Listening Ahead: Upcoming Releases for August 2013

[1 August 2013]

By Matthew Fiander and Arnold Pan

Every August typically boasts a robust college-rock release schedule to greet those going back to school. But this August seems to offer an even greater embarrassment of riches than normal when it comes to indie releases, cueing up new work from deans-of-the-scene Superchunk, compelling albums by graduating-to-the-next-level upperclassmen like the Dodos and Ty Segall, as well as promising debuts by a strong incoming class that features King Krule and Bent Shapes. There’s also something for the too-cool-for-school post-grad types who are at least a decade past their primes, what with a new Franz Ferdinand album and the latest Belle and Sebastian singles compilation slated to come out this month as well.

 


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Julianna Barwick

Nepenthe

(Dead Oceans; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 19 Aug 2013)

Julianna Barwick
Nepenthe

On Nepenthe, Julianna Barwick once again creates a spiritual musical experience: Sounding sacred without the religious connotations and metaphysical without any New Age mumbo-jumbo, Barwick’s work is proof positive that music itself can be a higher power, not just a mediated expression of some greater force. As with her last full-length, 2011’s The Magic Place, Nepenthe is a wondrous album that’s somehow impressionistic and substantial at the same time, a further development in Barwick’s aesthetic brought about by the conditions in which it was put together. Instead of being an introspective, go-it-alone project as earlier efforts were, Nepenthe is a more wide-open affair, recorded in Iceland with Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers and an eclectic group of collaborators that includes a local teen chorale, string ensemble Amiina, not to mention her mother on some vocals. The result is a different kind of transcendent sound from before, one more organic as it evokes the sublimity of nature in uncannily beautiful ways through eerie voices, plaintive strings, and swathes of hazy effects. And yet, Barwick’s music is never just about the atmospherics and environments it conjures up, but also how she connects to them and find her way through them. Made in part during a time of mourning for Barwick, Nepenthe exudes an inner solemnity that navigates a more uncertain and emotionally fraught soundscape this time around. That’s the kind of spirituality Julianna Barwick taps into, reaching across creed, belief, and experience. Arnold Pan

 


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Robbie Basho

Visions of the Country

(Gnome Life; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: Import)

Robbie Basho
Visions of the Country

1978’s Visions of the Country is one of the finest records from a guitar legend. Robbie Basho, the godfather of 12-string guitar playing, was always a man apart. While John Fahey tried to press new treads into the dusty ground, Basho had his eye on the astral plane. This album, now reissued on Gnome Life, is one of the finest odes to landscape ever recorded. Basho’s tribute to the American West is expansive and exploratory. When he sings of the rivers on “Green River Suite”, his guitar ripples and churns like the flowing river itself. When he goes to higher ground on “Rocky Mountain Raga”—“towards the sun,” he keens, “against the sky”—his guitar spikes peaks and expands out endlessly into the thinning air. This is an album of stunning performances—from the haunting space of “Blue Crystal Fire” to the playful thump of “Night Way”. Throughout, we get the interplay of intricate guitars ringing out and around Basho’s booming, rolling voice. As Basho mines the land in these songs for some connection, for something spiritual, you too are bound to feel tied to these songs. They may reveal something nameless, some feeling you can’t quite pinpoint, but one you can’t ignore nonetheless. This is unabashed, open-hearted music, and a classic album worth re-evaluation. So why not now? Matthew Fiander

 


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The Dodos

Carrier

(Polyvinyl; US: 27 Aug 2013; UK: 26 Aug 2013)

The Dodos
Carrier

The Dodos have been hard to pin down. After their breakout, scattershot collection Visiter, the band gave us the gliding electric vibes of Time to Die before flooring us with the taut, catchy energy of No Color. Now Carrier whips up the best elements of those records and forms them into yet another new direction for the band. These songs are carefully textured and perfectly balanced between the guitar work and confident vocals of Meric Long and the ever-propulsive and unpredictable percussion of Logan Kroeber. The album pays tribute to the late Women guitarist Chris Reimer, who also toured as a third member of the Dodos in 2011 before passing away. You can hear Reimer’s influence on the echoing guitars of “Transformer” and the chords ringing out and curling in on each other on the pulsing “Stranger”. Other songs, like “Substance”, add a tighter pop sensibility to the band’s frenetic sound, shaping their zeal into brilliant hooks. Even moodier tracks like the haunting closer “The Ocean” maintain a tight focus, one that never forgets to weave urgency into all of these carefully constructed layers. Carrier is not the most frenetic set by the Dodos, but its energy isn’t a fading one, but one that’s thornier, more subtle than past records. The Dodos are fighting with the dark, but here they sound like the coming morning, etching the world into shape with each bittersweet tune. Matthew Fiander

