Though Tosca never found such widespread acclaim as Kruder and Dorfmeister (Richard Dorfmeister is a member of both acts), the duo always leaned more soulful, less playful than their fellow Viennese sample scrabblers. Recorded live, Odeon follows earlier Tosca releases in the sensual-vocal-meets-dreamy-beat sweepstakes. Nocturnal, oceanic, mysterious, and sometimes funky, Odeon recalls a more easily digestible Massive Attack, circa Mezzanine. Ominous chords resound, delays spin, tribal beats pound, assembled vocalists purge their inner Maria Callas. Play loud, but not before 2am.
Being The Smiths’ guitarist ensures Johnny Marr’s lifetime cred, which he lends generously to others (Modest Mouse, The Cribs). For himself, however, the arpeggiated guitar master sounds like he is imitating his imitators. Rising to the top of the title track, his glorious guitar work is the savior. It drives the keening “Lockdown,” gurgles under the melancholic “New Town Velocity,” and spikes the jagged “The Crack Up.” Even at his most derivative, Marr is still better than most.
The Portland, Ore.’s conglomeration of musicians that revolves around songwriter Joshua Hodges delivers its fourth collection of electro-disco-synthpop. These 15 songs alternate between lush, carefree, midtempo numbers and a less- 8-bit-blip, more funk-oriented strut. Comparisons to the Flaming Lips, Pinback, Passion Pit, MGMT, and Grandaddy are still inescapable, with the slurry, vaguely psych synth tones, but the subbass-reinforced melodies reveal an extended attention to detail. These aren’t ghostly, haunting electronics, but they might possess you to groove.
West of Memphis: Voices for Justice
The companion album to the documentary of the same name, West of Memphis features political and emotional songs of support for the West Memphis Three, who were convicted as teenagers for murders many believe they didn’t commit. Along with powerful songs by Lucinda Williams, Band of Horses, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and more, the release includes parts of the moving original score by Nick Cave and heartbreaking letters from Death Row read by Henry Rollins and Johnny Depp.
BUREAU B RECORDS
Though Qluster’s Lauschen is beat-free in contemporary terms, there’s no shortage of movement in this undulating, light filled music. The duo, formerly known as Cluster/Kluster, one of electronic music’s early-1970s innovators, consists of founder Hans- Joachim Roedelius (77) and new member, Onnen Bock (28). Vast and atmospheric, and infused with a clarity that borders on good vibrations, Lauschen is miles away from much contemporary electronic music which often seems bathed in clomping beats and dead-eyed samples.
The Invisible Way
In 2011 Low released the reverb-enriched C’mon, a more hopeful, less chaotic album than much of the “slowcore” band’s recent catalogue. In contrast, The Invisible Way nods to the group’s starker, more fragile origins, working serene, searing harmonies around fi gures of piano and acoustic guitar. Production by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy captures both intimacy and air, and the best songs (“So Blue,” “Just Make It Stop,” “To Our Knees”) use compounding dynamics to make a staggering impact.
The feel of this release by Winston Yellen’s group Night Beds is at once lush and tender. Vocals on ballads like “Even If We Try” have a hymn-like quality, with washes of strings and vocals peeling away at times to leave Yellen’s sweet, plaintive voice alone in all its glory. Yellen wrote these lovely songs in the Henderson, Tenn., cabin once owned and frequented by Johnny Cash and June Carter. The recordings are much more ethereal than a Cash tune, but it seems that sacred place was a great inspiration.