Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, "Galactic Emergence" (Drag City). Former Stereolab chanteuse and Monade leader Sadier rarely strays from her main modes, but when they're this pretty and sophisticated, why should she? When she's not in peppy motorik or bossa-nova guises, she's usually in light-hearted, melancholy ballad form—as is the case with "Galactic Emergence," off the new Find Me Finding You. The song oozes Gallic charm and elegant ennui, giving you a French bliss right on your heartstrings.
Sleaford Mods, “B.H.S.” (Rough Trade). Britain's angriest band™ deliver more mordant commentary on the UK's decline with another trademark lean, swift, drum-machine and synth-bass-driven track that cuts through the crap with utmost efficiency. As always, Jason Williamson's über-working-class-bloke vocals are up front, prodding you into hyper-attentiveness. "We're going down like B.H.S. [a failed English department store]/while the able-bodied vultures monitor and pick at us/We're going down and it's no stress/a laying out for the knuckle-dragging exodus." It's a party jam, of sorts, making you dance as if you have large pebbles in your shoes. (Sleaford Mods play Neumos April 5 in support of their new album, English Tapas.)
Pharmakon, “Somatic” (Sacred Bones). One of my favorite noise artists returns with a grisly fugue of antisocial feedback off her new full-length, Contact (released today). The video perfectly captures Pharmakon's frictional spectacle of body-horror sonics. Director Latex Lucifer explained his aesthetic decisions for it: "'Somatic' is our interpretation of the mind attempting to leave its vessel. An infusion of latex, viscous fluids and bodies shown in its raw and simple form." If you listen closely, you can hear Michael Gira orgasming in the distance.
Charms, “C.O.D.” (Killroom). Seattle trio Charms are among a growing cadre of local post-punk artists creating tempestuous, tenebrous rock to reflect the perilous times in which we live. A preview from their new album Human Error (out June 16), "C.O.D." roils in primal Siouxsie & the Banshees/early-Killing Joke veins, unleashing a merciless, tolling timbral assault that's at once inspirational and doom-laden. The band told Glide magazine, “‘C.O.D. was inspired by all that is used and abused for an individual, or an entire institution, to get what they want. It’s about the means to an end. Even if the ‘means’ is the cause of death.” Tr*mp administration blues, in other words.
Actress, "X22RME" (Ninja Tune). One of the world's most intriguing electronic-music producers returns with what is for him a fairly straightforward techno banger. But because it's Actress (England's Darren Cunningham), things are still quite... off. The whole production seems coated in dream dust, as the beats hit with a muffled thwump and are slathered with sandblaster abrasion. The bleeps take on a particularly warped tone and a melancholy melody worthy of mid-'90s Autechre wafts forlornly in the distance. It ends with a 45-second spoken-word coda about language and "people collecting possessions that really don't mean anything to anybody else." This bodes well for the forthcoming AZD album, out April 14. (By the way, Actress' 2013 Decibel performance ranks as one of best and most baffling of that storied festival.)
Noteworthy March 31 album releases: Bob Dylan, Triplicate (Columbia); Goldfrapp, Silver Eye (Mute); Mastodon, Emperor of Sand (Reprise); Wire, Silver/Lead (Pinkflag); Soulwax, From Deewee (Play It Again); Julia Holter, In the Same Room (Domino); Sneaks, It's a Myth (Merge); Body Count, Bloodlust (Century Media).