Feathers: Absolute Noon
Matthew E. White: Big Inner
Like all of us, Matthew E. White was born into a constructed world. His unfolded out of the mingled sands of Virginia Beach and Manila, the youngest son in a family that raised him barefoot between the blurred racket of the Far Eastern jungle city and the backyard lightning-bug-hum of a trimmed Southern lawn.
On that day in August, when the earth shifted into the shape of Matthew E. White, there was so much to feel, already. The dusts of the Delta had swirled into Rock and Roll. King Tubby was dubbing. Terry Riley was overdubbing. Caetano Veloso had just turned 40. Muddy Waters was just about gone. Jimmy Cliff had had sung "Many Rivers to Cross". So had Harry Nilsson. White shared this common inheritance. He stitched his own flag out of it.
And so Big Inner begins, looking in, up, and over in its declarations of love. It's waking up next to someone. It's feeling the wood of the church pew on your back. You give me joy like a fountain deep down in my soul. You can hear him breathe in. The first time around, White only hums the chorus. Hums it. Plants it in your head as it blooms in his. You can call it soul music if you want. It's his soul and it's his music.
AU: Both Lights
Luke Wyland and Dana Valatka, the Portland, Oregon-based duo known as AU, embody remarkable, frantic energy. It permeates everything they touch. AU brings into question the moment and where you are in it.
Both Lights is their third album and the long-anticipated followup to 2008's acclaimed LP Verbs and still-memorable tours with Why? and Deerhoof. Wyland's soaring vocals and multi-tentacled performance on keys and guitar are fortified by Valatka's adrenalized percussion. Contributions by saxophonist Colin Stetson (most recently seen on stage with Bon Iver) and vocalist Holland Andrews take Both Lights into the stratosphere, where it shines as AU's finest work yet.
Wyland and Valatka reflect that light. The first single -- "Solid Gold" -- is a sweeping aural experience that captures not only the journey through the past three years of love, loss, and levity, but the voyage music can take us all on if we click play and just listen. "The back and forth, the tug of war for love," writes Wyland, getting at the root of "Solid Gold", in essence a love song, "exhausting, exhilarating, and so totally not sustainable." Like the best songs, in some way or another, we can all sing along to that.
Scott Solter and Pattern is Movement: Canonic: Scott Solter plays Pattern is Movement
The Caribbean: Discontinued Perfume
Who are The Caribbean? Search Pitchfork and find reviews (good ones) of every one of their records. Time travel back three years and read about their day jobs on Stereogum; a civil litigationattorney, an English teacher, and a US Dept. of Transportation librarian have been writing, recording, and performing music together for over a decade in Washington, DC.The Caribbean have always hidden behind something. Lyrics, unorthodox chord progressions, iconic-but-abstract visual art, humor and satire, and even their own normal-guy appearance. But ifindie rock is a high school, The Caribbean - Michael Kentoff, Matt Byars, and Dave Jones - sit at the lunch table with Daniel Higgs, Wayne Coyne, and John Darnielle."Discontinued Perfume seems to be about living a strong, practical, grown up life and being comfortable with leaving that world and accepting the unknowable," said frontman Michael Kentoff.And their first album in three years is nearly an autobiography, set to the best music they've ever made: "The houses are real / and the garden is real / and everything looks nice enough tosteal / So meanwhile in the basement, secret tapes roll seven IPS / Artists in exile on your street / Yeah, they're living alright."The Caribbean are a secret hiding in plain sight.
Collections of Colonies of Bees: GIVING
The pulse is set less than a minute into GIVING, Collections of Colonies of Bees first album in three years. There's no foreplay, no smalltalk -- just endless altitude. Their sixth full-length, the bona fide descendent of Customer and Birds (and even Volcano Choir's Unmap), is a 4-song, 28-minute eruption: Lawn, Vorm, Lawns, Vorms. It's the crashing waves of Rosenau's guitar, the pelting rain of Mueller's percussion, the vaporous breaths of Thomas Wincek's piano, and the rhythmic fabric woven by Jim Schoenecker (electronics), Daniel Spack (guitar), and Matthew Skemp (bass).
All Tiny Creatures: Harbors
Multi-instrumentalist Thomas Wincek has released music with several groups in the past 10 years, including the experimental electronic collaborative mainframe Emotional Joystick, the meticulous instrumental quintet Collections of Colonies of Bees, and the ethereal, playful supergroup Volcano Choir, a collaboration between the Bees and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.
All Tiny Creatures is Wincek's newest endeavor. The building blocks of the Wisconsin quartet's debut full-length, Harbors, were whittled from looped and freestanding sounds democratically created by synthesis, guitars, and percussion. But as the needle glides into "Holography", the swift and playful start of side A, there's a new kind of compositional poise. Harbors is an album of transformative repetition, of music that travels freely between the left and right brain. It pulls from the same well (with a new bucket) as their Krautrock and Minimalist forebears (guys like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Manuel Göttsching) and even the greater history of rhythmic percussion found the world over. And then there's one entirely new instrument for All Tiny Creatures: the human voice. Joining All Tiny Creatures vocalists Thomas Wincek and Andrew Fitzpatrick are Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Roberto Carlos Lange (Helado Negro & Epstein), Phil Cook, Brad Cook, and Joe Westerlund (Megafaun) and more.
All Tiny Creatures Harbors features visual art by world-renown designer Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. in Portland. The LP and CD are both packaged in old-style tip on gatefold jackets. The 2xLP comes in two color sets, randomly selected and jawdroppingly beautiful.
Across its first two LPs--2008's Bury the Square on Table of the Elements and Gather, Form and Fly, the band's Hometapes debut--Megafaun did nothing if not test the boundaries of its comforts. Joe Westerlund and brothers Brad and Phil Cook (singers, songwriters, composers, arrangers and improvisers all) found rarified intersections between bedrock folk and howling drone, between primal blues and cascading feedback, between canyon rock and warped field recordings. Heretofore, a mini-album and Megafaun's third release in as many years, is yet another articulation of the band's evolved Americana vernacular. Rather than push the boundaries with sonic plundering or structural pillaging, however, Heretofore finds Megafaun pairing five of its most concise, communicative songs to date with its most challenging, compelling experiment ever, a radiant and redemptive 13-minute instrumental called "Comprovisation for Connor Pass."
Ape School: Junior Violence
Junior Violence begins with a death rattle of the most optimistic sort. Half-synthesized and half-howled, the first song on Ape School's new album sums up birth, death, and the guilt you face as you drop the needle on side A:
Did you know you fucked yourself?
Everything is on the other side of that question. Answer it and you'll wonder why you're just now fessing up. Tell your truth and the Oberheim OB-8 will cascade like a waterfall. The bass line will try to feel you up. It's all foreplay for the anthemic "Marijuana's on the Phone" and the nine tracks that follow, adding up to the second album from Ape School, the flaming sigil for a man named Michael Johnson (see Holopaw, Lilys, Kurt Vile, and War on Drugs). Junior Violence is part confession, part blitz, part hangover, and part ascension.