Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for June

[30 May 2012]

By Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan

It used to be that the coming of summer meant that the album release schedule was on its way to a vacation until the fall. That’s definitely not the case this month, which features new sounds from hall-of-famers like the Beach Boys, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and Patti Smith, as well as eagerly anticipated records by buzzed about acts like Big K.R.I.T., Japandroids, and Liars. And we’re just talking about the first week of June. The rest of the month is marked by the cleaning out of the archives by the Mountain Goats and the Silver Jews, the re-emergences of Rush and Smashing Pumpkins, and the end of the wait for a new Fiona Apple album, which has been even longer than the time it takes to read its neverending title.

 


cover art

Beachwood Sparks

The Tarnished Gold

(Sub Pop; US: 26 Jun 2012; UK: 27 Jun 2012)

Beachwood Sparks
The Tarnished Gold

Fleet Foxes, good as they are, owe a debt to labelmates Beachwood Sparks, who were dropping harmonized, hazy Americana over a decade ago, back when it wasn’t all that popular. And now, the band’s first full-length in ten years proves the timelessness and strength of their sound. The gauzy feel of their first set of records gets peeled back on The Tarnished Gold so that these songs are coated on more shimmer than dust. In other words, it’s more gold than tarnish. The new sharpness of their sound allows them to knock out Laurel Canyon gems like “Forget the Song” and the title track almost effortlessly, while the crisp sunburst of sound here also allows them to stretch out in the underwater churn that closes “Leave the Light On” or the desert-sky expanse of highlights “Sparks Fly Again” and Nature’s Light”. The album toes the line between the exploration of their 2003 EP Make the Cowboy Robots Cry and the focused psychedelia of Once We Were Trees, and somehow improves on both sides of their sound. The Tarnished Gold is a new high-water mark from a band that locked into those harmonies—and Gram Parsons’ “cosmic American music”—before the Grizzly Bears of the world. But it doesn’t really matter that they were first. What The Tarnished Gold proves, once again, is that they do it the best. Matthew Fiander

Beachwood Sparks - “Forget the Song”

 


cover art

Big K.R.I.T.

Live from the Underground

(Def Jam; US: 5 Jun 2012; UK: 5 Jun 2012)

Big K.R.I.T.
Live from the Underground

The transition from mixtape success to major-label debut can be a rocky one—just ask Wale—and so the fact that Big K.R.I.T. has built up buzz for his new album on a string of excellent mixtapes could be both a blessing and curse. But anyone worrying that his energy and smooth flow won’t translate to a proper album can rest easy: Live from the Underground is every bit the great debut it should be. K.R.I.T. crafts a classic Southern-rap sound with his own soulful twists, shifting from the laid-back, weed-smoke soul of “Hydroplainin’” or “If I Fall” to straight bangers like “Yeah Dat Me” or “I Got This”. K.R.I.T.‘s greatest trick as producer is keeping the funk and soul elements alive in the harder songs—check the brilliantly sampled guitars on “Yeah Dat Me”—that keep them from becoming all bass and drum pummeling. Of course, these smooth yet hard beats are there to serve K.R.I.T’s storytelling, and his wordplay would seem effortless if it weren’t so quick and melodic. From the title track on, he knocks out killer rhymes telling stories about family, girls, and the lost relationships that come with success. Throw in great guest spots from the likes of Bun B and 8Ball and MJG and you’ve got one hell of a rap record coming out of the South. No mixtape hangover here, just bumping, soulful tracks. Matthew Fiander

Big K.R.I.T. - “I Got This”

 


cover art

Curren$y

The Stoned Immaculate

(Warner Bros.; US: 5 Jun 2012; UK: 5 Jun 2012)

Curren$y
The Stoned Immaculate

Curren$y has made his name in the past few years on a prolific string of albums and mixtapes that focus on smoking weed, women, cars, and—at least at first listen—not much else. But it’s Curren$y’s keen eye for detail, and sneaky knack for metaphor and imagery that keep his rhymes fresh, and now he’s produced perhaps his best true album with The Stoned Immaculate. The album follows the glossy beats of Weekend at Burnie’s with a more cinematic, ambitious sound. The strings and synths that fill up “Privacy Glass”, the laid-back rolling bass on “Capitol”, the swells of choir vocals on “Chasin’ Paper”—it all represents a bigger version of Curren$y’s sound, shifting what was once laid back into something with a deeper shuffle. There’s also something more at stake here, a sense of where he came from—particularly on “Privacy Glass” and the boilerplate Southern grind of the Big K.R.I.T.-produced “Jet Life”—that make this the serious, and nearly perfectly executed, follow-up to its goofily titled predecessor. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Curren$y, it’s that all that weed smoke hasn’t stifled his work ethic, his skill, or his ambition. All three seem to still be rising, and at their best yet on The Stoned Immaculate. Matthew Fiander

Curren$y - “Fast Cars Faster Women” (feat. Daz)

