Gwenno, "Hunros" (Heavenly). Trish Keenan's 2011 death and the resultant dissolution of the fantastic British hauntological-pop group Broadcast left a huge void in the musical landscape that a few artists have tried to fill. The latest and perhaps most rewarding of these acts is Gwenno, a Welsh singer-songwriter and former member of the Pipettes who sings with a Keenan-esque grace and melancholy that resonates profoundly with a certain kind of aesthete prone to black turtlenecks and existentialist literature. "Hunros" is the most Broadcast-like cut from Gwenno's new album, Le Kov. Created in conjunction with Rhys Edwards, it's a glistening jewel of meditative enchantment, suspended in air like a mobile made out of angel wings and inconsolable sadness. It wouldn't sound out of place on Roy Budd's score for Get Carter.
Yo La Tengo, "For You Too" (Matador). One gets the feeling that if Yo La Tengo ever decided to call it quits, the world would end. We need these New Jersey indie-rockers to keep on keepin' on with their mildly uplifting, post-third-album-Velvet Undergroundisms to help us maintain a sense of continuity and stability in this unpredictable and unstable world, damn it. "For You Too"—off their new, Sly Stone-taunting There's a Riot Going On album—does what you want Yo La fuggin' Tengo to do, world without end, amen: chug with sluggish, "What Goes On" propulsion; be adorned with plangent guitar spangulation; lull you with gentle Ira Kaplan crooning; and throw in an artfully warped, fuzz-toned bass foundation underneath it all. Yo La Tengo—the music world's indomitable cozy blanket.
Erik Blood, "The Future Was Here" (self-released). Stranger Genius Erik Blood's move to LA hasn't halted his Seattle association at all, as this new posse cut proves. The multi-instrumentalist/producer tapped several local luminaries—including Shabazz Palaces' Ishmael Butler, Tacocat's Emily Nokes, Dust Moth/Nearby's Irene Barber, OCnotes, and Stas THEE Boss—to help him produce a mongrel track that encompasses rap, progressive R&B, and bulbous funk. The hook is wonderfully strange and beautiful, with the women doing most of the heavy emotional lifting in a song that sensuously espouses an anti-weapon ethos. Stas and Adra Boo take the song to the finish line, rapping, "Carry the torch to the capitol/Put you on blast and we laugh at you/Flash like a camera do/Take all your guns and we melt them and wear them as fashionable"—amid crazy cymbal splashes. The message is all-too-relatable in the ongoing age of NRA-sponsored American carnage.
Jo Passed, "MDM" (Sub Pop). Anybody else notice that this decade has been littered with Breeders epigones? I thought so. To be sure, there are worse bands to be exerting a vast influence on the music biz, but the phenomenon mainly reinforces how special Kim Deal and company have been for a quarter century. All that being said, Jo Passed handle the comparison with panache. "MDM" possesses excellent soft/hard and quiet/loud dynamics, and attractively cantankerous guitar tones. And I'm a sucker for an androgyne who sings deadpan sotto voce amid clangorous chaos, as Jo Hirabayashi does here. I have a feeling this tune is going to burn the college radio charts to a cinder. "MDM" will appear on Their Prime, out May 25.
Aïsha Devi, “Inner State of Alchemy” (Houndstooth). Switzerland's Aïsha Devi combines angelic, otherworldly vocal acrobatics with electronic-music productions that rarely do the expected thing, but instead, opt for angular convolutions that intrigue like a walk in a gleaming labyrinth. "Inner State of Alchemy"—the debut single from her second album, DNA Feelings, out May 11—thrusts you into a futuristic beatscape whose claustrophobia-inducing bass pressure and array of ballistic percussion are cushioned by Devi's phenomenally emotive and gorgeous vocals. Sounds like a hit—on an undiscovered planet.
Noteworthy March 2 album releases: The Breeders, All Nerve (4AD); Andrew W.K., You're Not Alone (BEE & EI); Moaning, Moaning (Sub Pop); Lucy Dacus, Historian (Matador); Gwenno, Le Kov (Heavenly); Anna Von Hausswolff, Dead Magic (City Slang); Joan Baez, Whistle Down the Wind (Concord); Moby, Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt (Little Idiot); Titus Andronicus, A Productive Cough (Merge); Tracey Thorn, Record (Merge); UB40, A Real Labour of Love (UMG); Suuns, Felt (Secretly Canadian); Prism Tats, Mamba (Anti-); Superorganism, Superorganism (Domino); Cut Chemist, Die Cut (A Stable Sound); Sonny Smith, Rod for Your Love (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch); Buffalo Tom, Quiet and Peace (Schoolkids); Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, Black Times (Strut); The Men, Drift (Sacred Bones); Ed Schrader's Music Beat, Riddles (Carpark); Dick Stusso, In Heaven (Hardly Art); Jack DeJohnette/Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock, After the Fall (ECM).