Another Friday, another set of albums for you to check out.
Avril Lavigne – “Hello Kitty”
In what is a giant fuck you to music, we have Avril Lavigne. Canada, please, we’re dealing with Bieber, can’t you please keep this one? *looks at Christine* After initially being deleted it appears to have been restored. Secretly, I love it. ROFL. -Faith
Courtney Barnett – The Double EP: A Side of Split Peas
Though this album hit the interwebs sometime last autumn, it didn’t get its proper debut in the United States until this past week. I actually received this on vinyl a month ago, thanks to record club [Ed. note: and friends of the blog] Vinyl Me Please, but when the opportunity came to see Barnett do an in-store at my favorite local record shop the other day, I revisited this album heavily leading up to the event.
Courtney Barnett probably can be most obviously compared to Stephen Malkmus, with her slacker charm. When I saw her do her set, Kimya Dawson of The Moldy Peaches in performance also came to mind. But what really iced my delight in listening to Barnett are her lyrics. If you pay attention, you’ll hear some great rhymes that come off as easy, but are as complex as those of the late great Lou Reed. And best of all, she seems like someone with whom you could sit at a bar for a few friendly pints. -Qbertplaya
Ibibio Sound System – Ibubio Sound System
Ibibio Sound System’s self-titled debut record is an ebullient combination of highlife, afrobeat, disco, post-punk, funk, and soul, hailing from Nigeria via London. The 8-piece band manages to sound both thoroughly modern and utterly timeless. The upbeat jams like thumping lead single “Let’s Dance (Yak Inek Unek)” and electrofunk jam “The Talking Fish (Asem Usem Iyak)” are the songs that the most immediate on a first listen, but repeated listens reveal that Ibibio is just as rewarding, and even beautiful, when they slow the pace to let you breathe. -Ramona
Janel Leppin and Anthony Pirog – Where Is Home
I have a very cerebral pick coming across the wire this week. Cellist, Janel Leppin , and improvisational-guitar virtuoso, Anthony Pirog create complex atmospheric compositions, focused improvisations, and a tightly layered sonic landscape that excites your musical limbic system. They have an album together entitled Where Is Home out on Cuneiform Records. Listen to this as a complete piece. As you enjoy this album you’ll ask yourself if they have solo work and you will find the answer here. They have each played with a number of notable composers (Merzbow, Eyvind Kang). Don’t be foolish by glazing over this recommendation. Do the link leg work. -Rocky
Kelis – Food
Hold on. Bear with me a moment. Yes, you may only know Kelis from one of the following: A. her Milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard or B. her overall Bossy-ness, or C. her blase diva vocals for generic house DJs the likes of David Guetta, but give this one a chance. In what has to be one of the most remarkable (and all-encompassing) re-branding efforts ever, Kelis now has her own cooking show, a food truck that created buzz at SXSW, and a new album of retro-soul and funk that is, well, pretty incredible. On an album that ranges from topics like the origin of capacity to love to motherhood and ex-husband Nas’ emotional unavailability, Kelis has never sounded more comfortable in her own shoes. And with titles like “Jerk Ribs”, “Friday Fish Fry”, “Cobbler”, and “Biscuits n’ Gravy”, she leaves the listener hungry for more. “Jerk Ribs” and “Hooch” are wonderfully arranged with funk horn sections that would sound at home on a 70s Curtis Mayfield-produced record. Dave Sitek, of TV in the Radio fame, admirably produced this album and shows versatility on both bangers (“Friday Fish Fry”, “Jerk Ribs”) and emotive ballads (“Rumble”, “Floyd”). It’s about as fun as the Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse collaborations of old. This wholesome, serious side of Kelis is pretty awesome, and should ensure that she is remembered as more than a one or two hit amusement. -Jeff
Miner – Into the Morning
Now upon first listen to any of Miner I immediately thought, “ugh not another Edward Sharpe reincarnation” but as I continued I found that Miner has all of what is good about Edward Sharpe and more. Bright layered vocals and great melodies make this album a perfect springtime folk rock album, enjoy. -Dave P.
Pye Corner Audio – Black Mills Tapes (Volume 4)
This week I have been listening to Pye Corner Audio’s Black Mill Tapes (Volume 4). It sounds like classic electronica, like the soundtrack to a sci-fi movie from the 80’s, like some kind of otherworldly, ambient, hypnotic nightmare. And you can dance to it. -Christine
The Oh Hello’s – Through The Deep, Dark Valley
I have spent time in between soaking up new releases exploring past releases. My love for music has always been strong, but I admittedly did not dive into it as much as I do now. Several beautiful albums slipped through my fingers as a result. This LP from The Oh Hello’s is a prime example. Its beauty rests in simplicity and sincerity. It is a well-crafted piece of harmonic indie folk. You can, of course, stream it via Spotify. But the album is also available as “name your price” over at Bandcamp. You can grab it for free or you can support these talented musicians with what you feel the album is worth. -Jeremy
Teebs – E s t a r a
Call this recommendation one of situational appeal – in that I believe it may only be enjoyed under certain circumstances. In E s t a r a, Teebs provides the listener with a very coherent set of low-intensity electronic tracks. The downside, though, is that they are also low impact – which is good in some scenarios. In my previous reviews, I’ve typically picked out standout tracks that were particularly wonderful (or terrible). I cannot do that with this album. The very chill, boarding on melancholy, vibe this album gives off is persistent throughout – to the point of unity. I say that this is a situational recommendation because I found my enjoyment of the album depended on the situation I found myself in. The first scenario, where I enjoyed the album, was when I was writing. The inoffensive nature of E s t a r a facilitated my focus on the content of my work such that, when the album ended and my playlist transitioned to WhoMadeWho’s Dreams, I found myself going through a 2nd and 3rd listen of E s t a r a. The second scenario is when I was commuting to work. The mild nature of the album made me forget I was evening listening to any music whatsoever. While this album was playing throughout my car’s stereo, I was literally reaching for my phone so that I could put on music. I had forgotten I had music on while this album was playing. Take that as you will – You may love it – you may hate it. I suppose it’s a conditional recommendation. -Christopher
TuNe-YaRdS – Nikki Nack
There have been brief moments of awesome this year as far as new releases go. There have been more moments of anticipation to only be let down and then consigned to move on to the next. I’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for that unicorn of an album that I listen to over and over and over again. I…I think I caught my unicorn with the tune-yards’ Nikki Nack. -Faith