The theme of these picks is “dreamlike” in the sense that they are transportative, slightly off-kilter, and a little unworldly. This week is full of slow-burn jams with varying levels of dance-floor, headphone, stadium, and sitting-alone-in-a-dark-room listenability.
Landlady – The World is a Loud Place (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Classic psychedelic rock in a 70s but not self-serious early 2000s way. This album makes me ready for summer right now, as do all the blockbuster movies coming out (as well as global climate issues). It rocks in a gorgeously sunny way, all wide open and happy.
Money Mark – Push the Button (Apple Music, Spotify)
Money Mark is considered the fifth Beastie Boy (after the 3 originals and Mix Master Mike). He’s a synthesizer fanatic who has been recording gloriously funky keyboard songs for years. His music is a half-and-half combination of instrumental hip hop vamps and totally chill indie pop (back when indie pop meant “I don’t know really how to classify this but it’s cute and good, you know?”). This album, which turns 20 next year, is very much a 90s college rock album, but it still feels fresh and brings the jams.
Grails – Chalice Hymnal (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
This album is a pretty heavy album, but it’s not really metal at all. On the surface, it’s droney instrumental jams with curious instrumentation and noodly fuzz guitars. Underneath is a sinister undercurrent of magic that runs so deep that if you told me that the music wasn’t so much played as it was conjured into being by a dark wizard, I would just shrug.
Roman GianArthur – Ok Lady (FREE DOWNLOAD, Apple Music, Spotify)
One of the things I have always appreciated about Radiohead is their rhythm section. The drums and bass in their music (not just the instrumentation but the lines, the groove) is always what has set them apart from their imitators. Roman GianArthur, guitarist for Janelle Monáe and Wondaland, has tapped into the underlying grooves in a handful of Radiohead songs and brought them out with full Prince-style guitars and Wondaland production. Paranoid Android works as art-damaged funk as well as All I Need works as a slow jam. But No Surprises (featuring the android queen herself) is unstoppable in this tragi-romantic incarnation, and High and Dry has never had never had so much heart and soul. Fans of R&B and fans of Radiohead need this in their lives.
In Love with a Ghost – Healing (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
In Love with a Ghost is ASMR pop. It’s a mix of ambient sounds and video game and/or soundtrack but not at all vaporwave. It doesn’t feel like it’s distorted through a corrupted rar file, it feels like it’s being played out of your PC speakers or your crappy earbuds at 1 in the morning. This album is a loose narrative about a couple of witches who meet and become friends in a forest, which adds a both charming and spooky RPG element to the music.
Blanck Mass – World Eater (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
Blanck Mass make music similar to Grails in the sense that it feels heavy without being, like, actually metal-style heavy. But this time all the arcane dimensions are being opened by machines who have gained sentience.
David Bazan – Care (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
This is the erstwhile Pedro the Lion lead singer’s first album with producer Richard Swift, and it sounds like both of them bonded over their love of synthesizers and decided they should make a Yaz record. Actually, like the lyrics, the music is still unmistakably Bazan: bleak with glimmers of hope (but not too much). This time there’s no guitar, just synths and drum machines and flawless songs.
CAPSULE – Wave Runner (Apple Music, Spotify)
I mentioned stadiums, right? Electronic dance music is what we have instead of arena rock in 2017. CAPSULE infuses j-pop with killer drops, and counts the dudes from Anamanaguchi among its biggest fans.
The Octopus Project & Black Moth Super Rainbow – The House of Apples & Eyeballs (Bandcamp, Apple Music, Spotify)
This insane almalgamation is a team-up album between a psych rock group (the Octopus Project) and total synth weirdos (Black Moth Super Rainbow) and it’s just a blast of bright, candy-flavored light right into your earholes. Yeah, it also might induce synesthesia.
Artificial Fear – LoZ: Metal (Bandcamp)
So I hear some sort of new Legend of Zelda-playing device came out. I hear it’s awesome. But is it as awesome as classic Legend of Zelda music played in a symphonic metal style? I’ll let you be the judge.