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Music We Like

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America's Velvet Glory (CD)

The Molochs

The Velvet Glory that these beats refer to might be found in Warhol’s Factory circa 1966, a time and sound that The Molochs eagerly hark back to while precariously contemplating their own stake in the modern world. The guitars jangle, the organ whines, and singer Lucas Fitzsimons drawls a diary of street-smart angst in tradition with the best of them, from Jonathan Richman to Gordon Gano. In love with the past, but blearily singing for the future.

The Far Field (CD)

Future Islands

With its uplifting rhythm and melancholic mood, Future Islands' latest album is a consistent follow-up to the excellent Singles , which launched them into the mainstream's attention in 2014. Although the album is called The Far Field , the band hasn't strayed too far from their familiar territory, even while using their live drummer for the first time in the studio and adding some string arrangements. The result, thankfully, is more emotionally resonant and catchy synth-pop anthems with minimal, effective post-punk bass, atmospheric synths, and Samuel Herring's uniquely affecting vocals, which belong somewhere between the walls of Factory Records and the mountains of Middle Earth.

Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (CD)

Japandroids

After five years without any releases, Vancouver based Japandroids are back, certifying their place in the hall of late night, barroom anthem makers. Title track, "Near To The Wild Heart Of Life," is a bonafide chorus chanter and melancholy uplifter, doused in sentiment. With its unapologetically romantic vignettes it evokes Springsteen at his most arena-rock, like a "Born To Run" for the alt/indie age. With songs like "No Known Drink Or Drug," "True Love And A Free Life Of Free Will," and "North East South West," Japandroids prove there is no type of song they can't approach with tenacity or sincerity.

Gargoyle (CD)

Mark Lanegan Band

Mark Lanegan is one of those musicians who seems to have been involved with so many projects, but is always just a few inches away from the spotlight himself. He was in the under-appreciated Screaming Trees, collaborated with Kurt Cobain, performed in the Queens of the Stone Age, and recorded three solid albums with Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian. That isn't even mentioning the unreleased material and solo albums. As he's aged, his voice has gotten more gravely and heavier and he sounds closer to an aged blues or folk singer of the past. On Gargoyle , he uses his voice like an instrument of pain in an album that's halfway between psychedelic and industrial. Incorporating synths in a way he never has before, along with some straight out shoegazey endless guitar reverb, Mark Lanegan's latest resembles '80s art rock more than anything. "Beehive" opens up with buzzing (no pun intended) that turns into a '60s guitar riff dipped in toxic waste. His coarse voice comes in and is surprisingly melodic, unlike the worn voices of Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits. For a voice that sounds like it could rip his throat any second, he has a surprising range and harmonic sense over a borderline pop track. "Nocturne" is probably closer to the direction he's been heading in. With a quick, repetitive guitar belting out mostly one note, the synths get stuck in short rhythms that are just as brooding as they are dancey. Mark Lanegan somehow makes an album that's stuck in the forms of the past as they are in modern ideas to create something that gives a dystopian view of '60s pop. It doesn't pay off with catchy melodies, but offers rich textures, careful lyrics, and the right amount of strange experimentation that rock needs.

Odd Boat (CD)

Flatfoot 56

Flatfood 56 makes Celtic melodies into punk and it's no sloppy gimmick either. They use the bouncy rhythms and haunting melodies, and accelerate them to 100mph. Formed in 2000 by brothers Justin, Tobin, and Kyle, their brand of Irish punk has been shredding ears by combining fuzzed guitars and bagpipes like they were always meant to be together. Their seventh album, Odd Boat , has a ragtag, intense mood that leads them ahead as the most interesting and dynamic of the Celtic/punk subgenre. "Penny" gallops relentlessly with the occasional "AY!" to punctuate that mood. The precision sharp guitar playing clicks with gorgeous rhythms. The most unexpected diversion the song takes is the calm in the middle of the storm as it slows down into a beautiful harmony. Guest vocalist IL Neige comes out with a gorgeous reprieve that offers rest from the otherwise delirious track. Odd Boat is helluva banger. Blast this and get ready to jump up and down.

All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ (CD)

Joey Bada$$

Joey Bada$$'s sophomore release still keeps him in place as the bridge from the golden era of hip hop to the new age. He picks up where he left off lyrically, but on this effort his topics include America's current status and the powers that be. It's the variety of beats and the delivery of his message that pull you in to listen and feel where he's coming from. Just as the albums before this one, B4.Da.$$ and 1999 , All-Amerikkkan Badass is a record that will stay in your rotation without being retired anytime soon. Standout songs: "Rockabye Baby," "Legendary," "For My People," and "Babylon."

Worry. (CD)

Jeff Rosenstock

With Worry. , the former frontman of Bomb The Music Industry! and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches has released his third solo album and perhaps crowning achievement to date. Much like the title would presume, the lyrics deal in modern anxieties: impersonal technology, social alienation, rampant police brutality, the creeping specter of adulthood, and any other possible fears felt by those between the ages of 20 and 50. What is not a given is how positive everything feels, as these existentially nervous songs are delivered with a punk/power-pop veneer that is absolutely life-affirming. Particular highlight “To Be a Ghost” showcases the album's strengths, as an acoustic guitar lead screed against the powers that be starts off calm and somber before escalating into rock and roll heroics, complete with cranked amp fireworks and a shout-along refrain. Not a man tempered by ambition, Rosenstock fills side B of the record with an Abbey Road -esque melody of largely one minute punk blasts that effectively sum up the first 15 years of his career. Worry. reads like a laundry list of grievances, but it sounds like an exultation: a glorious, whooping breath of fresh air.

