As befits a band of their stature and longevity, Low’s 11th album Ones and Sixes is shaping up to be a deep and subtle look at Big Subjects like commitment and mortality. Unlike the pummeling bleakness of “No Comprendre”, the first song they released from the record, “What Part of Me” blends the big scary stuff inherent in talking about being with another person forever with the sweetness such commitments also require. The thick keyboards, plaintive lyrics and, especially the rich harmonies between Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk combine to give the song a warmth and beauty that is somehow deeply reassuring. Low may not do feel-good summer songs but this is, at the very least, a summer jam for a rainy day.—JOHN M. TRYNESKI (7/10)
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Wonky and sinewy as fuck. I was dreading that this would be some kind of sad, humiliation of the vaguely empowering Fifth Harmony tune of the same name currently making the radio rounds (a la Kid Cudi’s “Poke Her Face”), but this is something altogether other. I’ve generally backed Danny Brown more on his weird-ass B-sides than the album cuts—“ODB”, “#Hottest MC”, the original rendition of “Kush Coma”, guest spots with Rustie and Darq E Freaker—so it’s nice to see this slippery little number, released as part of the Adult Swim summer singles, count amongst those hidden treasures. Clams Casino comes in swinging chiming synths along a greasy axel riddim mechanical enough to qualify for industrial, but not hyperactive enough to fit amongst the foley grime lots (HER Records, M.E.S.H., Bloom, Lotic). You’d almost be forgiven for thinking there is no beat in this by how asynchronous it sounds. It’s a big sloppy, albeit calculated, mess, but so is the subject matter and Danny Brown finds exactly where to ride each successive recurrence. I much prefer keen-eyed, critical, and paranoid Danny Brown to his raunchier alter ego self so I’m feeling this on all levels. It makes me excited for his return. In addition, Clams Casino is having his best year since ’11, having also honed some fine Vince Staples cuts on his debut full-length.—TIMOTHY GABRIELE (8 of 10)
In addition to being one of the coolest writers around, an expert in everything from jazz, to death metal, to Ween, Hank Shteamer is the drummer and vocalist for Brooklyn band STATS. As it so happens, the band is as eclectic as Shteamer’s musical taste, a wildy creative mishmash of Melvins-derived sludge and Beefheart-esque experimentation. Massively heavy but showing a progressive nimbleness that you don’t exactly hear in sludge/noise-oriented bands, the band’s debut album makes for an absurdly delightful listening experience.
It has an inventive build-up, with its DIY quality and dazzling timbres making it consistently mysterious and engaging. Vocally and melodically, Beal evokes his soulful forefathers, which, when done right, is more difficult than it seems. It reminds me a bit of certain tracks from Plastic Beach by Gorillaz, actually. It’s a bit too sparse, though, since Beal’s voice deserves a more luscious arrangement. The contrast between his robust delivery and the limited composition is part of the intrigue, though, so yeah, I’m a bit torn on this one.—JORDAN BLUM (7/10)
With a sound that is reminiscent of both Alex Chilton and the cheekier side of UK powerpop, Rhode Island artist Andy Lampert is not lacking in wry humor. First, he named his 15-song debut album 10 Songs of Pain (does it have five happy songs?), and even better, he comes up with a dandy of a chorusing his track “Even I Can Dream”, singing measuredly, “I am trying not to lose my friggin’ mind.” It’s a wonderful expression of modern despair that we all can relate to.