Music Department Reviews

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Album: Ballerina Arcade

Artist: Graham Repulski

Label: All Tens Music

An 8-minute, moody lo-fi ride, Graham Repulski’s latest EP Ballerina Arcade combines everything fuzzy and hard to understand in a way that plays quite a bit like an homage to Guided by Voices. The short run time makes you savor every song since you have so little time with it, but the teaser of things to come from Graham make the 40 second tracks that much sweeter. Play a few in a row, you’ll hardly know one track ends before the other begins—the CD is seamless and delightful.

-Winona Bechtle, World/Americana MD

 

Album: Half the City

Artist: St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Label: Single Lock Records

This album is contemporary soul music at its finest. Paul Janeway’s voice haunts the listener like the ghost of many soul singers of the past. The whole album is really solid.

-Jordan Leonard, Jazz MD

 

Album: Yo

Artist: Roberto Fonseca

Label: Jazz Village

This cat is a major pusher in the Cuban Jazz arena. His album fuses pleasant Cuban ryhthmic devices and tonal color. In Spanish, Yo means I. His performance is definitely a heart felt and divine statement of his musicianship, being, roots.

-Jordan Leonard, Jazz MD

 

Album: Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Artist: Angel Olsen

Label: Jagjaguwar

Angel Olsen’s second album and first for Jagjaguwar, Burn Your Fire for No Witness is another impressive set of songs from the St. Louis singer-songwriter. Her voice remains the most immediate draw of her music, its depth and fullness giving it a gripping emotionality. The songs range from fuzzy, psych-folk-pop to Byrdsy jangle, to more stripped down pure folk. It’s all pretty great!

-Eric Markovits, Assistant MD

 

Album: Wonderland

Artist: CEO

Label: Modular

CEO is the solo project of Eric Berglund, former half of the Tough Alliance and co-head of Gothenburg’s Sincerely Yours Label; this is his 2nd album with the alias. As the cover might suggest, this is a garishly neon pop album, but it’s also sorta weird. It’s basically electro pop with strong hip-hop and J/K-pop influences. Berglund has a natural gift for writing pop songs and cloaking them in extra strangeness, which makes all his work an interesting but mainly deeply pleasurable experience. Check it out!

-Eric Markovits, Assistant MD

 

Album: Oozing Wound

Artist: Retrash

Label: Thrill Jockey

The east and west coast scenes generally get all the love, but the Midwest has always been the beating heart of American hardcore and metal. Chicago’s Oozing Wound are a product of this tradition and play intense, thrash-influenced hardcore with vocals that are more shrieks than shouts. As you might expect, these are pretty angry dudes and everyone from Pitchfork to cops to God gets a threat or a put-down. Violence, implicit and explicit, permeates this record from the instrumentation to the lyrics. Since it’s thrash, all the songs feel pretty similar, but they’re also perfect if you’re in the mood. Put this on and punch a hole in the wall.

-Julian Rippy, Assistant MD

 

Album: Guilty of Everything

Artist: Nothing

Label: Relapse

Nothing play shoegazey noise pop that stands out from other bands that are jumping on the My Bloody Valentine revival/Deafheaven bandwagon. The sounds on this album are heavily distorted but are rich and warm in a way that shoegaze bands rarely achieve and you can legitimately get lost in the thickly layered guitar textures. Nothing’s brand of noise pop is a little bit heavier and punk-influenced than subgenre standouts like Slowdive but I feel like that’s for the better since it gives these songs an incredible urgency. I really have nothing bad to say about this album. It’s pretty early but this is one of the strongest releases I’ve heard yet this year.

-Julian Rippy, Assistant MD

 

Album: Run the Jewels

Artist: Run The Jewels 

Label: Fool’s Gold Records

El-P and Killer Mike have worked together multiple times, but here they team up for a whole album as Run The Jewels. This is some hard stuff. This is so hard that it scratches diamonds. The beats and rhymes on this could be used as bunkers to protect from nuclear weapons. Every song has incredible production from El-P and vicious verses from Killer Mike and El-P. The two of them have no regard for human life on this album. They tear these beats to shreds. This is rapping at its finest. They’re lyrical, but not overly lyrical and preachy. Neither let up the whole album; they’re in attack mode from the start. I dare someone to not bop and mean mug when they listen to this. I dare them.
RIYD: Killer Mike, El-P, Big Boi, Flatbush Zombies, Action Bronson, Pusha T

-Luke Sawyer, Hip-Hop MD

 

Album: Mysterious Phonk (Instrumentals)

Artist: Spaceghostpurrp

Label: 4AD

This Florida producer/rapper has a tendency toward the profane and the low end. This instrumental release of his debut album means that the profane is (mostly) gone, but the low end remains. This is the music of nightmares, paranoia and dark alleys. This is music that can cause terrified delusions. This music is awesome. The drums knock and the bass booms. Purrp has a gift for interesting drum patterns and cool synth. When it all comes together, the palates of his productions are gorgeous and consistent. This album reflects his gift for aesthetic. He is not just a beat maker, but instead is a producer.
RIYD: Three Six Mafia, Lil B, Blue Sky Black Death, Clams Casino

-Luke Sawyer, Hip-Hop MD

 

Album: Loving the Chambered Nautilus

Artist: William Brittelle

Label: New Amsterdam Records

Front Review: William Brittelle is a composer from Brooklyn who, on this album, specializes in a unique mix of electronics and classical composition.  This is some of the most pure “electronic”-sounding music that you will hear coming out of the classical genre today.  Rich synth textures permeate every song on the album, adding a new layer of depth to the lush string compositions.  Many of the retro, neon-tinged synthesizer tones and drums sound straight out of the ‘80’s, and it does come off as a bit insincere and cheesy sometimes.  However, overall, the synthesis of classical chamber music and futuristic, avante-garde synth pop, works excellently.  Every track is engaging and dynamic, constantly shifting moods, tone colors, and rhythmic variations.  Overall, Brittelle produces a lush, expansive, and dreamy sound that pulls you in and constantly engages.

-Zach Schwartz, Classical MD

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