Onetime Sufjan Stevens collaborator and now a formidable art-pop songstress in her own right, My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden) pushes her songs further into accessibility with This Is My Hand. The sound of the record finds Worden singing over playful orchestrations, wielding her operatically trained voice slowly like a great and powerful weapon. “Pressure” begins with a drumline cadence and marching band horns, drawing soul out of her sometimes austere vocals and layering them over the song’s sexy strut “Before the Words’” huge, propulsive drum beat and jazzy bassline pair nicely with her hauntingly cooed vocals. Though she mines gold at playing the witchy vamp, it’s great, too, when she climbs out of her shell. “I am a lover and a killer” she sings with growing ferocity over a muscular groove on “Lover Killer,” finding inspiration in Prince and kinship in St. Vincent. “This is what love feels like!” she sings before unleashing a desperate wolf cry in “I Am Not the Bad Guy,” with a throbbing menace reminiscent of Radiohead, or a more friskier version of Third-era Portishead. Tracks with more open space, like “Looking at the Sun,” offer a chance for her divaesque vocals to come through beautifully, even as her words are foreboding (“wrestling with a double mine like two horses pulling both sides,” she sings creepily over Disney-level orchestration). “You never know minute to minute where I’m going” she sings tantalizingly on “Shape.” True. But that’s what makes listening to This Is My Hand so thrilling.
Allah-Las – “Buffalo Nickel”
The third track Allah-Las have previewed from their upcoming new album, Worship the Sun (out Sept. 16 on Innovative Leisure, preorder now on LP or CD),is the most pop-oriented yet, with its ba ba ba verses and easygoing vibe, though there’s a nice deserty drone beneath it. The band will be at Amoeba Music for a free in-store performance Sept. 5 at 5 p.m., come check it out!
White Fence – “Like That” video
White Fence’s new album, For the Recently Found Innocent, is so good they should throw Tim Presley in jail. In fact, that’s what happens in the video for “Like That.” And speaking of, keep an eye out for an upcoming episode of “What’s In My Bag?” with Presley.
Meatbodies – “Tremmors”
The latest great garage-rock band from S.F. delivers an explosion of fuzz riffs and reverbed vocals that cut cleanly through like a scalpel on “Tremmors.” The song is heavy and huge, but it’s handled delicately—the solo could only be described as lightly demonic. I love the way the song switches up to a new fuzzed out set of chords two-thirds of the way through—it’s just icing on the cake. Meatbodies comes from L.A.-based Chad Ubovich, who was Mikal Cronin’s bassist and then guitarist as well as the bassist in Ty Segall’s Fuzz project. Segall previously released some of Ubovich’s home recordings under Chad & The Meatbodies, and now the simply titled Meatbodies album is due soon on In the Red. They’ll be at Echo Park Rising Aug. 16 and The Echo Aug. 28.
Allah-Las – “No Werewolf”
Wunder Wunder – “Midnight Hours”
Aussie transplants in L.A. Wunder Wunder have unveiled a new song that further chills out their already easygoing sound. But, far from boring, it actually makes the band stand out more amongst the throngs of psych-pop bands in L.A., giving them a kind of airy, 10cc vibe yet picking up the beat when things are in danger of floating away. Perfect music for dangling your pinky in the pool while sipping on margarita. (Wishful thinking? Maybe, it’s hot and it’s the Fourth of July.) Their LP Everything Infinite is due July 15 on Dovecote. Check out my interview with Wunder Wunder here.
Pyramid Vritra – “Eleven12” video
Ladies of a certain age need love, too. That’s the premise behind the new video by Pyramid Vritra, which showcases the young L.A. rapper servicing older ladies in a seedy motel room. The psych-rap song comes from the Stones Throw LP Indra, which is in my opinion one of the great overlooked albums of the year so far, check it out!
Allah-Las – “501-415”
Allah-Las, who met while working here at Amoeba and went on to release an excellent self-titled debut two years ago, have a new one on the way called Worship the Sun, out Sept. 16 via Innovative Leisure, produced by Nick Waterhouse. “501-415” is both more stripped down and psychedelic than what we’ve heard before, with a country jangle and Pedrum Siadatian’s wandering vocal spiraling over a tremoloed guitar funked-out bassline. It’s an intriguing turn and leaves us hungry to hear what the rest of Worship the Sun will sound like. Allah-Las’ Miles Michaud recently came by Amoeba for one of our Sunday Spins sets presented by LA Record, which continue every Sunday at 5 p.m. this month. Check out an interview I did with them a while back.