Zola Jesus — Conatus
Our advance copy of Conatus has been on the Flavorpill stereo 24/7 — to the extent that we’re getting mildly concerned about the depth of one staffer’s obsession with it — so we’re excited to be able to rave to the rest of the world about how good it is. If you liked Stridulum II, you’ll probably be enraptured by Conatus — Nika Danilova’s voice remains a thing of wonder, and the music is deeper and darker than ever, all grinding industrial beats and synths that sound like you could drape a coffin with them. The album’s streaming all week at NPR. Click here to listen.
Wilco — The Whole Love
Also streaming at NPR is the new Wilco album, which will probably come as a relief if, like us, you missed the one-day preview on the band’s website earlier this month. NPR’s accompanying blurb calls this “Wilco’s most adventurous record in a decade,” and from the moment you hit “play,” you’ll see that they do have a point — The Whole Love introduces itself with a fractured, distorted beat that’s a world away from the band’s country roots, and moves through a variety of sonic ideas over the course of 12 songs and just under an hour. For all the new tricks, though, the band is still ultimately about Jeff Tweedy’s voice and his songwriting, and both are in fine fettle here. The album stream is here.
Dum Dum Girls — Only in Dreams
While we’re generally somewhat skeptical of the whole neo-surf music idea, we’ve always had something of a soft spot for Dum Dum Girls, perhaps because they named themselves after a Stooges song, and perhaps just because they at least have the decency to come from a place where there are actually surf beaches. Whatever the case, the band’s new album is streaming via Spinner this week, and it’s thoroughly good stuff, with the requisite multiple-part harmonies, tremolo-laden guitars, and poptastic melodies. Listen here.
Erasure — Tomorrow’s World
The influence of synthpop has been writ large over some of the best music of the last few years, so it’s good to see that some of the genre’s progenitors are still going strong in 2011. The Guardian has a stream of the new Erasure album this week, and happily, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell aren’t resting on their laurels — they’re doing their best to explore new ideas, rather than replicating the sound that brought them plenty of success in the 1980s. This isn’t to say that everything works, largely because some — well, OK, lots — of the lyrics are disconcertingly soppy, but it’s still interesting listening. Click here to check it out.
Ryan Adams — Ashes and Fire
And finally, you may have noticed a surfeit of “My Drug Hell”-style Ryan Adams interviews in the press of late, which can only mean one thing — he has a new album to promote! All cynicism aside, though, Ashes and Fire is a lovely piece of work. It finds Adams in reflective mood, which probably isn’t surprising considering the travails he’s endured over the last couple of years (apart from his Drug Hell, he’s endured an inner ear infection that has apparently required him to “completely relearn music”). The album is at NPR — click here to hear it.