All posts by Brian LaBenne

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday April 1st that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

 

Elzhi – Lead Poison (GLOW365 LLC)

Detroit rapper Elzhi takes us back in time with his new album, Lead Poison, which is heavily inspired by 90s hip-hop. This makes sense as Elzhi made his start in the late 90s with rap group Slum Village. He’s been recording solo albums for several years now and Lead Poison is one of his finest. The beats are solid loops and the emphasis here is on fantastic lyricism and stellar flows. Overall, it’s a melancholy affair focusing on storytelling rap with occasional turns to the surreal.  Apparently this album was actually released on March 25th but it slipped under the radar and we wanted to cover it anyway.

Tancred – Out of the Garden (Polyvinyl)

From the beginning riff of opener “Bed Case” to the fading guitar distortion of closer “Pretty Girls,” Tancred brings us a hugely enjoyable power pop ride with Out of the Garden. Comparisons to Weezer and The Breeders abound in the best possible way. The choruses are catchy, the music is loud and each song is a joy to listen to.

Tacocat – Lost Time (Hardly Art)

Lost Time is a strange, yet super fun listen. The album opens with a track titled “Dana Katherine Scully,” an ode to the character from The X-Files, and the clever humor never wavers throughout. This is an album that inspires as much head bobbing as it does laughing as the music is very well executed power pop. There are some definite heavy parts, both musically and lyrically, but even in these moments Tacocat’s wonderful sense of wit is present.

Laura Gibson – Empire Builder (City Slang)

Empire Builder is a beautiful singer-songwriter album with pop song structures and occasional shades of country. Laura Gibson alternates largely between pop songs, which contain interesting percussion and perfectly produced string arrangements, and slow burning folk songs with introspective lyrics and country influences. The mix between these two styles makes for an unpredictable and endlessly interesting listen.  She is also featured in the most recent issue of Ghettoblaster, out now!

Other Noteworthy Albums

This week was so full of great albums we couldn’t cover them all!  Below you’ll find other noteworthy albums to check out.

Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing (Bayonet Records)


 

Black Mountain – IV (Jagjaguwar)


 

Mike and the Melvins – Three Men and a Baby (Sub Pop)


 

Autolux – Pussy’s Dead (Columbia)

 

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday March 25th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

Littler – Of Wandering (Birdtapes)

Of Wandering, the debut album from Philadelphia band Littler, is one of the year’s most enjoyable albums to listen to.  Littler has a nice dynamic of girl/guy singing over rough power pop music, with definite similarities to The Breeders.  These are tough rocking songs with fantastically catchy choruses.  The album chugs along at a wonderful pace and all of a sudden is finished, leaving you the desire to start it from the beginning once again.  Of Wandering takes you back to your mid-twenties when you wrestled with the desire to finally grow up and get things figured out, yet still wanted to have fun.

Eric Bachmann – Eric Bachmann (Merge Records)

After years creating music as the front man of indie rock legends Archers of Loaf and then Crooked Fingers, Eric Bachmann is back with an absolutely stunning self-titled album.  Eric Bachmann is filled with nine songs centered around impeccable lyricism, bright piano and dazzling harmonies, making for a truly beautiful album.  There are several stylistic ventures along the way, including country, doo-wop and alternative rock, but the songs are perfectly paced throughout the album so they never seem out of place.  If you’re a fan of great lyrics sung in intricate melodies, you should definitely check out this album.

Domo Genesis – Genesis (Odd Future Records)

There is nothing in music quite like a great hip-hop debut album and Genesis from Domo Genesis is just that.  This is a very personal album and includes bits of storytelling, which illuminate pieces of his life: a message from his mother at one point and a phone call from a friend in prison where Domo tells him that he just finished the album.  These points of departure from music let us know that this album is a living organism to Domo Genesis, one that has been long in the making.  Genesis is also a really solid hip-hop album in its own right.  The songs are well produced and interesting musically, presenting a quasi-jazz feel that is accessible and challenging at the same time.  Overall, this is a special debut from a promising rapper with great beats and just the right amount of storytelling.

