Alice Coltrane, "Om Shanti" (Luaka Bop). Luaka Bop does us a Nobel-level service by compiling some of legendary harpist/keyboardist/vocalist Alice Coltrane's post-jazz, New Age/devotional material recorded at her Sai Anantam Ashram in one easy-to-find place. On this track from World Spirituality Classics Vol. 1, the sainted Ms. Coltrane accesses the highest plane of sonic bliss and peace with "Om Shanti," a soulful chant and gently percolating percussive ceremony that moves this agnostic listener like few things on this fallen planet do. Ethereal profundity at its purest. (It's so hard to come down to reality after listening to this...)
Juliana Hatfield, "Short-Fingered Man" (American Laundromat). I've a lot of time for ruthless disses of the current White House occupant, in whatever form they happen to take. Former Blake Babies leader Juliana Hatfield comes correct here with a tightly wound power-pop ditty that alludes to presidential shortcomings in the bedroom that are a metaphor for all sorts of flaws. Some clever tech prankster should sneak this tune onto Trump's mobile listening device... Oh wait, he doesn't listen to music.
Afghan Whigs, "Oriole" (Sub Pop). It's no "Miles Iz Ded," the ultimate expression of Afghan Whigs' ragged, rugged soul-rock pathos, but "Oriole" does tap into a seductive melancholy that can sweep you away, if you let it. Off the just-released In Spades, "Oriole" sounds richly orchestral but thousands of kilometers away from Greg Dulli and company's Midwestern grunge roots. [Video is NSFW, probably, unless your workplace is cool with femme-on-femme erotica and sexy bloodspilling.]
Jürgen Müller, "Thebes Triad" (Abstrakce). Seattle synth luminary Norm Chambers has retired his Panabrite handle (what a run he had under that name), but he's not through with his German alter ego, Jürgen Müller. Here, Chambers channels his inner Haruomi Hosono and Futuro Antico, conjuring a tantalizing strain of electronic exotica that's a passport to ambrosial realms. His half of the split LP with Jonas Reinhardt contains some of Chambers's most timbrally enticing and rhythmically advanced output to date.
Juana Molina, "Paraguaya" (Crammed Discs). We just don't hear enough enchanting South American folktronica anymore. Thankfully, Argentina's Juana Molina surfaces every few years to bestow her wonderful songs of silken mystery to an undeserving public. "Paraguaya"—from her new Halo LP—is a slinky purr with subtle undercurrents of unease, a mini-tempest in a chamber-orchestra teapot. If this burgundy beauty of a tune doesn't give you shivers, I will slowly shake my head in disbelief.
Noteworthy May 5 album releases: Alice Coltrane, World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda (Luaka Bop); Blondie, Pollinator (BMG); Slowdive, Slowdive (Dead Oceans); Jesu/Sun Kil Moon, 30 Seconds to the Decline of Planet Earth (Caldo Verde); At the Drive-In, in•ter a•li•a (Rise); Juana Molina, Halo (Crammed); Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Best Troubadour (Drag City); Joan Shelley, Joan Shelley (No Quarter); Carl Craig, Versus (Infine); Wooden Wand, Clipper Ship (Three Lobed); Moon Duo, Occult Architecture, Vol. 2 (Sacred Bones); Faust, Fresh Air (Bureau B); Perfume Genius, No Space (Matador); Afghan Whigs, In Spades (Sub Pop); Brother Ali, All the Beauty in This Whole Life (Rhymesayers).