 


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Julia Holter

Loud City Song

(Domino; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 19 Aug 2013)

Julia Holter
Loud City Song

With 2012’s Ekstasis, Julia Holter came into her own as a voice who could get your attention without dumbing down her art-minded imagination, garnering interest by having listeners move up to her level. But as brainy as her high-concept music was, there was an undercurrent of pop songwriting that grabbed hold of you and offered a gateway into her more obscure, egg-headed experimentation. Without ever compromising on her artistic vision, her new album Loud City Song follows up and follows through on the more listener-friendly developments on Ekstasis, but still on Holter’s own terms. A meditation on fame and fortune in her homebase of Los Angeles, Loud City Song is Holter’s first professionally recorded album and it’s for the best. On it, Holter’s music is catchy in the way St. Vincent’s is, whose Marry Me might be the best analogue for Loud City Song as an album that doesn’t forsake a pop sensibility for artsy-fartsy eccentricity—or vice versa. With the fractured theatrics of “World” and “Hello Stranger”, Holter sets off her almost-jazzy, almost-showtunish croon against modern classical tones, while “Maxim’s I” starts with abstract chamber-pop and imbues it with fairy-tale-like sentimentality. And “Maxim’s II”, in and of itself, is a showcase of all that Holter is capable of, a fully fleshed-out composition that’s as organic as it is dramatic, relying as much on warm horn-and-string arrangements as bold gestures and grand flourishes. It’s the best example of how Holter pulls together practice and theory on an album full of ‘em.Arnold Pan

 


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King Krule

6 Feet Beneath the Moon

(True Panther; US: 24 Aug 2013; UK: 24 Aug 2013)

King Krule
6 Feet Beneath the Moon

It’s tempting to think of 18-year-old talent Archy Marshall, aka King Krule, in a singer-songwriter tradition, considering his intimate arrangements and the piercingly observational style of his first-person lyrics. That might just be where Marshall fits, but he’s also updating what the classification means as a new-school troubadour influenced as much by hip-hop swagger as he is by folk sensitivity, as much—actually, if not more so—by DJ culture as indie conventions. It’s both right and wrong to say Marshall’s long-awaited full-length debut 6 Feet Beneath the Moon belies his youthfulness: On one hand, Marshall displays such a deft touch with slight elements like strummed guitar, atmospheric synths, and subtle sampling that he seems wise beyond his years in bringing maximal effect out of a minimalist aesthetic, but, on the other, his songwriting method reflects his anything-goes times and the open-minded stage he’s at as an emerging artist. Go no further than the opener “Easy Easy” to get a sense of Marshall’s eclectic approach, which starts out with moody introspection and atonal picking, but lifts itself in tenor with a lilt of keyboards. Yet what’s most impressive about 6 Feet Beneath the Moon is that Marshall’s perspective remains intact even as it runs through a broad range of styles and techniques, his vital imagination the connective tissue between the strut of the horn-accented “Lizard State”, the starry spareness of “Cementality”, and the fragile prettiness of “Baby Blue”. If that’s what it means to be a singer-songwriter these days, taking advantage of all the tools available to you to tell your stories in a distinctly individual way, then King Krule fits that role as well as anybody. Arnold Pan

 


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Medicine

To the Happy Few

(Captured Tracks; US: 6 Aug 2013; UK: 6 Aug 2013)

Medicine
To the Happy Few

So, apparently, there was another shoegaze band that put out its first record in a couple decades plus earlier in 2013, but the return of Medicine’s original lineup after 18 years is one of the true surprise joys of the year, especially considering the quality of their new record, To the Happy Few. Where My Bloody Valentine doubled down on its huge, grinding swaths of sound, Medicine reinvents its here, turning the brittle white noise that shaped The Buried Life and Shot Forth Self Living and softening and sweetening it. Sure, there’s the wall of guitars that opens “Long as the Sun” or the static stomp of “It’s Not Enough”, but both give way to spacier moments, guitars melted at the edges, voices lost in honeyed gauze. Then there are just blissful soaring moments like “The End of the Line” and the tight grinding rhythms mixed with angelic group vocals on “Pull the Trigger”. This is an album that will surely remind you of the immense talents Medicine left us with years ago, but it will also surprise you with its new tricks, its new layers, its fresh, vibrant energy. It’s easy after a long break to go back to what worked, to deal in nostalgia and cash in on what’s expected of you. Medicine, clearly, doesn’t care about all that. This is the kind of reunion that feels like a shot in the arm, a fresh start. And To the Happy Few is a hell of a first (or next) step. Matthew Fiander