Bob Mould – Patch the Sky (Merge Records)

Wait a minute.  The former front man of Archers of Loaf and the former front man of Husker Du released albums on the same day from the same record label? Nice work Merge, you know how to make this demographic very happy!  Whereas the former former front man has largely traded in guitar riffs for piano riffs, Bob Mould has returned with a riff-tastic new album about grief and loss.  Mould has experienced the loss of both his parents in a relatively short amount of time, and the lyrics of these songs search for guidance, strength and understanding in the darkness.  Although the subject matter is dour, the music is catchy and easy to absorb, making for a triumphant feeling overall.  Again, this album has guitar riffs right, left and center all throughout and they are fantastic sounding guitars at that.  Any fan of Bob Mould will love this album and anyone who is unfamiliar with Bob Mould but enjoys catchy rock songs with great riffs will find something new to celebrate.

Other Noteworthy Albums

This week was so full of great albums we couldn’t cover them all!  Below you’ll find other noteworthy albums to check out.

The Thermals – We Disappear (Saddle Creek Records)

Night Moves – Pennied Days (Domino)

The Sun Days – Album (Run for Cover Records)

exmagician – Scan the Blue (Bella Union)

 

Welcome to Future Sounds vol. 3

Every other week, Ghettoblaster brings you a playlist of singles from upcoming albums to excite and entice your ears.  Below you’ll find the entire playlist via Spotify as well as Playlist Highlights, which are songs that really stand out as essential listening.  So please sit back, relax and treat yourself to some seriously great music.

Playlist Highlights

 

Mr. Lif – World Reknown (feat. Del the Funky Homosapien)
Two early-2000’s underground hip-hop kings unite for an utterly old school, fantastically fresh and just plain awesome track.  Neither Lif nor Del have missed a beat over the years and, in fact, sound rejuvenated as they trade lines back and forth at a frenetic pace like so few hip-hop artists do these days.  The production, with its futuristic swirling keyboard, sounds like The Roots circa Things Fall Apart and is the perfect complement for these two.  Mr. Lif’s new album, Don’t Look Down, is out from Mello Music Group on  4/15/16.

The Gotobeds – Real Maths/Too Much
In 2014 The Gotobeds released a phenomenal and criminally overlooked punk rock album titled Poor People are Revolting.  They are back this year after being picked up by Sub Pop and are readying their next release Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic, out on 6/10/16.  The Gotobeds have a sort of hybrid-punk sound, bringing to mind bands like Wire, The Fall and even Devo.  The first taste of the new album they’ve provided is a schizophrenic punk song, going all over the place in a short amount of time and leaving you wanting more.

Eagulls – Skipping
Every single released thus far (see also: “My Life in Rewind” and “Lemontree”) from Eagulls upcoming sophomore release Ullages would sound right at home on a mix next to Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure and Cocteau Twins, and, “Skipping” is no different.  Right away they draw you in with the chugging bass line and never let up throughout the rest of the track.  Based on the immense strength of the three singles released so far, make sure to circle 5/13/16 on the calendar and pick up Ullages from Partisan Records.

Andy Shauf – The Magician
Last year, Andy Shauf released The Bearer of Bad News, which he recorded in his basement in Regina, Canada with a new found love for the clarinet and an acoustic guitar his grandfather left for him.  Shauf played every instrument on the album and put out one of the most interesting and heartbreaking singer-songwriter albums of the year.  He’s back again this year after being picked up by Anti- Records and will release Party on 5/20/16.  Anti- describes the upcoming album as a “tightly narrated thirty-eight minutes, all set to ornate arrangements of fuzzed-out guitars, string sections, clarinets and dreamy synths, all draped over delicate piano, acoustic guitars and rainy-day drums.”  Immediately upon listening to “The Magician” the benefits of a larger label and most likely better recording equipment, are incredibly evident.  The intricate instrumentation is all crystal clear and perfectly balanced, making for a really beautiful, yet strange song.

Yeasayer – Gerson’s Whistle
“Gerson’s Whistle” from Yeasayer’s upcoming album, Amen & Goodbye, is a hypnotic, meandering and wonderfully catchy song.  It slowly brings you in with lovely harmonies, strange synths and driving percussion, before taking off in several different directions.  This is an endlessly enjoyable, creative and just plain interesting song to listen to.  It’s also pretty weird!  Amen & Goodbye is out 4/1/16 on Mute.

