Lil BabyHarder Than Ever

Every summer, Drake makes a point to collaborate with the hottest talent emerging from the South, giving new artists a rocket onto the charts and garnering a lil extra street cred for Toronto’s biggest export. For most, Drizzy’s latest studio collab “Yes Indeed” will be the first time they hear Lil Baby, but veterans of Atlanta’s strip club circuit have been bumping “My Dawg” since it hit the poles in 2017. Lil Baby reportedly went to high school with Young Thug, and is the latest recruit on the Quality Control roster – curated by industry veterans Coach K and Pee, who are responsible for building the careers of artists like Migos and Lil Yachty. Always seen with a stack of money, Lil Baby’s earning his keep in the streets with songs like “Throwing Shade” with fellow ATL native Gunna, “Transporter” with Migos’ Offset and “Right Now” with Young Thug. The album’s highlight, “Life Goes On” proves Lil Baby can make a move from the club to radio. His distinctive voice does sound a little bit like a baby singing sweet nothings via Auto-Tune in your ear. It blends nicely with Lil Uzi Vert’s verse and production from Quay Global. Other studio magicians like Wheezy, London on Da Track, and a producer who inspired the lead single, “Southside” have created the new sound of Atlanta’s streets. Harder Than Ever could be a 2018 dope boy anthem. | Quality Control Music

If you like: Derez De’Shon, Moneybagg Yo, Migos

J Boogie

 

Various Artists Tricatel XX

Next time you need something “foolproof cool” to throw on at a party, grab for something from the lush garden of composer, producer, record label owner and timelessly sexy French artist Bertrand Burgalat. Burgalat’s music occupies a spot on the shelf between Serge Gainsbourg’s amorous spoken word and Air’s coldly hip “Sexy Boy” (which he remixed to critical acclaim in 1998). His sonic presence transforms any space into a French nouvelle vague cinema set. The formula: whisper-soft vocals accompanying sophisticated tonal and melodic arrangements, then add basslines with a bedroom groove; the sum total of which amounts to an unmistakably French sound. Though his own body of work over the past two decades is fascinating in and of itself, the 2015 compilation of artists from his label, Tricatel XX, is a good place to start exploring the wider world of modern avant-garde French pop. Artists such as April March carry on the Francoise Hardy lineage of frank, girlish songwriting, while outsider Quebecois singer Jef Barbara summons vintage garage rock and ‘70s era Brian Eno. The collection feels like a superbly curated gallery show where every piece is held together by a great concept umbrella, translucent until seen as a whole. Though in general, the vibe is silk-in-space mellow, dissonant bursts of experimental composition and psychedelic rock dalliances add just enough “je ne sais quoi” to keep the party lit. | Tricatel

If you like: Serge Gainsbourg, Air, Ladytron, Brigitte Fontaine, April March, Daft Punk

Lisa Light

 

GasRausch

After taking a break for close to two decades, Wolfgang Voigt returns with his second album as Gas in a little over a year. With a brand new Gas record we’re once again reminded that rarely has a musician’s chosen moniker so perfectly and succinctly encapsulated their sound. A sonic and spiritual continuation of 2017’s Narkopop, Rausch continues the transformation of Voigt’s gaseous ambient minimalism into something even more rarefied and resplendent. Rausch is a single sprawling song-suite that opens with that classic Gas sound, evoking an impossibly sun-dappled, sylvan dance floor, with ghostlike melodies and muted reverberations wreathed in a glimmering patina of crackle and hiss. This dreamlike ambience is underpinned by blurred streaks of lush chordal thrum and flecked with slippery backwards melodies and a light dusting of programmed cymbal sizzle. However, it doesn’t take long before a distant, Bernard Herrmann-esque high end klaxon signals the emergence of a ribcage-rattling primal throb, at which point Rausch’s Pop ambience is transformed into a chain reaction of grim propulsion, spectral swirls and murky melodies.

While the first few tracks are definitely reminiscent of earlier Gas records like Zauberberg and Königsforst, the bulk of Rausch is spent suspended in a beautifully ominous state of harrowing hypno-ambience, sweeping and cinematic, shadowy and soporific, marked by hazy smears of sinister shimmer drifting beneath melancholic strings, unexpected free-form rhythmic skitter and even some droning brass. The mood is almost more modern classical than electronic (although the classical elements are perhaps less overt than on Narkopop), with each “movement” tracing an exploration of claustrophobic mesmer played out in a series of sweeping filmic moments, all anchored to Gas’ darkly delicate, perpetual pulse. Rausch manages the nearly impossible feat of sounding both austere and minimal, expansive and incandescent, as Voigt’s modern machine music continues to evolve, creeping ever further toward a hauntingly emotional, motorik murk, masterfully crafted with a level of pathos unparalleled in contemporary electronic music. | Kompakt

