billy woods, half of Armand Hammer, dropped his 13th studio album, Maps. This is his second album with producer Kenny Segal following their critically acclaimed 2019 album, Hiding Places. The duo keep building on their early 2010s underground, experimental hip-hop sound – giving vulnerable, eerie, and tense vibes throughout.
The sounds and emotions of Maps remind the listener of the self-reflection and wisdom you get while traveling. Maps leans into the honest – and sometimes frustrating – feeling of travel as well. woods and Segal brought in more featured artists this time around – including indie hip-hop heavies like Quelle Chris and Aesop Rock. And teamwork makes the dream work: the eighth track, “Year Zero,” has some of the hardest bars we have heard all year with Danny Brown bringing his heavy hitter sound of the underground hip-hop.
Mint Field are a duo out of Mexico City, Mexico. Their new album Aprender a Ser (Learning To Be) is a shimmery ride through bits of dream pop, shoegaze and trip hop (that’s a bit of a stretch, but I’m going with it). The slightly blurry, yet shiny image used for the album cover describes their sound better that I ever could. If I were to rate this it would be 5 wooden nickles!
Aprender a Ser is out on Friday 10/27/2023. You need this album in your life. You can check out the singles “El Suspiro Cambia Todo”, “Nuevo Sol” and “Orquídea” below. They represent the album well. Enjoy.
Melenas are back with a magnificent new album titled Ahora. This quartet out of Pamplona, Spain have it all dialed in – I’m talking jangly guitars, pulsing synths, fuzz, gaze, gauze, noise, you name it, it’s probably in there.
Ahora is (as I said in a previous post) 10 tracks of kraut-meets-Stereolab, electro-pop goodness. Check out “Bang” below; it’s so rad, I find myself humming or whistling it all day.
Body of Leaves are a 4-piece band out of Salt Lake City. They self-released their debut (I believe) album, Hell Nightmare, back in May. It’s 8 tracks of really well done post-punk-dark-wave goodness delivered through driving/pounding bass and drums, piercing synths and some amazing wall of sound guitar work. It’s really damn good.
I slept on this album WAY too long, but was shown the light last night seeing them open for Sweeping Promises. Don’t repeat my mistake, check out “Follow”, “Disclosure” and “Such a Gift” below. Do it! This is the good stuff.
Hell Nightmare is out now via their Bandcamp page. Enjoy.
Memphis trio Optic Sink bring the heat on their latest release (and first) with Feel It Records, Glass Blocks. It’s a bass-driven album packed with all the synths your heart desires along with crazy-tight digital percussion. Their minimalist approach comes off warm and packs a punch. It’s a refreshing take on post-punk. Check out “Live Illusion” and “A Face In The Crowd” (below) for a taste.
Ramona Lisa is the side project/alter ego of Caroline Polachek. Being influenced by the film soundtracks of horror director Dario Argento, Polachek assumed the darker persona of Ramona Lisa.
Polachek recorded most of the album on a laptop using MIDI instrumentation. She released her debut — Arcadia — as Ramona Lisa in 2014 on Terrible Records. It is being reissued today through Polachek’s Perpetual Novice.
Check out “ Izzit True What They Tell Me” below and while you’re listening you can pick up a copy of it here.
Worthitpurchase are the trio of Nicole Rowe, Omar Akrouche and Eric Van Thyne. Their experimental electro-pop sound (think The Microphones, mingled with the smallest amount of Postal Service) is quite compelling throughout on their sophomore LP, Truthtelling. Give album standouts “Anne Hedonic” and “Deadbeat “ (below) a taste.
Truthtelling is a solid album that deserves your attention.
With their second album, Excess, Automatic has proved that they are adept at both timing and rhythmic composition, as each song builds eagerly and each accompanying instrumental layer is carefully interwoven. While the lyrics reflect the presence of excess in a capitalistic sense, there is no excess present in Automatic’s musical arrangements. Everything is meticulously crafted, and the production on this album is outstanding. Most of the songs on the album begin with electrifying, charged introductions comprised of just bass and drums, with the exception of “Teen Beat,” in which isolated vocals precede any instruments. Each song swiftly transitions into synth-doused verses that, while reminiscent of the 1980’s, feel fresh rather than recycled.
The lyrics in Excess delve into the grotesque nature of corporate culture and, as a whole, provide an overarching critique of capitalism in general. In “Skyscraper,” a personal favorite of mine, the lyrics are “Up here where the sun has a beautiful shine / To light up perverted American minds / The white hand of luxury, so cool and refined / No trace of the miserable people outside.” Automatic effectively riffs about the inefficacy of a system where climbing the ladder distances one from the brutal reality that exists around them- that a win, essentially, is always someone else’s loss. The somewhat impersonal nature of the lyrics reflects the lack of compassion in a culture that values personal success at the expense of others. But the thing about Excess is that one doesn’t need a complete understanding of the lyrics to appreciate the album; it is as danceable as it is clever.
In many ways, this album reminds me of LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, if LCD Soundsystem was a female-fronted band from Los Angeles. Excess channels Sound of Silver in its lyrical richness, production, quippiness, and dance-punk style that feels New Order-esque. Automatic’s vocal and instrumental approach is more subdued than James Murphy’s in Sound of Silver, but it works well, as it compliments the album’s commentary on the hollow pursuit of consumerism (like in “NRG”, which has the refrain “You don’t have a choice, so your body is a product / Was any of it real, all the things that you wanted?”).
Automatic has opened for IDLES, Parquet Courts, Tame Impala, and, come September, is set to open for Osees, but this album has proved that they have what it takes to climb a ladder that’s all their own, which, hopefully, will take them into the upper-echelons of the alternative scene where they can get the recognition they deserve. Excess is out now via Stones Throw Records and is currently available on vinyl at 3hive Record Lounge. In addition to “Skyscraper,” be sure to give both “NRG” and “Venus Hour” a listen.
Provo UT’s UPHERE! Records are releasing their new label comp filled with previously unreleased nuggets from bands like Backhand, Nicole Canaan, The Plastic Cherries and Homephone to name a few. All the profits go to help refugees in Ukraine, 50% to Save The Children and 50% to The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund. This is a KILLER compilation and it’s for a VERY good cause.