Full Playlist

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday March 18th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

The Drones – Feelin Kinda Free (Waterfront Records)
Waterfront Records describes the new album from The Drones in the best possible way: “Feelin Kinda Free is a bad trip you can dance to. It’s a punch in the brain.”  The Drones are an Australian band with lyrics largely about Australian politics; however, lack of knowledge on the subject matter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this album.  Vocally, The Drones sound like a wonderful cross between Nick Cave and Joe Strummer, of the Clash.  Musically, this time around, they provide an interesting marriage between the frenetic and unpredictable sounds of Sonic Youth with the eschewed pop styling of tUnE-yArDs.  If it sounds like a strange combination of references, it is, and it works gloriously.  This is quite a difficult, yet endlessly rewarding listen for those who like their music with the roughest of edges.

Damien Jurado – Visions of Us on the Land (Secretly Canadian)
Damien Jurado has been the best, and most consistent singer-songwriter in the 2010’s, and his latest album, Visions of Us on the Land, continues his long winning streak.  He is also on the cover of the most recent issue of Ghettoblaster, out this week!  This is a beautifully psychedelic set of songs, which finds Jurado embracing a sound seemingly inspired by Western films.  Seeing the tracklist number 17 songs could seem like a dense listen, but each song breezes by, blending into the next, over the course of only 52 minutes.  Visions of Us on the Land is a must listen for fans of singer-songwriter music, as is every album Damien Jurado has put out since 2010.

Baauer – Aa (LuckyMe Records)
Ever since Baauer exploded on the scene with the insanity of “Harlem Shake,” listeners have been waiting for him to release an album as great as Aa.  This album is filled to the brim with straight bangers.  Aa should break your sound system, if it doesn’t then you need to turn it up louder.  The sequencing of Aa is also something special to note.  The songs that comprise the front half of the album are all just Baauer doing his own thing, while the songs on the back half of the album are all songs that feature guest vocalists.  This dynamic makes for an interesting and fulfilling listen from start to finish.  Please listen if you’re interested in some of the most enjoyable and creative electronic dance music around.

 

 

Welcome to Future Sounds vol. 2

Every other week, Ghettoblaster brings you a playlist of singles from upcoming albums to excite and entice your ears.  Below you’ll find the entire playlist via Spotify, as well as Playlist Highlights, which are songs that really stand out as essential listening.  So please, sit back, relax and treat yourself to some seriously great music.

Playlist Highlights

Greys – “No Star”
The song “No Star” from Greys’ upcoming album, Outer Heaven, is a raucous and paranoid journey inspired by the recent attack in Paris.  It opens with the distressed lyrics: “Don’t shoot I’m not the enemy / They want you to be scared of me” and as the song goes on it continues to stir this foreboding atmosphere.  This is for fans who like their punk music harsh, heavy and furious.  Outer Heaven is out 4/22 on Carpark Records.

Night Moves – “Carl Sagan”
Minneapolis duo Night Moves make dreamy, 70’s inspired indie rock with electronic flourishes.  “Carl Sagan” is the first single from their sophomore album, Pennied Days, which is out 3/25 on Domino.  This is a song that draws you in with warm textures, only to swallow you whole in its immense sound … and then that falsetto hits!

Nothing – “Vertigo Flowers”
Philadelphia group Nothing are prepping their long awaiting album, Tired of Nothing, which is out 5/13 on Relapse Records.   In their new song, “Vertigo Flowers”, Nothing brings up some very beautiful, really loud shoegaze with great vocal melodies.  This is a song that deserves to be played as loud as possible, as often as possible.

Bibio – “Town and Country”
Bibio is an English producer and songwriter who mixes electronic and organic textures expertly alongside solid songwriting.  His new album, A Mineral Love, comes out 4/1 on Warp.  “Town and Country” is the third single from the upcoming album (see also:  “Feeling”) and finds Bibio in his catchiest, most accessible form.

