Deerhoof - Life is Suffering Ooooooooooh man! So GD groovy. Gotta love that that growling gnarly bass and those childlike vocals are produced by the same magical Japanese lady. Greg Saunier remains one of the best drummers in rock. Man this band is fun.
Khruangbin - Two Fish and an Elephant A lovely little gift from NPR's "Songs We Love." A '70's Thai funk inspired trio from Texas. Yeah, sure, if you say so. Such a warm sound, with guitar playing that sounds closer to Mali than Thailand. The video is really fantastic, too. (See below.)
EL VY - Are These My Jets From the ongoing "30 Songs for 30 Days" project, by Artists for a Trump-free America, which was originally intended to release a new song every day for the 30 days leading up to the election. I love how far Berninger's lyrics stray into surrealism while still channeling Trump. Actually, he's already pretty surreal. I think it's a different kind of surreal. A lot of the songs seem to be just a tad on the nose, others a little tenuous with the connection. This one hits it just right.
Kari Faux - Supplier This little gem showed up in my Spotify "Discover Weekly" playlist.
Solange - Don't Touch My Hair Likely one of the most important albums of the year, and real nice on the ears to boot. It's interesting to compare the parallel careers of Solange and her sister, who both released albums in 2016 that are largely about black pride and the empowerment of black women. With her lower pop-profile, Solange seems to be able to come at it from a sharper angle - the lyrics more plainly and assertively hew to the theme, and the music is more stripped down, much further out from the center of pop radio accessibility. Delightfully, the album still hit number 1 on the charts. A great, groovy album, stuffed to the gills with the kind of opinions and points of view on blackness that are still far too few in our mass media. Also, the videos are kind of amazing.
Amber Coffman - All to Myself Solange famously covered Dirty Projectors' "Stillness Is the Move," originally sung by Amber Coffman. (Watch DPs do a mash up of the two versions with Solange here.) Two tremendously soulful singers, coming from opposite ends of the the indy rock <--> R&B continuum. A lot has been made in the music press about the back-to-back releases of the Dirty Projectors' "Keep Your Name" (an effects-twisted break-up punch from DP leader David Longstreth, with zero evidence of Coffman) and this song of (post-break-up?) empowerment, reading the dissolution of the band in the tea leaves. That all seems plausible to me, but for one small hiccup - at a few points, if you listen real close, you can hear Longstreth singing backup (try 5:04, left ear). Who knows? Or really cares? Great song. And, regardless of the fate of the Dirty Projectors, hopefully presaging more solo stuff from Coffman.
J-Livi & The Party - I'm Drunk The lady and I went to see Lowdown Brass Band at Constellation, and this fun brass band opened up the show. I love how accurately the main riff captures the spirit of the song's title. Wobbly.
Danny Brown - Really Doe Damn, Danny Brown has created a fearless, completely singular sound on this album - building songs from sounds that convey paranoia, pain, claustrophobia, anger, and confusion while ignoring 80% of rap's unwritten rules of production. Simply, a lot of the time it sounds like Brown is rapping over music meant for another purpose. (Listen to "Golddust", which sounds like a Mr. Bungle outtake from 1993.) This track is among the most accessible on the album, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt. Regardless of the backing track, Brown dominates with his trademark nasal intensity.
Kate Tempest - Lionmouth Door Knocker The thesis statement from Tempest's recent Let Them Eat Chaos, a novelistic theme album that gets inside the heads of seven different people all awake at the same time on the same block in middle-of-the-night London. It's an impressive literary feat, paired with a similarly impressive musical achievement. Kind of like a contemporary, hip-hop version of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. Hey Nobel literature committee, now that musicians have been let into the club, maybe Tempest is next?
Moyzes Quartet - String Quartet No. 1 in E Minor (Smetana) As part of the Harris Theater's community engagement programs, the Amphion Quartet held a master class for a teen quartet at the Merit School of Music. This is the piece the impressive young players were working on - a piece which sounded pretty great the first time they played it, and got noticeably better with each bit of input from the Amphion players. I had never heard of Smetana before, but love the drama and lushness of this quartet.
Surachai - Bleeding Shadow If you can find more appropriate Halloween music, I'll eat my shoe.
The Flaming Lips - See The Leaves More freaky-deaky from the Flaming Lips' overdue return to danger. A few years old now, but I still love the viscera-rattling production, especially on the drums.