Wu-Tang Clan — Legendary Weapons
Although there’s been a kaleidoscope of side projects, guest appearances and other Wu-Tang-related projects over the years, there’ve only been five studio albums by the Wu-Tang Clan proper. This means that a new record that features more than a couple of members is always a cause for celebration, and so it is for Legendary Weapons, which was released late last week and is streaming all this week on Spinner. It’s not the group’s sixth studio album — that’s apparently due next year. Rather, it’s a compilation like 2009’s Wu-Tang Chamber Music, but it features all but two surviving Wu-Tang founders, along with the requisite array of guest stars, affiliates, etc. Have a listen here.
Fountains of Wayne — Sky Full of Holes
Meanwhile, while we’re on ’90s survivors, Fountains of Wayne are back with a new album this week, their first release since 2007’s Traffic and Weather. Like the Wu-Tang Clan (and this may well be the first time a comparison has ever been drawn between these two groups), they’ve not exactly been prolific over the years — this new album, entitled Sky Full of Holes, is only their sixth record in a 15-year career. It’s somewhat more mellow and acoustic than fans may be accustomed to, although as far as we’re concerned, this is a good thing. Make up your own mind here.
The Calm Blue Sea — The Calm Blue Sea
As the folks at NPR point out, The Calm Blue Sea sound absolutely nothing like their name — their music is portentous post-rock that’s more like crashing tropical storms than a calm summer’s day. But whatever they want to call themselves, we’re all for their music — it recalls genre idols like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and shows that there’s definitely life in the post-rock genre. Their self-titled debut album is out tomorrow and is streaming at NPR. We highly recommend giving it a listen here.
Jim Ward — Quiet in the Valley, On the Shores the End Begins & the Electric Six
Back in the glory days of At the Drive-In, Jim Ward was the band’s punk conscience, the counterbalance to the cosmic prog leanings of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez López. Once ATDI fractured and split, while Bixler-Zavala and Rodríguez López launched themselves into orbit with The Mars Volta, Ward quietly went about his business and made a series of excellent hardcore-influenced records, first with Sparta and then under his own name. He has a new record out this week — it’s a collection of three EPs released over the past few years, hence its unwieldy title, and it’s excellent listening. You can hear it here.
Mariachi El Bronx — Mariachi El Bronx II
Also on the hardcore front, the ever-entertaining Bronx side project Mariachi El Bronx have a new album, Mariachi El Bronx II . The genius thing about Mariachi El Bronx is that it never seems remotely ironic or affected — the band seem to genuinely love mariachi music, and this sentiment shines through every song on this album. If you’ve never seen them perform in mariachi mode, you’re really missing out — but in the meantime, you can amuse yourself with this record, which you can hear ¡here!