What music will be remembered from April 2017? The consensus on the web seems to circle around Father John Misty Pure Comedy, Kendrick Lamar DAMN. and Arca’s self-titled album, but surely that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What else will stick? To answer that question The Future Heart once again asked various music journalists, bloggers, columnists and the like a simple question, “what music stood out to you this month?” As with the January, February and March editions, the intention was to get their immediate reaction, a quick response that could be anything: an album, or several; a new song or music video; a mind-melting concert. What pops into mind without having to think?
April brought with it the 10th annual Record Store Day and by common consensus 2017’s release list was among the strongest in the event’s decade history. David Bowie, U2, Stevie Nicks, The Claypool Lennon Delirium and most of all The Grateful Dead were among this year’s top sellers, and there was big buzz around The War on Drug’s first new music since their critically acclaimed 2014 album Lost In The Dream. But Record Store Day also brought with it lesser-hyped gems like The Flaming Lips new fictitious-live album, the debut single from Filthy Friends (a supergroup featuring members of R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney and Swans) and the debut LP from BNQT (a supergroup with Grandaddy, Band of Horses, Franz Ferdinand, Midlake members). Of course not everybody digs Record Store Day. A 2014 Future Heart post listing the cons (alongside the pros) of the annual event still stands, and Psych Insight Music – one of the monthly contributors to this series – offers these ten reasons to skip Record Store Day. Love it or not, it does yield much new music (not to mention much old, reissued music), which brings us back to the original question: what stood out?
See what stood out to our panel below and sound off with the April music that sticks out to you in the comment section below.
Rocknuts’ Christopher Tahy
“The Black Angels’ Death Song really stood out to me and R. Ring’s Ignite the Rest is a cute little gem. Also, Dream Machine is something I’m really anticipating. With last month being Record Store Day I’ve been really caught up in all the goodies that I got. Plus, my friend who runs thefirenote.com basically lent me the entire King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard discography.”
Rocknuts.net goal is simple: be a website about rock music that doesn’t suck. In April that meant subjects ranging from Mac DeMarco to Allan Holdsworth. Check out Christopher Tahy’s posts on Record Store Day and King Gizzard, and follow him at twitter/christophertahy or Rocknuts at facebook/rocknuts.net.
Culture Collide founder, Alan Miller
Antiquiet co-founder, Johnny Firecloud
“The Black Angels Death Song has had me under its spell through the entirety of April. My favorite track, “Comanche Moon,” starts off with the kind of jangly guitar intro that sounds like an incubating Foo Fighters radio hit, then explodes into a galloping psychedelic juggernaut. There’s a sweetly inviting quicksand to this record, and I can’t get enough of it.”
Antiquiet.com has rocked for nearly a decade with artist interviews, album reviews, their own series of recording sessions and very useful, concise daily round-ups of new music. Follow Johnny at twitter/JohnnyFirecloud, and Antiquiet at facebook/antiquiet and twitter/antiquiet.
Post-Trash founder and Exploding In Sound Records co-founder, Dan Goldin
“Upon the release of “The Interview,” Impose Magazine said Anna Altman’s music was “for the attentive art audience”. The band’s debut single is as elegant as it is hypnotic, constructed with beauty and complexity in repetition. The Long Island duo of Lucia Arias and Christian Billard (both of Turnip King) create gorgeous melodies amid tangled minimalist arrangements; songs that are simple at a glance but bursting with atmospheric detail and Arias’ clever lyrical twists. The band are able to repeat structures while bending them ever so slightly into new shapes and patterns, reinforcing the song’s unique slow dripped magnetism in the process.”
“Blessed’s latest single “Body” is built on shimmering art rock experimentation, tangled riffs, and an impeccably nimble rhythmic onslaught that warps its way into cold manipulated krautrock and expansive punk bliss. It’s unflinchingly expansive, sprawling out in endless directions from the discordant prog of Red-era King Crimson to the sinisterly mechanical discipline of Neu, Blessed take their influences and run wild with them, bringing an art-punk perspective to rigid compositions and letting them explode with brute force and brilliant shifts, pulling out sections only to bring them back with greater force and impact.”