 


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No Age

An Object

(Sub Pop; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 19 Aug 2013)

No Age
An Object

No Age might get overlooked among the cohort of trailblazing post-millennial indie acts, but the L.A. duo’s impact on noise-rock expermentalism has been palpable. Indeed, you could argue that bash brothers Randy Randall and Dean Spunt helped paved the way for today’s garage revival, proving through their rough-hewn, sweat-soaked art-punk that lo-fi could be high concept. And even as time-tested vets, Randall and Spunt still stay ahead of the game on their latest, An Object, where they heighten their melodic sensibilities at the same time that they’re upping the headier elements of their sound. An Object highlights everything and in between that’s compelling about No Age without simply falling back on the patented power-duo formula the band made its name with, something you notice when you hear the added sharpness and edge to the album. The roaring zoom of “C’mon, Stimmung” is No Age at its catchiest and pithiest, while “I Won’t Be Your Generator” and “Defector/ed” push more melodic aspects to the fore without streamlining the grittier, demanding noise play that’s always been key to the group’s aesthetic. And then there’s insinuating “Circling with Dizzy”, an exercise in atonal art-rock that would make you miss Sonic Youth if No Age wasn’t around pushing and extending that tradition in its own original ways. Arnold Pan

 


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Ty Segall

Sleeper

(Drag City; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 19 Aug 2013)

Ty Segall
Sleeper

In 2013, we’ve been given a reissue from Ty Segall’s old band the Traditional Fools, a reissue of a rare album he cut with Mikal Cronin, and a single and upcoming record from his new sludgy band Fuzz. But, as far as new stuff on the solo front, Segall has been uncharacteristically quiet. At least, until Sleeper drops. His third official solo release for Drag City will mark a welcome return from the guy who last gave us solo music on the excellent Twins. Segall has used his prolific output over the past few years to hone his songcraft, so the tight, hook-filled tunes that greet you on Sleeper may not be a surprise, but suffice it to say the album isn’t interested in treading the same ground as its predecessors. Sleeper is another sign of Segall pushing himself into new songwriting territory and pulling it off with his usual oddball charm. I could describe it all to you, but it won’t do the album justice. Just be there on August 20 when the record store opens. You’ll want to get this one as soon as you can. Matthew Fiander

 


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Superchunk

I Hate Music

(Merge; US: 20 Aug 2013; UK: 19 Aug 2013)

Superchunk
I Hate Music

Along with their pals Yo La Tengo—who’ve also had a victory lap this year—Superchunk is living proof that the good guys can finish first and have the last laugh, even in an indie-rock subculture that has enabled iffy behavior and encouraged ironic detachment from its most prolific performers. No such concerns with Superchunk, whose trademark heart-on-sleeve sound is combined by an uncommon work ethic for doing things the right way, whether you’re talking about giving it their all musically or carrying through with best business practices running Merge Records. Superchunk’s good-humored earnestness may only be outdone by its reliability as a band, as the quartet has churned out good-to-great albums one after another going on 25 years now. So it’s no surprise that I Hate Music is yet another reason to love Superchunk, but what you might not expect is the group’s range working within what’s a familiar approach. One of the more cleanly produced entries in the Superchunk discography, I Hate Music boasts a sense of variety you don’t often find with a long-running act that should be set in its ways, whether it’s getting as close as Superchunk has to Springsteen-ish on “Overflows”, pogoing like it’s the ‘90s on “Staying Home”, or riding an amped-up melody on the power-poppy “Low F”. But of course, Superchunk sounds like nothing else more than itself, especially on the front-porch punk-pop gem “Void” and the indie adrenaline rush of “FOH”. Arnold Pan

Selected Releases for August 2013
(Release dates subject to change)

