Spiritualized, “I’m Your Man” (Fat Possum). The first single from Spiritualized's new album, And Nothing Hurt (out September 7), "I'm Your Man" is not a Leonard Cohen cover, but rather archetypal 21st-century Jason Pierce balladry. That means it foregrounds Pierce's fragile croon amid whisper-to-a-scream dynamics, with blaring brass and sweeping strings and strenuous guitar soloing engaging in an epic struggle between dejection and elation. The whole thing's bathed in a sanctified glow and brimming with the residual pathos that comes from a musician who's had very serious health issues and a close brush with death in the last 13 years.
Protomartyr, “Wheel of Fortune” feat. Kelley Deal (Domino). Detroit's most cantankerous post-punks come back with a bulbously powerful and simmering slab of industrial-wasteland rock, enlivened by the coolly haunting backing vocals of the Breeders' Kelley Deal. "Wheel of Fortune" recalls This Nation's Saving Grace-era Fall and New Zealand heavies Bailter Space tussling in an abandoned warehouse, with vocalist Joe Casey copping the cadence of a Rodney Dangerfield stand-up set. This instantly stakes a claim as my favorite Protomartyr song. Find it on the new Consolation E.P.
Casual Hex, “Headcase Occupant” (Water Wing). Seattle trio Casual Hex are yet another group exploring the dynamic tension inherent in post-punk, a genre that's turned out to be ideally suited to this decade's sociopolitical mood of chronic anger toward myriad injustices and dread toward looming ecological disaster. A highlight from their 2018 album Zig Zag Lady Illusion, "Headcase Occupant" captures an exhilarating sense of defiance in the face of anomie, and its woozy, descending main riff plus Erica Miller's declamatory vocals and strafing guitar textures exemplify mental turmoil under heavy pressure. You can catch Casual Hex live at Everyday Music July 26 and at the Mercer x Summit Block Party August 18.
qualchan, "the lost world (a song for davy ray callan)" (Czaszka). Local producer qualchan (aka Ryan Durfee) continues his winning streak with two more expansive, exploratory pieces that refuse to adhere to conventional notions of songwriting or ambient soundscaping. No, he's got much more interesting ideas swirling around in his head. Qualchan prefers to construct subtly shifting collages that sweep up elements of drone, exotica, pastoral folk, kosmische musik, and field recordings. "the lost world (a song for davy ray callan)" is a circuitous, eventful trip that leads to a calm satori. You can find it on the one hundred years tape from Edinburgh's Czaszka Records. qualchan performs Monday, June 18, at Hollow Earth Radio.
Mike Nyoni, “SM” (Now-Again). Egon's excellent Now-Again label delivers its second great comp of Zambian rock, Welcome To Zamrock!, revealing hidden depths of psychedelia from the African nation during the 1970s. Mike Nyoni is a new name to me, but his 1977 track "SM" clearly means I need to check out his My Own Thing LP. This Meters-like slice of precise, joyful funk puts him in the same essential echelon as fellow Zamrockers Witch, Chrissy Zebby Tembo, and Rikki Ililonga.
Noteworthy June 15 album releases: Nicki Minaj, Queen (Young Money/Cash Money); Johnny Marr, Call the Comet (New Voodoo); Buddy Guy, The Blues Is Alive and Well (Silvertone/RCA); Christina Aguilera, Liberation (RCA); Melody's Echo Chamber, Bon Voyage (Domino); Chromeo, Head over Heels (Big Beat/Atlantic); Leon Vynehall, Nothing Is Still (Ninja Tune); John Parish, Bird Dog Dante (Thrill Jockey); Stuart A. Staples, Arrhythmia (City Slang); The English Beat, Here We Go Love (Absolute/Here We Go); Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Hope Downs (Sub Pop); Gene Clark, Gene Clark Sings for You (Omnivore); Petal, Magic Gone (Run for Cover); X-Altera, X-Altera (Ghostly International); Gui Boratto, Pentagram (Kompakt); Hieroglyphic Being, The Replicant Dream Sequence (Moog Recordings Library); Tangents, New Bodies (Temporary Residence); Palberta, Roach Goin' Down (Wharf Cat).