If you like: Porter Ricks, Fluxion, Vainqueur, Echospace, Markus Guentner, Huerco S, SHXCXCHCXSH

Andee Connors

 

Belly DOVE

The band Belly released two of my favorite albums of the 1990s. I reserved for Belly the love enjoyed by frontwoman Tanya Donnelly’s higher-profile projects,Throwing Muses and the Breeders. And Belly’s albums have aged much better than most of their contemporaries. This timelessness, plus Donelly’s excellent subsequent solo albums, made me hopeful that their decision to reunite after over 20 years would give us some excellent music and indeed with DOVE it feels like they walked into a studio and picked up right where they left off. Anthemic and melodic, DOVE sparkles with amazing guitar sounds, lush production and Donelly’s poignant self-reflective lyrics. | Belly Touring, LLC

If you like: The Breeders, Throwing Muses, Garbage, Lush, Silversun Pickups

Diego González

 

Combo Lulo“Atlántico”

Brooklyn-based label Names You Can Trust doesn’t put out bad music. Spanning Afro-Latin and Caribbean genres, to electronic, disco and dance, taking a chance on their 7” releases in the record store is about as close to a safe bet as I’m likely to entertain. Keeping those odds in mind, Combo Lulo’s “Atlántico” single delights from the get. Interpreting one of the most iconic of Colombian cumbias, the group evokes the soul of Lucho Bermúdez, Pacho Galán and Edmundo Arias, while still sounding distinct and modern. As a record collector, I can attest firsthand to the obsession with assigning value to the old and the rare. It’s always refreshing to be reminded that brilliant musicians are still building on the foundations inherited from the masters. Don’t sleep on the B-side, either! “Canto del Sol,” an original by band leader Mike Sarason, is a slow burning Latin skank caribeño jammy jam. | Names You Can Trust

If you like: Los Corraleros De Majagual, Alton Ellis, Willie Colón

Marcos Juarez

 

Lincoln BrewsterGod of the Impossible (Deluxe Edition)

A child prodigy on bass, drums, mandolin and all things guitar, Lincoln Brewster played his first gig around age five. He had his first band at age 12. And by 19, all he had to do was sign on the dotted line. Six months as sideman for former Journey frontman Steve Perry was a dream come true. But when it was over, the wounds of an abusive childhood remained. So, Brewster made a major life pivot, deciding to marry his high school sweetheart, give his gifts over to God and wait for what came next.

Almost 20 years and 10 albums down the road, Brewster’s full-time gig is that of pastor at Bayside Church in Sacramento, CA, where he teaches, mentors a creative arts team and serves the community at large. But, as God of the Impossible attests, Brewster ain’t your average man of the cloth. Four years in the making, this album seamlessly layers worshipful lyrics and modern pop melodies with killer guitar riffs that would make even the geekiest shredders take notice. “Turn It Around,” “Everything” and “Loyal” are standouts, and the Deluxe Edition offers acoustic versions of three songs that non-shredding church musicians will appreciate as well. For the full geek experience, check out the instrumental track “Relativity.” God of the Impossible stands as Brewster’s best work yet, a beacon of hope in times of trouble. | Integrity Music

If you like: Chris Tomlin, Aaron Shust, Phil Wickham

Melissa Riddle Chalos

 

William PrinceEarthly Days

This stunning contribution to the roots music catalog is brought to us by William Prince, who was raised on the Peguis First Nation of Miatoba, Canada and heavily influenced by his preacher father’s gospel singing. He’s already been recognized at home, earning an Aboriginal Artist of the Year award at the Western Canadian Music Awards, and a Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, as well as praise from Bruce Cockburn and Neil Young. The U.S. release of Earthly Days crossed my desk in early May and after catching a live performance here in Nashville, I was hooked. Prince’s voice is a mix of gentle folk and country singer/songwriter, and his steady baritone rests easy in songwriting that is powerful in its simplicity. Pay special attention to songs “Breathless” and title track “Earthly Days.” | Glassnote Records

If you like: Donovan Woods, Iron & Wine, John Moreland, Neil Young

Rachel Whitney

 

