Four New Albums To Check Out (June)
This June has been a pretty fruitful month for new releases, so you’d be excused if you missed out on some of the new music coming out this month. Here are four that I think are worth a listen.
The dB’s: Falling Off The Sky
Falling Off The Sky is the first album from the original lineup of The dB’s. The North Carolina band’s first two albums — Stands for Decibels and Repercussion were power pop classics, after which Christ Stamey left the band. Falling Off The Sky is, for better and worse, clearly the work of a more mature band than those albums. While The dB’s can’t match the excitement and energy of their more youthful efforts, they have put together a fine album of well-crafted pop songs. Christ Stamey and Peter Holsapple still have a way with a hook.
Wait, didn’t Guided By Voices just release an album? Yeah, this is actually Guided By Voices’ second album this year (and second from the reunited, classic lineup of the band) — yet somehow it’s a marked improvement over Let’s Go Eat The Factory. Robert Pollard is a man that, by his own estimation, can sit on the toilet and write three songs so that’s part of the explanation. At least one of these songs has been around a little while, too: the title track appeared on Suitcase 3. What’s often lost in the face of Pollard’s genius is that in the band’s classic incarnation the band had two great songwriters, Pollard and guitarist Tobin Sprout. Sprout’s contributions here are all great, you could even make the argument he outshines Pollard on this album. Ultimately Class Clown Spots A UFO sounds more like a classic GBV album than anything released under the Guided By Voices moniker in a long time.
Spaceghostpurpp: Mysterious Phonk
Not all the new music this month is from reunited bands. Mysterious Phonk is Spaceghostpurpp’s debut album and the first ever hip-hop released on the 4AD label, which should give you a hint as to what the production is like. Spaceghostpurpp is a much better producer than rapper and the first thing you notice are the freshness of his stripped-down yet atmospheric beats. His immaturity on the mic leads to several embarrassing misses full of misogyny, like “Suck A Dick 2012″ and “Grind on Me.” When he stays out of his own way, like on the stellar opening trio of tracks (“Mystikal Maze,” “Bringing The Phonk,” and “Osiris of the East”), Spaceghost’s hazy, occasionally angular beats prove mesmerizing. While you won’t want to listen to this one all the way through, the highlights are well worth the price of admission.
The Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made The Radio
After an introduction calling to mind some of the band’s more interesting 70s output, the title track is a bit of a (cheesy) disappointment. To be honest, most of this album isn’t that good. But it’s a real (as in with Brian Wilson) new Beach Boys release, which makes it at least worth a listen for historical reasons. And then, if you stick around for the whole thing, The Beach Boys surprise you with a sequence of good songs to close the album. Actually you might just want to skip from “Think About The Days” to “Strange World” and skip all the bad stuff. Pet Sounds it isn’t, but it’s sure a lot better than “Kokomo.” The highlight is definitely the short “Pacific Coast Highway.”
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