“Following two straight weeks of promising singles, Christian Fitness, the one-man band that is Andrew Falkous aka Falco (Future of the Left/Mclusky), released yet another single and a day later, the band’s entire new album… because marketing plans are for weenies. Slap Bass Hunks isn’t just a great title, it’s an undeniably great album, and a contender for Falco’s best work in recent memory. The title track has a sing-a-long melody that buzzes with raw agitation, offering a pop sheen and bouncing-ball-subtitled lyrics that deadpan into the hook of “they made all our money, so fuck you”. The eternally pessimistic and scathing wit Falco spurns with each clever barb is in rare form throughout with tracks like “Other Men’s Wives” and “Pea (Super)” changing the pace with less of a rhythmic onslaught and an attention to the melodic unease that brings a groove to Falco’s sting.”
“Ever wonder what WALL might sound like if they took their time to really sprawl out? Imagine the band’s precision perfected post-punk at a slower tempo, allowing for a chance to evolve as the dust settles and expand at a leisurely pace, building tension in the process. “River Mansion” does all this and more with a unnerving sense of calm. Sam York sings “the storm is brewing, but I’m safe in the house, locked in a dream,” as a sense of unease gathers not too far behind her confident vocals. The song slowly unfolds (it’s more than twice as long as anything from the band’s debut) and WALL use the opportunity to create an ominous anticipation before the agitation boils to a fever as York’s dreamy disposition turns venomous, alternating between “when our eyes meet and you’re lying through your teeth, when our eyes meet and I’m lying through my teeth””
“Caddywhompus elicit a certain degree of instant happiness in me. There’s something about their tonality, their unpredictability, and their ability to make you suspend belief that is just feels good. Breezy and complex, the duo make the impossible possible (and seemingly effortless) with “Waiting Room” a song that balances unnatural complexity with sharp hooks at every corner. Caddywhompus have been teasing the moment of perfect symbiosis between their technical ability and the knack for writing “a damn good song” and well… the time has come. “Waiting Room” is practically power-pop if it wasn’t collapsing all around itself with shifting time signatures, elastic structures, and jagged bursts of spontaneous combustion. It’s a roller coaster ride you never want to end, a pop song at it’s absolute most defiant. If you’re gonna spew, spew to this.”
Post-Trash is a go to source for must-hear indie music mostly overlooked by other sites founded by Exploding In Sound Records co-founder Dan Goldin in 2015. Follow their weekly radio hour, song and album premieres, album reviews and week recaps at facebook.com/post.trash and twitter/post_trash_. Follow Exploding In Sound at facebook/explodinginsoundrecords and twitter/eisrecords.
IndieNugget co-founder, Maria Lopes
“The music that stood out for me in March was INVSN “Immer Zu.” Very difficult choice. It’s about what it means to be a woman in this world.”
Psych Insight Music founder, Simon Smith
Psych is Dead by Cosmic Dead
“A real game changer for the already amazing Cosmic Dead. Recorded in a Sardinian Farmhouse, the band explore new sounds and develop their music massively as a result. For me their best album to day and a huge step up.”
Raw Rock Fury by Ecstatic Vision
“This second album from Ecstatic Vision is just brilliant. Not complicated just a really great psych rock record. On the back of this I discovered the band’s first album Sonic Praise, which is also amazing.”
Hyperborean by Paleons
“Paleon dark and intense music exists outside of any particular genre. You can’t quite pin down their music because they plough their own very distinct furrow. They are heavy when they need to be, and pepper their music with melodies and meditative moments that challenge and inspire in equal measure.”
Psych Insight Music is the essential reference for staying up to date with the current psych scene, particularly the new releases criminally overlooked elsewhere on the web. Follow Simon’s favorite new listens at bandcamp.com/psychinsightmusic and twitter.com/psychinsightmsc and read his reviews of the aforementioned albums from Cosmic Dead, Ecstatic Vision and Paleons. Also recommended: Simon on Cobra Family Picnic’s new album Magnetic Anomaly.
Simon is also walking 3000 miles this year to raise £3000 for a cancer charity. Details on how you can help him reach his goal are here.
