Sometimes you need a change. Baltimore duo Wye Oak have been at it for a few years, producing great albums like 2011’s Civilian, but touring for that album left the band exhausted, and they were living in different cities. With new synthesizers in the place of guitars and drums, Wye Oak’s sound is reimagined on the stunning Shriek. Jenn Wasner sounds revelatory on opener “Before,” singing over dreamy synth washes and retro computer loops. Every instrument seems to occupy its own perfect space on the title track, creating a lovely little syncopated groove, while Wasner sings beautifully with high-flying abandon. That gorgeous opening makes way for Wye Oak to experiment a bit. “Tower” sees the band employing an R&B-inspired, stuttering groove, drawing influence from the spacey krautrock of Can as well as Timbaland and Missy Elliott’s work with Aaliyah. The changes sound so thrilling because Wye Oak clearly thrive in their new territory, moving freely through the sexy, Fleetwood Mac-inspired “Glory,” in which they sound like wise, older siblings to recent pop group Haim. And in the album’s loungier second half, the band produces robotic, poolside glamour (“Despicable Animal”); intricate, jungly noise (“Paradise”) and lush, adult pop (“Logic of Color”). Playing new wave sophisticates suits Wye Oak quite well, giving them new life with brilliant results.
Welsh singer-songwriter Cate le Bon produced one of our favorite, underappreciated (well, by those who didn’t hear it) albums of 2013 with Mug Museum. Blending the cool demeanor and husky voice of someone like Nico with jagged post-punk guitars and beats, Mug Museum sounds like a hard-to-place unearthed precious relic, like something whispered into your ear.
She’ll perform at Amoeba Hollywood April 30 at 7 p.m. Before the show, we caught up with le Bon, who recently moved to L.A.
What spurred your move from Wales to Los Angeles?
I have always been intrigued by Los Angeles ever since coming to the city to rehearse with Neon Neon way back when. When the opportunity presented itself to record an album out here, which has always been a dream of mine, it felt like it was time to bite the bullet. Money mouth etc. ...The weather is also a definite perk.
I read that you wrote most of the album in your home country, but I do feel a bit of SoCal sunshine poking through in Mug Museum. Do you think the new locale affected the sound of the album?
It has most definitely seeped into the album, but how, I am not able to say yet. I think that will become apparent to me when I listen back in many years.
We’re curating the next Red Bull Sound Select show in Los Angeles, and this one will feature a trio of electronic-rock bands led by Holy Fuck at The Roxy on May 22 at 8 p.m. RSVP here for $3 tickets to the show. The show is 18+, and it's $12 without an RSVP.
Toronto-based Holy Fuck have released three albums of genre-pushing electronica, using unorthodox “instruments” such as film synchronizers and toy instruments in addition to electronic elements in order to create danceable beats and mesmerizing sounds. Their latest album is called Latin, and they’re working on a new one right now.
Supporting Holy Fuck at this show will be a couple of Los Angeles acts. James Supercave writes upbeat electro-pop with heartfelt vocals, as can be heard on his latest release, The Afternoon EP, which was just release last month. Wunder Wunder, an Australian, L.A.-based duo of producers who make shimmering, modern electronic pop with psychedelic touches, will open the show, followed by James Supercave and Holy Fuck.
Courtney Love – “You Know My Name”
Courtney Love made news recently by announcing the mid-’90s lineup of Hole would reunite (along with Eric Erlandson, Melissa Auf Der Maur and Upset’s Patty Schemel), but that doesn’t seem to be happening for the time being. However, we do have a new double A-side due from Love, “Wedding Day” and this hardcore-inspired pop song. Her voice is sounding pretty cool again. It’s out May 4.
Trash Talk – “Cloudkicker”
Sacramento hardcore band Trash Talk have unveiled the first taste of their upcoming fifth album, No Peace (due May 27 on Odd Future), the follow-up to 2012’s excellent 119. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it tastes like bile, whiskey and Molotov. Delicious!
Ian McLagan is a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who began in the 1960s as a keyboard player for U.K. rockers The Faces and The Small Faces. Since then, he’s recorded with artists as diverse as The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg and Ryan Adams.
McLagan is releasing is first studio album in five years with United States, out June 17 on Yep Roc. Featuring McLagan on keyboards and vocals performing 10 new, original songs, United States is produced by Glyn Johns (The Faces, The Who) and is mastered by Bob Ludwig (Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones). McLagan has premiered the first song from the album, called “All I Wanna Do.”