Sneaks "It’s A Myth"
Sneaks DIY debut Gymnastics was one of my favorite albums of 2016. Super short songs. Drum machines. Bass. Dry vocals from Eva Moolchan (the only member of the solo band). It invigorated me in a way that hasn’t happened in a long time. So singular. So simple. So how is her follow-up? Thankfully It’s A Myth (Merge) is another post-punk dose of brevity and brilliance. Recorded by Mary Timony, this is still Sneaks thru-and-thru. Wry, stream of consciousness lyrical playfulness, I cannot get over how much Eva is able to achieve with such a small palette. I guess Orson Welles was right when he said the “absence of limitations (is) the enemy of art.” He also said “bring me the Steak Au Poivre” but that’s getting slightly off topic. Check out the blistering “Hair Slick Back.”
Tall Ships "Impressions"
The 2012 stunning debut from Tall Ships was both a blessing and a curse for the band. After all, Pitchfork described their sound as “the more swashbuckling strains of Okkervil River and Modest Mouse, M83’s downcast glimmer, and Sigur Rós’ misty yawn.” Expectations were high. Plus, some personal turmoil and a falling out with their label left the band with two options. Persevere or give up. Thankfully, they did the former. Retreating to their keyboardist’s country home to regroup. And regroup they did. Each song on Impressions (Fat Cat) is an anthemic, build-y wonder. Patches of beauty only outdone by patches of even more joyous beauty. Seriously. This one is a keeper. Check out “Road Not Taken.”
Good Things: The Story Of Saadia Records "Good Things: The Story Of Saadia Records"
Oh boy. You need some funk in your life? You need some horn-fueled, gritty, James Brown vibes? Then you need Good Times: The Story Of Saadia Records (Numero Group, as if you couldn’t have guessed that). In the late ‘60s, as James Brown’s sound was taking off, so too was Frank Williams Saadia label. Gathered here are the funkiest examples of the original Miami sound you’re gonna find this side of a crate digging trip to the south. Get ready to dance along with vampy “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” from Robert Moore.
Pontiak "Dialectic Of Ignorance"
Since the last time Pontiak recorded an album, the brothers Carney started a brewery. Because they are splitting their time now, they spent far more time recording Dialectic Of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey) then any of their previous albums. Each day they would get to work fermenting soda beans (i’m not super clear on how beer is made, just how it’s consumed) and listen to what they recorded the day before. They’d spend the day mulling over ideas, talking things out, and then head back into the studio later that night. This slowed down process gave them the ability to lovingly craft these songs. Stretched out, and full of good ideas, this is what a Roger Waters-less Pink Floyd SHOULD have sounded like. Psychedelic, with a hard edge, and sophisticated while still retaining experimentally.