The Well-Played List, 4-18-2014: tUnE-yArDs, Thee Oh Sees, Jaco Pastorius & more

With audio, video & Spotify playlist included.

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tUnE yArDs, Nikki Nack (out May 5, 2014 via 4AD) After harsh disappointments from two albums I'd been highly anticipating (by Beck and Metronomy), it's nice to find that Merrill Garbus is still working out the finer points of catchy polyrhythmic weirdness with tUnE-yArDs, and she's produced yet another fantastic quirked-out album. Lead-off track says it all: a clash of multi-tracked, multi-layered, multi-pitched voices all chanting different variations of "Find a new way," a range of percussive stuff, off-kilter basslines, inexplicable noises and harpsichord embellishments that are likely synthesizers or some sort of programming, fabulous lyrical passages like "She tried to tell me that I had a right to scream just like a bird had to sing / And I believed her but in truth if you're convincing I'll believe anything," and a vocal breakdown that finds Garbus spouting "Oh, change-o strange-o, 'nother rearrange-o". The best part? The lyrics sheet I got is actually punctuated, capitalized, bolded, spaced out and broken up in a manner that indicates exactly the way she's singing the lyrics in songs. So fucking charming it' almost makes me ill ... with happiness. This one's definitely getting a review. Stay tuned...

Portico QuartetKnee-Deep In The North Sea (2007) I was obsessed with the hidden track off the UK band's debut, "Prickly Pear," and a good friend — who actually gets credit for turning me onto the group (thanks Keith!) — finally passed along the full album. The band plays jazz, essentially, but there's something bright, mellow and simply sublime about their sound, distinctive because of their pairing of soprano & tenor saxophones, drums and double bass with a 21st-century percussive instrument called a Hang, which uses the same basic physical principles as a steelpan, but has been altered to create a Helmholtz resonance. Dunno what that is? Listen after the jump. You can thank me later.

ADAM KUHN | Music fan and scenester with discerning taste | Front End Designer, Big Sea Design & Development
Thee Oh SeesDrop (2014) The ever-prolific John Dwyer and Co. are back after a "hiatus" that lasted a handful of months; these guys just can't stop and there's no reason they should. While they didn't spend the off time reinventing their tried-and-true formulas, they really don't need to. Yes they slow it down a little more than usual, and there's more textural guitar work, but this is largely the same old psych garage stomp we've come to expect with the same sheer intensity and madcap nasal yelping that they've been doing so well for so long. Occasionally, they punctuate with a skronky sax or a sci-fi vocal filter, and end on a surprisingly dour pastoral track that lets you down easy. In league with their best work, and it's a hell of a huge body.

Protomartyr, Under Color of Official Right (2014) My most anticipated record so far this year, and while it's a slight departure from the visceral raw postpunk of their 2011 debut, it doesn't disappoint. This is a Detroit band and their sound carries with it the weight of a city that seems to be crumbling at its foundations. Frontman Joe Casey (who appears to be twice the age as the rest of the band) has refined his typical shouting but still remains rough around the edges, like a working-class Nick Cave or Mark E Smith. As with their last album the band seems to work around him, but with a more nuanced yet art-damaged approach — exploiting a new dynamic range not found on their first release.

Ex-CultMidnight Passenger (2014) Sophomore release from these Memphis protopunks. The formula is mostly unchanged: snarling reverb-soaked vocals barked over angular guitars persistently dialed into 4/4, excepting the occasional foray into aggressive psych. No matter, the formula still works. It's nice to see the long break between albums finds them still full of piss and vinegar.

ALEX FEDELE | Local musician in Auto!Automatic!!Poetry n’ LotionThe Apes.

I'm super pumped about the new Mars Volta/Flea project Antemasque. I've also been completely soaking in the absolutely incredible, psychedelic reggae LP Peace and Love by Dadawah. With each song coming in right around 10 minutes, this album takes you on a journey of trippy guitars, intricate percussion, and haunting vocals that are sure to leave you with a spiritual contact high. Another notably awesome psychedelic reggae track that I have been enjoying lately is Keith Hudson's "Darkest Night" (video/audio below). Might as well throw in Tommy McCook and the Supersonic's "Psychedelic Reggae" too.

1991, High-Tech High-Life (Opal Tapes) Lately I've found myself digging through the Opal Tapes backlist thanks to the insistent prodding of one of my close friends. This album from 1991 is one of the true gems they've put out in the past few years. It's a warped-tape ambient descendant of the Boards of Canada corners of the universe, with a fair portion of Oneohtrix Point Never's post-internet weirdness thrown in for good measure. It's blissed-out spacey stuff, perfect for drifting off as the days start getting longer and hotter.

