Janelle Monáe, “Make Me Feel” (Bad Boy/WEA) The clipped rhythms, the pent-up sexual tension in the voice, the steely, Jimmy Nolen-esque guitar punctuation of the co-lead single to outstanding actor Janelle Monáe's new album, Dirty Computer, all pucker up to homage Prince's "Kiss." ("Django Jane" is the other teaser from Dirty Computer, which is a great title.) All of which is an apt foundation for the video, which celebrates omnisexual decadence in a classy manner. "Make Me Feel" is a newly minted minimalist-funk classic that's destined to be unavoidable throughout 2018, but I'm not complaining. (Dirty Computer, Monáe's third solo album, comes out April 27; it will be accompanied by a narrative film.)
Hot Snakes, "Death Camp Fantasy" (Sub Pop). No surprises here on the new single by San Diego's Hot Snakes. And that's the way you want your Hot Snakes music: concise as a motherfucker, guitars chugging masculinely in tight formation, gang vocals that make your tattoos pulsate, an Apache beat that bears down on you like a deadline. "Death Camp Fantasy" is a paragon of powerful, streamlined rock that's practically heroic in its tunnel-visioned Hot Snakes-iness. You can find it on the forthcoming Jericho Sirens LP, out March 16; it's the band's first new full-length in 14 years. Take note: Sub Pop also recently reissued Hot Snakes' three previous albums—Automatic Midnight, Suicide Invoice, and Audit in Progress.
MC Paul Barman, “leapfrog” (Mello Music Group). I'll admit I've lost track of MC Paul Barman's activities after a brief infatuation with his absurdly verbose and ridiculously clever, humorous, and horny rhyming around the time of 2000's Prince Paul-produced It's Very Stimulating and 2002's Paullelujah! Barman's profile may have diminished since then, but he's still cracking wise with a mercurial, nerdish flow over whimsical funk productions. On "leapfrog," Barman crams dozens of words into 2:43, reciting them in a motormouth deadpan, free-associating with nonsense rhymes that sometimes cohere into a revelation or a creative manifesto ("when you have a.d.d., superlyricism is something to concentrate on / everything else is too easy / you trace the flows’ progress like a little dot / it rewires / requires your brain / keeps a unique log / seek opportunities to go hard as possible / obstacles include insecurity and bad habits and autocorrect"). There's not a hook in sight, which is refreshing. You need to pop a couple of Adderalls to follow Barman's runaway train of thought, but it's worth it. Memory Man's production—a sample of generic swinging-'60s dance-party music you may have heard on an episode of The Munsters, or something—is wonderfully incongruous.
Lucrecia Dalt, “Tar” (RVNG Intl.). A Colombian producer/vocalist living in Berlin, Lucrecia Dalt has an evocative name and an even more evocative sound. She used to be a geotechnical engineer, so you know she's rigorous in the lab with her art, too. This track from her sixth album, Anticlines, instantly hooks you with a rhythm that approximates that of Timmy Thomas's "Why Can't We Live Together." But things quickly turn much stranger, as Dalt creates a hauntological soundscape of sparse, oddly tuned percussion and forlorn wisps of mystery ectoplasm, as she intones in an opiated yet rational manner, "We have touched as only atmospheres have touched." Ah, who hasn't? "Tar" halts you in your stride and suffuses your mind with odd feelings of paranoia and sensuality. Anticlines (released May 4) is my intro to Dalt's output, but digging deeper into her catalog, I've found a lot of highly rewarding works, which you can hear on her Bandcamp. And it's encouraging to note that Tune-Yards had the good sense to ask Dalt to open for her on an upcoming European tour.
Sam Gendel, “East LA Haze Dream” (Leaving). LA musician Sam Gendel's a new name to me, but one listen to his just-released album, Pass If Music, flipped my wig hard, and now I'm in contention to be his no. 1 fan. Gendel created all of the sounds on this LP with only his alto saxophone, live. But even if you don't care much about that instrument or have issues with it, Gendel will make you reassess your views. Somehow he's conjured an alternate, beatless version of Jon Hassell's Fourth World Music, generating hazy, disorienting vistas that make you feel as if you're dreaming into being a ceremony happening in a place whose name you can't pronounce. “East LA Haze Dream” embodies Pass If Music's incomparable sense of alien drift and tranquil unease. It's paradoxical and paradisiacal in a way that very little music is anymore. Somebody in Seattle please book Sam Gendel. TIA.
Noteworthy February 23 album releases: Fever Ray, Plunge (Rabid); Keiji Haino/Sumac, American Dollar Bill—Keep Facing Sideways, You're Too Hideous to Look At Full On (Thrill Jockey); Black Milk, Fever (Mass Appeal); Sam Gendel, Pass If Music (Leaving); Screaming Females, All at Once (Don Giovanni); Dedekind Cut, Tahoe, (Kranky); S. Carey, Hundred Acres (Jagjaguwar); Dessa, Chime (Doomtree); Matthew Shipp, Sonic Fiction (ESP-Disk); Go-Kart Mozart, Mozart's Mini-Mart (West Midlands); Altered Images, The Epic Years (Cherry Red); The Skull Defekts, The Skull Defekts (Thrill Jockey); Bert Jansch, A Man I'd Rather Be, Pt. 2 (Earth); Femi Kuti, One People One World (Knitting Factory); Holly Miranda, Mutual Horse (Dangerbird); Elephant9, Greatest Show on Earth (Rune Grammofon); El Perro Del Mar, We Are History (The Control Group).