Twiga guitarist/singer/songwriter Dave Lucas
“On Cassette Store Day 2015 I happened to find a tape of Element of Light by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. I picked it up because I love The Soft Boys and have enjoyed some of his recent solo work. I put it on and was blown away, it has become one of my favorite albums. In April, Hitchcock put out a new album that has the sort of energy you would expect on a Soft Boys or Egyptians album. The guitar work is intricate and fun, his lyrics are witty, eloquent, and apocalyptic at times, and it’s wonderful to see an artist continue to put out exceptional music over such an impressive career. Bonus: I discovered recently that the late Jonathan Demme released an interesting performance film in 1998 called Storefront Hitchcock. Anyone interested in his music should definitely check it out, he’s a fascinating storyteller and guitarist. I would also like to shout out Charly Bliss, who released their debut full-length, Guppy, last month. Great songwriting, awesome ‘90s-power-pop hooks, and tons of energy. I genuinely love this record and can’t wait to watch this band blow up.”
Until recently Dave was marketing manager for Talkhouse, the internet’s premier destination for reviews of music and films by peer musicians and filmmakers. Prior that he held music-related marketing positions with guitar pedal manufacturer Electro Harmonix and Google and recently started a new job at a creative agency. Dave also the frontman/ guitarist of his band Twiga. Pick up the new Twiga cassette here, follow them and Dave at twitter.com/TwigaMusic and catch Twiga live on Friday, May 26th at The Glove in Brooklyn with Camp Howard, Winstons, and Cal Fish.
Beardfood editor Dylan Tracy
“Since the record I thought I was going to talk about turned out to be hot, dancy garbage (Gorillaz’ Humanz) – save three tracks – I’ve spent all of April obsessing over two other records, Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy and Full of Hell’s Trumpeting Ecstacy. Not to give either too much credit, but I will be seeing these in my top ten of the year by the end. Pure Comedy is a record I was expecting to love, because of the previously released singles “Ballad of the Dying Man” and the title track. The album took my expectations and threw them into the abyss, specifically stemming from its sprawling and wide scope of hour plus length. Tracks like “Things It Would’ve Been Helpful to Know Before The Revolution” and the quasi-infamous “The Memo” expanded upon the cynical lovestruck soul of I Love You, Honeybear and went to the universal humanity of our collective consciousness. Trumpeting Ecstacy, on the other hand, took me by complete surprise. Being a powerviolence/grindcore band and pushing new boundaries isn’t exactly the craziest thing in the world (see all Southern Lord releases where applicable), but what Full of Hell have managed to do is create a 23-minute behemoth of sludgy, doomy, thrashy proportions in spades. The first eight tracks are an even more furious Full of Hell expounding their touched upon before ferocious chaos, but the last four have them opening up the seams and letting industrial and noise from previous experiments leak out, and what you have is none more apparent in the last two tracks, “Trumpeting Ecstacy” and “At the Cauldron’s Bottom.” Featuring Nicole Dollanganger on the former, the track melts into the longest Full of Hell song I can think of, breaking walls down with the sheer force of riffage and power from the Maryland quartet. Neither record is for everyone, but these two rocked my world all April.
Massive honorable mention to Feist, for her ridiculously raw and cathartic album, Pleasure, her first in six years.”
“SLOWDIVE, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, BNQT, The Harmed Brothers, Ray Davies”
Since 2002 Glide Magazine has covered music across genre lines (consider the albums on their “20 Best Albums of 2016” for example, or their new interview with Pixies’ Joey Santiago, their recent coverage of Paul McCartney’s latest tour and reissue, and their George Harrison book review and Ray Davies album review). Follow Glide at facebook.com/GlideMagazine and twitter.com/glidemag.