 


cover art

Japandroids

Celebration Rock

(Polyvinyl; US: 5 Jun 2012; UK: 4 Jun 2012)

Japandroids
Celebration Rock

A lot of what’s common knowledge about Japandroids gives you a false impression of what they’re really about. Sure, the Vancouver duo’s raucous, unvarnished sound is all about raw power, but the group’s hot-and-bothered guitar-and-drum onslaught is anything but meatheaded bro-rock. Instead, there’s an earnest drive to the live-for-the-day anthems on the aptly titled Celebration Rock that are as much about reveling in the moment as they are about making memories that mean more than that. It’s that quality that makes the propulsive opener “The Nights of Wine and Roses” something other than a beer ad jingle and the single “The House That Heaven Built” not just another pissed-off kiss-off, as a sense of yearning comes through in the music pushes it past what they’re literally about. Like Titus Andronicus and the Hold Steady, Japandroids can pump their fists and bang their heads with plenty of heart and brains. Arnold Pan

Japandroids - “The House That Heaven Built”

 


cover art

Silver Jews

Early Times

(Drag City; US: 19 Jun 2012; UK: 24 Jun 2012)

Silver Jews
Early Times

As a gifted poet and songwriter, David Berman had no problem creating a mythology around the now-defunct Silver Jews—having Stephen Malkmus as an on-again-off-again collaborator only added to the mystique. The Silver Jews also have an archeology now with Early Times, a collection of their earliest releases that literally sound like they were just dug out of a ‘90s time capsule. In effect, Early Times does for the Silver Jews what the Westing (By Musket and Sextant) compilation did for Pavement: Yeah, there are some stream of consciousness missteps and youthful indiscretions that those involved might now be embarrassed were ever committed to tape, but it goes to show that, when you have chops, they come through even when they’re shrouded in pea-soup thick hiss. While the boombox mic’d recordings here aren’t necessarily reminiscent of the pastoral, country-tinged sound for which the Silver Jews would become known, there’s a sense of camaraderie in the un-self-conscious play that makes these Early Times a revelation even when you know the history. Arnold Pan

Silver Jews - “Secret Knowledge of Back Roads”

 

Selected Releases for June 2012

June 5

The Beach Boys, That’s Why God Made the Radio (Capitol)
Bobby Brown, The Masterpiece (Ingrooves)
David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (40th Anniversary Edition) (Capitol)
Brandi Carlile, Bear Creek (Columbia)
Shawn Colvin, All Fall Down (Nonesuch)
Eric Copeland, Limbo (Underwater Peoples)
Crocodiles, Endless Flowers (Frenchkiss)
Dntel, Aimlessness (Pampa)
Alejandro Escovedo, Big Station (Fantasy)
Friends, Manifest! (Fat Possum)
Grand Magus, The Hunt (Nuclear Blast)
Laurel Halo, Quarantine (Hyperdub)
Heart, Strange Euphoria (Legacy)
The Hives, Lex Hives (Disques Hives)
Kelly Hogan, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain (ANTI-)
Alan Jackson, Thirty Miles West (Capitol)
Eli Keszler, Catching Net (Pan)
Kreator, Phantom Antichrist (Nuclear Blast)
Liars, WIXIW (Mute)
Scott Lucas & the Married Men, Blood Half Moon (The End)
Amanda Mair, Amanda Nair (Labrador)
Melvins Lite, Freak Puke (Ipecac)
Rhett Miller, The Dreamer (Maximum Sunshine)
The Mynabirds, Generals (Saddle Creek)
Mystery Jets, Radlands (Rough Trade/Truth Paste)
Marsha Qrella, Analogies (Morr Music)
Guy Reibel, Granulations-Sillages / Franges du Signe (GRM)
Pierre Schaeffer, Le Trièdre Fertile (GRM)
River City Extension, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger (XOXO)
Shonen Knife, Pop Tune (Good Charamel)
Paul Simon, Graceland Deluxe (Legacy)
Patti Smith, BANGA (Columbia)
Teen Daze, All of Us, Together (Lefse)
The Temper Trap, The Temper Trap (Glassnote/Columbia)
Ultravox, Brilliant (EMI)
Joe Walsh, Analog Man (Fantasy)
Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Americana (Reprise)
Zaz, Zaz (Sin France)

