THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
BORN IN THE ECHOES
From the first single, “Under Neon Lights,” with vocals by St. Vincent, to “Go” (featuring Q-Tip), “EML Ritual” (Ali Love), and “Wide Open” (Beck), it’s clear that Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands have lost none of their big-beat addled, psychedelia- enhanced freakness. Always a duo to produce solid song hooks within explosive productions, The Chemical Brothers’ have created new party anthems that sound a little dated, as if Fatboy Slim can’t leave the club. Smartly relying on their trademark synths, beats, iconic warbles, and treated vocals, The Chemical Brothers still party like it’s 1999.
YO LA TENGO
STUFF LIKE THAT THERE
Acknowledged as a spiritual successor to 1990’s anodyne Fakebook, a revue of folky covers and low-key originals, this latest from Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew is an even softer-hued, seasoned collection of reworkings. Drums set to jazz brush, upright bass wistfully ambling, and reverb dialed primarily to sopping, Hoboken’s finest shuffle through electrified campfire melodies and red velvet curtain harmonies. The end result is more sumptuous and hushed than anything else in the band’s catalog.
LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE DOGS
The soaring harmonies of twin singer/ songwriters Craig and Charlie Reid are always worth hearing, from their early popish days in the late ’80s (This Is the Story, Sunshine on Leith) to their magnificent roots-based songs (Persevere, 2001), to later, more synthesized arrangements (Life With You). Their latest is a solid collection of introspective pop songs and romantic ballads, with orchestral flourishes, pretty organ parts, and a totally Crickets intro (“You Built Me Up”).
AM AND SHAWN LEE
CELESTIAL ELECTRIC MUSIC
The transatlantic union of Los Angeles’ AM and London’s Shawn Lee produces a third full-length of the pair’s signature ’70s-influenced, soulful, spacey grooves. Outlines takes its cues from soundtracks, but its distinction is in its funky pop bent. Album opener “Persuasion” sets the tone with a raindrop-like synth pattern and saucy beat, picked up in the twangy synths of “In Moments” with AM’s falsetto hitting highs on the chorus.
THE SUBLIMINAL AND THE SUBLIME
Using assorted instruments, including Tibetan singing bowls, timpani, and bowed vibes, with a conventional jazz quintet, vibraphonist Chris Dingman channels his inner John Muir in this beautiful through-composed work. Inspired by his journey through the American West wilderness, this album continually changes shape but not color, like a night sky between dusk and dawn. Arcing melodies circle and hover as the musicians illustrate the music with long flourishes and intimate asides.
“I got plans for me!” Lauren Denitzio sings in “Plans,” the second track on the Worriers’ new album. Imaginary Life kicks ass as a straight-up punk record. But drill deeper, and you’ll find lyrical poignancy and musical moments—harmonies and keyboard touches— that elevate this tuneful album even higher than the raging guitars and Denitzio’s beautiful voice can take it. Try to imagine Natalie Merchant fronting Motörhead, and you’ll start to have an idea of the Worriers’ sound.
Baltimore, Maryland’s Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally channel dream pop’s murky romanticism through keys, guitar, vocals, and reverb as their lead instrument. With their fifth full-length the duo pull back from road-tested dynamics and detach further into a “Twin Peaks” roadhouse-like recess, eschewing live drums and trebly crests for a more airless pulse underpinning eddies of smeared melody. It’s a well rather than a wall of sound, balancing narrow and resonant dimensions drawn from a consistently saturated harmony chain.