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This June’s record release schedule is about more than just the search for the summer jam of 2014, not when the month’s slate includes so many eagerly awaited albums, some a few years in the making. Fucked Up’s Glass Boys is at the top of the list, considering the intrigue surrounding how they would follow up the epic rock opera David Comes to Life, while new efforts by Jack White and Mastodon are sure to pique interest. There are also buzzed about offerings by emerging artists, like Disclosure collaborator Sam Smith’s debut full-length and the sophomore outing by old-school indie revivalists Parquet Courts. And the lifers are out in force too, what with new work from Bob Mould, Camper Van Beethoven, and Phish. But if you are looking for unavoidable summer hit, the Lana Del Rey and Ed Sheeran albums would probably be the places to start.


 
June 3

 



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Fucked Up

Glass Boys

(Matador)

Review [2.Jun.2014]
Fucked Up
Glass Boys


At 43 minutes, Glass Boys may seem a slight offering from Toronto’s Fucked Up. After the epic excellence of The Chemistry of Common Life and the rock opera David Comes to Life, a shorter record could read as a return to basics. But the beauty of Glass Boys is that it continues the band’s compositional expansions, but condenses them into tight structures. Guitars ring out in warm beds over the thundering drums of “Echo Boomer”. “Sun Glass” moves from acoustic strumming to a mix of razorwire hooks and distant, echoing backing vocals. “Paper the House” stretches out on cascading hooks melting over the edges of hard-struck drums. And, of course, in the middle of it all Damian Abraham howls out lyrics, not singing melodies so much as barking out galvanizing cadences. The album meshes the intricate with the punishing at every turn, and the mix is an arresting one. Glass Boys is also another step in studio innovation for the band, as drummer Jonah Falco recorded two drum tracks for each song, one of them in half-time. If you don’t consciously register both tracks, there’s still something disorienting and exciting about how these rhythms work. They create strangely shaped spaces within these songs, and so even if Glass Boys runs far shorter than its predecessors, it is no less expansive, no less innovative, and no less exciting in its execution. Matthew Fiander


 

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Bob Mould

Beauty & Ruin

(Merge)

Bob Mould
Beauty & Ruin


Suffice it to say that Bob Mould has been there, done that, and back again a few times, so it’s not like there’s much new terrain for him to discover at this point. But on his latest effort under his own name, Beauty & Ruin, Mould isn’t so much retracing his steps or revisiting past triumphs, rather doing what he does best and pushing himself even further in the process. Building on his underappreciated 2012 disc The Silver Age, Beauty & Ruin is a set of roaring, catchy guitar-pop anthems that bring to mind the earworming melodies of Sugar and the snarling bite of Hüsker Dü, just with a vitality that can’t simply be accounted for by nostalgia. So it’s stating the obvious to say that Mould finds the power trio format to be a productive working arrangement, but this current incarnation feels particularly explosive, fueled as it is by the primal bashing of Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster. “I Don’t Know You Anymore” finds Mould as muscularly tuneful he’s been since Sugar’s debut and “Kid with a Crooked Face” more barbed and punky since before then, while the towering power-pop of “The War” and “Fire in the City” scales new heights, even for Mould. On an album where he’s embracing his role as an elder statesman even when he’s hardly acting his age, Bob Mould signals that he’s entered his latest golden age on Beauty & Ruin. Arnold Pan


 

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Parquet Courts

Sunbathing Animal

(What’s Your Rupture?/Mom+Pop)

Review [4.Jun.2014]
Parquet Courts
Sunbathing Animal


Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts’ debut record, let us know just how clever these guys were at making nervy pop songs and filling them with witty lyrics. So that Sunbathing Animal is a smart record should surprise no one. That it is this smart should. It’s a daring, risky, and endlessly satisfying pop record that can deliver the immediate rushing hooks of “What Color is Blood” or “Always Back in Town”, but it can also stretch out into moody epics like “She’s Rollin” and “Instant Disassembly”. The remarkable thing about this record is how, despite all its wit and cool, it doesn’t use these parts of the whole to create distance. Instead, “Instant Disassembly”, which could be a dead-eyed trudge, is an achingly exhausted inquiry, and “She’s Rollin” is as lovelorn as pop gets. Even the speedier tracks aren’t looking to sprint past worry but rather approximate it. These songs may bark out their vocals, but the music here—guitar feedback lashing out here, harmonica shredding through a track there—never forgets the tension in the midst of all this angular, brilliant pop. It would be enough for Parquet Courts to be another smart pop band, but on Sunbathing Animal the group doesn’t seem content with that. Instead, this album raises questions about the relationship between being cool and being emotive, between wit and feeling in music, and does it with a series of fascinating, intricate, but unforgettable songs. Matthew Fiander


