Album Picks: Diiv, Lucinda Williams, Rihanna, Cavanaugh, Lissie

Posted by Billy Gil, February 12, 2016 09:41am | Post a Comment

I missed last week since I was on vacation, so here are my picks for the past two weeks!

DiivIs The Is Are

diiv is the is are lpBrooklyn’s Diiv are back after four years with an album that delivers on the promise of their debut, Oshin. Musically, Zachary Cole Smith and co. still dole out shimmering guitar-pop nuggets that surf on waves of reverb and atmospheric distortion. Songs like “Under the Sun” offer a pure rush of new wave beats and summery melodies, even as Smith’s lyrics delve into his struggle with addiction. It follows one of The Cure’s best tricks: sounding lively even at their bleakest. Songs like “Dopamine” are far from numbed out — Smith’s jaunty vocal is as close as he’d let himself get to Tom Petty, while still encased in a fog of reverb. Is The Is Are is a bit sprawling at 17 tracks, and after a dynamite opening, some of its shorter tracks in the middle don’t sink in, compared with the relatively taut Oshin. But that also gives Is The Is Are room to roam and the feeling of some alt-rock record of yore, like a Guided By Voices or Sonic Youth album (speaking of the latter, Smith’s girlfriend, Sky Ferreira, shows up to play Kim Gordon on the breathy “Blue Boredom”). Smith also should get credit for expanding his guitar palette while keeping things trim and stylistically consistent, adding My Bloody Valentine-style bends and distortion to his crisp, Felt-ish tones only when necessary. As layers of heavily distorted riffs close out “Waste of Breath” like interlocking corroded piping (epic by Diiv standards at nearly six minutes), Smith’s talents are firmly re-established.

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Preorder PJ Harvey's New Album 'The Hope Six Demolition Project'

Posted by Billy Gil, January 25, 2016 10:02am | Post a Comment

Pj Harvey press photo

Photo by Maria Mochnacz

PJ Harvey is set to release her new album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, April 15 via Vagrant. You can preorder it now on LP and CD.

The album was recorded in sessions that were open to the public at the museum Somerset House in London, as Pitchfork has reported. Exhibit attendees could see Harvey creating the album with producers Flood and John Parish through a one-way mirror. They also yielded this amazing photo of Harvey playing the saxophone!

pj harvey the hope six demolition project lpI have to admit to being a bit skeptical of the process. Having been a fan for years, I have always loved how meticulously created and recorded her albums are, not least of which was her last album 2011’s Let England Shake, one of the strongest of her career. This approach seemed interesting but bound to distract, no?

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Album Picks: Savages, Shearwater, Chairlift, The Besnard Lakes, Charlie Hilton

Posted by Billy Gil, January 22, 2016 09:24am | Post a Comment

Savages - Adore Life

savages adore life lpSavages take all the nonsense that comes with being a much-hyped buzz band and pummel it into the ground on their intense sophomore album. Love and its various manifestations fuels these songs — “if you don’t love me, don’t love anybody,” androgynous frontwoman Jehnny Beth sings over a grinding riff on “The Answer.” The jagged post-punk groove of a song like “Husbands” returns on “Evil,” though it’s darker and more drawn out, as the band knows it can command attention without having to shake it out as it once did. Though many of these songs go for the jugular, restraint serves the band well on “Adore,” a slow-burner that clears the way for a Beth’s singular refrain, “I adore life,” a statement of purpose that drives the band into a fearless crescendo. It takes that kind of conviction to overcome the bullshit of being in an all-female band and both held to an unfair standard and knocked down by anyone tired of the hype — as if the breathless coverage of the band’s live shows and prior album, Silence Yourself, was at all their fault. It doesn’t matter, anyway —the band’s follow-up album is endlessly intriguing and, despite lacking obvious hooks, grips you the more you listen. Simply allow the band to exist on its own terms, and you won’t be disappointed by Adore Life. Watch their episode of "What's In My Bag?" below.

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Bleached 'Welcome the Worms' Up For Preorder

Posted by Billy Gil, January 18, 2016 10:03am | Post a Comment



Photo by Nicole Anne Robbins

L.A. punk-power-pop band Bleached have announced their second album, Welcome the Worms, will be released April 1 on Dead Oceans. You can preorder the album now on LP and CD.

Bleached features sisters Jessie and Jennifer Clavin at the helm, formerly of punk greats Mika Miko. Their first album, Ride Your Heart, was a blast of fizzy guitar riffs and sugary, snarling melodies. This time around, they've teamed with engineer Joe Chiccarelli (Morrissey, The Strokes, Elton John) and co-producer Carlos de la Garza (Paramore, YACHT) and added bassist Micayla Grace to the fold.

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Album Picks: Anderson .Paak, Magic Sword

Posted by Billy Gil, January 15, 2016 09:06am | Post a Comment

Anderson .PaakMalibu

anderson paak malibu lpAnderson .Paak has been the go-to guy to feature when artists have wanted their tracks to have a certain something special. His voice is a malleable instrument than can be gravelly or velvety smooth, able to deliver fast-paced raps and pour out soul syrup in equal measure. Though his debut, Venice, drew plenty of attention and acclaim, he’s now been lifted up into the upper echelon of R&B artists working today, thanks to a series of high-profile collaborations with Dr. Dre on his comeback album, Compton, on which Anderson .Paak consistently threatened to steal the show on his six tracks. He takes that opportunity and knocks it out of the park with Malibu, a gorgeous psychedelic swirl of lush neo-soul backdrops and alternative hip-hop tracks, featuring a cadre of high-profile guest apperances (Talib Kweli, ScHoolboy Q, The Game). Tracks like “The Birds” evoke the classic soul stylings of a Marvin Gaye or Al Green. Yet he keeps things current on the jazz-inflected hip hop of a track like “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” or thumping banger “Come Down,” keeping in line with the likes of Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar. As the lines further blur between the experimental and mainstream, vintage and current within hip hop, Malibu masterfully strings these styles together for an accessible, highly listenable album that should make Anderson .Paak a deserved star in his own right.

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