Les Sins re-brands mastermind producer Chaz Bundick (the man behind Toro y Moi) as a largely instrumental, sample-heavy dancefloor act. Although it moves through dark, funky, bouncy, and mellow moods and features only one full vocal track, Michael maintains a coherent album flow, as well as hip-shakeability. A distinct ’90s vibe permeates the house, techno, and up-tempo hip-hop styles, as Bundick twists, mangles, and stretches obscure samples, yet there’s nothing stale about this singular effort.
Annie Lennox transports each of the American classics on her latest solo release into a new, aweinspiring place. It’s not just the way she captures the essence of “I Put a Spell on You” or “Summertime” with a beautiful performance—it’s the way Lennox and coproducer Mike Stevens judiciously change up the instrumentation and production techniques. The reverberant organ on “Georgia on My Mind," and the dreamy 1920s intro/outro to “Memphis in June” are just two examples.
SYRO is the first Aphex Twin-branded album since 2001, masked in song titles as busy as the 138 outboard components used to compose this 12-track electro-acid-breakbeat funk primer/palate cleanser. Like the “Analord” EP series, SYRO meticulously (re)sequences familiar rave templates that feel out of step with and completely within context of everything non-AFX. Neither hi-fi nor high concept, SYRO is skittish, melodic, staccato and glacial; a series of modulated envelopes. Essentially, it’s an analog fetishist’s dream.
This debut from Gorgon City is filled with golden-throated vocalists, among them, Laura Welsh, Katy B, and Jennifer Hudson. The flagship tune, “Ready for Your Love,” an irresistibly smooth collaboration with MNEK, sets the mid-tempo, shuffling tone for the album. While Sirens is somewhat monotone and at times melancholic, its primarily booty-bouncing persona is born of the dance floor, but not restricted to that space. In fact, Sirens is more conducive to sunkissed days than dark evenings.
BROKEN SWENGLISH, VOL. 2
When he’s not busy as one third of Swedish indie-pop darlings Peter Bjorn and John, Peter Morén pumps out a few solo jams per year. On this EP, Morén strikes ’70s easy-listening gold. Whether it’s catchy meta lyrics about the music industry on “The Odyssey,” a sugary string section on “Hit Where it Hurts,” the delicate background harmonies of “Esther,” or the wistful chorus of “Capri,” Morén keeps his expertly produced pop tunes light and airy.
…AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD
Austin’s Trail of Dead is a peristaltic post-hardcore band, currently a quartet, which half-flailed its way through early albums, and 2012’s Lost Songs compellingly refocused on that serrated, thrashing facet with little reprise. This ninth full-length, however, is less fever-pitched and hell-bent, gradually building in melodic, monolithic stature across suites of resonant percussion and guitar squall. The drums maintain a lot of air without sounding distant, and synths dovetail with generous reverb.
WHILE NO ONE WAS LOOKING…
Indie label Bloodshot Records marks 20 years in business with a compilation that rises above the typical anniversary retrospective. This 38-song collection features new covers of songs from the Bloodshot catalog. Warm Soda has a great low-fi fuzz version of the Gore Gore Girls’ “All Grown Up.” Iowa singer/songwriter William Elliott Whitmore does a raw interpretation of Neko Case’s “I Wish I Was the Moon.” There’s much to celebrate as Bloodshot and its wonderful roster pass this milestone.