The Owl Mag’s Wayne Jessup
Radiohead, Santa Barbara Bowl, 11 April, 2017
“Around their date at Coachella, Radiohead found time to work in several West Coast shows, including a gig that appeared to be the odd one out, but a must-have ticket for long-time heads. The Santa Barbara Bowl is almost always the smallest cap venue on their itinerary, and the band’s continued insistence on appearing here is always a bonus. Built in the 1930’s as a WPA project, and perpetually updated through the years, the venue stands as a less-hyped Red Rocks in terms of having its own character and quirks. From the soundboard area, one can look up to the mountains, or straight down to the harbor, and its location in town forces an early curfew (10pm), but the uptick is that shows tend to start at or near sunset. For this night, the band took extra precautions, throwing up a two ticket maximum, and keeping a high percentage on a paperless level to (attempt) to foil rampant scalping. Tickets still ended up being advertised in the mid three figures for non-pit seats…
The Bowl provides a nice history of the synergy between band and venue. As an addendum, local lore has it that a pub owner in town (who was an avid fan and season ticket holder), opened his doors after hours to facilitate their watching a sporting match live from back home in England, and their hearts were forever won, or so the story goes…
This appearance more than lived up to their past performances. Jonny Greenwood, in particular, seemed re-energized, and was a dynamic counterpoint to Thom Yorke throughout the evening. Starting out with measured takes on Moon Shaped Pool tracks, they built the momentum, and proceeded to skate from high to high throughout the eve, closing the regular set with a stunning “How To Disappear Completely.” At the artists request (and given the intimacy of the venue), it was a no photo gig, but the same Bowl blog linked above has shots from their official photographer, Arthur Fischer, and a setlist. Seeing Radiohead is always special, but the cozy confines of the Santa Barbara Bowl help add that extra level of transcendence.”
musicOMH’s Sam Shepherd
“There’s two albums this month that I suspect, come the end of the year, will be there or thereabouts in the annual ‘best of’ lists. Before I get to those, let me just mention the new album from the ever dependable Mark Lanegan Gargoyle is up there with his best and most accessible work to date and it’s well worth a look. Also, if you’ve not checked out pretty much everything Rocket Recordings put out, you’re missing a trick. Flowers Must Die’s latest is definitely worth a listen.
In terms of standout albums though you can’t go far wrong with these two:
First is Mount Eerie A Crow Looked At Me. I didn’t review this one but I’m quite glad about that. It’s an album that documents the death of Phil Elverum’s wife Genevieve and the grieving process that follows. It’s not the easiest listen because Elverum really doesn’t pull any punches, it’s about as raw and personal as it gets. Listening to it is a little like reading somebody’s diary, and it can be an uncomfortable experience. The experiences you bring to the album will most definitely colour the way you hear it. If you can find a copy (it’s not the easiest thing to track down), get it, because it is the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in a long long time.
Second is Oxbow’s Thin Black Duke. A career best I would suggest and so far, my favourite album of the year. I could go on about it, but it’s all in my review.
Gig wise, I recently spent the weekend in Camden indulging in Desertfest. A better weekend will be hard to find.”
Sam reviews new albums, mostly for musicOMH (but also Sings The Browns). Read his reviews of the aforementioned albums by Oxbow, or his live review of Desertfest and follow Sam on twitter at twitter.com/socksinhell.
Audiophile Review’s Mark Smotroff
“Lots of things on my plate these days. Here is a rundown of some recent reviews and some other things I’m digging into in some depth:
Glen Campbell reissues, Zappa Archive CD Reissues, Zappa’s Sheik Yerbouti, Ray Davies’ Americana, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass reissue, George Harrison’s Brainwashed reissue, Caspian’s Tertia, Philip Glass’ Dracula soundtrack, Reverend Peyton & His Big Damn Band, Big Star’s Third Live (Blu-ray, CD), Beatles Sgt. Pepper 50th Anniversary remixes (Blu-ray, CD), Flaming Lips Record Store Day quazi-live album, Kinks Mono Box (vinyl), Paul Butterfield Live 1970, John Lee Hooker (new best of), Procol Harum “Whiter Shade of Pale” (50th Anniversary Record Store Day edition), Kinks French EPs (Record Store Day reissues), Ra Ra Riot’s first EP (Record Store Day reissue), Max’s Kansas City 1976 & Beyond (classic punk compilation reissued), Joe Strummer & The 101ers (old Record Store Day reissue), Guided By Voices August By Cake (new vinyl), ESP Ohio Starting Point of the Royal Cyclopean (GBV side project vinyl), Jaco Pastorius Live 1982, Bill Evans Live 1976, The Creation (CD Box Set). Plus, I’ve been listening lots of old jazz on vinyl and even 78s: Fats Waller, Coleman Hawkins, Bix Beiderbecke, Shorty Rogers, Duke Ellington, Bill Evans…”
Among many other pursuits – including creating the rock opera dial with his band ing – Mark writes for audiophilereview.com specializing in commentary specifically for vinyl collectors (very helpful for making purchasing decisions especially concerning which reissues are worth buying). Want an assessment not just of the music, but also the package? His reviews are what you’re looking for (often with photos of the vinyl or sleeve included). Follow Mark at twitter.com/Smotroff.