August 6

Paul Allen and the Underthinkers, Everywhere at Once (Legacy)
Steve Arrington and Dam-Funk, Higher (Stones Throw)
Natacha Atlas, Habibi: Classics and Collaboration (Nascente)
Barbarossa, Bloodlines (Memphis Industries)
Jake Bellows, New Ocean (Saddle Creek)
The Bug, Filthy (Ninja Tune)
Centuries, Taedium Vitae (Southern Lord)
The Civil Wars, The Civil Wars (Sensibility/Columbia)
Eric Copeland, Joke in the Hole (DFA)
Chick Corea, The Vigil (Concord)
Baudouin de Jaer, Compositions for Geomungo and Gayageum (Sub Rosa)
Dead in the Dirt, Blind Hole (Southern Lord)
Demon Queen, Exorcise Tape (Rad Cult)
Dinosaur Bones, Shaky Dream (Dine Alone)
Ebony Bones, Behold, a Pale Horse (1984)
Empty Flowers, Five (The Path Less Traveled / Atomic Action!)
Exhumed, Necrocracy (Relapse)
Explosions in the Sky & David Wingo (Ola Podrida), Prince Avalanche original soundtrack (Temporary Residence)
Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Wassaic Way
Hidden Masters, Of This and Other Worlds (Rise Above/Metal Blade)
Iwrestledabearonce, Late for Nothing (Century)
Hugh Laurie, Didn’t It Rain (Warner Bros.)
Lazy, Obsession (Moniker)
Long Lost, Save Yourself, Start Again (No Sleep)
Lowland Hum, Native Air
Christian McBride Trio, Out Here (Mack Avenue)
MINKS, Tides End (Captured Tracks)
Moderat, Moderat II (Mute)
Modern Hut, Generic Treasure (Don Giovanni)
Alexis Penney, Window (Ecstasy)
The Polyphonic Spree, Yes It’s True (Good)
Pond, Hobo Rocket (Modular)
Pop. 1280, Imps of Perversion (Sacred Bones)
Elvis Presley, Elvis at Stax: Deluxe Edition (3CDs) (RCA/Legacy)
Rabbit Rabbit, Rabbit Rabbit Radio Volume 1 (Rabbit Rabbit)
Raffertie, Sleep of Reason (Ninja Tune)
Raspberry Bulbs, Deformed Worship (Blackest Ever Black)
Revocation, Revocation (Relapse)
Running, Vaguely Ethnic (Castle Face)
Sinister Realm, World of Evil (Shadow Kingdom)
The Smoking Flowers, 2 Guns
Summer Cannibals, No Makeup (New Moss)
Chris Thile, Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 (Nonesuch)
KT Tunstall, Invisible Empire/Crescent Moon (Blue Note)
Wake Island, Use It as a Weapon / Uncomfortable B-Sides
Walking Papers (Duff McKagan), Walking Papers (Loud & Proud)
Jesse Woods, Get Your Burdens Lifted (Guns in the Sun)

August 13

Atropolis, Transitions (Cumba Mela)
The Barn Birds, The Barn Birds (Waterbug)
Bloc Party, The Nextwave Sessions EP (Frenchkiss)
Luke Bryan, Crash My Party (Capitol Nashville)
Glen Campbell, See You There (Surfdog)
Computer Jay, Savage Planet Discotheque, Vol. 2 (Pugilista Trading)
dBridge, Move Way EP (R&S)
Desert Heat, Cat Mask at Huggie Temple (MIE)
Dog Party, Lost Control (Asian Man)
Drowner, You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You (Saint Marie)
Eros and the Eschaton, Home Address for the Civil War (Bar/None)
Jagwar Ma, Howlin (Mom+Pop)
Valerie June, Pushin’ Against a Stone (Concord)
David Liebe Hart Band, David Liebe Hart Band (Evil Weevil)
La Vega, Wave (Major Nation)
James McVinnie, Cycles (Bedroom Community)
The Moondoggies, Adios I’m a Ghost (Hardly Art)
Sam Phillips, Push Any Button (Littlebox)
Ras G, Back on the Planet (Brainfeeder)
Scott & Charlene’s Wedding, Any Port in a Storm (Fire)
Transitshop, Velocity (Rock Ridge)
Tree, Demons EP (Apollo)
Various Artists, The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976 (2CDs) (Omnivore)
Washed Out, Paracosm (Sub Pop)
White Lies, Big TV (Harvest)
Barrence Whitfield & the Savages, Dig Thy Savage Soul (Bloodshot)
XNY, Orange
Yellowcard, Ocean Avenue Acoustic (Hopeless)

