Sam Cohen — ‘The Future’s Still Ringing in My Ears’
THE GOOD: Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter/producer Sam Cohen gives us his second full-length solo album.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Cohen continues the natural trajectory he began years ago as a member of both Apollo Sunshine and Yellowbirds. That is, turning on and churning out progressive indie and psychedelic pop. If you’ve survived on a steady diet of Flaming Lips, Tame Impala and Animal Collective since the turn of our century, you’ll dig “The Future.”
Collaborating with producer Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley, Broken Bells, Black Keys), Cohen creates a swirling, spaced-out collection built upon mid-tempo, slightly funky backbeats; whirring synths that echo vintage Stereolab; chugging rhythm guitars; and Cohen’s unassuming yet harmonious vocal style. Some tracks even find the guy resembling a “Nashville Skyline”-era Bob Dylan. Occasional ghostly choirs, humble string sections and bursts of otherworldly noise add color and way-out flavors.
BUY IT?: Yes. But there’s no CD, so do what I did and grab the import vinyl.
Crumb — ‘Jinx’
THE GOOD: Established in Boston and now based in Brooklyn, indie rock group Crumb releases its first full-length album.
THE BAD: “Jinx” finds the band further progressing after a couple of EPs. Still, one needs to spend some time with this loopy and psychedelic album before it fully sinks in.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Fronted by wispy vocalist/guitarist Lila Ramani, the band plods through a foggy mix of retro synths, fuzzy guitars and tight and mostly mid-tempo rhythms. Ramani rambles over the top, eeking out melodies that simply float. It all sounds like a combination of mid-period Stereolab, the less noisy bits of Helium and modern Tame Impala.
Don’t let the surface simplicity of “Jinx” fool you, though. Separate the songs, and gems such as “Nina” and “Ghostride” prove themselves to be well-crafted indie pop tunes. Here and there, the band adds a slight streak of spontaneity, bringing on haunted post-punk vibes, moody but unpolished. The record ends up a fascinating debut boasting a sound with room to grow.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Fontaines D.C. — ‘Dogrel’
THE GOOD: Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C. offers up a scorching debut.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The group’s name combines the “Godfather” character Johnny Fontaine and the phrase “Dublin City.” Its music brings together the jagged guitar riffs of classic Joy Division with the barking lyrical and vocal style found on old Fall records. Toss in the manic energy of early Arctic Monkeys and Let’s Wrestle. And when the guys attempt the rare ballad, like they do on “Dublin City Sky,” sprinkle on the Pogues’ dusty romanticism. That’s Fontaines D.C.
“Dogrel” is one of the most exciting debuts I’ve stumbled upon in quite some time. Lead vocalist Grian Chatten speak-sings much of the time, spouting urban beat poetry that namedrops Dublin landmarks while punctuating a restlessness found within one’s immediate surroundings. Never mind whatever international crisis is on the news. Modern Dublin has its own problems. Chatten just wants to make a little money today so he can go out tonight.
BUY IT?: Yes!