2016 Atomized (CD)

The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes are simultaneously split between the past and the future. Though their music has the elements of electronic pop and experimentation that you commonly hear in indie rock and even on radio hits, there's something simultaneously nostalgic and vintage in the mix. Previously the band has embraced a '60s vibe, but their latest is shamelessly '80s. 2016 Atomized is labeled an "anti-album" as it's more of a compilation. Each month, the Danish duo would upload a unique track online, and 2016 Atomized collects them all together with no thematic connection other than the way they were released and a shared post-industrial dance mood. It's definitely a disorienting trip, one the band calls "potentially schizophrenic & disjointed, potentially cohesive and related." March's "EXCUSES" is a perfect example of what they were experimenting with. Initially starting off as a sorta Cure-ish shoegazey rocker, it suddenly slows down into '90s melodramatic R&B. The lyrics are deliciously relevant as the chorus chants "Time to let lose / wanna get bruised / fuck your excuse / hit me with nukes," somewhere between war time horror and post-breakup anger. "Junko Ozawa," which borrows its name from the composer of the classic video game themes to Pac-Man and Dig-Dug , is as video gamey as pop gets. The classic jealous, frustrated lyrics are comic over a melody that feels like it could have come out of an arcade machine replete with 8-bit bleeps and bloops. Despite not having the narrative cohesion of a full album, there's something beautiful about how each drastically different track leads to the other. They still all have one thing in common: they're fun!

Rabid (BLU)

David Cronenberg

Early Cronenberg that will spread its rabid virus onto you. If you like Cronenberg and haven’t seen this one, watch it. Own the recently released Blu-ray collector’s edition. -

Pure Comedy (CD)

Father John Misty

On Pure Comedy , we find the troubadour musing about his life, society, and pop culture over downbeat folk rock melodies. “Leaving LA” is a raw, meandering account of life spent too long up in the hills. The title track is insightful, intense, and hard-to-forget. “Total Entertainment Forever” sees Father John discussing Taylor Swift’s appeal — it’s a dissection of celebrity you didn’t know you needed in your life (or eardrums) until now. All in all, Father John Misty provides the perfectly melancholy, dryly funny, and surprisingly moving soundtrack to our times.

Visuals (CD)

Mew

It is 2017 and Mew are still reaching for the stratosphere. The prog-pop Danish stargazers have released their first album since trimming back down to a trio following their 2015 release, +- . However, despite the departure of guitarist Bo Madsen, Visuals does not find Mew's sound growing any smaller. In fact, this might be their most cinematic release yet, featuring a greater embrace of synths and strings than ever before. One listen to album closer “Carry Me To Safety” should assuage any worries of austerity, as it encapsulates all of Mew's eccentricities onto one track: behold lush orchestration, gentle falsetto, proggy Radiohead-esque guitars, big ass drums, and a general sense of pomp and grandiosity filtered through an undeniable pop sensibility. This is space age music that splits the difference between Styx and M83; a dreamy, sweet toothed collection of songs that for all their unabashed lighter-in-the-air glory remain tasteful and inventive. Someone get Laserium on board, they have a real winner on their hands.

Al Jamilat (CD)

Yasmine Hamdan

It seems like it was divine intervention that Yasmine Hamdan's first exposure to the west was in Jim Jarmusch's 2013 film Only Lovers Left Alive , where she gave a wonderful live performance that felt like a perfect preview of her sound. Her first album reached the States the following year, delivering a fresh sound in the world of art pop. Now three years later, she returns with her third album and it's already one of the best albums of the spring season. Treading between trip hop influenced rhythms and Middle Eastern tonalities, her unique voice leads the way for new directions in pop. The album has been loosely translated as "The Beautiful Ones" or The Beautiful Women" and it reflects what Hamdan has in mind. She herself says that "It's about me as a woman... I think of women as a minority in most societies today. Women, children, homosexuals, transsexuals. We are all, in a way, minorities of when it comes to power and economic structures."   In a time when the west seems to be turning to myopic, racist, and intolerant views, embracing her femininity and racial identity in a multicultural world feels like defiant protest. "La Ba'den" opens with a guitar echo reverberating in out-of-tune wonky experimentation until the beat kicks in and morphs the song into a chill electronic riff. Her voice has a gruffness and raspier overtone that puts her in a similar league with Marianne Faithful's current work. As the song starts to wind down, the instrumentation spreads out with Arabic violins delicately screeching, minimal piano chords, and harmonic ambiance until the track vaporizes. Yasmine Hamdan proves that protest music is alive and still retains that level of poetry and sensitivity it always has. It's an album that's made in defiance of the changing values of our world.

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Amoeblog


John Waters’ 1994 wistful tale of a suburban supermom turned mass murderer is out May 9th in all of its remastered Blu-ray glory.