August 20

Army Navy, The Crushed EP
Andrew Belle, Black Bear
Bent Shapes, Feels Weird (Father/Daughter)
Blue October, Sway
Braids, Flourish // Perish (Full Time Hobby)
BT, A Song Across Wires (Armada)
Carousel, Jeweler’s Daughter (Tee Pee)
Carta, The Faults Follow (Saint Marie)
Causa Sui, Euporie Tide (El Paraiso)
Crocodiles, Crimes of Passion (Frenchkiss)
The Delta Mirror, Better Unsung (Lightwave)
Destruction Unit, Deep Trip (Sacred Bones)
Lee Dewyze, Frames (Vanguard)
DIANA, DIANA (Jagjaguwar)
Earl Sweatshirt, Doris (Odd Future)
Tim Easton, Not Cool (Thirty Tigers)
Golden Suits, Golden Suits (Yep Roc)
The Greencards, Sweetheart of the Sun (Darling Street)
Gross Relations, Gross Relations (Old Flame)
His Electro Blue Voice, Ruthless Sperm (Sub Pop)
Horseback, A Plague of Knowing (Relapse)
The Horse’s Ha, Waterdrawn (Fluff & Gravy)
House of Black Lanterns, Kill the Lights (Houndstooth)
kandodo, k2o (Thrill Jockey)
Daniel Kirkpatrick and the Bayonets, Alibis (Rock Ridge)
Kim Lenz and the Jaguars, Follow Me (Riley)
The Lumineers, The Lumineers deluxe edition (Dualtone)
Willy Mason, Carry On (Communion)
John Mayer, Paradise Valley (Columbia)
Mountains, Mountains Mountains Mountains (reissue) (Thrill Jockey)
Sarah Neufeld, Hero Brother (Constellation)
The New Gary Burton Quartet, Mack Avenue
O’Brother, Disillusion (Triple Crown)
Oathbreaker, Eros/Anteros (Deathwish Inc.)
Paper Lions, My Friends (Fountain Pop)
Theo Parrish, Black Jazz Signature (Snow Dog)
Porcelain Raft, Permanent Signal (Secretly Canadian)
Primitive Man, Scorn (Relapse)
Pure Bathing Culture, Moon Tides (Partisan)
Ben Rector, The Walking in Between (Aptly Named)
Shigeto, No Better Time Than Now (Ghostly International)
Ski Lodge, Big Heart (Dovecote)
Snow Ghosts, A Small Murmuration (Houndstooth)
Still Life Still, Mourning Trance (Arts & Crafts)
Venom P. Stinger, 1986-1991 Compilation (Drag City)
Willie Sugarcapps, Willie Sugarcapps (The Royal Potato Family)
Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind (Sony Masterworks)
TGT, Three Kings (Atlantic)
Tessa Torrence, Fear No Evil
Tosca-Tlapa, The Odeon Remixes (!K7)
Allen Toussaint, Songbook (Rounder)
Travis, Where You Stand (Red Telephone Box)
Alexander von Mehren, Aéropop (The Control Group)
Various Artists, The Big E: A Salute to Steel Guitarist Buddy Emmons (MPI)
Laura Veirs, Warp & Weft (Raven Marching Band)
Zola Jesus, Versions (Sacred Bones)

August 27

Sam Baker, Say Grace
The Beach Boys, Made in California (6 CD) (Capitol)
Belle and Sebastian, Third Eye Centre (singles compilation) (Matador)
Blackfield, Blackfield IV (Kscape)
The Coal Men, Escalator (Aimless)
Colette, When the Music’s Loud (Candy Talk)
Bob Dylan, The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 (Legacy)
Fevers, No Room for Light
Roberto Fonseca, Yo (Concord Jazz)
Forest Swords, Engravings (Tri Angle)
Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino)
John Frusciante, Outsides EP (Record Collection)
Robbie Fulks, Gone Away Backward (Bloodshot)
Ghost Wave, Ages (Flying Nun)
Goodie Mob, Age Against the Machine (Alliance)
Jaipur Kawa Brass Band, Dance of the Cobra (Riverboat/World Music Network)
Juicy J, Stay Trippy (Columbia)
Amel Larrieux, Ice Cream Everyday (Blissli)
Black Joe Lewis, Electric Slave (Vagrant)
Austin Lucas, Stay Reckless (New West)
Lumerians, High Frontier (Partisan)
Maps for Travelers, Change Your Name (No Sleep)
Dent May, Warm Blanket (Paw Tracks)
Michael Monroe, Horns and Halos (Spinefarm)
Pharaohs, Manhunter (Intercoastal Artists)
The Rides, Can’t Get Enough (429)
Sly and the Family Stone, Higher! (4 CD) (Legacy)
Foy Vance, Joy of Nothing (Glassnote)
Yoshiki, Yoshiki Classical

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/174055-listening-ahead-upcoming-releases-for-august-2013/