Every week I select a few new releases to discuss in this spot. Compared to last week this one was never going to match the surplus of great music we had but there were some pretty great ones to be found. This week we have a sonic comic book which is as rad as it sounds, the next evolution of Julian Casablancas of The Strokes fame, an intimate look into someone’s diary and a type of country I have never heard before.

So without further ado, here we go.

Here is the playlist

Grand Slam:

CZARFACE, MF DOOM - Czarface Meets Metal Face

MF DOOM’s newest collaboration with CZARFACE is both my favorite album and comic book released this year. If that sounds appealing to you you should just listen to it now, the album art alone should be enough to get anyone hyped. If you are familiar with MF Doom you know how great his music is and if not you are in for a treat because this will make you want to devour everything else he has done, I can not suggest checking out his other collaborations enough.

It is hard to describe but listening to this is like listening to a comic book, it is the perfect representation of both of these artists. The short intro Take Your Medicine provides a glimpse of what you’re in for sonically like a comic cover would visually. The dichotomy between Doom’s deep deliberate flow to the more smooth and flowing style of the MC’s of Czarface plays out really well and acts like a dialogue between the two fictional characters of both acts(like Slim Shady but better). It’s as if two villians are hanging, getting plastered and bragging. Their rhymes are predictably incredible and the references rife with pop culture anyone can enjoy. In particular I really dug the WWE ones from “Bayley to belly” to naming Samoa Joe and Finn Balor they were right up my alley.

The backing tracks are perfect in their subtlety. Doom has just about achieved the status of unquestionable as a producer and projects like this are the reason why. If you aren’t bobbing your head when the “CZAR!”-”DOOM!” chant-couterchant kick in on “Meddle with Metal” you are dead inside. When they’re rhyming the tracks take the role of background music in a video game or spoken radio program, present but not distracting. When they aren’t rhyming they take the forefront and all the sound effects and voice overs guide the listener through the journey crafted by the two. Even the skits are amazing, the intro to You Masked for It almost had me waking up my family while laughing last night [1].

This was like a music experience I haven’t had before, the closest thing I can think of comparing it to is the Black Panther soundtrack. The only difference is that was very produced and told through popular artists/track this is like the underground little brother. Both are incredible but it’s like the argument for comic books over big budget action flick, it’s always comics. Just listen it to it, it’s an experience all on it’s own.

Lindi Ortega - Liberty

More good country?! What is happening in the world? This time from a Canadian? Ok I think I would like to stop the simulation. Last week I spoke of my distaste for the current state of country before I found Courtney Marie Andrews and here is another really good country artist who had to pay her penance backing Brandon Flowers on his ill-advised solo tour? Say what you want about data collection, it did it’s job here.

Her Country is almost unlike any that I have ever heard. The album’s first real track Afraid of the Dark sets a haunting tone for the album that is reminiscent of a Tarantino movie. She follows it up with You Ain’t Foolin’ Me which showcases her unique brand of country that has an indie/poppy feel but doesn’t ever become too much of those genres to bear. She quickly shows her traditional country skills where she sings of losing a loved one on the heartfelt Til My Dyin’ Day. She can also use her country to tells stories like on Pablo where she also sings in Spanish. She can even pander with the best of them, Lovers in Love is exactly the kind of country that I dislike and I still dislike it which is proof of how good she is.

Lindi proves on this that country can be as versatile and you are willingly to make it. I really enjoyed it because of that. Between this and last week I am surprised as anyone that seemingly the only two good country artists released albums in back to back weeks but with music this good it is probably best not to question it. I for one welcome back good country, I’ve missed it, one can only take so much Garth Brooks, Neon Moon and The Chair.

Frankie Cosmos - Vessel

This is my first exposure to Greta Kline, who performs under the name Frankie Cosmos. She has been putting out music for almost a decade, which at the young age of 24 is impressive even if just through bandcamp. She at one time even played with her then boyfriend Aaron Maine in Porches who you may remember from my first new music recommendations piece. Being the daughter of two actors and living in New York has gifted her the privilege of exposure to all the diverse culture and music scenes the city has to offer and the opportunity to experiment with her art. She plays indie-pop that is really catchy and has an overall pleasant sound to it.

When I saw the track listing for Vessel was 18 songs long I had a second of anxiety but clocking in at only 33 minutes it is a very quick listen. 11 of the songs are under 2 minutes long meaning before anything can start to drag it’s already on to the next one. I really enjoyed listening to this because of this format. I’m not sure the rest of her music is like this but I get the sense that is. In from a recent interview with Pitchfork she mentions having written 50 songs since recording Vessel which again sounds like a lot unless they’re around the same length.

The charm of this album is it’s intimacy. It is like reading through someone’s diary chalk full of poetry and writings that range from cute feelings of young love to sad moments of insecurity all the while polarized by her mostly bright and upbeat music. Songs like This Stuff display the inner monologue of someone who deals with their feelings alone. On the other hand Duet is a perfect example of someone falling hard for another with lines like “Makin a list, Of people to kiss, The list is a million YOUs long, Just YOUs all the way down.”

There are nice tender moments as well Ur Up is like a brief view into her recording process and The End is basically just a webcam mic demo that made it to the album. This would normally kill me but it doesn’t sound as bad as the premise would have you believe and these songs contribute to the personality of the album. Vessel has a youthful earnestness to it that gives her music an authenticity that should be commended.

Walk is as Good as a Hit Right? RIGHT?!:

The Voidz - Virtue

Have you ever listened to the simplistic appeal of The Strokes and thought “what if this was a more electric jam band?” Yeah, me neither. To say that we didn’t ask for this is a bit misleading however because the album is good. It is hard not to draw comparisons to the talented singers most important work but I will try to minimize that talk. What Voidz reminds me of, in spirit alone, is AWOLNATION in the way that that seems like Aaron Bruno’s playground. The band changes it’s tones and sounds throughout the album with many eclectic influences.

While I liked the album, I found it hard to listen to in one sitting because it never seems to find it’s footholes. It ranges from indie strums to electric synths to distorted guitar riffs and that’s just the first three songs.This kind of diversity is something that I adore but on there is just something inexplicable missing. There are guitar solos for no reason and then thrashing syncopated beats, the album has a loose jammy feel to it when something this complicated should be more cohesive. I feel like they would be a great live band to see but something is just missing coming across me through speakers.

As someone with and audio engineering background I appreciate the album for it’s complexity while maintaining sonic quality. Their mix engineer on it must have had a hell of a time working on this but he did incredible. Maybe this is just meant to be enjoyed in spurts or singles but that is not my personal preference so I’m kind of down on it. Voidz seems to be the Charmeleon of Casablancas’ musical evolution, a little awkward and not as cute as before but overall still pretty great and worth the listen .

  1. It’s been a long week and I’m sleep deprived ↩︎