It’s hard to follow up last week’s crop of new releases. Mac DeMarco and Cloud Nothings in the same week is pretty unfair to be honest. That doesn’t mean that this week is flat though, it just means you have to look a bit harder. SOHN and Protomartyr lead the pack of new albums this week, but there are some more interesting options along for the ride as well.
OFF! – “Wasted Years”
OFF!, fronted by former Black Flag howler Keith Morris, is easily the best project to emanate from the mess that has become Black Flag in recent years. That said, “Wasted Years” isn’t doing much to break any new ground. Perhaps that’s a good thing though. We’re in a politically turbulent time, so if OFF! let this period go unsoundtracked, we would have more reason to worry than if the band released an album that just kind of fed to the dedicated fans. “Wasted Years” starts off with a spurt of heartfelt aggression, nailing down the first five tracks in under seven minutes. As the album progresses, the formula is fooled with, sometimes for the better, other times in a more unnecessary fashion, making the work as a whole somewhat unbalanced.
Ratking – “So It Goes”
New York hip-hop trio Ratking unveils its debut full-length after a series of singles and a standout EP in 2012. “So It Goes” dodges mixtape culture, unlike the styles of fellow New Yorkers like Action Bronson and the A$AP crew. Thins means that while the group may not have the prolific productivity of others, this effort has more of a cohesive nature, trying its hand on different drum machine styles and not just shuffling aimlessly through samples. “So It Goes” has cloud rap style, with more of a cut-throat nature that could attract OFWGKTA devotees, or Wu Tang fanatics before them.
Protomartyr – “Under Color of Official Right”
Don’t let the name fool you, Protomartyr isn’t a death metal band. The Detroit post-punk quartet could instead be likened to a more pacified Beach Fossils or Parquet Courts, with morose sentimentality akin to The Men. “Under Color of Official Right” shows an appropriate lack of inventiveness in spots (nothing wrong with jiving off of raw energy), and elsewhere find this amazing joyous light that spurs out of an outpouring of shitty memories paired with fingers-in-the-air collective pride. It’s almost a feel-good album in a misery-loves-company type of way, sometimes finding the humor route, other times, just being pleasantly straightforward.
Tweens – “Tweens”
Cincinnati trash poppers Tweens’ debut album is an amalgamation of different pop forms, whether it be ’60s bubblegum, ’70s glam, or ’90s tweepunk. It makes for a palatable approach to messier forms, meeting Best Coast melodies and Total Slacker energy half way. The band’s unglamorous approach is balanced well by its reckless sound, which will calculate well with the right fans, but won’t look to get them much in the way of radio success this time around.
SOHN – “Tremors”
British producer Christopher Taylor, better known as SOHN, gathered a sizable following through work with Lana Del Rey, Rhye, and more before tackling his first full-length Tremors. To label SOHN as simply a producer, however, would be a disservice. Much like the beloved James Blake, SOHN has a keen ear for harmony as much as percussion, delicately sprinkling his tunes with smooth falsettos. He’s wears R&B and pop influences on his sleeve just as much as his knowledge of electronic forms, which makes this work digestible for a number of different listeners. It could give SOHN a creative edge up on other more traditional electronic artists.
[Photo Credit: Chris Grismer]