You can thank the month of May for all kinds of things: Leaks in your roof, short skirts, excuses to get wasted (yes, this one occurs every month), but please don't forget to thank it for being one of the best music months of the year, to date. Gang Gang Dance, Liturgy, Psychedelic Horseshit all dropped important releases while the world got to know the likes of Co La, Cankun, and EMA much better than before.
Best album of May 2011
Gang Gang Dance, Eye Contact (4AD)
The massive 11-plus minute opening track “Glass Jar” goes all Jean Michel-Jarre over an opening statement “I can hear everything, it's everything time,” which could be taken literally: the band that blew minds with St. Dympha and God's Money is at the height of their aural powers and Eye Contact is a definitive statement of what is already a pivotal band. (Read our interview with front woman Lizzi Bougatsos here.)
The best music of May 2011
Young Montana?, Limerence (Alpha Pup)
Young Montana? might appear to be uncertain about his own moniker, but the ambivalence stops there as his Alpha Pup debut is one of the strongest beat fushion records we've heard in some time.
Monster Rally, Deep Sea (Gold Robot)
The EP is decidedly more 'beat heavy' than his previous releases, but stays true to the glittering island wonder that brought us all in the first place. The track “Siberian Girls” is an entrancing take on dance music with mesmerizing drums and colored with Hawaiian guitars. Other tracks take their inspiration from calypso and surf pop, island hopping from one of Feighan's summery daydreams to the next.
Night People Comp, Deluxe Double Fold
Starring Dirty Beaches, Ela Orleans, and a slew of others who are killing it. This summer compilation from the good people at Night People Records can do no wrong. Label head Shawn Reed has always been a fantastic cobbler of digital samplers (See Cola Heavy Nights) but this latest crop of upcoming releases from the Iowa City label is its greatest yet.
Teebs, “Pretty Poly” A subsect of beat theorists are applying their greenthumbs to the cultivate nutrients from an untapped soil, which is pushing beat music into deceptively organic trends. Artists like Teebs and Shlohmo are the anti-thesis of the warbled aggression that makes LET monthlies a partier's premo destination.
Ela Orleans, NEO PI-R (Clan Destine Records)
Ela Orleans make a blizzard of skipping record/digital clip noises into a feather bed for her playful one-sample song “Living World”, and extends and expands her signature sonic playfulness on this new tape.
Nigeria 70: Sweet Times (Strut)
Duncan Brooker chimed in his personally crate dig history for five of the tracks on the third chapter in his ongoing importation of classic Nigerian music from the 70s, here.
Caddywhompus, The Weight EP
The collection of four songs congeal into a mass of schizoid structural fades and plenty of distorted bombast with no center of gravity and rays of guitar shredding haphazardly in all directions.
Ken Seeno, Open Window (WTR CLR) and Invisible Surfer On An Invisible Wave (NNA Tapes)
Open Window finds the Ponytail guitarist exploring vastly different and more cavernous avenues than his other endeavors. Ken fills these empty spaces with simple and and hypnotic beats, experimental melodies, and entrancing synths fit for the cosmos. Invisible Surfer On An Invisible Wave drifts and dashes through salt water and curling waves that could only exist in some sort of unobtainable fantasy land.
Long Long Long, Who The Fuck Said Family Ain't Family No More
This Halifax-based jangly experimental indie group have songs that kind of sound like DD/MM/YYYY slowed down by 80%. True to their name, the cassette title goes on for a while.
TV Carnage and DJ Teenwolf, Let's Work It Out: The Mixtape (TV Carnage)
Former member of Ninjasonik DJ Teenwolf and co-conspirator TV Carnage just assembled a forty minute mash-up of found-footage workout video that's primed for the kind of workouts that swap vodka for gatorade and white powder that's not for doing gymnastic tricks. Key aerobic phrases trickle into the mix (“Buttocks… buttocks… buttocks”), while we're left to ponder which came first, Italo Disco, or these aerobic vids?
Alpha MC, Beat The Skin
Alpha breaks his album silence with the Beat The Skin EP, a 7-song EP produced entirely by Duke Westlake, an alter-ego from a known electro-producer in LA. Beat The Skin kicks in the door with “Still Bangin',” which knocks hard with the punched-in assistance of M.O.P. and Rakim samples. The affirmations of legends is far from the focus, Alpha holds his own on the track for a banging reintroduction.