Pity Sex – “Burden You”
Lush, heavy electric guitars combine with lackadaisical and despondent vocals in “Burden You,” the new single from Ann Arbor Michigan’s Pity Sex.  This song is lulling and energizing, delicate and harsh, and is really just a joy to listen to.  The sophomore album from Pity Sex is titled White Hot Moon and is out 4/29 on Run for Cover Records.

Mutual Benefit – “Not for Nothing”
Mutual Benefit thrives on strange melody sung by a distinct voice over absolutely beautiful music; all of which is put perfectly on display in “Not for Nothing.”  Simply played acoustic guitar is met by pleasant piano and some stunning strings to combine into a truly mesmerizing piece of folk music.  “Not for Nothing” is at once common AND extraordinary, which is something that is sure to be abundantly found on the new album, Skip a Sinking Stone, which is out 5/20 on Mom + Pop Records.

Full Playlist

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday March 4th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.


Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are (Barsuk)
Power pop veterans Nada Surf have returned with one of their finest albums to date.  Back in 2012, former Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard joined Nada Surf, which seems to have resulted in a continued re-energizing of the band.  This batch of songs ranges from sweet ballads to 70s inspired folk rock and beyond, all sung to perfection by Matthew Caws.  If you’re in the mood for incredibly enjoyable pop songs with a nice edge then look no further.

Kendrick Lamar – untitled unmastered (Aftermath)
Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar released arguably one of the best hip hop albums of all time last year with To Pimp a Butterfly.  He continues on in 2016 with his new release untitled unmastered, eight tracks not used for To Pimp a Butterfly.  Kendrick has already performed several of these untitled tracks live, including on the final episode of the Colbert Report and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  These are dense, complicated, jazz heavy songs with unpredictable, master class rapping by Lamar.  This may end up being the best hip hop release of 2016, which is impressive for something that could’ve easily just been a throwaway.

Muncie Girls – From Caplan to Belsize (Animal Style Records)
English trio Muncie Girls make incredibly catchy and lyrically challenging feminist pop-punk music.  Over the course of just 30 minutes they take on misogyny, praise suffragette heroes, and give a searing indictment of a culture that seems content to forget about it all.  Musically speaking this is a tight and technical set of songs with intricate verses and soaring choruses, which reminds us just how enjoyable really well executed pop-punk can be.  From Caplan to Belsize is a truly special debut album from a talent that will be fun to watch in the future.

Big Ups – Before a Million Universes (Exploding in Sound)
Big Ups thrive on creating a dichotomous relationship between verse and chorus.  Early on in Before a Million Universes their trend of stumbling through half-sung / half-mumbled verses to get to exploding choruses is well established, yet never becomes tiresome.  Over the course of the album the comparisons pile up from Fugazi to Pavement, Melvins to the Pixies, and many others in between.  Press play, turn it up to 11, and get ready to reminisce about the good old days when you were still young enough to throw down in a mosh pit.

Adult Books – Running from the Blows (Lolipop Records)
Running from the Blows is the sort of debut album that could only have been made by a band with a true and established point of view.  Adult Books have come out of the gate steeped in 80s post-punk and have brought forth an album that sounds like the product of a one night stand between New Order and the Ramones.  The highlights are many and sprinkled throughout, which make this album a truly wonderful discovery.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive (Ribbon Music)
Over the last several years Thao Nguyen has proven to be adept at writing off-kilter pop songs.  For A Man Alive Thao handed over the producing reins to Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, and the result is an even more fractured and muscular sound throughout.  Several styles are taken on, including an incredibly successful attempt at quasi-rapping by Thao on “Meticulous Bird”.  From start to finish, this is what expertly crafted quirky pop music can be at its highest form.

Wussy – Forever Sounds (Damnably)
Forever Sounds, the perfectly titled sixth studio album from Cincinnati band Wussy, presents an endlessly interesting collection of sounds.  These songs operate as mosaic pieces of sonic layers, combining country rock with heavy shoegaze, all while sounding like a transmission from outer space.  All that said, what really shines here is the often shimmering, always fascinating guitar work.  This could all combine for an overly dense listen, but Wussy ground their songs with expert songwriting that tell engaging stories.

Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week.  Below you’ll find a handful of albums released on Friday February 26th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.

