The Crippled Dog Band
[Yoga Records, available now]
The hipsterati know that, in the 1980s, Massachusetts weirdo Bobb Trimble released two elusive masterpieces of quirky psychedelia, Harvest of Dreams and Iron Curtain Innocence. But there was a previously missing third album by the eccentric auteur, one recorded with a bunch of Worcester teenagers he had befriended. Here it is, a concept album about surreal teen life in 1983 — old-school video games and all.
[XL, Aug. 9]
Around 2009, there seemed to be a proliferation of brooding, lanky British teens making dreamy post-punk beyond their years. The Horrors were one of them, but we worried they'd peaked in their early 20s. Never fear: After being dropped from their label and written off by critics, they're back with something to prove. Their third record, Skying, is the sound of a band a little older and wiser — who've also done more drugs and listened to a few more Primal Scream records.
THE MIDDLE EAST
I Want That You Are Always Happy
[Zoom, available now]
The Middle East have a bit of an identity crisis, considering that the Australian septet makes damn fine weeping Americana. On their second record that legacy continues, with the group plugging in for a more rock & roll sound. Don't be fooled by the silky, delicate vocals of singer Rohin Jones or the dreamy slide guitars on tracks like "Deep Water": I Want That You Are Always Happy is not so much for summers as for sundowns.
[Top Dawg Entertainment, available now]
Yeah, we'll say it — Compton's finest is Los Angeles' rawest, best lyricist. His followup to last fall's (O)verly (D)edicated, the record that caught the attention of, well, everybody, is a more thematically cohesive effort, but that's too cold an analysis for the rapper who unselfconsciously rips his chest open. Spitting (literally) over a free-basing jazz beat on "Ab-Soul's Outro," "You wonder how I can talk about money, hoes, clothes, God and history all in the same sentence ... I'm not on the outside looking in, I'm not on the inside looking out, I'm in the dead fuckin' center, lookin' around," or shouting out Long Beach Boulevard's never-dared-to-dream girls in "Keisha's Song (Her Pain)," Lamar hasn't made the feel-good album for summer, nor one full of bangers for the club. Instead, this is for those who love hip-hop but hate the rappers in it.