 

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Priests

Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP

(Sister Polygon/Don Giovanni)

Review [2.Jun.2014]
Priests
Bodies and Control and Money and Power EP


PopMatters tabbed Priests as one of the bands to keep an eye on in 2014, and the D.C. group’s new EP Bodies and Control and Money and Power makes good on that potential. Considering the agit-rock attitude and socially conscious mindset of Bodies and Control, it would be obvious to place Priests alongside neo-feminist contemporaries like Savages and Perfect Pussy or in the lineage of their local Dischord scene, but it might be with troublemaking tricksters like the Fall and Bikini Kill that they share a greater affinity. Indeed, what sets Priests apart from their peers is their mischievous tone, which helps them articulate their agenda with an almost playful wit and bite. On the sneering single “Right Wing”, Priests shape fuzzy, buzzing noise-rock into something insidiously catchy, as the mocking tone of frontwoman Katie Alice Greer’s vocals brings to mind Julie Ruin-era Kathleen Hanna. Better yet, Greer takes her cues from Kim Gordon on “And Breeding”, delivering her sing-spoken lines with a tossed-off cool that’s not above ramping up to a fevered pitch. These songs capture what makes Preists’ rhetorical plan of attack effective, able to sound urgent and insistent without having to be dead serious about it or making you think they’re trying as hard as they probably are. Arnold Pan


 

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The Rock*A*Teens

Sweet Bird of Youth reissue

(Merge)

The Rock*A*Teens
Sweet Bird of Youth reissue


2014 marks the 25-year anniversary for Merge Records, and one way they’re celebrating is by reissuing one album every month from the label’s back catalog. The label champions interesting choices (The Clientele’s Suburban Light, Spoon’s Love Ways EP) over popular ones in this series, but Sweet Bird of Youth may bridge that gap. The best and grandest of the Rock*A*Teens records, this 66-minute set crystallizes the impressive energy and ragged edges that made this band so crucial and underrated. The album starts with a perfect trio, the sweeping “Car and Driver”, the grinding churn of “If I Wanted to Be Famous (I’d Have Shot Someone)”, and the debauched shuffle of “Please Don’t Go Downtown Tonight”, and it only stretches out from there. They were a band always on the verge of losing order. From Chris Lopez’s baying vocals, to Kelly Hogan’s brilliant organ work, to the spacious rhythm section, the band’s songs were expansive but also built on crumbling foundations, ever shifting, ever cracking. The guitars sound brittle but never broken, even on the moody expanse of “It’s Destiny” or the jangling “Lee Knows Every Raindrop”. They are dry and hard, but the overall effect here is sweaty, even bloody, full of the shakes and jitters of the body, equal parts frustration and discovery. There wasn’t, and still isn’t, another band that sounds like the Rock*A*Teens, and though they created three classic records for Merge, this is the one to reissue. It’s vital from moment to moment, but audacious in its ambitions. That it also includes a full and excellent hometown live set on top of this great album just piles on the good stuff. Sweet Bird of Youth is essential rock music, and an essential part of the Merge and the Rock*A*Teens story. Go get it (again). Matthew Fiander


 
June 10

 



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The Fresh & Onlys

House of Spirits

(Mexican Summer)

The Fresh & Onlys
House of Spirits


The Fresh & Onlys are an anomaly in the pop landscape. They create catchy songs, but those songs are in service to complete albums, sets meant to be heard in order in their entirety. If they’re not the only band that does this, they are one of the most outspoken and (more importantly) execute this balance better than most. House of Spirits is no exception. If early songs like “Home Is Where?”, with its melting guitars and ringing piano (not to mention “a mouthful of eyes”), sound hazy, even bleary-eyed, it’s because they take place in a dream space. So you get the haunting, echoing spaces of “Who Let the Devil” and the gossamer tones of “Animal of One”, which sounds like a pop song that crawled out of the long ago past or long buried subconscious. If the propulsive late-album standout “April Fools” feels clearer, that’s because the dreamer has awaken and rolls through the wandering “Ballerina” and confronts the troubling textures of closer “Madness”. If the asleep-to-awake arc seems a bit used, the Fresh & Onlys smartly use it not as a narrative structure, but rather as a textural one. The group explores all sides of its sound—from its punky underpinnings to its power-pop muscle to its dream-pop gauze—and in doing so has created the band’s most engaging record yet. Matthew Fiander


 

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Alexander Turnquist

Flying Fantasy

(Western Vinyl)

