowdive fans in the fetal position. For fans of Seefeel's recently re-released Quique or Slowdive's work, especially their underrated last album Pygmallion, this shoegaze/laptop pop concoction is like crystalline blue meth.
See all of this week's new releases here.
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