Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. Everything you need to know about the latest Homeboy Sandman album is right there: the stark black & white cover photo of our hero throwing a long shadow and – on the flip – the conspicuous absence of guest artists next to the song titles. This time around Boy Sand clears away any distractions and focuses on his fierce – and fiercely personal – flow. It pays off in spades. On Veins, you’re witnessing one of the best contemporary MCs at the top of this game. If you’re new to Homeboy Sandman, start here.
I first fell for Robyn Hitchcock in the summer of 1985 when a WNUR deejay played an hour of his songs. I couldn’t put my finger on it – he was trippier than the Beatles, catchier than Syd Barrett, more poetic than Nick Lowe. All I knew is that even after an hour I wanted to hear more.
Fast forward to 2017… Hitchcock has moved native England to Nashville, but he packed his usual bag of tricks – the wry wit, familiar sneer, and psychedelic charm – all of which meld very well with partner Emma Swift’s backing vocals, the touches of pedal steel, and moments of nostalgia. It’s a fantastic album and exactly how I hoped this chapter of Hitchcock’s wandering career would begin.
[Buy Robyn Hitchcock’s self-titled album in the 3hive Co-op Shop while supplies last.]
According to Spotify, Monster Treasure has only 44 monthly listeners. That’s gotta be a typo, or glitch, or data breach, or whatever the right modern term is… All I can say is I’m happy to be #45. This Stockton, California, trio has been on repeat since I found out about their 2016 self-titled album (somewhat circuitously) by way of the UK label Leisure + District. It’s a potent sonic cocktail of punk, garage, pop, and shoegaze that manages to bounce between giddy and melancholy, rambunctious and introspective, without missing a beat. Have a listen and see if you don’t become the next monthly listener. Or better yet, plunk down a few bucks for the long-player in the Co-op Shop. You won’t regret it.
With cover art like this*, who cares what Jakuzi sounds like? But I’ll give it shot anyway… Imagine Sisters of Mercy’s Andrew Eldritch singing Bryan Ferry covers in Turkish, with Future Islands as the backing band. Or Ian Curtis doing drunk karaoke. Or “The Love Boat” captained by Tim & Eric. Or maybe I should just let their ridiculous(ly awesome) music videos do the talking…
* If you want to see the sexy luchador in 12-inch glory, buy Fantezi Müzik on vinyl at the 3hive Co-op Shop.
Here’s some straight-up power pop to help us wish summer into existence: Imaginary Enemies, the debut LP from NYC’s Hiccup.
Hallie Bulleit and Alex Clute, who met as members of The Chris Gethard Show house band (Hallie is married to Mr. Gethard, FYI), take turns at lead vocals while the other provides harmonies – and plenty of “whoa-oh-oh”s – over a steady flow of catchy riffs reminiscent of Velocity Girl, Smoking Popes, and other ’90s wonderbands.
This album would sound particularly great in the tapedeck of your hatchback, though we prefer you buy it on “piss yellow” vinyl first – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, of course – for the full effect.
One of my biggest bummers about not going to SXSW this year was missing the Discotexas showcase featuring Moullinex, Bufi, Da Chick and my favorite artist on the Portuguese label, Xinobi.
Xinobi is nom de plume of Bruno Cardoso, who co-founded Discotexas and puts out genre-omnivorous dance music such as you’ll find on his latest, On the Quiet. One moment you’ll hear Ian MacKaye extolling the virtues of skateboarding over delicate synths and a shuffling beat, the very next you’ll hear a club friendly slice of emo house.
As eclectic as it is, On the Quiet is a digestible delight to the ears, a funhouse labyrinth of minimalist beats, warm synths, and organic samples with an array of human voices to guide you through. And, if you opt for the physical format, you’ll be treated to ‘zine-style liner notes. So why not indulge?
[Buy On the Quiet as it was meant to be heard – on luxurious, imported vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
Trementina describe their latest album as “music for lucid dreaming”. Not a bad “file under” for a band intent on evolving beyond the My Bloody Valentine tributes that drew listeners to 2014’s solid shoegazer effort Almost Reach the Sun.
New influences and elements mark each track, from the lilting Beach House sound of “Please, Let’s Go Away” to the cavernous dub of “A Place Up in the Sky”. The modulated wall of guitar and rumbling drums get traded for otherworldly atmospherics with a backbone of machine beats, clearing a bigger space for singer Vanessa Cea to fill with her angelic vocals. Given Cea’s presence it’s tempting to compare her to a coherent Robin Guthrie or playful Siouxsie Sioux but, taking the album in as a whole, her range is too wide to peg.
Compared to earlier recordings, the album feels more connected to its origins: the band’s home studio in the remote town of Valdivia, Chile (its title, 810, refers to the distance in kilometers from the capitol city of Santiago). While I’ve never been, these songs seem to evoke the moods and mindset of a place only the band knows well enough to communicate.
810 is escapist and intimate at the same time, and one of my favorites of 2017 so far.
[Buy Trementina’s 810 on shiny new vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
Sneaks is the stage name of Washington, D.C.’s Eva Moolchan. On her latest, It’s a Myth, she sticks with her post-punk recipe of stripped-down jams – comprised of a delicious groove and bizarro Double Dutch rhymes – each with an understated swagger that will leave you craving more.
[Buy It’s a Myth on vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop, at a nice “friends of 3hive” price, while supplies last.]
To record his third album as Tall Tall Trees, Mike Savino packed up and left NYC to be the sole caretaker of an abandoned retreat deep in the national forests of northern Georgia. So it essentially became a solo (meaning, isolated) effort. As you’d guess, his surroundings inspired a certain sound. Yet, while there is plenty of introspection in the lyrics, Savino’s music is by no means quiet. In fact, it’s a dynamic blend of masterful banjo, soaring vocals, and effects wizardry.
[Buy Freedays on pristine white vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop. While supplies last.]
Those of you who’ve been with us from the beginning know of our deep love for Jens Lekman. I was infatuated with his “Black Cab” single for most of 2004 (my post has since disappeared but the song kicked off this vintage podcast). Then Lisa broke down everything that’s right about Jens with his 2007 album, Night Falls Over Kortedala. Now it’s 2017, Jens is 36 years old, and he’s in many ways the same Jens – an open book of a songwriter who can take you deep into his heartache without trafficking in self-indulgence. What’s changed is his production repertoire. Once relying on minimal accompaniment to seal the intimate feel of his songs, his latest, Life Will See You Now, moves his heartbreak and introspection to the dancefloor in a way that’s both absurd and earnest at once.
The opening track, “Know Your Mission”, recounts his encounter with a Mormon missionary in 1997. It starts with spare piano and Jens’ familiar sing-speaking, then breaks into a ridiculous party beat only to return to form by the end. “How We Met, the Long Version” brings Jens’ habit of hyperbole to a Soul Train-worthy crescendo. He tells a condensed history of the earth that culminates in a fateful kiss in the backyard. Why the sudden passion for calypso, samba, and disco? I’m not sure, but I’m going to chalk it up to maturity. Jens has become more comfortable stepping outside of himself with his lyrics. And he’s willing to let his hair down (so to speak) to remind us his songs are, after all, just words set to music.
[We have Life Will See You Now on limited edition orange vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]