Best of August 2017

August was quite a month of comebacks. Nobody put out their best record, but nobody put out their worst record, either. The albums range from satisfying to intriguing, and I'm really glad they all happened.

The best might just be the new LCD Soundsystem, which could actually be their best record, but really any of them could be. I like how much this one sounds like a record. I'm still at the point of thinking: "Are any of these hits? Are they all hits? What's a hit?" sense, which I like. "Call the Police" is probably the most traditional LCD hit, but the flow of the album to that point really has few weak moments. Afterwards, there are weaker moments, but interesting ones.

The Oh Sees record (note "The" is not in the name of the band) has great moments, but is a little aimless in the second half. The trio of heavy hitters at the beginning is their best run in years, and "Jettisoned" is fun and funky but very Oh Sees at the same time. I feel like the album has a lot of potential to be in their top few, but does suffer from a two-song jam suite between the two ballads. The ballads are both great, by the way. So, song for song, right up there with Mutilator but with some not unexciting filler.

Queens of the Stone Age, wait keep reading, are really good. Villains is the most robot rock part of all the previous QOTSA albums with hardly a minute of meandering or downtime, which makes me think that Ronson and Homme spent a while thinking "What would a rock fan want next?" The answer: more rock. Particularly, at times, it's stripped down garage rock, like on "The way you used to do" and "Head like a haunted house," which I shouldn't have to tell you, but I really appreciate. Not conceptually brilliant like the most lauded QOTSA, but a great one for rock fans.

The slowest grower is Grizzly Bear's new one, but it's picked up steam with me over the last couple weeks. I still apparently want them to constantly be rewriting "Little Brother" and "Marla." The beginning of the album is dreamy and poppy, and gives way to a middle that still hasn't completely captured my interest (a problem since Veckitamest for me) before the gorgeous "Neighbors" reins it back in. I do find myself singing along with almost every song already, though, even in the middle. Knowing how to end albums has always been a GB skill and this one leaves a good taste in your ears.

Liars is another band that I keep up with that few other people seem to, and TFCF is another good example of what they can do. Liars are best when it's heavy, driving, and lately, electronic-driven, and this album captures these ideas better than their last few. There is also a refreshing understanding of songwriting present that surpasses most rock albums, and even most art rock albums. I really like when "Face to face with my face" bashes in, and the trio that starts with "No Tree No Branch" is particularly satisfying.


In new news, Girl Ray is British and twee-leaning, neither of which I like all the time, but put out a great album called Earl Grey that feels like watching a good coming of age movie. Songs like "Cutting Shapes" and the title track are really smart and suggest a lot of possibilities for the future of the group. Also check out the funky riffs of "A Few Months." Also the adorable "Ghosty." Really listen to the whole thing if you can stand it.

Cloakroom is also a new group to me, except that I listen to True Widow and the overlap between the two is wide. I've always wanted more fuzzy heavy slowcore, so, thanks! This is better than the last True Widow album in songwriting, fuzz, harmony, and idealism, though the band is markedly less mature than both True widow, let alone slowcore giants Low. "SeedlessStar" is a highlight for crunch, and the title track is a great place to look for melodic prowess.

I didn't listen to much electronic music this month, but S Olbricht stuck out for making another great release with Purpleblue. It has prettier moments (the title track, much of "Hrom"), or moments that are more aggressive (the awesome "T" in particular) than the epic For Perfect Beings, both of which fit into the Lobster Theremin aesthetic neatly.

In Progressive Electronic, there's X.Y.R., who released Labyrinth on the super-label Not Not Fun (I just listen to a lot of 100% silk), which turns out to be great music for staring at the sun during the onset of a total eclipse. It's plodding, synth heavy (I mean, really heavy), vaguely New Age-y, and kind of like everything on NNF, but better than average for the label. I'll be listening to more NNF in the future.

In Abstract Electronic, I dug out the Second Woman record from this year for a few more listens, which have all agreed with my ears. It's a record only for people with really good headphones / binaural listening setup, and a slightly warped mindset. It dips into footwork at times, like /// and ////, and at other times leans towards Autechre or ambient music. It's probably the best release on Spectrum Spools, period.

I cleared out my garage playlist this month too, and I included a few of my favorite bandcamp demos. Angry Skeletons, Sial, and Futuro are all really nice demo tapes if you like crate digging for garage :)

Lemme know what you like,

Nate