I love the fall. We barely get any in So Cal, but even October demonstrates slight changes from the usual 100% sun situation we have. Specifically, the evenings begin to cool down, the leaves start getting crunchy, and the spiders come out. Seriously, we get lots of dang spiders in the trees, but the evenings start to become bearable and it’s really the best time for laid-back psychedelic music with a dark edge. That extremely nebulous collection of adjectives is probably my favorite genre of music, and that’s pretty much all I have for you this week:
Eola – Dang (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
This is absolutely my favorite album that I’ve stumbled upon recently. I saw it described on twitter as “lo-fi droney gospel” and I flipped out–I am the exact target market for that. It’s gorgeous and meditative at times, and playful and honestly pretty dorky at other times. But I’m in love hardcore with this record. I will be listening to list for a while.
k-os – Atlantis – Hymns for Disco (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
The first track comes out of the gate with a solid throwback hip hop vibe, but the rest of this album is, uh, kind of a rap album. It’s rap with plenty of the same influence that gives Mos Def and Gorillaz their sound. It’s a perfect balance of fun, massive pop choruses and head-nodding verses like Chance the Rapper exhibits, but with much more of a rock vibe and some new wave/electro influence (there’s definitely some Cameo in there, I think). Start with Sunday Morningand enjoy from there.
Helado Negro – Private Energy (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
I have a confession: I love Helado Negro’s music. I mean, I guess it’s not much of a confession, but every single thing that Roberto Lange has released as Helado Negro has gripped me and I am a buy-every-album fan for life at this point. This album, his fifth full-length (there are also several EPs), really exhibits his growth in songcraft. There’s still the dense electro-acoustic production, and the psychedelic interludes, but everything (even the songs en Español) are so much more singalongable this time around.
Simian – We Are Your Friends (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
If you’ve heard any mid-2000s dance music, chances are you’ve heard Justice’s world-beating remix of the title track of this album. Simian was so consumed by that remix and their subsequent success in the dance world that they broke up as a band, reformed as Simian Mobile Disco, and continue to put out solid EDM. But this album is incredible and pretty singular. Balancing big chorus-heavy British pop songwriting with heavy big beat production, every track has hit potential. This is a blast-it-at-full-volume album for sure.
Brothertiger – Out of Touch (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Chillwave never really went away, it’s just that everyone realized how close it was to electronic pop with that New Order/The Cure vibe that it all just sort of got absorbed into synthesizer pop and stopped being treated as a separate genre. Brothertiger has some emo influence but fits beautifully into that John Hughes movie soundtrack sound with a croon that makes me assume he’s got a hell of a haircut. This is super great, and best put to use as 100% perfect romantic evening music.
Night Auditor – Drugz (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Three tracks of exceptional funk that contains every crucial element: rubbery synth bass, unironic saxophone solos, Nile Rodgers-style guitar, heavy use of the ride cymbal, and upper-register “oooooooo”s. Refreshing, perfect and something you’ll be hitting repeat on. (pay what you want–including $0–on bandcamp)
Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve – The Soft Bounce (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
I don’t know how I missed this earlier this year. Half of Beyond the Wizard’s Sleeve is legendary DJ Erol Alkan, well known for his “reworks” of music from Justice, Death from Above 1979 and the like. He’s also considered one of the best DJs of this short century. In fact, BTWS has remixed too, but this is, finally, their debut album. Balanced between an A-side of electro-pop with psychedelic elements and a B-side of psych tracks packed with electronics, this album is exactly my bag. It’s actually not at all a dance album, but right in line with something that Alkan’s DJ sets have always hinted at. I love it when dance music artists decide to write songs and this album is a perfect example of why.
Negative Gemini – Body Work (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Building from the dual sources of downtempo rave and slinky R&B, Negative Gemini crafts songs with 2016 production values and structure but a very 1998 aesthetic. It’s all somehow really gothy and poppy at the same time, like some kind of lost CD-ROM soundtrack that can summon the ghost of 1996 Madonna.
Blind Slime – True Country (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Nothing makes me feel more Halloweeny than some slow burn throwback psychedelic music. Seriously. Blind Slime is seriously chill but with an edge of creeping menace that fits perfectly with southern California’s too-hot October evenings.