This Month's Picks

Enter The Slasher House (CD)

Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks
While Animal Collective takes a little break, its members are busy. Panda Bear will have a new release later this year, but first up is Avey Tare, who has previously released a solo album, a joint album with Kria Brekkan and now debuts this new group with former Dirty Projector Angela Deradoorian and former Ponytail member Jeremy Hyman. Far from a vanity project, Slasher Flicks is a full-blown band with a kickass debut album. Anyone familiar with the band’s pedigree will be right at home here, amid the tribal, Paul Simon-vibing “Blind Babe,” the dancey indie rock of “Little Fang” and the Animal Collective-ish and yes, infectious song “Catchy (Was Contagious).” But it’s not just the Avey Tare show, as Deradoorian’s ever-aerobic vocals bounce around the edges and give lovely shading to songs like “The Outlaw,” and anyone who got to witness Ponytail’s livewire act knows Hyman’s power as a drummer, which he displays on songs like the dynamic “That It Won’t Grow.” While we’ll always love Animal Collective, it’s obvious Avey Tare can create amazing work apart from that band, as he’s shown on the magical Enter the Slasher House. More
Genre: Rock

It's Album Time (CD)

Todd Terje

Following a string of brilliant singles, the Norwegian disco dude releases a full album of jammers to drink wine coolers, dance and twirl your moustache to.

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Live At The Hideout (CD)

Screaming Females

Some sort of smog blackened bastard child of stoned classic rock, '90s hole-in-amp filth-pop, and classic punk, the Females follow up 2012's Steve Albini-produced Ugly and a smattering of splits and singles released in 2013 with a full-length recorded live over the course of two performances at Chicago's Hideout bar/club. Recorded live by Steve Albini, Live At The Hideout showcases the band's live pummel and playfulness while never failing to spotlight Marissa Paternoster's remarkable post-Mascis guitar firepower.

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Genre: Rock

Doom Abuse (CD)

The Faint
I knew an older girl in high school who was a great painter and very mean in the casual unprovoked way that disaffected high schoolers often are. We had some art classes together and at some point, for some reason, she made me a mix of music that mostly scared me but also turned me on to the Faint. I wasn't a goth but that didn't stop me from being miserable and Todd Fink's sneering skater-brogue painting portraits of a world where everyone was bleeding and dying and had spinal injuries sprawled out in suburban pools and on kitchen tiles really resonated with me. On Doom Abuse, the snottiness has been toned down, replaced with a self-awareness that, if they had before, they didn't let on to. Overall, the songs are poppier, less bleak, but, oddly, peppered with harsher electronic glitch and noise than the band has ever used. The techno-interfaced image of suburban and urban teenage misery is relatively unchanged, tracking likes on Facebook and Instagram resulting in serotonin failures, disappointment, dejection, alienation; these emotions aren't going anywhere and though the technology has changed, they still need a voice. More
Genre: Rock

Midnight Sun (CD)

The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger
The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger gives a guided tour of bold, shape-shifting sonic murals and evocative lyrical panoramas. With an infectious sense of adventure akin to Beck and Flaming Lips, Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl have taken their creative and savvy approach to psychedelia to new extremes. More
Genre: Rock

Sunbather (CD)

Deafheaven

Screeching vocals and walls of noise are broken up by haunting, Smashing Pumpkins-esque, beautifully spare guitars. It’s an unusual trip and one you have to be willing to embark on, but Sunbather is intricately plotted, with great arrangements buried in the din and innovation in its threading together of disparate but connected genres (black metal, post-rock, indie rock and shoegaze). Some will shrug, others will feel like Deafheaven is one of the only bands speaking a language they understand.

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Genre: Rock

St. Vincent (CD)

St. Vincent

St. Vincent’s absolutely breathtaking new album begins, as Annie Clark’s previous albums have, like some unearthly musical. Clark seemingly touches down from another planet, asking “am I the only one in the world?” on opener “Rattlesnake” amid all manner of alien guitar and strange percussive squelches. “Birth in Reverse” similarly paints a vivid picture, starting with the lines “Oh what an ordinary day …  take out the garbage, masturbate.” “Birth in Reverse” explodes into an extraordinary, paranoid chorus of restless glee. Clark’s way with words has never been more cutting, as on “Prince Johnny,” which manages to be strikingly specific while keeping its deeper existential meaning vague (“Remember that time we snorted/That piece of the Berlin Wall you extorted?” is her best rhyming couplet yet.) Even her ballads bite—“I prefer your love to Jesus” is a thoroughly loaded line repeated on “I Prefer Your Love,” giving depth and conflict to what’s on the surface a beautiful, Kate Bush-inspired love song. Musically, Clark employs everything from decaying choruses (“Prince Johnny”) to hip-hop synths (“Huey Newton”) to Prince-esque atonal funk (“Digital Witness”), but it’s a remarkably cohesive listen, as though each element has been thoroughly considered and sanded down to perfection. As implied by naming her fourth album simply St. Vincent, it’s an album that seems to be about truly knowing oneself—or the thrilling discoveries that come with a lifetime of seeking that knowledge.

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Genre: Rock

Broadway (CD)

Myron & E, The Soul Investigators

My current favorite Bay Area duo of singer Myron and DJ/singer E The Boss, making retro soul music reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions … their backing band is the Soul Investigators, known for their fine work with soul singer Nicole Willis.

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Genre: Soul

Rap Album One (CD)

Jonwayne

It's tough for some to remain behind the scenes. Stones Throw signee Jonwayne has been a producer first and foremost, collaborating with the likes of Flying Lotus, but as the man himself says on his Facebook page, he's "a rapper and producer who refuses to give up either one." So Rap Album One is actually Jonwayne's third album and his first as an MC, and damn if he doesn't own it. His deep timbre lends extra gravitas to his rhymes on tracks like "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead," while other times he's goofing around on some nerd-rap vibes, rapping about juniper, Hermes and The Matrix on "Find Me in the Future." Meanwhile, his production remains top-notch, slow and menacing on "You Can Love Me When I'm Dead," big and open-hearted on "The Come Up Pt. 1," and mind-bending on "Pt. 2." Sure, everyone wants to be a star. Luckily for Jonwayne, he seems to be able to do it all.

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Genre: Hip Hop

AM (CD)

Arctic Monkeys

On their fifth album, seven years down the road from their initial and basically undeniable pop-punk razorblade "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor," the boys from Sheffield are back with an album that screams, or rather moans, "maturity." Maybe maturity is the wrong word - there's still the ageless teenage greasiness which made the band initially so appealing, but it's been refined and I simply refuse to believe that this refinement arrived coincidentally. Josh Homme, adult purveyor of timeless musical grease, makes an appearance on the record, and press materials surrounding both artists' current-events make a point of mentioning cross pollination. So what does this mean for said Monkeys? An opening track that sounds like Black Keys stompy bombast coupled with something like Spacemen 3 atmospheric tectonics, filthy wobbles and shimmer, lots of space both local and astral. This track, "Do I Wanna Know," is about as purposeful and narrative-establishing as an opening track can get, especially for a band known for exploding out in short bursts. It's a slow burner that paves the way for a record Homme has described as a "really cool, sexy, after-midnight record." This means Queens-style spooky grooving, melodic, laconic, druggy guitar solos, tired-drunk-guy crooning with falsetto doubling, and a shuffling, mid-tempo disco snark turned sneer in a nicer jacket a la someone like Jarvis Cocker's work with Pulp. In the words of Fatboy Slim "You've Come A Long Way, Baby."

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Genre: Rock