An album filled with restless electricity and inspired songwriting, Ty Segall’s ninth record, Ty Segall, resembles a magnificent debut, not a mid-career expression. A master of any minor rock genre he cares to engage, Segall and company blast hard ’n’ heavy garage rock in opener “Break a Guitar,” go knees-broken Nashville skyline in “Talkin,’” mash Leslie West’s Mountain with solo John Lennon in “The Only One,” get all poppy flower-power sincere in the single “Orange Color Queen,” and cover themselves in fur on “Papers.” Is Segall the new Nilsson or the old Rundgren?
NOTES OF BLUE
Before “Americana” was coined, Son Volt re-invigorated classic country with punk attitude. Frontman Jay Farrar’s songs are warm and spacious, with loads of room for detailed, delicate playing or fierce guitar crunch. And his arresting voice—full of longing and, still, that punk attitude—evokes the elongated midrange of John Doe, with a pinch of George Jones’ propensity to bend one vowel into 2 or 3 syllables. With his lovely Notes of Blue, Farrar still carries the torch for timeless, unvarnished American music.
The astronomical success of 2013’s The North Borders brings too much anticipation to Bonobo’s new album, Migration. He returns with the unexpected. Migration is primarily vocal-free, with much of it awash in quiet atmospheric textures. There is the occasional organic injection, such as the Middle Eastern elements cushioned in the soundscapes of “Ontario,” or breakbeats, such as on the hyper “Outlier.” And when Nick Murphy, fka Chet Faker, dusts his magic over the pretty “No Reason,” it is enchanting.
NEAR TO THE WILD HEART OF LIFE
Canadian rawk duo Japandroid returns from a four-year hiatus with a third album that fades in equal parts raw-throated travelogue and vulnerable inner monologue. Drawing on hard-bitten scenes and The Boss, it’s eight anthems as cradling, willful, careening, and longing-filled as a tour van, determined to hit hard and not overstay their welcome. The mix by Peter Katis introduces low-end energy and processed haze without sacrificing the guitar’s ragged glory and the aggression or brightness of drums and vocal melodies.
THE ROLLING STONES
BLUE AND LONESOME
The 2016 Rolling Stones don’t sound exactly like they did in 1964. Fifty-plus years of stardom and evolving production values can’t not leave a mark. But close enough! If you just close your eyes, and connect to these Chicago-style electric blues covers in the way that the Stones always have, there’s zero love lost. Under the ever authentic production guidance of Don Was, Blue & Lonesome renews our deep affection for Muddy and the Wolf, as well as for Mick and Keith.
HARDWIRED ... TO SELF-DESTRUCT
With millions sold and Metallica burgers ceaselessly coming off the conveyor belt, it’s safe to say the band’s formula/fate is set. Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct is as fun as a night out smashing windows and picking shards from flesh. Pump your fist to Lars’ militaristic punch and Hetfield’s scowl, and groove! The pulse is supremely paced in “Now That We’re Dead”; approximates jackhammer solidity in “Moth into Flame”; plays guillotine soundtrack in “Halo on Fire”; and finds finger-plucked sincerity in “ManUNkind.”
If the title of big-room electronic producer Joel Zimmerman’s eighth album sounds like a sketch repository, that’s because in a way it is. Various iterations of these 11 songs got drafted, processed, and streamed online well before final masters. Refined, however, the driving, melodic elements exhibit ranging genres and spectral retro-fantasy atmosphere/contemporary eSports pulse. Even more formulaic electro, prog- and tech-house arrangements breathe with mercurial texture, while highlights delve into bleached- and blissed-out stuttering machine soul.