Atoms for Peace - Amok: I confess up front that I become a...less than impartial listener when it comes to output from Thom Yorke, the savior of the human race. And, considering that, I'm quite proud to admit that this record ISN'T a generation-defining tour de force that encapsulates the breadth of human experience in the 21st century. In fact, I'm still having trouble getting into a few of these songs even after 15-20 listens. But hey, that's not so bad - Yorke and his "supergroup" (that includes Flea, producer Nigel Godrich, and percussionists Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker) have crafted a disc of intricate, challenging, and downright funky music that's an absolute joy to piece together and marvel at. And when it's on, it's ON: listen to the way the skittering Afrobeat groove of "Before Your Very Eyes..." morphs into a dark synthetic rumination before your very...ears. Or the way that acoustic piano slides so beautifully into the 2-step shuffle of "Amok". The bandmembers wanted to erase the boundaries between man and machine here, making it incredibly difficult to distinguish between live instrumentation and programmed laptop trickery. This one won't go down as an all-time classic, but it stands as an incredible demonstration of expert production in service of a concept that draws from the strength of each of these musicians. Plus, Flea actually sounds quite tasteful here! -ZN
Recommended Tracks: "Amok", "Before Your Very Eyes...", "Default"
Shlohmo - Laid Out EP: A brilliant new release from my favorite record label, and something a little different from Boy Wonder himself. It's a palatable step forward from his obscure, cerebral early work into a more rhythmic and club-ready, late night sex-in-the-champagne-room vibe. Slow, sensual 808-ridden beats tinged by 90's R&B make Laid Out sound more like a collection of cloud rap demos than the lo-fi experimental "backyard noises" we were used to with Shlohmo. Okay, how do I put this... say, while Bad Vibes was kinda like "getting too stoned and passing out on grandma's couch", Laid Out is more of a "slow-crawl to the toilet after sippin' too much Lean". This that ish that make you shut your eyes & sway so pop it on, nod your head, and get Laid the f**k Out. -JLF
Recommended Tracks: "Later", "Out Of Hand", "Without"
Popstrangers - Antipodes: If Soundgarden had been neighbors with the Beach Boys in 1965, they would have become Popstrangers. With a singer that sounds somewhere between Noah Lennox (Animal Collective) and Chino Moreno (Deftones), the band definitely has a unique style that puts them in the midst a lot of familiar sounds without feeling colloquial. Rather than fall into a vague middleground, Popstrangers make their vast array of influences their strength by crafting an album that dances between reverb-soaked guitars, grunge energy, and pseudo-gaze drone. This is a record that will grow on you with each listen. -NA
Recommended Tracks: "What Else Could They Do?", "404", "Heaven"
The Lovely Bad Things - The Late Great Whatever: Hot off their appearance at our Spectrum show this Valentine’s Day, Los Angeles’ Lovely Bad Things return with their newest full-length. Featuring their signature Ramonesesque “1-2-3-4!” thrashers as well as barn-burning ballads, this record definitely captures the LBT that has made them local favorites (they just finished a month-long residency at the Echo!). The chick-to-dude ratio of vocals makes them the punk rock equivalent of Fleetwood Mac, and I can only hope that their freespirited garage jams will reap the same critical praise. Lure your parents down to a ‘Bad Things show with “Rope Swing,” then watch their faces as you mosh to “Randall the Savage”. Totally surfy! Totally punx! Totally KXSC! -NA
Recommended Tracks: "Fried Eyes", "Darth Lauren", "Hear or Anywhere"
Eat Skull - III: Fuzzy, distorted, big muff-induced guitar riffs rattle as the raw vocals and punchy drums combine into gritty layers. III brings home a genuine lo-fi feel. This album is a combination of Eat Skull's older, skuzzier sound with a more psychedelic, rock n' roll feel. Each song is packed with an intensity that combines their noise-approach to music that is more approachable than their previous records. The guitar solo on Dead Horses echoes that of The Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, while Catch Em Before They Vanish's surf-inspired guitar is layered over a fuzzy backing that's ridiculously textural. It's good. -JH