June 12

Boban i Marko Markovic Orkestar, Golden Horns (Piranha Musik)
Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ashes and Roses (Zoe)
The dBs, Falling Off the Sky (Bar None)
Dent May, Do Things (Paw Tracks)
Eternal Tapestry, Dawn in 2 Dimensions (Thrill Jockey)
Bill Evans, Live at Art D’Lagoff’s Top of the Gate (Resonance)
Jimmy Fallon, Blow Your Pants Off (Warner Bros.)
Future of the Left, The Plot Against Common Sense (Xtra Mile)
Giant Giant Sand, Tucson (Fire)
Guided by Voices, Class Clown Spots a UFO (Guided by Voices)
Richard Haley, Standing at the Sky’s Edge (digital) (Mute)
Hot Chip, In Our Heads (Domino)
The Hundred in the Hands, Red Hands (Warp)
Jaill, Traps (Sub Pop)
Jukebox the Ghost, Safe Travels (Yep Roc)
kandodo, kandodo (Thrill Jockey)
Kottarashky and the Rain Dogs, Demoni (Asphalt Tango)
Pat Metheny, Unity Band (Nonesuch)
Metric, Synthetica (Mom+Pop)
Wymond Miles, Under the Pale Moon (Sacred Bones)
Motion City Soundtrack, Go (Epitaph)
Niki & the Dove, Instinct (digital) (Sub Pop)
Nouela, Chants (The Control Group)
POP ETC, POP ETC (Rough Trade)
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Lion the Beast the Beat (Hollywood)
Rush, Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)
Mike Scheidt, Stay Awake (Thrill Jockey)
SpaceGhostPurrp, Mysterious Phonk: Chronicles of SpaceGhostPurrp (4AD)
The Tallest Man on Earth, There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Trouble (Casablanca)
Josh Turner, Punching Bag (MCA Nashville)
Usher, Looking 4 Myself (RCA)
Variety Lights, Central Flow (Fire)
volcano!, Piñata (The Leaf Label)
Waka Flocka Flame, Triple F Life (Warner Bros.)
Emily Jane White, Ode to Sentience (Antenna Farm)
Wintersleep, Hello Hum (Roll Call)
Bobby Womack, The Bravest Man in the Universe (XL)
The Young, Dub Egg (Matador)

June 19

Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw, and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Epic)
Belligerence, Now Here’s Your Secret EP (The End)
Justin Bieber, Believe (Island)
Blues Control, Valley Tangents (Drag City)
Can, The Lost Tapes (Mute)
Neneh Cherry & the Thing, The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)
Kenny Chesney, Welcome to the Fishbowl (Sony Nashville)
Crimewave, Galactic Zoo Dossier #9 (Drag City)
Daydream Vacation, Dare Seize the Fire (self-released)
Del the Funky Homosapien & Parallel Thought, Attractive Sin (Parallel Thought Ltd.)
Delta Rae, Carry the Fire (Warner Bros.)
Dirty Heads, Cabin by the Sea (Five Seven)
Glen Hansard, Rhythm and Repose (ANTI-)
The Intelligence, Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me (In the Red)
Lostprophets, Weapons (Fearless)
Kylie Minogue, Best of Kylie Minogue (EMI)
Mnemic, Mnemesis (Nuclear Blast)
Moby, Destroyed Remixed (Mute)
Peaking Lights, Lucifer (Mexican Summer)
Plvs Vltra, Pantheon (Spectrum Spools)
Polysick, Digital Native (Planet Mu)
Smashing Pumpkins, Oceania (Caroline)
Seth Walker, Time Can Change (Royal Potato)
Dr. Michael White, Adventures in New Orleans Jazz Part 2 (Basin Street)
White Arrows, Dry Land Is Not a Myth (Votiv)
Keith Fullerton Whitman, Occlusions (Editions Mego)
Don Williams, And So It Goes (Sugar Hill)
Zulu Winter, Language (Arts & Crafts)

June 26

A Lull, Meat Mountain (Lujo)
A Place to Bury Strangers, Worship (Dead Oceans)
Air Traffic Controller, Nardo (Sugarpop)
Blues Traveler, Suzie Cracks the Whip (429)
Bosse-de-Nagge, III (Profound Lore)
Cory Chisel & the Wandering Sons, Old Believers (Readymade)
Ry Cooder, Election Special (Nonesuch)
DIIV, Oshin (Captured Tracks)
Jerry Douglas, Traveler (eOne)
Echo Lake, Wild Peace (Slumberland)
Everclear, Invisible Stars (eOne)
Everest, Ownerless (ATO)
Exray, Trust a Robot (Howells Transmitter)
The Flaming Lips, The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends (Warner Bros.)
Jesca Hoop, The House That Jack Built (Bella Union)
Infantree, Hero’s Dose (Vapor)
Joe Jackson, The Duke (Razor & Tie)
June Brides, A January Moon (Slumberland)
Kylesa, Time Will Fuse Its Worth (vinyl reissue) (Alternative Tentacles)
Kylesa, To Walk a Middle Course (vinyl reissue) (Alternative Tentacles)
Linkin Park, Living Things (Warner Bros.)
Maroon 5, Overexposed (A&M)
Mountain Goats, Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp (reissue) (Shrimper)
The Offspring, Days Go By (Columbia)
Ty Segall Band, Slaughterhouse (In the Red)
Jeans Wilder, Totally (Everloving)

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/159185-listening-ahead-upcoming-releases-for-june/