Andrew W.K., "Music Is Worth Living For" (Red Music/Sony). Some might say Andrew W.K. is more important as a life coach and philosopher than as a musician, and I wouldn't disagree with them. His overwhelming effusions about the salubrious effects of partying and maintaining a positive attitude no matter what transcend all cynicism, and the former Wolf Eyes associate's bombastic, bubblegum metal anthems almost match his inspirational messages. A ludicrous amalgam of Slade and Styx, "Music Is Worth Living For" presents an inarguable case for Andrew W.K.'s enduring relevance as a fireballing force for good in a world that seems to be decaying by the hour. And, yeah, he's still rocking the white T and white jeans. What a mensch. Here's Andrew eloquently describing the lead single off his album You're Not Alone (out March 2):
“Music Is Worth Living For" is an exaltation of my love for music itself. It’s also me pleading with myself to recognize music’s eternal power and glory, in the face of hardship and pain. The song is an effort to remind myself that life is worth living, if for no other reason than because of the beauty music conveys. Music is a mysterious phenomenon - it seems both to magically overwhelm and sublimate our suffering, but also to starkly dignify the struggles of our daily life... I truly believe that listening to music can transform you into a better person. In that way, all my songs have been me just trying to get better, trying to cheer myself up, trying to convince myself that there is hope and joy in the world no matter how dark it may seem.
Destroyer, "Stay Lost" (Merge/Dead Oceans). I'm not a major Destroyer fan, but I respect what Dan Bejar does within his chosen field of orchestral-pop. What draws me to "Stay Lost" is its aura of a lost Gary Numan or OMD B-side circa 1981. This sort of melancholy pop with a sweeping helping of self-pity bangs my nostalgia gong. And the line "Being in love is an illusion" resonates. Destroyer plays Neptune Theatre on February 8.
Chris Carter, "Blissters" (Mute). Damn, it's good to hear some solo material by Chris Carter, the synth master behind Throbbing Gristle and a key member of Chris & Cosey and Carter Tutti Void. "Blissters" comes from Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lessons Volume 1 (out March 30), his first solo release since 1999's Small Moon. It's not nearly as gruesome as much of TG's output, instead opting for a glistening, blissful ascent into spacey wonder. "Blissters" recalls that brief period in the late '80s and early '90s when acts like the Beloved and Hypnotone were generating tranquil acid house that crossed over to the indie kids. Discussing his new album, Carter told The Quietus: “If there’s an influence on [it], it’s definitely '60s radiophonic. Over the last few years I’ve also been listening to old English folk music, almost like a guilty pleasure, and so some tracks on the album hark back to an almost ingrained DNA we have for those kinds of melodies. They’re not dissimilar to nursery rhymes in some ways.”
Mega Bog, “192014” (label). Ex-Seattleite/current New Yorker Mega Bog (aka Erin Birgy) has seriously stepped up her game from the gig I caught of hers at the old Cairo spot a few years ago. Since then, her songwriting and playing have become much more authoritative and inventive. This song from her recent great album, Happy Together, is a lofty swirl of art rock, louche jazz saxophone, slinky bass probing, and chilling electronics, while her vocals carry the simmering acuity of Annette Peacock and Slapp Happy's Dagmar Krause. You can catch Mega Bog opening for Destroyer February 8 at Neptune Theatre.
Olden Yolk, "Takes One to Know One" (Trouble in Mind). I like my psychedelic folk with mellow downer vibes, hypnotic, chiming and soaring fuzz guitars, and quasi-"Funky Drummer" beats, so this jam by New York's Olden Yolk occupies my wheelhouse like it owns the place. Vocalist Caity Shaffer (aided by fellow singer/multi-instrumentalist Shane Butler) bears the stolid grace of Cate Le Bon and Circuit Des Yeux's Haley Fohr (if not the latter's range), and "Takes One to Know One" saunters into the pantheon of 21st-century epics geared for road—and drug—trips. Look for their self-titled album on February 23.
Noteworthy January 12 album releases: Mudhoney, Lie [live album] (Sub Pop) Big Star, Live at Lafayette's Music Room - Memphis, TN (Omnivore); Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures (Vagrant); Dirty Sidewalks, Bring Down the House Lights (No-Count); Zomby, Mercury's Rainbow (Modern Love); Anderson East, Encore (Atlantic); Unlikely Friends, Crooked Numbers (Swoon); Corrosion of Conformity, No Cross No Crown (Nuclear Blast); Dr. Lonnie Smith, All in My Mind (Blue Note); Camila Cabello, Camila (Epic); Børns, Blue Madonna (Interscope); Joe Satriani, What Happens Next (Legacy/Sony).