Half Japanese’s legacy as detuned-guitar weirdos that inspired legions of other important bands is more than solidified at this point. But thankfully, the band has decided to record a new album, their first in 13 years, to go along with their recently announced Neutral Milk Hotel tour. And let’s just say it’s far from a fiasco. Overjoyed is brilliant, teaming with the energy of a band half the age of the Fair brothers. “In its Pull” establishes the band’s core appeal of sing-spoken vocals over a straight-ahead rock beat and guitars that vacillate between Stones riffs and atonal fuckall chords. “Meant to Be That Way” sees the band engaging in squealing, No Wave-style guitar sounds, but they’re pretty reined in, used in the service of creating a potent post-punk groove. “Brave Enough” might be the band’s best pop song yet, full of jangling island guitars, bongo drums and lyrics like “Come on! Let’s do it!” Yet the whole thing is lovably strange, too, a special freak-pop gem that only Half Japanese could produce. That moment of accessibility speaks to how listenable Overjoyed is throughout, even while the band is spitting distorted vitriol into their mics (“Do It Nation”) or singing with only the faintest hint of a melody (“Shining Star”)—these songs are still hooky at their core and a lot of fun to listen to. There’s also a wonderful positive energy to the album that doesn’t feel forced. A song like “Overjoyed and Thankful” might be ironic, but it doesn’t really matter, as its torn-apart rock ‘n’ roll still brings a smile to your face. And “The Time Is Now” is irrepressibly life affirming and musically quite pretty, with shimmering, jazzy guitar lines. “Don’t ever get stuck with that stupid word ‘why’; I never have liked that word,” they sing nakedly on “The Time Is Now.” To borrow a line from the song, the long-awaited Overjoyed puts a few more rainbows in our blue sky.
Listen up, Dylan fans: B Dizzle has another set of Bootleg tapes coming our way this November.
The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 is due Nov. 4 on Legacy. These recordings comprise the time when Bob Dylan and his band (that would be The Band) holed up in West Saugerties, New York at a house they dubbed Big Pink to make some of their most iconic recordings some 50 years ago, according to Rollingstone.
Band member Garth Hudson helped producer Jan Haust salvage what they could of the previously unused recordings, which will be released in a chronological order (using Hudson's numbering system) in the six-disc release, which will include covers of country songs by artists Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Harlan Howard as well as R&B legend Curtis Mayfield, along with traditional rearrangements and lots of originals. There also will be a two-disc version of highlights released called The Basement Tapes Raw.
If you like post-punk music at all, your favorite new band will probably be Merchandise. With a bit of Pulp’s swagger, the Cure’s emotional yet economical guitarwork and the dramatic grandiosity of Morrissey’s solo work, Merchandise nail every nuance on their new album, After the End. Big, shimmering chords on “Enemy” announce their arrival with the kind of bravado that leaves you a little breathless, incredulous that this isn’t a song or band you’ve heard before. Singer Carson Cox’s throaty tenor fills the space that isn’t carved out by his bandmates nicely, on ballads like the stunning “Life Outside the Mirror.” It’s a solid listen, but After the End particularly shines on its singles, like “Little Killer,” the riff of which is catchy enough to leave you tracking back again and again to get that feeling all over again. While After the End is an immensely enjoyable album, the elephant in the room is that, however immaculately made, it’s not the most original thing you’ve ever heard—“Green Lady” is great, with its stuttering beat, big guitar riffs and sure, why not, some sitar, but it could easily be a Morrissey outtake. No matter. Originality will come in time. For now, Merchandise reach a very specific itch, that youthful feeling of discovering a new favorite band who just flat out gets it. No trickery, nothing too out of the ordinary, just some of the best pop music you’ve heard in ages.
Yes, you read that correctly: The Purple One will release two new albums in September.
Both the previously announced new Prince album, Plectrumelectrum, and the accompanying album Art Official Age will come out September 30. While Plectrum has been in the works for some time now, Gigwise reports after Prince held a press conference in London at singer Lianne La Havas' home to announce the album and a tour in January, it didn't have a release date until now. Plectrum was recorded with the help of his alt-girl group, 3RDEYEGIRL, while Art Official Age is a solo album.
Hear the funkadelic "Clouds" from Art Official Age over at Complex.
For some bands, the weight of an estimable catalog can sometimes feel like a burden, and working with the same collaborators for years on end can be stifling. So artists turn to new projects for those ideas that don’t fit into the ideals of their main gig, or just to take a break. Like Thom Yorke indulging his dubstep fetish with Atoms for Peace, Electric Wurms sees psych-pop arena-fillers The Flaming Lips (that is, the band’s singer/songwriter, Wayne Coyne, and multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd) have stepped away from the Lips for this collaborative EP (along with the modern prog band Linear Downfall) of acid-trip jams. It’s not much of a departure from the Lips sound, but there’s a freewheeling feel to this mini-album that’s been missing of late from the Lips’ increasingly difficult albums. Unexpected sounds gurgle out of every pore of songs like their cover of Yes’ “Heart of the Sunrise,” yet create a kind of cosmic, atmospheric beauty. Rock-based psychedelia that grounds songs like the insane “Transform!!!” and keep them (or you) from becoming completely unmoored. Musik Die Schwer Zu Twerk may scream “for fans only” on paper, but, as always with these guys, something that at first seems like a one-off ends up feeling well-considered and rewards repeat listens, given Coyne’s whimsical production and the obvious chemistry (in more ways than one!) that these guys generate. Really cool little release from Wayne Coyne and his Heady Fwends.