The Breeders, "Wait in the Car" (4AD). The Breeders are back, and ready to rock you incisively and concisely. On "Wait in the Car," Kim Deal and company swagger in near-peak '90s form with a ruggedly chugging two-minute rocker that's bulging at the seams with sass. If this isn't a hit, I'll slowly shake my head in disbelief—as will Larry Mizell, Jr.
Billy Bragg, Saffiyah Smiles. Politically engaged British troubadour Billy Bragg comes correct with a churchy ballad that relates the tale of an immigrant woman of color resisting "Angry white men dressed like Elmer Fudd, shouting something about soil and blood" and "cosplay Nazis marching in file" in Birmingham, England, and hails her peaceful resistance as an exemplar for antifa. Timely and beautiful song. Watch/hear it on NPR.
Darto, “Guiding Light" (Aagoo). Seattle group Darto's remarkably diverse new album, Human Giving, ranges from lugubrious, Lambchop-like Americana to Sonic Youth in pensive-brooding mode to minimalist motorik krautrock to sublime, opiated psychedelia. The latter style's exemplified by "Guiding Light," which rides a fibrillating keyboard drone and guitars that hark back to the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the United States of America's "Hard Coming Love," as singer Candace Harter intones, "Say goodbye to all you knew/Pass out much too soon/Build a bridge inside your mind/Connect the pieces in tiiiiiimmmeee." One of the best tunes you'll hear out of Seattle this year.
Gregg Kowalsky, “L’Ambience, L’Orange” (Mexican Summer). One of America's foremost drone-sorcerers, Gregg Kowalsky (ex-Date Palms), finally ends his eight-year hiatus with a fantastic full-length on Mexican Summer, L'Orange L'Orange (out November 10). This teasing, 150-second snippet acts as a coming attraction for infinite serenity. The master drone hums like the engine of a massive plane Elon Musk might construct at his creative zenith, while over it swelling, Popol Vuh-esque keyboards cast a sacred sheen. This is very necessary healing music, and a low-key anthem of the sun.
HINTS, "Halloween" (label). Haunted Horses drummer Myke Pelly's HINTS side project returns to soundtrack your gd Halloween experience. Mercifully, it eschews typical H'ween hokiness for genuine terror and suspense—as you would expect from a member of one of Seattle's darkest post-punk bands—and practically out-Goblins Goblin. "Halloween" is gore-soaked rock of ruthless brutishness that's oddly danceable. Wonderfully ludicrous and lethal work. Word to the wise: Stock up on Depend® Diapers before listening.
Noteworthy October 6 album releases: Noel Brass Jr., Broken Cloud Orchestra (Wax Thématique; album release party today at Daybreak Records); Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, The Kid (Western Vinyl); Daphni, Joli Mai (Jiaolong); The Church, Man Woman Life Death Infinity (Unorthodox); Ducktails, Jersey Devil (New Images); Kelela, Take Me Apart (Warp); Marilyn Manson, Heaven Upside Down (Loma Vista); Liam Gallagher, As You Were (Warner Bros.); Shigeto, The New Monday (Ghostly International); TOKiMONSTA, Lune Rouge (Young Art); Wolf Parade, Cry Cry Cry (Sub Pop); Alessandro Cortini, Avanti (Point of Departure/PIAS); Andrew Hung, Realisationship (Lex); The Black Dahlia Murder, Nightbringers (Metal Blade); Deradoorian, Eternal Recurrence (Anti-); Simon Joyner, Step into the Earthquake (BaDaBing).