Reptar — Body Faucet: if the weather is getting hot where you live, and you have been thinking to yourself, self, I really could use an excellently danceable, shimmer-chime electronic pop album with surprisingly clever and catchy songwriting for the summer, look! Reptar made you an album. If you can listen to this without dancing in your chair in the office, I don’t want to know you, quite possibly.
Calico Beach Party — EP: half dreamy Beach House Wye Oak indie pop, half grungy garage rock, this is a surprising and engaging EP from a two guys one girl Seattle trio. It’s like Baltimore dream-pop meets Seattle rock and roll, and it’s really excellent. You can download the EP for free at their bandcamp page here; they just wrapped up a successful Kickstarter and will be pressing it on colored vinyl soon! RIYL the aforementioned Beach House and Wye Oak, Veruca Salt, Sleater-Kinney. (ps there is a song about a spaceship on this record.)
Cory Branan — Mutt: it’s not like I expected to be disappointed by Branan’s debut for Bloodshot Records, but I sure as hell didn’t expect opening track “Yesterday” to be my beloved, renamed “Summertime”, a song that sums up Branan’s rough-polished grooving songwriting in what is one of my favorite couplets of all time: and you were dancing barefoot on the picnic table/and damn it, girl, truly god damn it, girl, truly god damn it, girl, truly god damn. The rest of the album follows suit: it’s a polished and complete piece of work from Branan that retains in its musicality and vocals the roughness that shines his songwriting. Fans of Branan’s — which I have been for years — will be happy to have studio versions of long-time live favorites, and people who haven’t discovered his tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and great guitar-playing fill have a new favorite.
Hurray for the Riff Raff — Look Out Mama: the third album from New Orleans’ Alyssa Lee Segarra, it’s a lovely step from 2010’s Young Blood Blues; her rough, light voice is well-suited to the dixieland piano and banjo twang that’s all over this record. It feels like an open window on a spring day, and her simple arrangements — even in the complicated songs — are the perfect venue for her lyrical skill. Also: it has handclaps. I saw Alyssa and her band in late 2010, and it was one of my favorite shows of that years — I can’t wait to hear the new songs added into her live repertoire. (Hurray for the Riff Raff will be in Saxapahaw on Saturday June 2. I will be in Saxapahaw then, too, obviously.)
The Brian Jonestown Massacre — Aufheben: I won’t front, when I read about this album I had to text the Cowboy and ask if I cared about Brian Jonestown Massacre. He assured me I did, and, knowing me well, he was right: I do. This is a swirling, psychadelic cowpunk masterpiece, all glimmering keyboards and churning guitars and bizarrely incomprehensible vocals, and I am disgustingly excited to shoot these guys at the Cradle in August. If you love the stuff that M83, Cloud Nothings, all those kids, are doing now but have never dug into Brian Jonestown Massacre’s back catalog, do yourself a favor and pick this one up and then start digging. You won’t regret it.
Hollows — Vultures: like last year’s excellent from dreamy garagey girl pop compatriots Radiation City, the debut LP from Hollows is drenched in Phil Spektor wall of sound and churning, fierce guitars and drumming. It sounds like that time of day the French call ‘l’heure bleu’, the blue hour, the twilight in the South in the late spring — it’s part warm and part shadowy and part something unclassifiable. I am loving this record; I can’t get it off the stereo.
Efren — Write a New Song: rough guitars, great lead vocals and AMAZING female harmony vocals, this is so similar to early Lucero albums in sound that I had to check to make sure it wasn’t. It isn’t, though, because frontman Scott Low writes songs that are far stronger in the pure country tradition than Ben Nichols has ever gone in for, so Efren marries that rough cowpunk sound of Lucero to the purer songwriting of Nashville history. (Also, he’s super adorable.) If you’re itching for new music that sounds (RIYL) Lucero or Ryan Bingham, this is the album for you.
The Constellations — Do It For Free: Atlanta super-group the Constellations follow up their stellar debut Southern Gothic with a second album full of swampy blues, ’50s pop, and Southern hip hop; they’re the kings and queens of the genre fusion, and Do It For Free is soulful, sexy, and a little bit dirty, in the best sort of fashion. They really should be famous.