Earl Sweatshirt – Doris

Doris, Earl Sweatshirt’s highly anticipated sophomore record, begins with a deep bass line followed by trap drums followed by a rap verse that isn’t even Earl’s. SK La’ Flare, Doris’ first master of ceremonies on opener “Pre,” isn’t a good rapper, but this unheard of emcee’s awkward A-A-B-B-B-B-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C rhyme scheme delivered sloppily over an ominous beat has some shock value. And then, it becomes blatantly obvious why Earl let this chaotic rapper take that first verse; by contrast (not that we need any), Earl’s verse is as dense as uranium. And this lyrical denseness becomes Doris’ main attraction through closer ... Read More

King Krule – 6 Feet Beneath the Moon

20-year-old King Krule (aka Archy Marshall) skips right past the “smoky” side of moonlit music and heads straight off to the gutter. His belligerent, oddly affecting articulations and rattling guitar lines echo the nocturnal reverberations of landmark albums like Massive Attack and Portishead’s debuts, but he gins up some genuine sunshine behind all the late-night fog. Songs like “Easy Easy” come off like lullabies, both because of their soothing sound and because of the sense of comfort and familiarity that they display so easily.  Not that things don’t also get stormy: “Has This Hit” crashes and burns in stark contrast ... Read More

Pissed Jeans – Honeys

If you read any article on Pissed Jeans or any review of any Pissed Jeans record, you will inevitably ascertain that Pissed Jeans is, above all else, loud as shit. And I won’t/can’t tell you any differently. It’s all part of Pissed Jeans’ aesthetic; Pissed Jeans makes sadistically noisy rock rooted in hardcore punk’s “everyman” ethos, painfully bogged down by grunge’s greasy gait. Within this resultant cesspool, Pissed Jeans makes some pretty profane shit, by which I mean mundane, sacred’s banal and spiritually estranged counterpart. This is another crucial point of reference that flickers some shittily-filtered fluorescence upon Pissed Jeans’ ... Read More

Hailu Mergia – Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye

Who listens to “world” music? Probably not enough people. I can think of plenty who disdain anything that falls under the umbrella of world music—people who won’t listen to it because it isn’t “normal” i.e. American or British music, or who think it’s for aesthetes and weirdos. Your image of a “world” music fan might be colored by caricatures like Ray from “High Fidelity” who, to be fair, is an asshole. Then again, everyone in “High Fidelity” was kind of an asshole. To besmirch another place’s music, especially in a way that tries to magnify a certain hemisphere’s dominance, is ... Read More

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu – Nanda Collection

Ours is a generation forever indebted to Japan. Pokemon, Mario, Power Rangers and, well, smart phones are all cultural touchstones that could easily edge out anything America has come up with in the last 20 years, and for me a childhood full of video games and anime has led to my current fascination with all things kawaii and sugoi. Unfortunately, Japanese pop music, either because of the language barrier or the strange idol-worship atmosphere, always seemed like something that was just too foreign for me to enjoy on a level other than as a sonic tourist. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s new ... Read More

Weekend – Jinx

Worse than a record that recycles worn-out aesthetics (Jackson Scott’s Melbourne) or a record that escapes conventional methods of critical analysis (Dean Blunt’s The Redeemer) or a record so uncomfortably sexed up that it makes for cringe-induced listens (The-Dream’s IV Play) is a record that isn’t memorable at all. Even worse is a record that, on paper, should be. California post-punk band Weekend (no, not Drake’s BFF Weeknd) have made reputable lo-fi drone music since 2009; on its 2010 debut Sports—not an overtly original record—Weekend experimented with atmospheric rock sounds and produced a collection of tense, slow build/decay pieces that ... Read More

AlunaGeorge – Body Music

I wouldn’t call myself a proficient UK dance aficionado; I love European jungle/grime/garage/R&B/hip-hop when I hear it, I just don’t often enough hear “club” music that really taps into that aesthetic that I dig so much in each genre above, that aesthetic that explores “bodies active within space.” AlunaGeorge, a British electronic/R&B duo, basically fills that space in a substantial way with its full-length debut Body Music. This is a record that stimulates all five senses, yet my brain, as it receives signals from each of my sense organs, perceives Body Music with a singular response: blissful. Body Music isn’t ... Read More

Jackson Scott – Melbourne

Jackson Scott and I have a lot in common. We both can play guitar; we both have written twelve or so songs (mine remain unrecorded); we both have a love affair with reverb; we both admittedly love early Weezer; in short, both of us are humble amateurs at what we do. Melbourne, Scott’s debut full-length record, runs off of an aesthetic that, while not my favorite, probably would encompass any record I could ever make if I had slightly decent equipment, clear inspiration, and adequate time. Note that I didn’t say “any record I would ever make;” I wouldn’t make ... Read More

Hieroglyphics – The Kitchen

Critics have recently dealt with an unexpected wave of conscious hip-hop, a genre that everybody ostensibly has mad respect for but apparently nobody welcomes in 2013. Talib Kweli’s Prisoner of Consciousness was met with mixed reviews; negative opinions unanimously went: “Yeah, we luh ya Kweli, but we don’t need this shit right now.” Slum Village’s Evolution seems destined for failure, as no listener/writer familiar with Dilla’s production will let it shine over Fantastic, Vol. 2. Common, one of conscious hip-hop’s Godfathers, hasn’t made an acclaimed record since 2005’s Be. Kweli tried an updated sound on his latest record, yet most ... Read More

David Lynch – The Big Dream

  It’s pretty much impossible to talk about David Lynch’s new album, The Big Dream, without constantly referring and re-referring to his career in movies and television. Because, really, who would be David Lynch the musician be without all that?—some kook with a taste for the blues but also electro-industrial with a nasally voice worthy of the Ur-Nerd. Then again, this is the same kook who all but invented a genre of film, with their inverted/subverted logic, inveterate quirks and unsettling premises. And yet, these film are also well done and, in the best of circumstances, highly watchable. Lynch isn’t … Read More