Jay Reatard, Teenage Hate/Fuck Elvis Here Deluxe Reissue (Goner)
Reatard's first full length LP Teenage Hate – released in 1998 got the reissue yesterday. The double release also included Fuck Elvis Here's the Reatards, a bonus record of early material previously only released on cassette, as well as covers of The Beatles, Fear, and Buddy Holly, among others. It provides a fascinating glimpse into Reatard's raw talent and invention preceding his rise to success and his recent tragic and untimely passing.
Baltimore: Spring 2011 Mixtape (Friends Records)
All of the songs originated in Baltimore. Most of the tracks are from this year, some are from prior, and a few are to be found on future releases.
Tonstartssbandht, Now I Am Become (Arbutus) The brother duo continue to expand their rock chops and their holier than most vocal harmonics on their latest release, which includes “Orange Miss You”, a succinct synthesis of those two polar influence on their sound.
Tera Melos, “Echo on the Hills of Knebworth”
What starts as a caterwauling mess of guitar and drum noise lasts for about 8 minutes and starts materializing into actual full-blooded synthesis with four or five cresting attacks and recessions for the next 40 on this massive improv session the band used to fill up their surplus studio time after recording Patagonian Rats.
Beko DSL/SVN SNS Records Compilation
Beko DSL and recently labeled SVN SNS records joined up for a comp of artists that put a pretty definitive stamp on new darkwave (Both are French, after all).
Maker & Joe Beats, Falcon By Design (Fieldwerk Recordings)
Another riveting split producer LP from one of Chi-town's dopest hip hop labels. Both producers are responsible for some of the finest produced records to come out of the early Aughts underground hip hop movement and the new outing doesn't disappoint.
Malibu Wands, Malibu Hounds (Self-release)
The artist formerly known as Pink Priest drops another volume of radio static and trundling forms passing slowly through the tracks under his moniker Malibu Wands. The pieces, which are apparently “four takes on the same track,” are more like long-form excursions into the depths of textural exploration, as they range from nine to over twenty minutes.
Cankun, Ethiopian Dreams (Hands in the Dark)
A side-wack to the head from Archers by the Sea guru Vincent Caylet. Think of Ethiopian Dreams as a chorus of guitars that specialize in sparkly hi-end fragments and tell tale elements of drug music: shimmering psych texture, odd harmonic sense, gently lilting beats looping ad infinitum.
Natural Child, 1971 (Infinity Cat Recordings)
Natural Child do the best job I've heard of getting stoner rock to put down the bong, and get off the couch to make a bunch of jams that conjure up thoughts of everything from Thin Lizzy to Billy Childish.
The People's Temple, Sons of Stone (Hozac)
These Michigan loners seem to get that psych music doesn't necessarly mean peace and love posturing. It's bored kids making loud music just like other luminaries from their state, The Stooges, MC5, and The Gories.
Co La, Dial Tone Earth (Friends Records)
A whirlwind of deconstructed dub, pop, soul, and everything else — this is the type of album you bring to an intergalactic dance hall. Shiny melodies cascade over zonked-out and repetitive rhythms which then transforms into something you'd swear that you've heard before, only it has yet to exist in this universe.
Liturgy, Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey)
Brooklyn's black metal quartet refined the genre-busting statement of Renihilation into a thoughtfully produced, riveting expansion of their signature combination of pain-stakingly wrought structure with out-sized bombast and explosives. No face paint.
EMA, Past Life Martyred Saints
Once upon a time there was a girl vs. boy driven west coast 'noise pop' band that actually filled the shoes of such a stratifying, silly genre-modifier as that, conjoining elaborate structure and blissfully unhinged texture. We said goodbye to Gowns nearly a year ago. Erika Anderson's EMA project rises from the ashes, pretty ebulliently
Psychedelic Horseshit, Laced
The ever hazy and shifting identity of Psychedelic Horseshit took another unexpected turn, this time in the form of… structure? Laced is a cleaner, far more electronic sound than their previous work. Recorded in basements and living rooms on reel-to-reel, the Columbus duo kept their lo-fi aesthetic while breaking new ground in the style department.
Longevity, Tantrum EP (Decon)
Fresh Daily is always eager to show love to the Blowedian family, from the earliest of generations to the newest graduates. Its most forward thinking active members, such as Open Mike Eagle, Nocando and Busdriver, have their hands in the putty constantly shifting our understanding of hip hop music. Longevity presents himself as more a focused purist. His gruff voice maintains a hypnotic rhythm that's reminiscient of some of Method Man's more inspired moments in the '90s.