Alexander Turnquist
Flying Fantasy


Alexander Turnquist is an accomplished composer and performer with his 12-string guitar. He communicates with the instrument. So you might imagine his alarm when he damaged a nerve in his playing hand, and then contracted meningitis after recovering from surgery. He had to relearn the instrument, essentially, and all this strife could have made this record about struggle and loss. Instead, from the fledgling harmonics that start off opener “House of Insomniacs” to the soaring phrasings of “Red Carousel” to the cut-free yet meditative speed of closer “Cloud Slicing”, this is an album of (re)discovery. Turnquist sounds strong as ever, and uses horns, keys, and percussion to take his sweet, sweeping guitar compositions and give them terra firma to wander on. Turnquist borrows elements from all over, most notably the spiritual leanings of Robbie Basho and the structure of neo-classical music, but shapes them into his own sound. Flying Fantasy is the rare album that combines exploration of sound with experimentation with space and texture. These are songs you can feel. There is emotion, yes, but there’s also something tactile here. So while you will certainly marvel at the sheer virtuosity of Turnquist’s playing, it’s the intricacy and strength of the structures here that give his sound such an indelible shape, and that will keep you returning to this record again and again. Matthew Fiander


 
June 17

 



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The Antlers

Familiars

(Anti-)

Review [17.Jun.2014]
The Antlers
Familiars


Indie rock can be a sad and lonely affair, but few of his contemporaries have made melancholy music into a calling like the Antlers’ Peter Silberman has. While the natural impulse for most artists would be to retreat into a shell and go introspective when faced with one’s most vulnerable experiences and private pains, Silberman has taken the opposite tack, going melodramatic on a grand scale. So even though Familiars feels, well, familiar in tone and theme to the Antlers’ previous efforts, the Brooklyn trio’s latest stretches the ambitious scope of Silberman’s vision, with rich, layered soundscapes that are fully immersive. That’s made clear on leadoff number and pre-release single “Palace”, which gradually builds itself up to be as lavish and embellished as its title suggests: Here, Silberman’s able to tug at your heartstrings like he’s been doing since 2009’s Hospice, but there’s greater depth and a more subtle touch to his plaintive appeals this time, as he laces the bittersweet tone of his straining falsetto with lamenting horns and sentimental piano. With even the shortest song clocking in at almost five minutes, Familiars is an album to be absorbed in, as the Antlers work more organically with a jazz-like interplay that weaves patient electronics, swaying brass, and wandering guitar lines intricately. On Familiars, you get the sense that the Antlers’ growing proficiency and sophistication have only expanded and pushed forward their musical imagination. Arnold Pan


 

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Various Artists

C86—The Deluxe Edition

(Cherry Red)

Various Artists
C86—The Deluxe Edition


In and of itself, the C86 compilation is a piece of history: Put together by British music tabloid NME in 1986, the 22-song cassette defined the UK’s post-new pop, post-new wave next wave, turning the spotlight on the likes of an earlier, janglier version of Primal Scream, pre-Stereolab pop Marxists McCarthy, and a green, rough-hewn Wedding Present, among other acts just as prominent and others much more obscure. Over time, though, C86 became synonymous with shambling amateurism and the cuter, cuddlier side of DIY, though you could argue that really only the Pastels from the compilation carried that banner for an extended period. That’s why Cherry Red’s comprehensive three-disc, 72-track C86 boxset comes in handy, revising revisionist history to show how the tape spoke to a larger cultural context as a response to the glossy, polished pop music that dominated the era. With 50 rarities—many of which unreleased on CD until now—appended to the original set, this deluxe edition suggests that C86 engendered something bigger and broader than what it now connotes, as an umbrella that spanned everything from chart-topping indies like the Jesus and Mary Chain to strong female indie-punk voices like Tallulah Gosh to later dance-oriented trends even, represented here by the Happy Mondays and Pop Will Eat Itself. What’s just as compelling about this collection, though, is that it’s not just a dumpster dive deep into the dustbin of pop history, but rather something that amounts to the quintessential indie-pop mixtape in how current it still feels. More than a history lesson and essential archival listening, the C86 boxset is timeless music more enduring and sturdy than you would’ve assumed an underdog pop movement could be. Arnold Pan


 

Selected Releases for June 2014
(Release dates subject to change)


