Summer is never a great time for music, unless you’re into the musical equivalent of summer blockbusters, but your ever-diligent Flavorwire crew have dug deep and unearthed ten shiny new records that are entirely worth your time (or, strictly, nine such records, plus one that should satisfy that criterion should its creator ever ACTUALLY FREAKING RELEASE IT.) Anyway, read on for some new tunes to make the heat that little bit more bearable.
Dinosaur Jr. — Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not (August 5)
A decade after the original Dinosaur Jr line-up of J Mascis, Lou Barlow and the splendidly monikered Emmett Jefferson Murphy III (better known as the more prosaic “Murph”) got back together, they’re turning out albums like their 20-year period of hating one another never happened. Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not is exactly what you’d expect from a Dinosaur Jr album, viz. tight and pleasantly distorted riffery, J Mascis’s laid-back vocals, and melodies that somehow still manage to surprise you with how unexpectedly catchy they are, even if the band have been pulling this trick for 30 years. They’re not reinventing the wheel at this point, but why would they, when they’re so good at what they do?
Wild Beasts — Boy King (August 5)
The UK quartet are streaming this, their fifth album, in its entirety via iTunes as we speak, so you might as well just head over there and have a listen. Our first impressions are that it’s as beautifully flamboyant as ever, which is entirely OK with us.
Of Montreal — Innocence Reaches (August 12)
It’s not that we’re saying that Kevin Barnes is at his best when he’s just had a break-up, but… well, this album is the best thing he’s done in a while, and it also features a bunch of songs about a parting of the ways with a recent ex-girlfriend. They’re often unpleasant — no one else could get away with lyrics like “You can’t really martyr yourself when no one gives a fuck… It’s so tedious to watch someone you care for keep failing themselves” — but, in typical Barnes fashion, even at his most cutting moments, he’s hurting himself at least as much as he is the target of his barbs. As our former Editor-in-Chief Judy Berman wrote for The Village Voice recently, “Barnes is at least as cutting an observer of his own fluctuating mental state as he is of anyone else’s.” It’s true, and Barnes knows it — on “Gratuitous Abysses,” he wonders, “Am I on the verge of a really big breakthrough or just another meltdown?” As ever, he can’t have one without the other.
Rae Sremmurd — Sremmlife 2 (August 12)
The second album by the precocious Tennessee duo was originally due for release in June, but for whatever reason, the release was pushed back to mid-August. The result is that we’ve heard half of the album already, because there’ve been four singles released from it. They’re… well, they’re exactly what you might expect from two likable kids who’ve become insanely successful before their 21st birthdays, in that they’re about how much fun life is when you have limitless cash, a constant stream of very attractive women who would very much like to have sex with you, and the world generally at your feet. If the duo were less charming, this might be obnoxious; in the case of Rae Sremmurd, all you can do is smile along with them.
Thee Oh Sees — A Weird Exits (August 12)
Not unlike Dinosaur Jr, you know exactly what you’re going to get from a Thee Oh Sees album, and like Dinosaur Jr, that’s not a bad thing at all. In the case of Thee Oh Sees, you’ll get tight, well-crafted and often hella catchy garage rock, with an increasingly prominent psych influence. It’s the latter that’s to the fore on lead single “Plastic Plant,” above, which is a good representation of the rest of the album — it’s pedal-to-the-metal psych jamming that often recalls fellow San Franciscan psych aficionados Wooden Shjips, without ever quite losing the songwriting punchiness that has characterized Oh Sees mainman John Dwyer’s entire career.
Blood Orange — Freetown Sound (August 19)
A physical release for an album that we’ve enjoyed immensely since it appeared online at the end of June.
Factory Floor — 25 25 (August 26)
Factory Floor’s recorded work has never quite lived up to the promise of their live reputation — it’s always sounded more restrained and calculated than the energy of their live shows, never quite cutting loose and getting nasty like the band are able to do beyond the confines of the studio. This is their first album since the departure of Dominic Butter, and first single “Dial Me In” suggests that nothing has changed in that respect. That’s not to say it’s bad, of course, it just retains the sense of restraint and discipline that has characterized all the band’s recorded material. The song itself sounds like Liquid Liquid, or perhaps one of the nicer moments of their great inspirations, Throbbing Gristle (it’s especially reminiscent of “Hot on the Heels of Love” from 20 Jazz Funk Greats.) It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the album shapes up.
Gonjasufi — Callus (August 26)
It’s rare to be able to describe a musician’s sound as legitimately unclassifiable, but if you can name a genre that accurately describes the music of Sumach Ecks, aka Gonjasufi, I’m accepting answers on the back of a postcard. Of course, classifications are ultimately meaningless, so the best thing I can say about Gonjasufi’s music is that it’s endlessly fascinating — Ecks’ signature distorted, rasping vocals recall those of some old Leadbelly-esque bluesman, but they’re set over fractured, shifting beats that never really settle into any sort of steady groove. The songs rarely follow conventional structures, and the whole effect leaves the listener constantly disoriented and unsure of what’s coming next. This is, if it’s not clear, a compliment.
The Veils — Total Depravity (August 26)
One of the most overlooked and underrated bands of the 2000s have gone on to be one of the most overlooked and underrated bands of the 2010s. It’s probably clear by now that Finn Andrews and co. will never get the respect and/or popularity they deserve, which honestly is the world’s loss. Or maybe they will? Most interestingly, the album features several collaborations with Run the Jewels’ El-P, including first single ‘Axolotl,’ above. On the strength of that song, at least, the collaboration is a resounding success, and who knows — maybe the presence of one of music’s hottest producers will finally make the world sit up and take notice? We can but hope.
Photo credit: Featureflash Photo Agency / shutterstock.com
Frank Ocean — An album, at some point, maybe
And speaking of hoping, we may or may not see the long-awaited Frank Ocean album this month. The latest is that a weird live video stream appeared on his website, a stream on which, at the time of writing, precisely nothing is happening. But still, it might be a sign that something is about to happen soon! Right?!