BUY IT, BURN IT, SKIP IT: Desolation Wilderness, Free Blood, Danielson

[Photo by Sarah Cass]

By Aaron Richter

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 the curious type (Burn It) and something you might have heard about but probably should avoid (Skip It). Simple, ain’t it?

Buy It
Desolation Wilderness, White Light Strobing (K)
Every once in a while, self-titled discovers an album amid our record stacks that makes our ears perk up for a fleeting moment, long enough for us to set the album aside and subsequently forget about it week after week after week. But that’s why Allah invented release dates (and more importantly Insound’s release calendar), delightful reminders of the hidden gems that slip through the cracks–such as Desolation Wilderness‘s White Light Strobing. The record’s dreamy visions float weightlessly through wistful aural poetry. It sounds as if it should be shoegazer, but it’s way too minimal and sparse. Sheepishly charming, the guitar melodies–mixed alongside reverb-ghost vocals, glockenspiel and vibraphone–twinkle like Daniel Johnston at his most heartbreakingly innocent. White Light Strobing projects an eeriness that might make you check the lock on your front door twice before heading to bed. Yet its comforting allure will have you holding a loved one even closer for the cold night ahead.



“And All the Boys Looked”


Burn It
Free Blood, The Singles (Rong/DFA)
Brooklyn dance duo Free Blood appeals to the PBR-burping Todd P warehouse set and Gossip Girl fans alike. Much of the songwriting, strangely enough, reminds us of pop producer The Dream, who was responsible for Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and is a staunch believer that every good pop song must have a “dumb” part (hence the “ella, ella, eh, eh…”). Free Blood also understands the appeal of hammering a silly stuck-in-your-head building block into every song, whether it’s a moody cello pull or “Obama” whisper on “Grumpy,” a soulful rundown of the days of the week on “Weekend Condition” or a yappy chorus on “Royal Family.” The originals are wildly raw enough, contagiously sexy enough and unapologetically New York enough to flick Hercules and Love Affair from its dance-floor pedestal for 2008, and the remix possibilities are endless with such vibrant source material. On this collection, you’re getting six terrific singles, each paired with a remix. Although we’re obviously nutso for Free Blood, the disc isn’t getting our “Buy It” simply because we recommend tracking down the actual vinyl from whence it came instead.


“Quick and Painful (Hot Chip Remix)”


“Royal Family”


Skip It
Danielson, Trying Hartz(Secretly Canadian)
Why anyone would be curious enough about Daniel Smith‘s Jesus-humping chirp-rock to peruse this two-disc ’94–’04 retrospective of rejected Teletubbies theme songs is beyond us. self-titled finds itself asking, “Is this a joke?” (More so with the unrefined, infantile Trying Hartz than with other more fully realized Danielson discs such as the fairly decent Ships.) And the fucked up thing is that it’s not a joke. At all. Don’t get us wrong. We fully sympathize with the plight of making Bible music palatable to the secular public–not an easy task. But it’s gotta be even more difficult with cultish wanking that sucks this hard.