Otis ReddingDock Of The Bay Sessions 

Fans and critics alike hail Otis Redding as one of the greatest musical artists of all time. His life was cut short in 1967 when a private plane he was on crashed in Wisconsin. Just three days prior, he had recorded a new song that was a bit of a departure from his energetic, soulful style. Record execs weren’t convinced about “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” but Redding liked it and thought it represented a refreshing new direction for his music. And the rest is history. As part of the ongoing 50th anniversary celebration of one of soul and pop music’s biggest hits, Rhino have offered us a new compilation of Redding’s final recordings. Dock Of The Bay Sessions envisions what the title track’s parent album might have looked like, had he lived to complete it. There aren’t any unreleased tracks – all having been previously released across various posthumous albums and compilations, but never in one place. Without bending R&B and soul traditions too far, Redding and the ensemble magnetism of Booker T & The MG’s and the Mar-Kays crafted a rich and assorted set of tracks. His impish humor is represented on “The Happy Song” and the funk-inspired “Hard To Handle.” At the other end of the spectrum, “Think About It” and “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” reveal him at his most sensitive and heartbreaking. This recording is a powerful testament to this incomparable soul singer’s most fruitful songwriting period, and there’s no doubt that he had plenty more music to give to the world. Enjoy more of his greatest hits, duets with Carla Thomas, priceless rarities and live recordings on the curated playlist Otis Redding: A – Z. | Rhino Atlantic

If you like: Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Carla Thomas, Aretha Franklin

Michelle Solomon

 

Frightened RabbitThe Midnight Organ Fight 

Discovering a musician on the occasion of their death feels strangely disrespectful. You’d have preferred to have loved them all along rather than indulge in a hasty recap of neglected artistry. But with Scott Hutchison, the recently deceased frontman of Scottish outfit Frightened Rabbit, I’m just glad I started listening when I did. Hutchison struggled with depression for years before his passing at age 36 earlier this month, and his songs chart his emotional peaks and valleys in unsparing detail. On his band’s excellent sophomore album, Hutchison is a gifted raconteura master of twisted analogies and sublime illustration in touch with his fractured soul. A record this vividly narrated makes moving past the folly of ignorance that much easier, and so very worthwhile. | FatCat

If you like: The National, Band of Horses, Modest Mouse

Julian Ring

 

ChvrchesLove Is Dead

The title of the synth pop trio’s third album gives a pretty clear preview of what it’s going to be about, and it certainly delivers. As much as we’d like them to, relationships don’t always end with mutual respect and an amicable parting. Sometimes they end in lies, betrayal, deceit and animosity – and as Lauren Mayberry says so simply in “Forever,” you might just end up hating each other with no hope of reconciliation. The dark lyrics of the album are almost ironic when framed by the band’s signature glossy synths and upbeat melodies, but it actually ends up tinting the drama with a much-needed shade of hope. Despite the bitter content, Love Is Dead is a great addition to Chvrches’ discography of shimmery, polished synthpop and delivers more of the atmospheric anthems that have made the group an indie staple over the past few years. | Glassnote Records

If You Like: Lorde, Robyn, Phantogram, Purity Ring

Stephanie Elkin

 

Various Artists Burger Records Latam, Vol. 1

How do the folks at Burger Records do it? In addition to running one of the coolest indie/garage rock labels around as well as their DIY subsidiary Weiner Records, they’re constantly putting out awesome music and hosting some epic shows and festivals – they even found time to make us a Burger Boogaloo playlist. And let’s not forget that they played a huge part in the revival of cassette tapes. With no sign of slowing down, Burger is also introducing their American audience to international bands with the Latam series. Burger Records Latam, Vol. 1 is a great compilation that boasts artists from South America, Spain and Mexico. It opens with “Efervescencia,” a wonderfully woozy shoe-gazey tune by Adelaida from Valparaíso, Chile. With its bubbly synthesizers, melodic guitar arpeggios, and the lovely lazy sounding leads of slide guitar, Aztecas deliver a standout with “1990.” Brazilian surf punk band Autoramas change things up a little with “Meu Broto Aprendeu Karate,” a herky-jerky sucker punch of distorted and reverberated garage rock that’s just over two minutes long. | Burger Records

If you like: La Luz, Traditional Fools, Cold Tropics, Shannon & The Clams

Eric Shea

 

High RiseII

Japanese garage psych punks High Rise weren’t the first rockers to sport the cooler-than-thou leathers and shades look, but boy howdy did they own it (sonically speaking). Just surrender your tender ears to the trio’s recently reissued second album, originally released in 1986, and hear what it sounds like when you stick Blue Cheer, the Stooges, Davie Allan and J.G. Ballard into a blender, cranked to 11. You get total motorpsycho madness, in-the-red insanity, an avalanche of fuzzy guitar wailing, throbbing bass and tumbling drums. For those who dig distortodelic biker band blurt sharing needles with no wave improv shred, High Rise II is the groovy holy grail. This wild underground masterpiece, now remixed and remastered by bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo, is considered by the band to be their quintessential recording and helped inspire a generation or two of psychedelic speed freak groups out of Tokyo and beyond. | Black Editions

If you like: Earthless, Link Wray, Blue Cheer, The Heads, Acid Mothers Temple, Comets On Fire

Allan Horrocks