Listening Notes, Ultra-Brief (pt. 7)


PICKS

Sons & Daughters, Mirror Mirror

Comparing this Glasgow outfit to X isn’t lazy, it’s damn near unavoidable. But while the boy-girl vocal tradeoffs do suggest John and Exene, a warm Scottish burr coats this fourth full-length, which fully trades folk atmospherics for echoed 80s indie raunch. Hands-on producer: one-half of electronic outfit Optimo. Which means this rocks, but also grooves. 

Washed Out, Within And Without

Accusations of Ernest Greene’s synthesizer project “going mainstream” needn’t worry normal folks like us – near as I can tell, he’s just streamlined his melodies a bit and toned down the grime from earlier EPs. Could even be a guitar album. Synth-pop in which the pop is as important as the synths? How radical. Or is that centrist?

NEAR PICKS

Soft Metals, Soft Metals

An innocent bystander asked if this was Depeche Mode, which is either high praise or a diagnosis. A few too many lengthy instrumental workouts do eventually take their toll, but this Portland, OR-based romantic duo embrace warmth and (surprise surprise) human relationships far more than their many chillwave contemporaries. Plus, “Voices” is a standout single – another distinguishing characteristic.

Augustus Pablo, Message Music: Augustus Pablo’s Digital Productions, 1986-1994

Pretty corny, even for Pablo, which is saying something. The high-end compression of these “digital productions” are less woodsy and primordial than classic dub, and the technology has dated some (although less than you’d suppose). But there’s something noble in the way Pablo single-mindedly pursued his beloved dub in the face of dancehall onslaught. 

BOMBS

Rahsaan Patterson, Bleuphoria

Decent guy, solid pipes, proper respect for his elders, creates something new out of “I Only Have Eyes For You”. But far too often, this dull neo-soul exercise merely plods, melodically spare and largely bereft of hooks. The big gospel moment arrives via farting synth bass and the Andrae Crouch singers. He “sits all day” on the “Mountain Top,” although he doesn’t so much take you there as drag you along.

MellowHype, BLACKENEDWHITE

Previously a free mixtape, now Fat Possum-sanctioned, this Odd Future crew’s re-release isn’t so much complex as just busy, with keyboards dominating, sometimes annoyingly so. Frank Ocean’s cameo briefly lifts proceedings. But this crew has a rep for crazy lyrics? “There’s so many hoes/In the strip club/Taking off they clothes/In the strip club” is quite the observation. And “Fuck The Police”? Come up with that one yourself, Hodgy Beats?