Electric Wire Hustle - LOVE CAN PREVAIL: “WOAH, THIS IS NOT WHAT I EXPECTED. IT’S LIKE APHEX TWIN MEETS JOHN LEGEND,” is what an intern said today when I made him listen to the first track of this album. It’s a meeting point of so many good elements. Much element. Such fusion. Wow. You got your drums, your looping beats, your escalating bass, your Afro-Brazilian flavor, and your soulful sexy crooning with dat smooth rhythm and blues voice. There are constant shifts between staccato and hard hitting beats all layered over electric soulful yummm. Some tracks start off in the vein of being abstract and chilled out that then develop and build into a wall of groovy sound. Electric Wire Hustle comes at you hard from New Zealand, their second full-length since the self-titled release from 2009. There’s a string sample I hear (in Numbers and Steel) that was almost definitely in FlyLo’s essential mix. “Love Can Prevail” is stream of consciousness in musical form, with sudden shifts and layering and fusing, but remains easy to listen to. I really like this album. ARI
White Lung - Deep Fantasy: White Lung’s new album Deep Fantasy is 22 minutes of energetic heavy punk magic. There is a significant increase in production on this album, and the combination of enhanced songwriting and Mish Way’s piercing vocals make for an amazing sound. Guitarist Kenneth Williams pushes every song to its limit while Mish dangles you over an edge with her edgy lyrics. If you enjoy the sound its well worth your while to give the album a listen with lyric sheet in hand. Diving into the lyrics exposes the band’s deep-rooted feminist ideologies. These girls are incredibly badass but don’t forget about Ken. Will
Recommended Tracks: "Face Down", "Drown with the Monster", "Down it Goes"
Dark Horses - Hail Lucid State: The art rock group’s second album proves to be a step up from their first effort. The album coasts seamlessly in a swirl of electronic psych/proto-punk rock all running around the diverse sound of vocalist Lisa Elle. The tracks range from gloomy lo-fi jams, like the groups previous work, to dazzling 80s synth work. There is a lot going on in this record and it is hard to absorb it all in one sitting, but every listen reveals more intricacies. If you want to find some tracks that you can get lost in give this album a listen. Hail Lucid State is an engaging blend of styles expressed with poetic urgency. Will
Recommended Tracks: "Live On Hunger", "Desire", "Saturn Returns"
Sinkane - Mean Love: With roots in London, Sudan, and Ohio Ahmed Gallab is just the guy to craft brilliant, globally inspired pop music. On his band Sinkane’s second album we see him masterfully blending afro beat and reggae with such disparate genres as psychedelic rock and country. Mean Love tears down the barriers between musical genres and offers up an eclectic, but ultimately cohesive piece of pop perfection. The album kicks off with a fat synth groove called “How We Be”, an instantly likeable and catchy dance jam. It’s a straightforward song, but it only serves as a jumping off point for the rest of the album, a sort of electro-pop baseline on top of which reggae and funk will begin to seamlessly build. On track four, we are introduced to the steel guitar, a classic component of country rock, but here we have it being paired with a ska backbeat and a wispy refrain reminiscent of early Wailers. Then on the very next track we find ourselves listening to the low-key jazz of a Parisian café. The array of styles that we encounter in just the first few tracks is mind-boggling, but somehow it really works. Ahmed Gallab proves to be truly a master of his craft. Sam
White Fence - For the Recently Found Innocent: White Fence is usually Tim Presley armed with an electric guitar and four-track tape recorder sitting in his bedroom ripping snippets of drum beats from old records. That very method has resulted in such fantastic records as Cyclops Reap, but apparently for his Drag city debut Tim was coaxed out of his bedroom and into Ty Segall’s garage, quite the upgrade. He and Ty are no strangers to collaboration, but this is the first time that Ty Segall’s style shows through in Tim’s own music. You get all of the old mod-type jangle psych, but the fuzz is definitely turned up and the lyrics have an air of self-reflectionary melancholy. Standouts are “Wolf Gets Red Faced” and “Like That”, which is the type of tongue in cheek pop song you might expect from the Kinks. Great little music video too, Ray Davies would be flattered. Sam
Royal Blood - Royal Blood: Yeah, OK, I get it, guitar-based alt rock has become a pretty homogenized genre, so much so that many bands are nearly indistinguishable from each other (proof: Turn Blue might as well have been a Strokes album as a Black Keys one). I could certainly sit here and list – probably for multiple paragraphs – the other bands that Royal Blood sound like and dismiss their debut album as too “unoriginal” to be worthwhile, but at least in my opinion, that would be a total disservice to the band. (Because this album is good. Really.) Sure, I will admit that if someone told me that “Figure It Out” was actually by the Arctic Monkeys, I would *probably* believe it, but hey, that’s maybe not such a bad thing (I am pretty fond of “AM,” not gonna lie). However, in addition to the more stereotypical characteristics present in this album – the talk-style delivery on many of the tracks, the catchy (bass) guitar riffs, and the overall structures of the songs – Royal Blood highlights the distinctive aspects of the band’s style. As a two-piece band with a bass guitar rather than the typical six-string, Royal Blood has a much heavier sound – even in slower paced songs like “Blood Hands” and “Better Strangers” – than many other, better-known alt rock duos, such as the The White Stripes or Japandroids. Royal Blood also strays from the “cleaner” sounding guitars preferred by popular alt rock, favoring a more alt metal stylized sound in both “Little Monster” and “Loose Change.” And, like I mentioned earlier, even the less unique-sounding songs (namely “Out of the Black” and “Come on Over”) are enjoyable and will definitely give you your rock fix. ASHLEY H.
