Album Picks: Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Thee Oh Sees

Posted by Billy Gil, May 26, 2015 10:43am | Post a Comment

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love

Unknown Mortal Orchestra continue their transition into the best funk band from another dimension with Multi-Love. The title track sounds like Stevie Wonder on a space-rock kick, as frontman Ruban Nielson raspily sings of polyamorous affairs over proggy movements and danceable beats. “Like Acid Rain’s” disintegrated R&B dazzles and melts in your ears. “The World Is Crowded’s” lockstep groove accompanies lush soul vocals singing quizzical lyrics, asking “did she blow my brains out?” like a robot waking up from a one-night stand. And “Ur Life in One Night” takes the psychedelic-leaning funk and soul of the ’70s and making it sound truly interstellar, as though Curtis Mayfield and Funkadelic records were transmitted via satellite to an alien galaxy, and this was the responding message. But however proudly UMO wave their freak flag, Multi-Love is still rooted in reality. “Can’t Keep Checking My Phone” begins on a film-noir opening, with cinematic horns, booty-shaking jungle drums and 007 riffs growing into curious melodies that curl into an earworm chorus on perhaps their best song yet. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s particular universe is perplexing only until you get your footing; then you’ll never want to leave. It’s one of the best things we’ve heard all year.


Thee Oh Sees - Mutilator Defeated At Last

On their sixth album, S.F.’s Thee Oh Sees show complete mastery over rock ‘n’ roll like a mythical beast tamed to bend to their wills. Mutilator begins on the deliciously tense “Web,” its bass spelunking around cavernous space while a roaring guitar and analog synth move in sync over a rumbling beat and John Dwyer’s vocals creep around softly. By contrast, the album’s next track, “Withered Hand,” is all screaming distortion and evangelical wail. “Poor Queen’s” regal riffery and “Turned Out Light’s” Southern rock licks follow, and the album then ventures further into psychedelic environs as it progresses, emerging on the other end with a bristling rocker (“Rogue Planet”) and ending as mysteriously as it began on the spacey “Palace Doctor.” Even on a relatively short album, Thee Oh Sees take you on a strange trip with as many exhilarating moments as there are dark passages to explore. Don’t miss out.

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Thee Oh Sees (31), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (10), New Releases (214), New Albums (213), Album Picks (146)