Sorry to Bother You
BOOTS RILEY’S first love is hip-hop, which dovetails smartly with the activist ethos he brings to his music, but it’s dismissive to label him a mere prophet of rage. With a delivery that mixes wry humor, deep insight and the laid-back style of a smooth operator, Riley is also keenly aware that he needn’t be limited by funky beats and raw samples; his albums are collaborative outings, and his latest features Jolie Holland, Joe Henry, Vernon Reid, and more. Give the man a Moog Little Phatty, and he’s the toast of the neighborhood.
Australian psychedelic merchants Tame Impala return with their vision refined, their mechanics excelled, and their melodies as head-trippingly colorful as an injection of peppermint psyclobin. Exploring sun-spotting guitars, sci-fi synths, and reverberating rhythms, Lonerism combines Magical Mystery Tour with Are You Experienced?, levitating listeners skyward and beyond.
Welcome Reality +
UK production duo Dan Stephens and Joe Ray, with vocalist Alana Watson, lob the gnarled synths and dystopian bombast of ’90s rave architects such as Joey Beltram and Messiah atop highly torqued hook-oriented dubstep. Repacking 2011’s debut, the team adds two original compositions and one Skrillex remix to the initial 14 tracks. The additional sound design reinforces arena-minded arrangements with tense chords, aggressively detuned bass drops, and brightly forged riff- oriented bass-house, and increased midtempo contortions.
David Wax Museum
Knock Knock Get Up
MARK OF THE LEOPARD
On their sophomore effort, Knock Knock Get Up, the David Wax Museum stud their always-charming, Mexican folk-influenced arrangements with more effects—fuzzed- out guitars, smeared horns, looped mariachis, and vocal adlibs. With these manipulated elements added to layers of percussion, fiddle, guitar, accordion, and vocal harmonies, Wax and co. have perfected fusion for roots music lovers.
Tom Holkenborg (Junkie XL) has been busy composing for films and video games, so the fact that he can even find the time to crank out a new solo album is a blessing. Synthesized starts out as an ambient electronic affair (“Take Off on Molly’s E”), but quickly picks up the pace with the hip- hop-flavored “Off the Dancefloor,” with rhymes by Isis Salam, and the dance-pop bliss of the title track, featuring Anneli Axon.
Only in this era of corporate cooperation would EMI Music, Mute, and Virgin join forces for a compilation including Kraftwerk, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Daft Punk, the Chemical Brothers, Air, and Radiohead. Duran Duran and Pet Shop Boys also appear, hardly necessary to an “Electrospective,” but it’s not titled “Electronic- spective,” is it? A remix compilation (de rigueur) accompanies a global “multi-platform” marketing campaign. Alternately, you could buy the original LPs for cheap.
Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
Buddy & Jim
Buddy and Jim: two great singer/songwriters who sound great together. These two revered country artists host a radio show together on Sirius FM’s Outlaw Country, and now they’ve made these wonderful duets. Stellar guitar work and strong harmonies are central to diverse approaches including the surf noir of “Vampire Girl,” the bluesy “I Want to Do Everything for You,” and the rockabilly shuffle of their beautiful “Looking for Heartache Like You.”