Weekly Record Roundup | June 5 ’17
Each Friday brings forth a bounty of new releases worth your time but it’s easy for some of the best records to fall through the cracks. It’s possible the big name stuff just isn’t doing it for you either. Maybe the comeback record from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters does nothing for you beyond reminding you he’s still alive. Odds are at least a few of the attempted anthems on Bleachers’ new record may leave you underwhelmed and, let’s be honest, alt-J’s shtick is starting to get kind of old.
No matter what, we’re here to help.
Here are five records you may have missed from last Friday that you definitely shouldn’t sleep on.
It’s easy to write Beach Fossils off if you want to. Their brand of surfy dream pop was everywhere for a while—if you bought anything at Urban Outfitters from 2011 to 2013, it’s a safe bet you heard at least one of their songs in the store—but it’s faded in popularity as we head toward the latter end of the decade. Still, Beach Fossils was one of the first to do this kind of sound and it looks they’re always going to be one of the best.
Somersault proves this beachy band has more Brian Wilson in them than anyone would’ve guessed. They’re still masters of jangly guitar riffs played through perfect pedal boards, but they’ve broadened their experimentation to include harpsichords, lap steels, pianos and string arrangements. “Saint Ivy” even has a flute solo. If you like your songs yearning and wistful, make sure to give this one a listen.
The Age of Anxiety
Debut records this good only come around once in a blue moon. When they do, they usually come out on 4AD—the label’s cultivated indie rock royalty for decades and Pixx is another worthy addition to their roster. Her sound is as weird and unpredictable as it is catchy and enjoyable. Each song feels like a different river worth diving in time and again for blissful swimming and exploration. But the whole is more than the sum of its parts: each tributary contributes to an oceanic album whose depths can only be truly appreciated in total. Listen to this one from start to finish or you’ll really be missing out.
The easiest comparison to make here is between Pixx and St. Vincent. Both are obsessed with sonic exploration and innovation, with polyrhythms and angular harmonization. But it still seems like an unfair one to make. Pixx is decisively her own artist, her work all the more impressive for its confidence and originality. So, by all means, check this out if you’re getting impatient for Annie Clark’s new album, but realize you’ll wind up with a voice just as singular and original as her more established indie rock soul sister.
Can You Please Not Help
Two Inch Astronaut
Maybe you like your rock a little less ethereal than the last few recommendations. No shame in that. If you want something with a little more edge, then you can’t afford to miss the new Two Inch Astronaut record. The Philadelphia band’s got something for everybody: the power pop skeleton of Weezer, the melancholy muscle of Jimmy Eat World, all fleshed out with the spindly guitar pyrotechnics of Built to Spill or The Dismemberment Plan.
This is where to head if you still wish every rock group sounded like a bunch of high schoolers ready to vanquish all local Battle of the Bands competitors. Can You Please Not Help is the exact right title; it perfectly encapsulates the album’s almost-adolescent style of angst and honesty. There are riffs on here you’ll be glad to have stuck in your head for days.
I’m Not Your Man
Marika Hackman may have never created as much buzz as, say, Courtney Barnett, but she’s just as capable and witty a songwriter as everyone’s favorite Aussie. Here, you’ll find a plethora of funny and sometimes sad reflections on what it means to be a human being. She’s found a perfect home at Sub Pop, embodying the independent spirit the label’s cultivated in bands as disparate as Nirvana, Fleet Foxes and The Postal Service.
Hackman’s vocals are nothing short of heavenly, particularly when she layers them for the sake of harmony. But this is the sort of singer-songwriter record as notable for its instrumentation as for its lyricism. There’s never a dull moment, despite it lasting just a little under an hour. Play this one on late night drives and hazy morning commutes alike. You won’t be disappointed.
This record’s plugged right into the sources of rock and roll—blues and gospel—and comes as much from Benjamin Booker’s gut as it does his soul. It’s bookended by upbeat tracks anchoring the record to the ideas of propulsion and exuberant forward motion. Even if the songs in between slow down and take it easier, there’s never a moment where Booker seems like he doesn’t want to keep moving the listener further down the road he’s traveling.
This is the sort of album where songs titled “Motivation,” “The Slow Drag Under,” “Truth is Heavy” and “Believe” fit in. It gets right on down into the gritty heart of life and somehow always comes up optimistic and hopeful for the future. Lord knows we need people like Booker to keep us from succumbing to despair in times like these. This isn’t just a good album, it’s the last bit of juice you need to keep going.