If you’re looking for solid pop albums, this probably isn’t your week. Luckily, if you’re looking to “get it on,” then R. Kelly should lend a, well, hand. Other studs this week include new records from Childish Gambino and Guerilla Toss, while Robert Pollard and Snoopzilla might be shelved as duds.
Neil Young – “Live at the Cellar Door”
Neil Young continues to unlock his archives, releasing live performances (he tapes pretty much everything he ever does) that have been buried for years. This set from 1970 is straight acoustic (no 20-minute feedback solos) and delivers simple takes on then-new classics like “Old Man,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” and a piano version of “Cinnamon Girl.” Perhaps the highlight of the set is the tragic penultimate tune, “Down By The River,” which always works surprisingly well in an acoustic setting.
Childish Gambino – “because the internet”
Even on the surface, this album is a good fit for its title. The lower case track spellings and listicle-style organization give it a very Tumblr-wave sheen. It sounds a bit different though, cleaning up to bridge the gap between low-budget mixtape (see the rather excellent “I. the worst guys” with Chance the Rapper) and hi-fi glitchy spitting (check out “II. WORLDRSTAR”). Donald Glover does this one his own way, which pays off, and makes sense considering his other full-time job on NBC’s “Community.”
R. Kelly – “Black Panties”
Say what you will about R. Kelly’s less-than-stellar off-the-mic track record, or even last week’s performance on “Jimmy Kimmel” where he played a woman like a violin, but antics aside, he constantly finds ways to concoct the next level of musical aphrodisiacs. “Black Panties” is no different. While it lacks the organic funk of D’Angelo or Erykah Badu, it doesn’t really need it. It is mixtape soul, basically 17 tracks of explicitly asking to have lots of sex with women. Either that, or I’m listening to tracks like “Crazy Sex” and “Marry The Pu**y” all wrong.
Guerilla Toss – “Gay Disco”
The debut LP from Boston noise punks Guerilla Toss is so much more than a noise rock album. The screeching yelps of lead lady Kassie Karlson may not be for everybody, but beneath the ferocious rust is a robust dance record. Lead track “Trash Bed” and “Operate” sound like “Jock Jams” on bath salts, while “Pink Elephant” could soundtrack salsa dancing classes for recovering punks. It is definitely one of the most interesting releases Boston has seen this year.
Brendan Benson – “You Were Right”
The former Raconteurs singer seems to constantly be that artist whose music you hear often but never identify as him, which may actually be a testament to what a good pop songwriter he is. Benson takes a very Alex Chilton approach to “You Were Right” as he looks rock and roll right in the face and gives it a nice big kiss.
Snoopzilla and Dam-Funk – “7 Days of Funk”
The man we know sometimes as Snoop Dogg and more recently as Snoop Lion is now Snoopzilla (that’s another conversation), and he has teamed with LA-based producer Dam-Funk for an album called “7 Days of Funk.” Parliament-inspired grooves don’t seem to make sense on some tracks, but on others, like “Hit Da Pavement,” the collaboration has some early-’90s remnants that could have appeared on “The Chronic.”
Robert Pollard – “Blazing Gentlemen”
The Guided By Voices frontman continues with the tradition of releasing two solo albums a year, which he has been doing since 2006. It’s admirable in many ways, but it also makes you wonder if he is truly satisfied with the songs he writes or if he just needs stuff to fill them. “Blazing Gentlemen” doesn’t have to be 16 tracks long, but Pollard does make it count on tracks like “Tonight’s The Rodeo” and “Red Flag Down.” And again, he’s in Guided By Voices, so he can kind of do whatever the hell he wants.
Androgynous Mind – “Nightstalker EP”
Patrick Flegel, lead man for Calgary-based art rock quartet Women, releases the first EP of new project Androgynous Mind. While two of the five songs from the EP are basically so lo-fi that they can be tossed, the other three are interesting, hazy forms of pop, like a super dark take on Velvet Underground.