SOPHIE, “Faceshopping” (Transgressive). If this is what the cool kids are listening to now, then high 5s all around. "Faceshopping" recalls the late-'90s Schematic output of Otto Von Schirach (remember that crazy dude?), an electro/IDM maverick whose slapstick sound-design genius almost rivaled Squarepusher and Richard Devine's. Scotland-born/LA-based producer SOPHIE is transgender, and the lyrics for this song dance around the vagaries of identity and authenticity: "My face is the front of shop/My face is the real shop front/My shop is the face I front/I'm real when I shop my face/Artificial bloom/Hydroponic skin/Chemical release/Synthesize the real/Plastic surgery/Social dialect/Positive results/Documents of life." The twisted-metal/car-crash timbres and brutal, splenetic beats contrast with SOPHIE's deadpan-to-super-emotive-diva vocals, creating a paradoxical frisson. "Faceshopping" appears on the album Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, which came out last week.
Low, Double Negative Triptych (Sub Pop). Forget 99 percent of everything you know about Low. These three new tracks—"Quorum," "Dancing and Blood," and "Fly"—explore some grainy, glitchy sonic territory that's more Autechre- and Warp-era Seefeel-indebted than their usual slowcore balladeering of intimate grandiosity. There are moments here that even hint at Porter Ricks-style heroin-house—which makes a sideways kind of sense, as that German duo remixed Low's "Down" back in 1998. But don't fear: Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk are still singing in their endearing, woebegone manner. It's just that their forlorn voices are now swathed in alien and alienating electronic textures, and that may take some adjusting for veteran Low fans. But it'll be worth the effort in the long run. Change, in this case, is very good.
Sneaks, “PBNJ” (Merge). It's official: Sneaks is my favorite artist on Merge Records right now. With "PBNJ," Washington DC-based one-woman band Eva Moolchan keeps bringing the low-key, minimalist-pop charm from her It's a Myth album. The song slinks across your consciousness like a jaunty Young Marble Giants, a paradox that sounds extremely fresh in 2018. Post-punk revivalism doesn't always have to be angsty and angular; sometimes it can thrive as a wispy, introverted species of pop, especially when a buoyant bass line takes the lead role like a boss. ¡Viva Sneaks!
Shitty Person, “Butthole” (Svart). The lead track from Shitty Person's debut LP, Judgement, "Butthole" trudges with the morose, methodical determination of early Swans, but suffuses the air around your head with a melody of anguished beauty, augmented by Skerik's raspily woozy saxophone. Gothic elements creep into the mix, but not in any corny way. This is the new project of drummer/guitarist/vocalist Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy, who's accrued a heady discography with Lesbian, Fungal Abyss, and blouse(usa). He says that Shitty Person's music deals with "religious trauma, self-hatred & counterproductive self-reflection." Michael Gira would be proud. On "Butthole," Thomas-Kennedy and his band mates (including ex-Rose Windows vocalist Rabia Shaheen Qazi, Diminished Men/Master Musicians of Bukkake drummer Dave Abramson, and fellow members of Lesbian and Fungal Abyss) keep things stoic and magnificently lumbering. You can check out Judgement here.
Elkhorn, “Lion” (Eiderdown). Elkhorn have been making some of the most satisfying American cosmic music of recent times. Consisting of Jesse Sheppard on acoustic guitar and Drew Gardner on electric guitar, they weave their contemplative spangles and idyllic fingerpicked figures into skeins of pastoral bliss. Time slows and dilates under the sensitive pluckings of these two masters of six-string mesmerism. "Lion" is one of two epic jams on the Lionfish cassette, which is one of the strongest releases on Adam Svenson's consistently great Seattle label Eiderdown.
Noteworthy June 22 album releases: Nine Inch Nails, Bad Witch (The Null Corporation); Kamasi Washington, Heaven and Earth (Young Turks); Death Grips, Year of the Snitch (Death Grips); Best Coast, Best Kids; Gang Gang Dance, Kazuashita (4AD); The Orb, No Sounds Are Out of Bounds (Cooking Vinyl); Gnod, Chapel Perilous; Bebe Rexha, Expectations (Warner Bros.); Arp, Zebra (Mexican Summer); 4th Movement, The 4th Movement (Drag City/Tryangle); Garbage, Version 2.0 [20th Anniversary Edition] (Play It Again Sam); Tissue, A Pick of Twins with Matching Dogs (Reefers); MC Paul Barman, (((echo chamber))) (Mello Music Group); Hamish Kilgour, Finklestein (Ba Da Bing); Proud Parents, Proud Parents (Dirtnap); Freddie Gibbs, FREDDIE; Skygreen Leopards, The Jingling World of the Skygreen Leopards (Soft Abuse).