The Gig Whores
“Kolars self titled album
Fun band outta LA”
The Gig Whores community offers up all things music, sometimes focusing in on, though by no means limited to San Diego.
Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle linked us to his site’s monthly playlist. He says, “We’ve tried to put our favorites up toward the top of this playlist, but I think you’ll have just as much fun hitting the ‘shuffle’ mode on this top playlist.”
- Mac DeMarco – On The Level
- Elohim – Skinny Legs
- NÄM – Face
- Gorillaz – Andromeda (Bonobo Remix)
- Whilk And Misky – Only A Drink
- Phoenix – J-Boy
- Seb Wildblood – Plants (Ft. Paul Cut)
- Mount Kimbie – We Go Home Together (Ft. James Blake)
- ODESZA – Late Night
- Kasbo – Found You (Ft. Chelsea Cutler)
- Mike Forst – Who’s On The Mayfair
- LUWTEN – Indifference
- Moullinex – Love Love Love
- Welles – Life Like Mine
- Husky – Ghost
- Slow Dancer – It Goes On
- Ásgeir – Stardust
- Klangstof – Hostage (Catching Flies Remix)
- FYFE – Belong (Ft. Kimbra)
- Santiago Córdoba – Mamila
- PHFAT – Keep You Safe (Ft. Mac Motel)
- PLGRMS – Dream You Up
- Joywave – Content
- Com Truise – Memory
An essential site for discovering the greatest of the latest new music, Indie Shuffle uses a unique music player powered by SoundCloud to facilitate carefully curated listening. Follow Indie Shuffle at twitter.com/indieshuffle.
- Stack #135 with Pacific Coliseum (Teen Daze), Syd, Cende, House of Feelings, and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma + Sobrenadar
- Stack #136 with Lou Phelps + Innanet James, Anna Altman, Yaeji, Baltra+ DJ Seinfeld & more
- Stack #137 with Hoop, Taylor Bennett, DJHarrison RVA, ANNA & more
- Stack #138 with Valleyz, Tessellated & Amindi K. Fro$T, WaqWaq Kingdom, Wilma Archer, Dougie Poole, Lapalux & more
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to Stack by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.
Fingertips’ Jeremy Schlosberg
Waxahatchee – “Silver”
“A relatively simple tune, with a verse that employs but three notes, “Silver” reverberates with understated power. Some of this comes from the relentless fuzz of the guitar, some from the simple sound of a human being at a drum kit, some from the ineffable purity of Crutchfield’s unaffected voice. Also, I am getting a particular thrill out of lyrics that manage both to puzzle and to flow, as the striking preponderance of one-syllable words lends a comfortable solidity to a song that does not reveal much direct meaning. Because of the unorthodox title choice, I can’t help hearing the line “My skin all turns silver” with extra attention, but then what? Lacking comprehensible narrative message, the phrase highlights mystery on the one hand, while feeling precise and gratifying on the other…”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
The Afghan Whigs – “Demon In Profile”
“Demon In Profile” slips in with a welcoming piano refrain that harkens back to AOR radio days (Al Stewart? Journey? something), then morphs assuredly into a midtempo rocker that’s equal parts swing and menace. Horns mix with electric guitars in a very satisfying way, undergirding melodies that feel inevitable and haunting; every section of this impressively concise song feels all but perfectly conceived. Dulli, meanwhile, sounds as in command as ever, and early on delivers the especially suggestive line “It was all that I wanted/Now it’s killing me.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Kacey Johansing – “Bow And Arrow”
“So it turns out that songs are only partly fathomable as concrete notes and words on paper. Arrangement, vibe, and quality of singing voice can transform and transport. Meaning: it’s not always what someone is saying but how they are saying it—which then feeds back (crucially, alchemically) into what they are saying. That’s the magic of song, pretty much. Kacey Johansing has a firm grip on this magic.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com