Five August 2017 Albums You May Have Missed
While movie studios tried to push out the final batch of not too great blockbusters for the last full month of summer, so too did the record labels. I’d like to think that the record labels fared better.
Holy hell, there was a lot to get through, and I’m nowhere close to being able to tell you how good, say, that new Grizzly Bear album is because there were just too many other major albums coming out: Queens of the Stone Age, Brand New, The War on Drugs, LCD Soundsystem, Taylor Swift! All of this coincided with the VMAs, which I’m told was a total soulless train wreck. In addition to that, there’s a label called Business Casual and they’re selling their entire discography – 155 releases in all – on Bandcamp for a buck, which is the best buck I’ve ever spent. So when we weren’t discussing the merits of Josh Homme working with Mark Ronson we were listening to hundreds of Future Funk and Vaporwave albums. And then there
So when we weren’t thinking about the merits of Josh Homme working with Mark Ronson, we were listening to hundreds of Future Funk and Vaporwave albums. And then there were the magic five that didn’t get quite the attention but we thought deserved the DBP mention. Surprisingly, there’s an undercurrent of coziness this month that we didn’t intend, but hey, maybe the universe is trying to tell us something.
Cozy Tapes, Vol 2: Too Cozy
Speaking of a crazy month, August was probably the busiest for the A$AP Mob with solo releases from A$AP Ferg and A$AP Twelvyy, just a few weeks before they released round two of their Cozy Tapes anthology.
A$AP Mob always sounds at their best when they’re together doing their thing, and Cozy Tapes, Vol 2: Too Cozy continues that mood with even more stellar production and equal mic time from each member. Unlike, say, The Wu-Tang Clan, who were all about the collective releases, A$AP Mob reverse that scheme, treating their time in the same room like a rare killer reunion before going off on their separate and unique paths. Like the first Cozy Tapes release, the second volume plays like a long mixtape covering a wide spectrum of styles with trap undertones.
Few other groups walk a fine line between antisocial tendencies and Paris Fashion Week, but the Harlem collective have mastered music that represents an outsider’s perspective with a tastemaker’s confidence. From “Perry Aye,” which gives a shoutout to eating calamari right before vandalising Ferraris, to “Black Card,” with its super badass and menacing undertones that detail the feeling of being the hunter and the hunted within two claustrophobic minutes, Too Cozy runs the gauntlet of fame, culture, and hedonism from a group that seems to be finding their stride with every passing year. With any luck, we’ll have several more Cozy Tapes volumes to discuss down the road.
Let’s say there’s a portal, and through that portal you’re taken to a dive bar somewhere on Venice Beach in the early to mid-80s. The old jukebox in the corner plays music that sounds familiar, and yet somewhat distant and off kilter – songs that sound like Johnny Marr soloing with The Bangles and keyboard melodies that recall Brat Pack movies. That jukebox, my friends, is playing Cage Tropical by Frankie Rose.
Rose is no stranger to this kind of jam given her work in Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, and Vivian Girls, but her fourth solo album continues to reach for new ways to remind us of nostalgic sounds. “Love in Rockets” is a lush and inviting opener to tropical landscapes, while “Art Bell” sounds like a missing B-sides from the Less than Zero soundtrack. The beginning of “Dyson Sphere” could be an alternate intro into “Melt With You” by Modern English before it takes a darker path through the back alleys and neon tinged streets of a hot metropolis.
But for all the fanfare of the familiarities that Cage Tropical invokes, it’s also a very fitting album for the here and now. Songs like “Red Muesum” sound like they could only be of this era as a kind of balm for the crazy times we’re living in. All of it makes me wish I were at a Santa Monica pier waiting for the night to swoop down.
One of the most rewarding things about doing this article is when we discover little gems like this.
Nemui PJ is a collaboration between Japanese artist Noah and the UK’s Kidkanevil. The name of the group pretty much translates into “Sleepy Pyjamas,” and in keeping with that theme, they’ve created a great little EP full of soft synth melodies and great glitch beats that recall artists like DNTEL in his days before his work on The Postal Service. Most of the instrumentation
Most of the instrumentation comes from keyboards that sound like they were repurposed from 16-bit video games with simple but effective drum beats. Noah’s soft voice floats in and out of the songs effectively making them into something that could soundtrack your next nap or a rainy afternoon.
The songs all make for great remix material as exemplified by the three included at the end of the EP where they are expanded upon by artists like Submerse and Lullatone – two artists from the UK and US respectively who now call Japan home. So throw on your PJs and put on the Pumpkin EP. It’ll be the best free advice we have for you this month.
I had the pleasure of seeing Turnover play about a month back. They filled the middle slot of the bill, sandwiched in between a metal band called Endless Heights and hardcore extraordinaries Touché Amore. On paper that shouldn’t have worked, but it did. During their set, they brought the room into a warm and comforting feeling. Their music was genteel and welcoming, and over half of the crowd knew every single word to every song they played, showing that their fanbase was just as rabid for them as they were for the heavier music that had and would continue to hear that night.
Good Nature is the Virginia band’s third album and it’s not a huge departure from their previous work save for a much noticeable streamlining of their already approachable sound. From the opening track “Super Natural,” down to the closer “Bonnie (Rhythm and Melody),” it’s a seamless ride, where more sublime details emerge with each listen. ’Sunshine Type’ with its plucking chords and
“Sunshine Type,” with its plucking chords and smooth chorus, is pretty much vitamin D in audio format, while a song like “Breeze” sounds like the product of a band showing their love for Minus the Bear and Death Cab for Cutie with a twist. In theory, Turnover should be a huge band simply because of how easy it is to enjoy their music, but should they continue to play to the same small rooms of enthusiastic fans who sing along to every lyric they’ve ever written, then I take comfort in knowing that meaningful indie rock is still bubbling away in small clubs with passionate fans.
Late Night Tales: BadBadNotGood
This series, with previous entries by artists like Air, Bonobo, Four Tet, and John Hopkins, has proven to be not only great, but also a glimpse into the music some of your favorite artists listen to. That’s a pretty cool thing, and in the case of BadBadNotGood, these guys seriously know how to dig some crates. Late Night Tales may now be at a point where it features an impressive amount of great compilations, but props to BadBadNotGood for adding a different shade of obscurity to the series.
The entire feel of this assemblage has the vibe of something vaguely 70s Parisian with wood veneer finish. A lot of ground is covered, across many diverse artists but in the same musical vein; from Boards of Canada to Kiki Gyan to a great deep cut by Stereolab the mix flows easily from one song the next while touching on some lesser-known artists like the Estonian singer Velly Joonas, an artist whose albums go for a pretty sum on Discogs, making one think that BadBadNotGood are probably among a small group of people whose vinyl collection is just as valuable as it is deep. The whole point is to sit back and let this play from beginning to end, preferably after hours when the music will be most effective and who better than a group of progressive Jazz musicians from Canada to show you those odd corners of the record store.
Looking for More Suggestions?
Check out Nate’s Five July 2017 Albums You May Have Missed!