June 3
50 Cent, Animal Ambition (G-Unit)
American Analog Set, Know by Heart reissue (Barsuk)
Mark Barrott, Sketches from an Island (International Feel)
Julianna Barwick, Rosabi EP (Dead Oceans)
Andrew Bird, Things Really Are Great Here, Sort Of (Handsome Family covers)
Bis, Data Panik Etcetera (Do Yourself In)
Blackbird Blackbird, Tangerine Sky (OM)
Brother Firetribe, Diamond in the Firepit (Spinefarm)
Camper Van Beethoven, El Camino Real (429)
Centro-matic, Take Pride in Your Long Odds (Navigational Transmissions/Thirty Tigers)
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Only Run
Lola Colt, Vacant Hearts EP (Black Tigress)
Diamond Version, CI (Mute)
Die Antwoord, Donker Mag (Zef)
Dinowalrus, Complexion (Personal Projects)
The Donkeys, Ride the Black Wave (Easy Sound)
Doprah, Doprah EP (Arch Hill)
Echo & the Bunnymen, Meteorites (429)
Lee Fields and the Expressions, Emma Jean (Truth & Soul)
Sage Francis, Copper Gone (Strange Famous)
Gold-Bears, Dalliance (Slumberland)
Philipp Gorbachev, Silver Album (Coméme)
Human Potential, Heartbreak Record (What Delicate?)
James, La Petite Mort (Chrysalis/Cooking Vinyl)
Kan Wakan, Moving On (Verve)
Klaxons, Love Frequency
Miranda Lambert, Platinum (Sony Nashville / RCA)
Hamilton Leithauser, Black Hours (Ribbon)
Led Zeppelin, I, II, III reissues (Atlantic)
Matisyahu, Akeda (Elm City)
Taylor McFerrin, Early Riser (Brainfeeder)
Meshell Ndegeocello, Comet, Come to Me (Naïve)
Ben Moon, Surreal Machine
Morrissey, Vauxhall & I reissue (Parlophone)
The Moulettes, Constellations (Navigator)
Peter Murphy, Lion (Nettwerk)
Nazareth, Rock ‘n’ Roll Telephone
Nightmares, Suspiria (Rise)
The Orwells, Disgraceland (Canvasback)
Buzz Osborne, This Machine Kills Artists (Ipecac)
Pork Chop Willie, Love Is the Devil
Rescuer, Anxiety Answering (No Sleep)
Brian Reitzell, Auto Music (Smalltown Supersound)
The Shoe, I’m Okay (Community)
Ela Stiles, Ela Stiles (Bedroom Suck)
Soundgarden, Superunknown 20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (4 CD + 1 Blu-ray Audio Disc) (Universal)
Throwing Snow, Mosaic (Houndstooth)
Tigers Jaw, Charmer (Run for Cover)
Tijuana Panthers, Wayne Interest (Innovative Leisure)
Various Artists, The Motown 7’s Box, Vol. 2
Paul Weller, More Modern Classics (Harvest)
Devon Williams, Gilding the Lily (Slumberland)


June 10
Above & Beyond, Anjunabeats 11 (Ultra)
Amatorski, from clay to figures (Crammed Discs)
Anathema, distant satellites (Kscope)
Angel Du$t, A.D. (REACT!/Reaper)
Tomas Barfod, Love Me (Secretly Canadian)
Bedroom Shrine, No Déjà Vu (Cartouche)
Bremen, Second Launch (Blackest Ever Black)
clipping., clppng (Sub Pop)
Constantines, Shine a Light vinyl reissue (Sub Pop)
Craft Spells, Nausea (Captured Tracks)
Dub Thompson, 9 Songs (Dead Oceans)
First Aid Kit, Stay Gold (Columbia)
Futuristic, Traveling Local
Glass Animals, Zaba (Harvest)
God Macabre, The Winterlong reissue (Relapse)
Half Handed Cloud, Flying Scroll Flight Control (Asthmatic Kitty)
House of Hats, This Love (Willow Walk)
Chrissie Hynde, Stockholm (Caroline)
Lust for Youth, International (Sacred Bones)
O.A.R., The Rockville LP (Vanguard)
Passenger, Whispers (Nettwerk)
Popcaan, Where We Come From (Mixpak)
Louis Prima, Jr., Blow (Warrior)
Rancid, Honor Is All We Know (Epitaph)
Stagnant Pools, Geist (Polyvinyl)
Alexis Taylor, About Barbarians (Domino)
The Toxic Avenger, Romance & Cigarettes (Ultra)
Tombs, Savage Gold (Relapse)
Trap Them, Blissfucker (Prosthetic)
Unicycle Loves You, The Dead Age (Highwheel/Mecca Lecca)
Uriah Heep, Outsider (Frontiers)
Vaniish, Memory Work (Metropolis)
Tom Vek, Luck (Moshi Moshi)
Seth Walker, Sky Still Blue (Royal Potato Company)
Wharfer, Eyelids EP
Jack White, Lazaretto (Third Man / Columbia)
Wife (Chris Kelly of Altar of Plagues), What’s Between (Tri-Angle)
Wolves at the Gate, VxV (Solid State)
Worthy, Disbehave (Anabatic)
Wreck & Reference, Want (The Flenser)


