Ricardo Villalobos Re: ECM (ECM)
Working with a live mixing board and modular synthesizers, Chilean-born DJ Ricardo Villalobos and techno artist Max Loderbauer manipulated tracks from the ECM catalog, the results sounding more like the combined pauses, rests, and silences within the music than the music itself. The duo isolated atmospheres, voices, choirs, and instruments, and then looped them, which became the basis or root for further experimentation. It''s largely a quiet ride, like the moment between consciousness and sleeping, when thoughts turn into sweet dreams or nightmares.
Wild Flag Wild Flag (Merge)
The estrogen is bubbling over on the debut from this alt/punk supergroup teaming Sleater-Kinney singer/guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss, Helium singer/guitarist Mary Timony and Minders keyboard player Rebecca Cole. The artful racket served up by these DIY-rooted gunslingers (captured live off the floor by engineer Chris Woodhouse) leaves ample room for the Brownstein-Timony guitar fireworks. Highlights include the careening, harmony-laced opener “Romance” and “Endless Talk,” which splits the difference between the Patti Smith Group and the Shangri-Las.
Various Artists Download For Good (iTunes Exclusive)
No doubt director David Lynch''s vision of a calmer, brighter world through transcendental meditation is shared by many of the 33 artists featured on this diverse compilation, which benefits Lynch''s TM teaching programs worldwide. There''s much to enlighten here, from Andy Summers and Geeta Novotny''s “Ave Maria” to Rodrigo y Garbriela''s flamenco fireworks on “Satori.” As a pairing with this graceful and noble collection, gain some candid insight into boosting creativity by reading Lynch''s book Catching the Big Fish.
Beirut The Rip Tide (Pompeii)
Unlike Zach Condon''s last effort as Beirut, The Rip Tide takes Beirut''s marching drums, clunky synths, brass band instruments, and accordion into more experimental terrain. March of the Zapotec was like a wild gypsy ride complete with wedding band and funeral procession. The Rip Tide can''t be contained in simple parameters. Condon''s vision is wide, his arrangements broad, from the field-band brass roar of “Sante Fe” to the chugging, 1890s feel of “East Harlem,” to the orchestral grandeur of the title track.
Tom Russell Mesabi (Shout! Factory)
Troubadour Tom Russell has been writing and singing folk songs about the West since the early ''70s. An occasionally strident storyteller, his recordings are populated by cowboys, drunks, movie stars, and meth addicts. Mesabi''s beauty lies in Russell''s finesse working traditional Mexican folk guitars, accordions, and horns into his lonely desert soundscape. Also featured are guest appearances by Lucinda Williams, Van Dyke Parks, and Calexico.
The Kooks Junk of the Heart (Astralwerks)
Despite the occasional synth burp, The Kooks remain righteously retro on their third album, tailor-made for playing on a sunny afternoon. The 11 compact songs form a cavalcade of ginormous major-chord hooks, fallen-choirboy harmonies, Charlie Watts-steady snare hits and unremittingly good vibes, even when Luke Pritchard is singing “Fuck the World Off” in his nasal, languid tenor, a dead ringer for the young Ray Davies. And “Taking Pictures of You” is as pretty as a Waterloo sunset.
Eilen Jewell Queen of the Minor Key (Signature Sounds)
With her intoxicating, sultry voice, Eilen Jewell is often compared to Madeleine Peyroux, and there is some sonic similarity there. But Jewell''s arrangements also channel Big Maybelle—full of soul and witchcraft. At least half of the original tunes on this beautiful, provocative record would make a great sax-laden soundtrack to a noir-ish nightclub scene in a film. Others are old-school country ballads with pedal steel and fiddle taking over. This is a real throwback gem.