Every Monday (even those after hurricanes/tropical storms/whatever Irene actually turned out to be), we scour the web to find five noteworthy and hopefully musically worthy records that are streaming for free this week. This week, we’re super-excited because we finally get our ears on Balam Acab’s debut album, and our first impressions are that it’s everything we’d hoped for. Yay! There’s also a new band for two-thirds of Sleater-Kinney, some leftie acoustic balladry from Tom Morello, and a stern lecture from Tom Waits. And more. It’s all after the jump.
Balam Acab — Wander/Wonder
We’ve been huge fans of precocious producer Alec Koone since the first time we heard the subwoofer-detonating “Heavy Living Things” early last year. In this age of instant gratification, his debut album’s been a long time coming — nearly 18 months! — but we’re happy to report that it’s more than worth the wait. Wander/Wonder transcends the “witch house” label that people have been slapping on Koone’s music — sure, there’s lots of reverb and a faintly melancholy vibe, but there’s also a real warmth to the sound, and to our ears the record’s just as reminiscent of Moebius and Roedelius as it is of oOoOO or How to Dress Well. Anyway, whatever you call it, Wander/Wonder is a fantastic piece of work — listen here.
Wild Flag — Wild Flag
We’re also big Sleater-Kinney fans from way back, and as such, we’re very heartened to see Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss back in action. They have a new band called Wild Flag, which also features Rebecca Cole from the Minders and Mary Timony from Helium — the band’s self-titled debut album is streaming this week via NPR. The album’s pretty great — it was apparently recorded live, and certainly sounds like it, all punky energy and interweaving guitar lines. It’s definitely more than enough to tide us over while we sit dreaming about a Sleater-Kinney reunion. You can hear it here.
Tom Morello — World Wide Rebel Songs
Meanwhile, former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello is still angry, and he’s channeled his anger into a new album of “covers and original protest anthems.” While his sentiments and politics remain exactly as they’ve ever been, this record is a long way from RATM musically — it’s more reminiscent of Billy Bragg than it is of “Killing in the Name Of,” with Morello largely playing acoustic guitar and occasionally even, whisper it quietly, a harmonica. If you want some singalong anthems for your next rooftop Communist fundraiser, then look no further — and click here to listen.
Cymbals Eat Guitars — Lenses Alien
Generally under-rated NYC indie types Cymbals Eat Guitars have a new record called Lenses Alien, and as with their 2009 debut Why There Are Mountains, it’s surprisingly, deceptively good. At first listen, the band’s sound comes across as fairly typical middle-of-the-road Pavement-influenced indie pop, but then there’ll be a crash of distorted guitars, a tempo change, or something else to pique your interest. The album’s streaming at Spinner all week — click here to check it out.
Stereo MCs — Emperor’s Nightingale
Remember Stereo MCs? “Gonna get myself connected/ The writing’s on the wall”…? The British hip hop pioneers were ubiquitous in the early ’90s, and after a ten-year hiatus, they’ve been active throughout the 2000s (albeit never with anywhere near the degree of commercial success they enjoyed at their peak). They have a new album out this week — it’s called Emperor’s Nightingale, and it’s a world away from “Connected” — it starts with an operatic flourish, and when Nick Hallam’s voice enters on second track “Boy”, he’s not rapping, he’s singing. It all makes for interesting listening — click here to do so.
Tom Waits — Bad As Me (sort of)
And finally, this doesn’t really count, but still — if you want to hear a snippet of the upcoming Tom Waits album (along with a short lecture about the internet and birthday parties), then hit play on the video below.