June 17
Austra, Habitat EP (Domino)
Mateah Baim, Falling Theater (Dream Drive)
Black Pus/Oozing Wound, Black Pus/Oozing Wound (Thrill Jockey)
Boris, Noise (Sargent House)
Mike Cooper, Trout Steel and Places I Go reissues (Paradise of Bachelors)
Dead Stars, Slumber (Old Flame)
Death Has No Dominion, Death Has No Dominion (SQE)
Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence (Interscope/Polydor)
Deru, 1979 (Friends of Friends)
DJ Vadim, Dubcactcher (BBE)
Empires, How Good Does It Feel EP (Chop Shop/Island)
David Gray, Mutineers (+180)
Greys, If Anything (Carpark/Buzz)
Happyness, Weird Little Birthyday (Weird Smiling)
Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden, Last Dance (ECM)
The Knife, Shaken Up Versions (Mute)
Jennifer Lopez, A.K.A. (Capitol)
Linkin Park, Hunting Party (Warner)
Lone, Reality Testing (R&S)
Lower, Seek Warmer Climes (Matador)
Martyn, The Air Between Words (Ninja Tune)
Ian McLagan, United States (Yep Roc)
John Murry, Califorlornia EP (Evangeline)
Willie Nelson, Band of Brothers (Legacy)
Nightmares on Wax, N.O.W. Is the Time (Warp)
OK Go, Upside Out (Paracadute)
Radio Moscow, Magical Dirt (Alive Naturalsounds)
Say Hi, Endless Wonder (Barsuk)
Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour (Universal)
Soft Pink Truth (Drew Daniel of Matmos), Why Do the Heathen Rage? (Thrill Jockey)
Street Eaters, Blood::Muscles::Bones (Nervous Intent)
Tiësto, A Town Called Paradise (Casablanca)
Trummors, Moorish Highway (Ernest Jenning)
Various Artists, Horse Meat Disco IV (Strut)
Lewis Watson, The Morning (Warner)
White Lung, Deep Fantasy (Domino)


June 24
Bassnectar, Noise Vs. Beauty (Ingrooves)
Peter Matthew Bauer (Walkmen), Liberation (Mexican Summer)
Black Bananas (Jennifer Herrema), Electric Brick Wall (Drag City)
Donovan Blanc, Donovan Blanc (Captured Tracks)
Brownout, Brown Sabbath (Black Sabbath songs) (Ubiquity)
Candide, Don’t You Go EP (Zappruder)
Circulatory System, Mosaics Within Mosaics (Cloud)
Claire, The Great Escape (Astralwerks)
Mike Cooper and Steve Gunn, FRKWYS Vol. 11: Cantos de Lisboa (RVNG Intl.)
Corrosion of Conformity, LX (Candlelight)
Casey Crescenzo (of the Dear Hunter), Amour & Attrition
Jad Fair and Danielson, Solid Gold Heart (Sounds Familyre)
Flashlights, Bummer Summer (Hard Rock)
Peter Frampton, Hummingbird in a Box (RED)
M. Geddes Gengras, Ishi (Leaving)
Godflesh, Decline & Fall (Avalanche)
GusGus, Mexico (Kompakt)
Home Video, Here in Weightless Fall (Dash Go)
How to Dress Well, What Is the Heart? (Weird World)
Kasai Allstars, Beware the Fetish (Congotronics series) (Crammed Discs)
La Hell Gang, Thru Me Again (Mexican Summer)
Craig Leon, Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music, Vol. 1: Nommos/Visiting (RVNG Intl.)
Louis, L’Amour (Light in the Attic)
Mastodon, Once More Around the Sun (Warner)
Dan Melchior und Das Menace, Hunger (Castle Face)
Phish, Fuego (JEMP)
Phox, Phox (Partisan)
Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time 25th Anniversary Edition (10 SPOT)
Rebirth Brass Band, Move Your Body (Basin Street)
RiFF RAFF, NEON iCon (Mad Decent)
Secret Cities, Walk Me Home (Western Vinyl)
Ed Sheeran, x (Atlantic)
Strand of Oaks, Heal (Dead Oceans)
A Sunny Day in Glasgow, Sea When Present (Lefse)
Rachel Taylor, Come Alive EP (Republic)
Total Control, Typical System (Iron Lung)
White Reaper, White Reaper EP (Polyvinyl)
John Zorn, Im Weisheitsschacht Nie (Tzadik)


* * *


Photo: Composition of headphones. Image via Shutterstock.

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