Recommended Tracks: “Little Monster”, “Loose Change”, “Better Strangers”
Faded Paper Figures - Relics: Faded Paper Figures, the LA based three-piece, is known for their cutesy indie pop sound. Incorporating both male and female vocals, FPF’s songs are a cadence of chirping synths, high-tech lyrics, and the child’s glockenspiel in your parents’ basement. While the group preserves their trademark playfulness on Relics, it is clear that FPF has matured as songwriters. Like a Postal Service song on crack, Relics bangs into life with the song “Breathing,” a buzzy bass banger ending in a mobile-phone synth solo. Another succulent moment comes in the outro of the song “Lost Stars” which feels like a highpoint the band has been anticipating their whole career. The twanging guitar tone on “Spare Me” also recalls the western swagger of a Tarantino movie. FPF is still making cute pop songs, but something about Relics feels a bit more grown-up. I recommend this to anyone looking for some good driving music. A-Rog
Recommended Tracks: “Breathing”, “Lost Stars”, “Spare Me”
De Lux - Voyage: LA duo De Lux markets themselves as a post-disco dance-punk band. Indeed, listening to their debut album Voyage it’s easy to imagine that the dry, thumping drums and bouncing bass lines are the unheard b-sides of an old Talking Heads record. But the group’s sound is far from dated. With groovy synth lines and out of control vocals reminiscent of David Byrne, Voyage is an album that is easy to dance to and already sounds like a classic. A-Rog
Recommended Tracks: “Moments” ,“Sometimes Your Friends Are Not Your Friends”, “Brighter End of Dark”
Wand - Ganglion Reef : I have seen the future, and its name is Wand. These transmissions may be misconstrued as alien communications, but in reality the beacon of origin lies just outside the hills & shrubbery of Echo Park. Cory Hanson & co. have crafted a record that sets a lush backdrop of tape delays and distant vocals beneath flares of monumental fuzz and modular synthesizers. An album that dances between the lines of Hawkwind-scale space jams & efficiently crafted songwriting, Ganglion Reef is not to be taken lightly. It is a monsterpiece that will require lax inhibitions, open ears, and a comfy chair to brace your body while Wand puts you through the paces. Are you ready? We'll see... NICK
Recommended Tracks: "Broken Candle", "Clearer", "Fire On the Mountain"
Ty Segall - Manipulator: Emerging from the depths of his seemingly endless cavern of songs, Ty bestows upon us his latest set of fuzzy commandments. The man who continues to reinvent himself and the entire foundation of 'garage rock' has done it once more; Manipulator functions as a tribute to several eras of the canon of rock n roll mythology. It is part concept album, part glam, part rock opera, but most importantly it is built upon the wit and charm that Ty's home-brewed brand of writing and recording has lent on prior releases by himself (Twins, Sleeper) as well as numerous other California up-and-comers (White Fence, Beach Party, Meatbodies). While it is rumored that all instruments and sounds besides (I kid you not) cowbell were performed by Segall, it is evident that his collaborations with bandmate & acclaimed songwriter Mikal Cronin have pressed for a more mature and introspective side that would have otherwise remained buried deep beneath layers of lo-fi haze. This record bobs and weaves through monophonic synths, "Down By the River" guitar frenetics, and self-harmonizing choruses of angelic Segalls. But after clocking in at a whopping 17 songs (nearly a FULL HOUR of music), one important factor remains to be said: it has no weak spot. That's right: where most artists struggle to maintain listener interest across a measly 10 or so tracks, Ty has managed to craft a double album that is not toilsome or boring to take in from start to finish. This may be the ushering in of a new era of his Ty-ness, but it is certainly not him bottoming out. If anything, this is a new peak of excellence which will only result in deservedly expanded publicity (and probably EVEN MORE releases this year!). ALL HAIL THE MANIPULATOR! CONVERT OR BE LEFT BEHIND! SPREAD THE GOOD WORD! NICK
Recommended Tracks: "The Clock", "Feel", "Manipulator"