Nude Beach don’t sound like the Talking Heads (whose earthshaking debut album was also called 77), but they are influenced by a good many ’70s and ’80s indie rock ‘n’ roll and punk groups, such as early R.E.M., Replacements, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Glam shades of T. Rex and Stones-esque power moves also creep in. This trio—with their catchy songs and walls of guitar sounds—have taken on a lot, but they do it all with joy and skill. The result is a blast.
FAITH IN STRANGERS
Modern Love Manchester-based Andy Stott works the subterranean realms on Faith in Strangers, creating dense pieces in shifting layers of sound. Static-filled beats morph into suffocating rhythms (“Science and Industry”), and dry synths intimate Blade Runner-like alienation (“Violence”), providing all the comfort of an empty alien teat. Exploiting field recordings, found sounds, and ethereal vocal treatments, Stott re-imagines his heralded 2012 release, Luxury Problems, as a bleak yet oddly welcome world.
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS
MONUMENTS TO AN ELEGY
Martha’s Music The combination of super overdriven guitars along with Billy Corgan’s unique voice is here in force. With the addition of Tommy Lee’s drums, “Elegy” is a winning effort. True to his style with The Pumpkins’ ’90s hits, producer David Botrill’s mix serves these new songs with pop-ish synth loop intros that often remind the listener of Cheap Trick or The Who at the top of their game, using simple melodies as counterpoints to the wall of power chords.
FEAR AND SATURDAY NIGHT
Axster Bingham Singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham wrote songs for his latest album, alone in an Airstream trailer on a mountain, somewhere out in California. The full-blown recordings he made in the studio with producer/engineer Jim Scott flesh them out with big, soulful folk-rock tracks that subtly echo the Crazy Heart sounds that earned this artist Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe Awards. As always, Bingham’s arresting, scratchy vocal only adds to the raw intensity of his beautiful songs.
RUN THE JEWELS
RUN THE JEWELS 2
Mass Appeal Run The Jewels are two dirty boys coming down on the side of dissonance, the duo of El-P and Killer Mike delivering caustic bangers and cerebral screeds. The two aren’t just rapping on the beat; they’re beating the rap game: Decades into their careers, they’ve honed a rawness dragging the lineage of the Bomb Squad, Da Lench Mob, and the Dungeon Family through dystopian grime. Percussive arrangements and sociopolitical provocation flows from claustrophobic barrage to intoxicating slur.
GIVE MY LOVE TO LONDON
Easy Sound Marianne Faithfull’s dark, smoky voice is played against spectacularly gorgeous, ethereal arrangements produced by Rob Ellis and Dimitri Tikovoi and mixed by Flood. With other musical contributions by Brian Eno and members of the Bad Seeds, and songs penned by Nick Cave, Steve Earle, Roger Waters, and more, the sounds are sometimes lush and haunting, sometimes more like big folk Pogues-esque anthems (like the title track). Check this one out and find the great beauty in contrasts.
Tusk or Tooth/Kobalt Nanna Øland Fabricius, aka Oh Land, is a Scandinavian pop artist working every electronic dance cliche known to man, woman, and beast, yet somehow she makes everything fresh and soap-scrub appealing. Perhaps it’s her bold good vibrations or peachy-keen vocals; Oh Land brings sunshine to our world in the irresistibly buoyant “Head Up High,” the adolescent bubblegum balladry of ”Nothing Is Over,” and the clanging pistons of “Hot ‘n’ Bothered.” Expect squeaky-clean good things.