SassyBlack, “Games” (self-released via Bandcamp). The new track by Seattle's eminent SassyBlack (the lead-off from New Black Swing, out June 23), "Games" features the former THEESatisfaction vocalist/MC luxuriating in celestial-soul ballad mode, her silky delivery laden with a mixture of eros and gentle heartbreak. The beats are splenetic and oblongly funky, contrasting with the sumptuous synth atmosphere. Neo-R&B gets its wings in SassyBlack's hands.
Thomas Andrew Doyle, “Bio-Illogical Functions” (Yuggoth). Wrap your head around this: local charismatic musician/producer Thomas Andrew Doyle—the man mountain you know and love as the guttural leader of metallic marauders TAD and Brothers of the Sonic Cloth—is about to drop an album of phenomenal, abyssal soundtrack-like instrumentals on an unsuspecting planet. This track comes from Incineration Ceremony (out May 16), and it sounds more like Ennio Morricone at his creepiest rather than anything you'd read about on MetalSucks. Cantankerous piano clusters spar with dripping-icicle high notes and sporadic kick-drum explosions, all keeping you on a glorious knife-edge of anticipation and dread. Straight up, Incineration Ceremony is one of the biggest and best surprises of the year, and if it doesn't lead to Doyle getting some legit film-scoring gigs, I'll emit some very loud tsk-tsks.
faUSt, “Lights Flickr” (Bureau B). Perhaps the last of the original wave of krautrock legends standing (albeit in much-altered form, with only bassist/vocalist Jean-Hervé Peron and drummer Zappi Diermaier from the classic '70s lineup intact), faUSt continue to grind out interesting music well into their 46th year of existence (not counting a 15-year hiatus). The new Fresh Air live album—recorded in various US cities—abounds with rough-hewn, mantric rock workouts that bristle with enough auxiliary activity to keep you riveted. "Lights Flickr" summons a fierce momentum, its motorik/No Wave fusion blowout topped by stern and panicky Sprechstimme by Barbara Manning (28th Day, World of Pooh, SF Seals, the 6ths, etc.).
Saint Etienne, “Magpie Eyes” (Heavenly). One of Britain's most reliable makers of yearning pop over the last quarter century, Saint Etienne return with another casual charmer off their new Home Counties album. "Magpie Eyes" moves at a stately electro-dance gait, somewhere between Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Julia's Song" and Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express." The tune just soars with unparalleled, cotton-candied grace. Sarah Cracknell's voice is a wonder of airy, cool passion; never a belter, she's always been one of the world's most sublime coo-ers. And she's lost none of this skill over the last 26 years.
Moor Mother & Mental Jewelry, “Hardware” (Don Giovanni). Philadelphia's Moor Mother (aka Camae Ayewa) has emerged as one of America's most compelling musicians over the last few years. She combines relentless railing against racial and social injustices with radically inventive electronic genre mutations of rap, dubstep, and isolationist ambient. The lead cut off her Crime Waves EP with Mental Jewelry, "Hardware" recalls the sludgy hiphop of New Kingdom and clipping. and the seething, low-frequency pressure of the Bug. It's hard to discern what Moor Mother's rapping about over the grotesquely distorted production, but it appears to be a vicious takedown of culture vultures and police brutality—and it's bracing. I advise you to keep a close watch on everything this woman does.
Noteworthy May 12 album releases: GAS, Narkopop (Kompakt); Kendrick Lamar, The Takeover (Blackstar); Todd Rundgren, White Knight (Cleopatra); Girlpool, Powerplant (Anti-); Danzig, Black Laden Crown (Evilive/Nuclear Blast); Paul Weller, A Kind Revolution (Parlophone); Harry Styles, Harry Styles (Columbia); B.o.B., Ether (No Genre); Carl Craig, Versus (InFiné); Pond, The Weather (Marathon Artists); PWR BTTM, Pageant (Polyvinyl); Vatican Shadow, Rubbish of the Floodwaters (Ostgut Ton)