Pick of the week
Studio One Ironsides, Original Classic Recordings 1963-1979
Soul Jazz Records has put out a number of great looks at specific scenes, from the carnival street music of modern Haiti to the birth of Bossa Jazz in Brazil in the ’60s. The label’s Tropicalia collection is considered to be one of the best out there, too. When Soul Jazz decides to get into a scene or a label or a style of music, it goes at it full bore. That’s why its examination of Studio One, one of the most influential reggae labels, is so promising. Original Classic Recordings takes listeners on a irie trip down dub lane, exposing those only familiar with Bob Marley to a whole new world of ska, rocksteady, and dancehall. It’s some eye-opening stuff, and catchy as hell. Tracks like Marcia Griffiths’ “Mark My Word” and Lone Ranger’s “Three Mile Skank” are total earworms, and the 24-page booklet that accompanies the record details the genesis and history of each cut, as well as Studio One in general. It’s the perfect immersive experience for any burgeoning reggae-heads or seasoned crate-diggers.
Do not break the seal
Darius Rucker, True Believers
One-time Hootie & The Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker has remade a name for himself in more recent years as a country singer, and a rather successful one at that. His country debut, Learn To Live, sold over a million copies in 2009, and he’s had five No. 1 country singles. He’s toured with Lady Antebellum, recorded a duet with Brad Paisley, and won CMA awards, but that still doesn’t make him all that good. True Believers should appease Rucker’s base of true fans and believers, but won’t win anyone over who’s still on the other side of the Hootie fence.
Adam Ant, Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter
After 30-odd years in the music business, Adam Ant has only released five solo records to date. Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar… is his sixth, and it’s been a long time coming. The new-wave icon started recording it with Morrissey cohort Boz Boorer in late 2009 and has been shopping it around to labels ever since, ultimately settling on his own.
Arbouretum, Coming Out Of The Fog
Slowcore rockers Arbouretum move to the beat of their own languid drummer. Coming Out Of The Fog is billed as the Baltimore group’s most focused record to date, so here’s hoping that means the record’s pace plods along slowly rather than creeping like a sloth.
Bad Religion, True North
More than 30-odd years after its inception, Bad Religion has somehow managed to stay relatively vital in the punk community. Its latest record, True North, is its 16th, and maintains the clever wordplay and fist-shaking attitude the band has become known for.
Camper Van Beethoven, La Costa Perdida
Reactivated since 1999, David Lowery and company have put out a series of pretty good records, including 2004’s New Roman Times. Nothing’s captured the charm of old classics like 1985’s “Take The Skinheads Bowling,” but La Costa Perdida was supposedly influenced by Holland-era Beach Boys, so that’s promising.
Foxygen, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic
Recorded with producer Richard Swift, We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic is Foxygen’s debut full-length. The bi-coastal duo channels a vein of drowsy psychedelia previously only heard on old Kinks records.
Guided By Voices, Down By The Racetrack
Putting out three LPs last year apparently did nothing to slow Guided By Voices down. The Down By The Racetrack EP is Robert Pollard and company’s first of sure-to-be-many releases this year and features 11-odd minutes of new lo-fi rock.
Hilly Eye, Reasons To Live
After Amy Klein left Titus Andronicus, she formed Hilly Eye with drummer and vocalist Catherine Tung. Unfortunately for Titus fans, though, the group sounds almost nothing like its forebear, with its sweetly sung vocals and droning walls of sound.
Nightlands, Oak Island
Nightlands’ Dave Hartley grew up with a genetic-engineer dad, and thus approaches his music with a scientist’s precision. On Oak Island, he attempts to explore the bridge between man, machine, and ’70s Seals & Crofts-style sounds.
Nosaj Thing, Home
Born Jason Chung, L.A.-based musician Nosaj Thing has produced tracks for Busdriver, Kendrick Lamar, and Kid Cudi. He’s also released three of his own electronically tinged albums, including the mellow new Home.
Petra Haden, Petra Goes To The Movies
That Dog. singer Petra Haden loves movie scores so much she decided to sing about them—or, rather, sing them. Petra Goes To The Movies is an album of Haden’s intricate a cappella takes on the scores of everything from Psycho to Superman.
Ra Ra Riot, Beta Love
While Ra Ra Riot had a charming poppiness to its previous work, with the loss of cellist Alexandra Lawn, the Brooklyn group has taken on a much more synth-based sound. Beta Love is less compelling than albums like 2008’s The Rhumb Line, but might have the sort of blandness required to be more commercially successful.
The Joy Formidable, Wolf’s Law
Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable burst into the collective music-nerd consciousness with 2009’s A Balloon Called Moaning EP, followed by endless dates with acts like Foo Fighters and Passion Pit. Wolf’s Law is the band’s second full-length, and while there aren’t any songs on it as catchy as “Whirring,” off 2011’s The Big Roar, it’s charming all the same.
The Night Marchers, Allez Allez
Fronted by the inimitable John Reis (Rocket From The Crypt, Pitchfork, Drive Like Jehu, and more), The Night Marchers is made up of three-fifths of Reis’ other bands, Hot Snakes. That kind of patchwork band makeup is indicative of The Night Marchers’ aesthetic, which combines some of the Hot Snakes drama with some of the fun of RFTC.
Toro Y Moi, Anything In Return
Though chillwave may be on its way out, thank heavens, Toro Y Moi has remained and adapted. Frontman Chaz Bundick has moved his sound away from the slurry of his previous work and reinvented himself as a new-wave soul act.