Another month, another batch of great new music. Although I always aim to keep these monthly round-ups as diverse as possible, my previous posts still seemed to favour my preferred folky/low-key genres. I think this month’s Top Tracks represents as many different genres as possible though, so hopefully there is something for everyone to enjoy:
There is some really good pop music going around lately. Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” are some of the best pop songs made in decades, and Rhye’s “Open” sits perfectly beside those instant classics. Although this song was released over a year ago on an EP, a full album has arrived expanding on the sensual groove found here.
“I See Seaweed”
From: I See Seaweed
Genre: Punk Blues
Gareth Liddiard, one of Australia’s finest songwriters, is back in all of his glorious verbosity with The Drones’ first album in five years. Although I See Seaweed may lack an obvious stand-out track like most of their previous albums (see “Shark Fin Blues”, “Jezebel”, “The Minotaur”), it may be their finest album to date and will hopefully garner them the wider recognition that they deserve.
As if Swans’ lengthy The Seer from last year wasn’t enough, Autechre have released a double album to challenge our endurance. Two hours is a long time for any genre of music, let alone glitchy IDM. However, like a fine painting that you can only appreciate once you step closer to inspect the detail, these kinds of albums have a lot to offer if digested as a few songs at a time.
From: Cerulean Salt
The sophomore album of Katie Crutchfield’s solo project Waxahatchee builds on her sparse American Weekend from last year, adding in electric guitars and a full band this time around. Regardless of the instrumentation though, the undeniable candour of Crutchfield’s voice is a delight to listen to and harks back to the more straightforward singer/songwriting of the 90s.
From: Honky Tonk
I have always felt a little sorry for Jay Farrar. Destined to remain a footnote to Jeff Tweedy’s career, even his recent collaborative tribute to Woody Guthrie New Multitudes seemed to go unnoticed compared to Wilco’s Mermaid Avenue series. So while Honky Tonk may not be the most exciting album released lately, it is some of the best country music you will hear this year.
Genre: Psychedelic Folk
I generally find experimental music is best when the experimental side of things is kept as subtle as possible, as is the case on Julian Lynch’s latest Lines. Each song here is bubbling with unique textures and a diverse range of instruments, but this never detracts from the overall music and often results in a very catchy tune.
Chelsea Light Moving
From: Chelsea Light Moving
Genre: Noise Rock
With Sonic Youth on indefinite hiatus, Thurston Moore has assembled a few friends together to record some noisy rock as Chelsea Light Moving. You could probably analyse this album all you like in the context of Moore’s recent separation from long-time partner Kim Gordon or compare it to Sonic Youth’s best, but perhaps it is best to just enjoy it as a fun little collection of songs.
From: Abandon All Life
In a surprising turn of events, my favourite album of the month is a short burst of grindcore/powerviolence. As a foreigner to these kinds of genres, I don’t know my Napalm Deaths from my Pig Destroyers, so I don’t know how this compares to the greats. Regardless, this is an entirely enjoyable 17 minutes of music that for some strange reason I can’t stop returning to.
As always, there were plenty more great new releases in March that didn’t make the playlist for one reason or another. A man of many different personas and alter egos, David Bowie decides to play David Bowie on The Next Day. Low’s leisurely The Invisible Way almost made the playlist but was kicked out by Julian Lynch. Apparently JT’s The 20/20 Experience is also brilliant, but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet.
April is shaping up to be full of major releases. Actually, I should say that April 16 is shaping up to be full of major releases, with The Flaming Lips, Iron & Wine, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Thee Oh Sees all dropping new albums on that day. The Knife will also release Shaking the Habitual on April 8, with opening track “A Tooth For An Eye” sounding promising.