Drop Nineteens "Hard Light"
Hard Light is every bit the ride that Delaware was, diverse in its sounds, with surprises at every turn. Drop Nineteens have brought clarity and cool in 2023 to the genre they helped create. A portrait of a band 30 years later, as talented and dedicated to their craft as ever. To put it more bluntly, they’re at the top of their game.
Superchunk "Misfits & Mistakes: Singles, B-sides & Strays 2007–2023"
Misfits & Mistakes: Singles, B-sides & Strays 2007–2023 is Superchunk’s fourth singles compilation, a massive 4-LP or 2-CD collection covering their triumphant return from hiatus up to 2023. The amount of music within its gorgeous packaging is staggering: 50 songs (16 of which are on physical media for the first time) sourced from out-of-print releases, digital singles, compilations, and more—a vital piece of the Superchunk canon.In the tradition of Superchunk singles compilations, Misfits & Mistakes houses non-album tracks, demos, and cover songs culled from 7-inches, compilations, and previously internet-exclusive artifacts. Featuring extensive liner notes by Mac McCaughan (with additional notes from Laura Ballance), the collection tells the story of each release, from why they chose to cover songs by The Misfits, The Cure, Destiny’s Child, and Bananarama, to working with collaborators like Katie Crutchfield (Waxahatchee), Jane Wiedlin (The Go-Go’s), Eleanor Friedberger, Damian Abraham (Fucked Up), Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley (Teenage Fanclub), and more!
The Mountain Goats "Jenny from Thebes"
The Mountain Goats’ catalog is thick with recurring characters—Jenny, who originally appears in the All Hail West Texas track bearing her name, as well as in “Straight Six” from Jam Eater Blues and Transcendental Youth side two jam “Night Light,” is one of these, someone who enters a song unexpectedly, pricking up the ears of fans who are keen on continuing the various narrative threads running through the Mountain Goats’ discography before vanishing into the mist. In these songs, Jenny is largely defined by her absence, and she is given that definition by other characters. She is running from something. These features are beguiling, both to the characters who’ve told her story so far and to the listener. They invite certain questions: Who is Jenny, really? What is she running from? Well, she’s a warrior and a thief, and, this being an album by the Mountain Goats, it’s a safe bet whatever she’s fleeing is something bad. Something catastrophically bad.
Jenny from Thebes is the story of Jenny, her southwestern ranch style house, the people for whom that house is a place of safety, and the west Texas town that is uncomfortable with its existence. It is a story about the individual and society, about safety and shelter and those who choose to provide care when nobody else will.
Black To Comm "At Zeenath Parallel Heavens"
At Zeenath Parallel Heavens finds Black to Comm contemplating the hybridity within each and every one of us, be it sexual, racial, cultural, language, and beyond. Richter mirrors personal dualities by employing a combination of sounds he created and manipulated samples, blurring their boundaries. This time these sources were pushed to the extremes as he explored contrasts of these combined sonic pallets. “It was created by a combination of sampling and doing my own recordings and then a lot of studio work, editing and collage, which is the main process. I always try to blur the line between sampling and my own recordings, also between ‘real’ instruments, MIDI, electronics, editing, between authenticity and theatrics/artificiality.” As Richter worked on the album, he became aware of how AI text programs processing resembles his own methods. “I had the realization recently that the way I compose is not too dissimilar to what AI software is doing nowadays – especially when the AI is hallucinating (this is the term used when the AI is overloaded/overcharged/inundated and comes up with made-up results).” Human behavior reflected in a computer facsimile of human intelligence appealed to the ethos of Black to Comm, whose titles and concepts are often oblique and tongue-in-cheek. Song titles drawn from epic poetry and ancient mythology explore a duality between the serious and ridiculous, mimicking the multi-layered meanings of the music itself; “I love the pathos, the flowery baroque language, the ambiguity (especially with regards to erotic innuendo),” Richter elaborates.
At Zeenath Parallel Heavens pushes Richter’s audio occultism into even more divine, transcendent territory. Across the album’s dazzling expanse, Richter assembles an arresting sonic narrative that blossoms from primeval creation myths to ominous, shadowy expanses and radiant heavenly vistas, exploring the existence of alternative realities. It is as astounding in the scope of its vision as it is immediately enthralling, as inviting as it is subtly unnerving.