Quilt – Plaza
Quilt’s new album Plaza may be one of my favorite iterations of the 60’s inspired psychedelic pop trend in music today.  Mainly because it seems so natural and built into their bloodstream and completely unforced.  This is what a band being comfortable in their own skin sounds like.  There is great use of horns and strings alongside varying vocals and harmonies, but what really sticks out to me are the bass and drum grooves Quilt gets into.  This is an album that is immediately enjoyable, yet has the intricacies to hold up for multiple listens.  This is definitely one of my favorites thus far this year.
out now via Mexican Summer

Yuck – Stranger Things
Yuck makes music that seems stuck in the 90’s, which is a strength as well as a weakness.  Their past albums have been filled with great moments, yet never have transcended as a whole.  Stranger Things may be the album that changes this streak for me.  There is far less space between the highs and the lows of the album, which makes for a much tighter album.  Of course, the references are all here (more Built to Spill and Teenage Fanclub this time around) and very much out in the open; yet, at they same time, they’ve never sounded so much like Yuck.
out now via Mame Records

Eerie Wanda – Hum
Eerie Wanda is the work of Amsterdam singer/songwriter Marina Tadic and a backing band made up of musicians who play with Jacco Gardner.  I was not familiar with any of the aforementioned people, but they combine in perfect fashion on the album Hum.  This is a very mellow very breezy, yet subtly off-kilter listen for fans of straightforward indie pop songwriting sung in unique harmonies by a lovely female voice.
out now via Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records

Witching Waves – Crystal Cafe
Witching Waves is a trio from London, and they consists of two things I love in a band: the main vocalist is their drummer and their drummer is a female.  This is a heavy and dissonant album, with only the occasional short instrumental passage to break the pounding momentum built throughout.  Crystal Cafe is equal parts catchy and difficult, which is just the way I like it.
out now via HHBTM Records

Welcome, one and all, to the very first volume of Future Sounds.  Every few weeks we will bring you a playlist of singles from upcoming albums to excite and entice your ears.  Below you’ll find the entire playlist via Spotify, as well as Playlist Highlights, which are songs that really stand out as essential listening.  So please, sit back, relax and treat yourself to some seriously great music.

Playlist Highlights

PJ Harvey – The Wheel
Let it be known that I’m a sucker for hand claps, and there is some mighty fine hand clapping in this song.  PJ Harvey is back with her first new music since 2011, and if this is a sign of things to come then it was well worth the wait.  The guitars on this song really stick out as well as the sort of primitive, yet not at all simple feel.
from the album The Hope Six Demolition Project out 4/15/16 on Vagrant Records

Eric Bachmann – Mercy
Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers frontman is back once again as himself.  This song has such a HUGE sound with lovely doo-wop influenced backing vocals.  Lyrically it seems to be about unfollowing friends and family on Facebook, but still loving them despite huge differences.  Seriously in love with this song.
from the album Eric Bachmann out 3/23/16 on Merge

Parquet Courts – Dust
Just a straight up great rockin’ song complete with chaotic freak out. Also, one of the simplest and strangest choruses, which I’m absolutely in love with.  Dust is everywhere … Sweep!
from the album Human Performance out 4/8/16 on Rough Trade

Big Ups – Capitalized
It all begins with an ominous bass line and doesn’t let up over the course of two bone crunching minutes.  Big Ups is a band that I had not heard of before this month, yet their upcoming album grows more and more promising with each single they release ( see also: National Parks).
from the album Before a Million Universes out 3/4/16 on Exploding in Sound

Flume – Smoke and Retribution (feat. Vince Staples and Kucka)
Icy cold synths mixed with dripping hot verses from Vince Staples, one of the most promising young rappers today, makes for an incredible listen.  Vince Staples is what brought me to this song initially, but Flume’s production is what has me excited to hear the rest of his album when it comes out.  Turn this one up as loud as possible, trust me.
from the forthcoming album Skin via Mom + Pop

Whitney – No Woman
A lovely folk song with a bit of a country feel and great horns from members of the band Smith Westerns.  This is about as smooth a song as you’ll find.  I just want to throw this on and drive around in northern Michigan for forever.
from an upcoming release later in 2016 from Secretly Canadian

Full Playlist