Loudon Wainwright III
Older Than My Old Man Now
2nd Story Sound
Fatherhood, aging, and death are weighty topics to tackle in three- or four-minute songs. But the great Loudon Wainwright III weaves a shimmering web of incisive observation and pointed humor, folk-simplicity, and jagged emotion, and somehow reveals a personal little world in every song. His latest has its highs and lows: “I Remember Sex,” a duet with Dame Edna, goes a bit too far round the bend, but the piano-and-cello “In C” is magnificent, as are duets with Chris Smither (“Somebody Else”) and with Rufus Wainwright (“The Days That We Die”).
Funky and Africanmembered, Athens, GAbased four-piece Reptar delivers a sophisticated dancefloor filler of a debut that recalls soukous master Thomas Mapfumo slumming with a silken Talking Heads. Currently earning their collective college degrees, Reptar’s initial 7” single was produced by Gnarls Barkley and Animal Collective.
The Chemical Brothers
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons have amassed two decades of propulsive rhythmic buildups and seismic bass drops, the core of which are condensed without being muddled into this live set keepsake. Recorded at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival 2011, this Bluray/ CD or DVD/CD set is sick with psychedelic cadences. Standing against an aspirating, insistent bank of lights, the Manchester duo unfurls musical overlays and transposes familiar elements to enrich a highly palpable rush.
Violens rises from the ashes of art collective Lansing-Dreiden, bringing central figure Jorge Elbrecht with it. The second album from this trio follows the feathery, muted tones set by its debut, Amoral. A combination of signature shoegazers of the ’90s (My Bloody Valentine) and synth-mourners of the ’80s (Roxy Music), “Every Melting Degree” shimmers with luminous, soft-focus tones. Alternatively, “Watch The Streams” offers riffs that are militant and pliable at the same time. All told, True is pleasing from every angle.
Waco Brothers & Paul Burch
Great Chicago Fire
The Waco Brothers—the cowpunk alter ego of Jon Langford (Mekons) and some of his musically like-minded friends—take an endearingly raucous approach to hardcore country music. Their latest is a collaboration with Nashville musician/ songwriter/producer Paul Burch, and together they come out sounding a lot like the great Rank and File records from the ’80s. Highlights include the Johnny Cash-style “Transfusion Blues,” as well as a rocking cover of Dylan’s “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.”
We Could Be Arsonists
Bay Area indie-pop quintet Loquat follows up 2008’s Secrets of the Sea with this more uptempo, lessinsular effort. It’s ironic, comparing the titles, but Loquat now sounds moister, featuring more harmonically stacked and breezily treated tones. It’s not distracting gloss, however; a close listen, and you are rewarded by resonant panning, revealing engaging fringes of positive distortion. Coproduced by the Rondo Brothers, the arrangements snugly sequence blissful electronics and willowy instrumentation in a manner that never feels constricting.
That Time I Dug so Deep I Ended Up in China
This collection of dancefloor rippers is impressively self-produced by its throaty vocalist, Swedish diva Soso. Not afraid to bare her emotions or tear into overtly pop-y hooks, Soso is a credible Britney Spears for the supperclub set. She distorts her voice into peak-of-the-night shrieks on “The Ballad” which bring to mind Spearsesque head flings topping perfectly choreographed moves. Elsewhere, the intensely pitched dancepop of “Who’s Gonna Love Me” recalls the best of Erasure. Step aside Robyn; Soso has arrived.