What are we really to make of this incredibly odd (and pretty unfortunate) "Loutallica" happening in music history? The Velvet Underground legend has his own take: "It's maybe the best thing done by anyone, ever. It could create another planetary system. I'm not joking, and I'm not being egotistical." And buzzgirl Best Coast tweeted hers the other day: "i can not believe this is a real thing/this is the worst thing i've ever heard." While she's known to smoke quite a bit, Bethany Cosentino just might be more lucid than Reed on this one. Lulu is a car wreck that you must drive by slowly and stare at. It sounds exactly like the two very forces behind it, colliding—Reed showing up to the the studio with a book full of lyrics, and Metallica simply being Metallica as he proceeded to read it.
Portland's Blouse hit the hype cycle on a handful of shaded new wave jams, backed by some personnel crossover with Unknown Mortal Orchestra. After a promising 7" with Sub Pop last spring, the band has come back strong for a debut full-length with Captured Tracks. The peppy synths, sugary female vocals, and moody basslines will have you thinking it's 1988 and you just got heartbroken at the prom and are seeking relief via late-night, drug-fueled drive "Into Black".
Rolling Stone once called SMiLE, “the most famous unfinished album in rock & roll history.” So yeah, this is a big deal. With the blessing of (and track assembling from) Brian Wilson and surviving Beach Boys members Mike Love and Al Jardine, the original SMiLE sessions are finally seeing daylight in their originally intended form after 45 years. The two-disc box set brings some closure to the famous "lost" album, which was supposed to follow masterpiece Pet Sounds but instead got scrapped due to the band's internal struggles. Wilson himself gave it a new chapter back in 2004, and now this step is probably the right way to properly finish its story. Layered rich and brilliant, with lovably zany sound effects at every turn, SMiLE's production is right up with the all-time great records, and it stands as perhaps the last true snapshot of an incredibly innovative and sadly conflicted songwriter in full control of his craft.
New Age music in 2011 has been re-contextualized to include the concept of future-fads and technological booms as past-tense. James Ferraro is a pioneer of this sort of post-modern commentary through synthetic, micro-mastery. In a way, Far Side Virtual makes sense of Ferraro's many previous undertakings, and serves as an ideal entry-point for the casual listener, much like releases from Ariel Pink and John Maus have achieved recently. To really dive into this sort of sonic Sim City he's offering here, it's almost easier to let the press release do the talking: "Imagine modern French chamber music remixed by iPod commercials and Macbook sound effects: minimized and deconstructed into chat function sound clips, an email alert blip, a ring tone or Apple Store automated door bells."
Another Captured Tracks release this week, Total Decay finds San Fransisco industrial-gazer Luis Vasquez continuing stride. Last year's self-titled debut LP drew positive comparisons to Joy Division because of its sinister, towering intensity, and that is very much still present here. At 14 minutes, it's like getting hit with bucket of ice water—it can be felt long past its moment of impact.
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