The New Pornographers – In The Morse Code of Brake Lights [Concord]
There’s a lot of mystery to the success of New Pornographers. I’m not speaking of their notoriety. That is easily explained by their longevity, consistency and the fact that the band, in various formations, has been made up of multiple, very highly respected songwriters, including A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar. The mystery is how they manage such a super group, competing with all those tour schedules and respective projects! To kick out an album of this quality usually takes a huge time commitment from any band. Somehow, they get it done. You can always expect a whirlwind of an album from The New Pornographers, ranging from thumping power pop to cinematic ballads to heartfelt indie rock anthems. All as impactful as the album before that and the album before that. This is a rare talent and one that deserves a throne in the echelon of indie rock gods.
-Adult Baby [Adult Baby Records]
Since the early 90s, Kazu Makino has been the ghostly voice behind the pioneering experimental dream pop group Blonde Redhead. Through breathy, lilting vocals, Makino acted as the perfect counterpoint to the band’s dissonant, angular post rock vibe. Adult Baby is Makino’s first solo outing. Immediately, you recognize this as a solo project. Where Blonde Redhead gave equal space to all instruments and vocals, Kazu put the vocals at the forefront. The music isn’t an entire departure from Blonde Redhead, but it maintains a quieter dynamic, with a lot of halting moments of space. The instrumentation is much more varied and layered. You would hope that any solo outing would be an experimentation without the limits of “the band” dictating direction and that is exactly what you get with Adult Baby. Kazu plays with orchestral arrangements, electronic composition and freedom in the vocals and lyrics, while maintaining all the elements that might have drawn you to listen to this album, in the first place.
John Coltrane – Blue World [Impulse]
I’m still trying to absorb the great gift the universe gave us with the lost Coltrane album, Both Directions at Once, when they spring another “lost” Coltrane album on us! This time in the form of a soundtrack that the classic 1964 quartet recorded for the French, Canadian director, Gilled Groulx. Legend has it the album was recorded in 3 hours with no permission or even notification to Coltrane’s label (Impulse). All myths and legends aside, what we have with Blue World is an amazing snapshot of the time right before A Love Supreme was recorded and a taste of this classic quartet in a relaxed space. One unique feature of this album is the mix. Garrison’s bass and Jone’s kick drum are more present than I’ve heard on any Coltrane albums. It ads a sort of grit to the recording and a side of this band I’ve never heard. While this might not be as thoughtful a recording as the recently released Both Directions.., it’s definitely as deserving of the elation Both Directions warranted. I don’t know why it has taken this long to start releasing these “lost” albums, but I certainly hope there are a lot more where they came from.
Lightning Dust – Spectre [Western Vinyl]
These “Five Favorites” lists will often include one album that hasn’t been released yet. This is reserved for our most anticipated releases. When we received a play copy for their upcoming October 4th release, there was that moment of excitement, having not heard from this band since 2013. Much to our delight, they’re picking up right where they left off. Lightning Dust is another group that was born out of the Vancouver Psych-Rock outfit, Black Mountain. Fans of Black Mountain will immediately recognize Amber Webber’s vocals and the band’s sound does resemble some of their more delicate moments. But, as a whole, this project comes into its own with heavy nods to shoegaze, goth-folk and the early grunge of Neil Young. That’s a recipe for a long time Stinkweeds favorite.
Bonnie Prince Billy / Bryce Dessner / Eighth Blackbird – When We are Inhuman [37d03d]
A common complaint about Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) is that it’s just so hard to keep up! This is due in part to how prolific he can be, at times, sometimes releasing more than one album a year and having consistently released an album (almost) every year since 1993. But I think this overwhelmed sense comes from the depth of his albums. His songs can carry a lot of weight and his voice certainly adds a few pounds, as well. But, on occasion, he’ll release something that explores new ground and takes us out of that gloomy headspace. This is usually when he’s collaborating with another band or project. We Are Inhuman is possibly his most experimental outfit, so far. Dessner and Eighth Blackbird ensemble take Oldham’s songs and old standards into new territory that is just on the edge of not working. But, this only serves to make the songs work harder to find that common ground that brings about those moments of cohesiveness. This is where the art happens.