Widowspeak – Almanac (Captured Tracks; 2013)
Almanac is an eclectic combination of songs fit for an adventure movie montage — with strong, clear riffs, infectious and tumultuous beats and hazy vocals. This is most clearly displayed in “Dyed in the Wood,” four minutes of raw inspiration, more invigorating than that early morning double-shot espresso on the way to school (you know what I’m talking about).
The impressive thing is, the Brooklyn-based duo manages to create such powerful tracks without any overkill whatsoever; no repetition, no tortuously catchy songs, no impression of trying too hard.
The album is assertive, not aggressive, and the end result is soft pop with a hazy, folky spirit. In regular indie fashion, the group artfully compiled one of the best albums I’ve seen in almost a year and seems to pass it off as no big deal.
Trial Track: “Thick as Thieves”
– Victoria Kendrick
Sean Lennon – Alter Egos [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] (Chimera Music; 2013)
Premiered last summer as an “official selection” from Montreal’s International Fantasia film festival, the soundtrack to the indie superhero satire film, Alter Egos, was composed by Sean Lennon (only son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono).
Boasting a definite sense of humour, the score to Alter Egos blends sweeping orchestral arrangements, surf rock and the nostalgia of classic superhero themes.
Tracks like “My Hero” feature a Hawaiian-style ‘50s doo-wop, while “The Killer” and “Hampty Hamps” create a film noir-ish atmosphere of danger.
Despite the grandiose sound of the film’s soundtrack, Lennon recorded all the instrumentation himself, using his computer to create the symphonic flourishes.
With limited film scoring experience, Lennon found the experience liberating: “Your path is made clear. You just focus on the scene and what works and not worrying about your feelings,” he said.
Trial Track: “My Hero (Ft. Karla Moheno)”
– Paul Traunero
Solange – True EP (Terrible Records, 2013)
True, released digitally in November, deviates from Solange’s previous releases, the poppy Solo Star from 2003 and the Motown Sound-inspired Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams from 2008.
True is neo-soul, R&B goodness that, hopefully, is a preview of what’s to come for Solange’s next full-length album, slated for later this year.
True’s standout tracks “Losing You,” “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work,” “Lovers In The Parking Lot” and “Don’t Let Me Down” — but seriously, all seven songs on True are great — highlight everything that’s right with the EP and Solange’s music: upbeat, bold and sometimes-catchy melodies, but with dark and deeply personal lyrics about relationships, life, love and loss of love.
Trial track: “Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work”
– Chris Hanna
Get ready to fly away into an electro-ambient parallel music universe. Los Angeles-based electronic musician Jason Chung, a.k.a. Nosaj Thing, releases his latest album, Home, on Jan. 22.
Nosaj’s music infuses his musical influences – from hip-hop, to electronic, to glitch — into a treat that’s hard to resist.
Home adds a new element to the ambient blend when he brings in Toro Y Moi to record the song “Try” and Blonde Redhead vocalist Kazu Makino for “Blue/Eclipse.”
Some of the notable tracks include the melodic, trance-y beats of “Tell” and the catchy, digitally flavored, urban-esque feel of “Snap”.
But with all that said, to embrace Home is to listen to it intimately with your headphones on when you close your eyes. Let Nosaj’s music gently take you in for a one-of-a-kind joy ride. Ambient. Refreshing. Lovely. No kidding, really.
Trial track: “Blue/Eclipse”
– Saturn De Los Angeles