Eric Carmen, The Essential Eric Carmen (2014) A newly-released two-CD anthology commemorating the work of one of my all-time favorites — singer, songwriter, composer and pop genius Eric Carmen, who's been on heavy rotation for me this week. Traveling chronologically from Carmen’s early days as part of the Cleveland garage band Cyrus Erie through his tenure as frontman of The Raspberries, arguably the greatest pop band of all time, through a wealth of solo material, The Essential Eric Carmen is a fine roadmap covering the long and illustrious career Carmen has enjoyed. Whether discovering Carmen’s output for the first time or looking for a fine refresher course of his body of work, the sparking brand new remastering job that all the fine tunes featured on this superb, jam-packed collection benefit from will please any Eric Carmen fan. From the hard-rocking, melodic Small Faces-inspired work of early 70’s pop masters The Raspberries through Carmen’s more moody, solo ballads, Carmen’s emotive voice and knack for writing great pop hooks and gorgeous melodies never waned throughout his career. The teenage sex anthem “Go All The Way” (my personal vote for THE greatest pop song ever written) through the heartbreaking loneliness of “All By Myself,” Eric’s many sides and moods are perfectly represented on this fantastic anthology. Featuring up-to-date liner notes and testimonials from Bruce Springsteen, Matthew Sweet, Paul Stanley and many others AND including a brand new composition making its debut on this collection (“Brand New Year”), The Essential Eric Carmen is the long-overdue career-spanning collection fans have been awaiting for years.

JULIA STEWART / MoonGoddess Entertainment LLC
StokeswoodOur Streets (2014)
Stokeswood is hitting the Crowbar stage, along with Jimkata, on Fri., April 25.

EMEFEGood Future (2012)
Brooklyn-based EMEFE is hitting New World this Tues., April 22.

PHIL BENITO Gasparilla Music Festival President & Talent Buyer | Brokenmold Entertainment
tUnE yArDs, Nikki Nack (out May 5, 2014)


EMEFE, Live on KEXP (2013) Video below.
Show this Tues., April 22, at New World Brewery.

KEITH ULREY | owner, MicrogrooveNew Granada Records
The Afghan Whigs release their first full length in 16 years today (4/15). While not as in your face as previous efforts,  Do The Beast has got plenty of grime and down-n-dirty to still give me that "need to bathe after listening" vibe they've always put off. I'm on board. "The Lottery" below.

MICHAEL JOHNSON | Local music nerd

Three albums on repeat as of late... 

She Sir
, Go Guitars (2014) RIYL: Beach Fossils, DIIV, Real Estate, ambient pop.

Juan Wauters, N.A.P North American Poetry (2014) Currently on tour with Mac Demarco, which makes sense because he's right there with Mac on the burnt-out psych folk sound.

Ava LunaElectric Balloon (2014) Per their bandcamp "nervous soul" - listen below.
MELANIE CADE | Mojo Books & Records
Jaco Pastorius, Modern American Music . . . Period! The Criteria Sessions (Record Store Day 2014 release) Unreleased tracks recorded during the sessions that produced Jaco's debut album. Heavy breathing. If I could only buy one record all year, I would choose this.

Various Artists, Space Project (Record Store Day 2014 release) Record Store Day is this Saturday and there will be hundreds of special, limited vinyl releases available at indie record stores like Mojo. One of the more conceptually ambitious efforts this year is Space Project. Beach House, Spiritualized, Youth Lagoon and others contribute, each incorporating “sounds” from the Voyager 1 and 2 space probes. How'd they get these sounds? From electromagnetic radiation fluctuations in the magnetosphere of planets, moons and asteroids. If the excellence of Youth Lagoon's “Worms” track (the only one currently available to demo) is anything to go by, we need not fear that this will be a novelty album. Also, uniquely, this RSD release will be available in 2 vinyl formats: LP and a 7” boxset.

Tame Impala, Live Versions (Record Store Day 2014 release) says it best: “Eight tracks recorded in Chicago during the band's 2013 US tour. The live arrangements of these tracks are distinctly different than the recorded arrangements, and chosen for this RSD release for that reason.” If any of these are left after Saturday's rush, I will be spiriting one away to a good home. All releases available on vinyl at Mojo this Sat., April 19th @ 8 a.m.!

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