Album of the Week Mix: 2011, Vol. 4by Treble Staff
Summer brought us a lot of vastly different but excellent wholly original music, so much that our latest Album of the Week mix might very well be our most diverse one this year. There’s a little bit of electro-funk courtesy of Little Dragon, Ty Segall’s Beatlesque garage rock, Matana Roberts’ jazz poetry, Chelsea Wolfe’s goth folk, The Atlas Moth’s psych-metal sludge, and whatever Spencer Krug is doing with Moonface. There’s a lot of great music here, and a wide variety of sounds. So stream away, and enjoy!
Ty Segall – “Goodbye Bread”
from Goodbye Bread
What We Said: “Goodbye Bread” is definitely the song that I have found myself coming back to again and again, and the references to John Lennon that I have seen dotting various commentaries on it seem justified in so far as it accords with Lennon’s penchant at times for barebones, gritty rock and roll as a vehicle for a voice to give strong shape to a particular emotional problem that cannot be shaken.
Matana Roberts – “Kersaia”
from COIN COIN Chapter One: Gens de Couleur Libres
What We Said: The outstanding “Kersaia” erupts with a swinging rhythm and stunning melody before introducing dueling soliloquies, and ultimately kicking up into some Dixieland-style hot jazz.
The Horrors – “Still Life”
What We Said: It’s commendable that the band’s ambitions have grown in proportion to their NME-sized hype, and one need only look to the album’s second half to get an image of those ambitions.
Little Dragon – “Ritual Union”
from Ritual Union
What We Said: While the band moved into machine funk territory on their previous record, here things have been sped up and stripped down, the backbone of many songs dry, metronomic beats that all but scream Krautrock.
Chelsea Wolfe – “Mer”
What We Said: The album’s first proper song, “Mer,” is a perfectly constructed beginning to the strange and otherworldly journey on which Wolfe takes her listeners. Its minor key arpeggios and brushed drums create a gentle juxtaposition against the song’s subtly terrifying ambient sounds and Wolfe’s effects laden vocals.
Beirut – “The Rip Tide”
from The Rip Tide
What We Said: The suggestion of a rip tide could be interpreted in a number of ways, but there is such a rapturous quality about the song, one’s left to believe there is some revelation being made. At any rate, it’s gorgeous.
The War on Drugs – “Brothers”
from Slave Ambient
What We Said: Slave Ambient primarily differs in that it’s a much bigger album, with seemingly simple tracks like the outstanding, lonesome-hearted “Brothers” made up of numerous, mesmerizing layers, resulting in one of the weirdest and most curiously charming arena rock albums to emerge in recent years.
Moonface – “Shit-Hawk in the Snow”
from Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I’d Hoped
What We Said: My favorite track here may just be “Shit-Hawk in the Snow” because it is the most bonkers, wild circus arpeggios of organ flaring out, a Suicide-like sense for rhythmic repetition, droning and clattering, dark and most attractive when Krug howls, “Hyp-Hyp-Hyp-Hypnotize you.”
Widowspeak – “Harsh Realm”
What We Said: “Harsh Realm” was subsequently released as a single on Captured Tracks, and here appears in its best form yet, the sound thicker, the organ pulses on the languorous plateau higher in the mix, adding a brief narcotic release.
Wooden Ships – “Flight”
What We Said: They do all those rhythmical things that get one shimmying, and are also inclined to spin things off into some tripped-out post-psychedelic swirl over all the riffing and caterwauling.
Wild Flag – “Something Came Over Me”
from Wild Flag
What We Said: On the outstanding “Something Came Over Me,” [Mary Timony] invokes a kind of endearing desperation, pleading “I want you here… now,” over one of the record’s strongest melodies.
St. Vincent – “Surgeon”
from Strange Mercy
What We Said: In the amazing “Surgeon,” meanwhile, Clark conflates sexuality with depression, singing “I spent all summer on my back” one moment, and “Best finest surgeon/ come cut me open” the next, just grazing the taboo while leaving little hints of doubt.
Girls – “Magic”
from Father, Son, Holy Ghost
What We Said: The band sounds firmly grounded in the here and now, retaining a perfect grip on their ’60s pop sensibilities while using contemporary perspective to infuse it with even more vividness.
The Atlas Moth – “Perpetual Generations”
from An Ache for the Distance
What We Said: They ease into a molasses-speed Southern boogie with album standout “Perpetual Generations,” in which clean vocals and a hypnotic verse give way to a tornado of low rumbles and harrowing howls in its still bluesy, still mesmerizing chorus.