[Photo by Timothy Saccenti]
As we all know by now, new releases hit record store shelves and digital download services each Tuesday. That’s why self-titled presents the following every week: a new release you’d be stupid not to own (Buy It), one worth checking out if you’re curious (Burn It) and something you should avoid at all costs (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?
Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma (Warp)
When Warp first sent promos of Flying Lotus’ third proper LP, it was presented as one 45-minute track. The idea being that it wouldn’t leak this way, and even if it did, people would be forced to listen to FlyLo’s hi-def opus in full.
To be honest, we prefer it that way, as it isn’t a singles record, or something you’re gonna want to bump in a club. (Overall, at least; some parts would turn a progressive dance floor on its head, like the psychedelic disco loops of “Do the Astral Plane” or the hammerhead breaks of “Nose Art.”) True to Steven Ellison’s film and art background (we’ll get to that in our next cover story), Cosmogramma is an experience, from its abstract sleeve art to its “augmented reality app” to Ellison’s overloaded sample banks–a tapestry you won’t even begin to tap on the first 10, maybe even 20, listens.
So while many people will classify Cosmogramma‘s 17 distinct cuts as an ‘instrumental hip-hop record’ that falls in line with L.A.’s rich history of game-changing beat conductors (Stones Throw, Dublab, Plug Research, Ellison’s own Brainfeeder crew), it’s much more than that. It’s quite simply a mind-fuck, a film score without a script or the slightest sense of restraint. Auntie Alice would be proud.
The New Pornographers, Together (Matador)
At this point, we know what to expect from a new New Pornographers album. We know Neko Case will steal some songs; we know Dan Bejar will waltz into the room to remind us just how great Destroyer’s always been; and we know Carl Newman will lead his own personal campfire in one peppy singalong after another. Analyzing the band past this point (like Rick Moody does here) is rather pointless. Here’s what we suggest instead…
Seek out these songs immediately: “The Moves,” “The Crash Years” and “Your Hands (Together),” the album’s top-heavy trio of opening tracks. Every single one is essential if you’re an old fan of the band or indie pop music in general. Other simple pleasures reveal themselves in due time, including the Bejar-ian melodies of “Silver Jenny Dollar,” the drowsy Dap-King horns of “My Shepherd,” and the persistent, ear-poking chorus of “What Turns Up In the Dark.” A handful of iPod-era indie rockers also appear (St. Vincent and the frontmen of Beirut and Okkervil River) throughout the proceedings, but their contributions are clearly afterthoughts in an album that manages to get the group’s groove back a bit.
The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever (Vagrant)
We’re not sure what to say here other than the fact that we’ve never been much of a Hold Steady fan–blasphemous we know–and if you’re in the same boat as us, this hit-or-miss album isn’t going to change your mind. Simply put, if we wanted to hear Craig Finn tear through just-like-us tales of long nights and life-changing LPs, we’d buy the guy a beer, not his band’s Franz Nicolay-free version of classic rock.