New Music Reviews: October 2015

New Releases from Aphex Twin, Big Talk, Kevin Gordon , and more!
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AFX
ORPHANED DEEJAY SELEK 2006-2008
Warp

Electronic architexturalist Richard D. James’ archives have flown open following Aphex Twin’s 2014 reboot, and these eight tracks pick up from his mid-2000s Analord and Tuss releases. More analog acid synth workouts than painstakingly finalized edits, these pleasingly dark, boxed-in sequences feature what sound like MC-4 16th-note pulses; pitch-shifting RZ-1, TR-606, TR-707, and TR-909 drums; TB-303 bass contortions; detuning chords/pads; low hums; and occasional prepared-piano fragments.
TONY WARE

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GHOST
MELIORA
LOMA VISTA

Now directed by “Papa Emeritus III” leading the “Nameless Ghouls,” Ghost’s comic metal stomp has never sounded so unified, streamlined, and pop friendly. Can U.S. radio acceptance be near for such carbuncle-bursting profundities as the Slayer-worthy “Mummy Dust,” the Zappa-meets-BTO pump-and-grind of “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” and the acoustic guitar sweetness of “He Is”? Opeth meets ABBA, anyone?
KEN MICALLEF

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KEVIN GORDON
LONG GONE TIME
CROWVILLE MEDIA

Kevin Gordon’s Long Gone Time is a great new collection of original story songs that touch on the personal and the political, in acoustic and electric settings. On acoustic tunes such as “Walking the Levee,” Gordon uses spare, reverberant layers of guitar tones and percussive string sounds to realize brooding moods and atmospheres. Electric numbers like “GTO” feature swampy, distorted everything. Similar to singer/songwriters like Ray Wylie Hubbard of James Mc-Murtry, Gordon commands listeners’ attention, and deserves it.
BARBARA SCHULTZ

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GARDENS & VILLA
MUSIC FOR DOGS
SECRETLY CANADIAN

Gardens & Villa move away from human and toward robot with each album. A protracted adjustment to this shift on the group’s third album, Music For Dogs, reveals this change is not for the good. Music For Dogs plays like an upside-down bell curve, with a high start and finish: Palpitating and Devo-like on “Maximize Results,” pretty and fun on “Fixations,” David Bowie channeled on “Happy Times,” “Jubilee” is a deadpan, yet catchy; then forgettable in the dipped middle.
LILY MOAYERI

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WINDHAND
GRIEF’S INFERNAL FLOWER
RELAPSE

Richmond, V.A.-based doom metal quintet Windhand starts its third full-length with the sound of fire crackling, following with an all-consuming blaze that willfully scorches everything—from lower octaves to the listener’s oxygen. Saturating dirges with germanium crunch, Windhand retains high-output sustain without slurring note articulation, balancing dank riffs and helical Palm Desert rock. Despite blistering elements, producer Jack Endino assures singer Dorthia Cottrell’s psyche-folk wail is shadow-cast but never blackened.
TONY WARE

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LINDI ORTEGA
FADED GLORYVILLE
LAST GANG

Lindi Ortega sings with as much wavering fragility as power. So, her blend of country ballads and soulful rock ’n’ roll shakes you up in more ways than one. Highlights on her latest, Faded Gloryville, include the hilarious rocker “Run Down Neighborhood” (“You can have some of my weed if I can smoke your cigarette/I might be running low but I ain’t out just yet”) and the tender acoustic finale “Half Moon,” where Ortega’s croons and whispers sung into the night sky will break the hardest heart.
BARBARA SCHULTZ

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BIG TALK
STRAIGHT IN NO KISSIN’
LITTLE OIL

Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci believes that rock and roll is still the stuff of legends, and he puts his mouth into his mission, fronting Big Talk on guitar and vocals while his sturdy quintet goes all tumescent on Straight In No Kissin.’ Vannucci’s vocals recall Jeff Lynne, and Big Talk’s music is equally true to classic rock expectation. “What Happened to Delisa,” for instance, offers pulsating Farfisa, pogo rhythms, and sweet vocal harmonies—the best New Wave single never released.
KEN MICALLEF