SAIGON: The Greatest Story Never Told
[Suburban Noize, available now]
Four years ago, Saigon was not only signed to Atlantic Records but also was acting on HBO's Entourage. His highly anticipated debut album, which is almost entirely produced by Jay-Z's longtime collaborator, Just Blaze, was slated for release. Fast-forward through personal and professional drama to a record that sounds remarkably fresh for being shelved for so long. Saigon's smarts are of both the book and street varieties, and Just Blaze's triumphant orchestrations sound like a homecoming parade: All the better when you consider the title was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy.
THE DIRTBOMBS: Party Store
[In the Red, available now]
Remember the Dirtbombs? The Detroit garage combo with the black frontman who rocked out some soul classics a decade ago with Ultraglide in Black? Well, they're back with a big surprise. Now Mick Collins & Co. have decided to take the "garage" (as in people who play like the Nuggets compilation) to the "warehouse" (as in '80s and '90s Detroit parties with techno music and loads of drugs). The result is a rocking, analog version of some seminal techno tracks, from the massive (Kevin Saunderson and Inner City's "Good Life") to the truly weird and psychedelic ("Bug in the Bass Bin").
THE LUYAS: Too Beautiful to Work
[Dead Oceans, Feb. 22]
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Some of us at Page Two are Arcade Fire skeptics (those Blue State politics married to Red State religious hymns ...), so it was with some trepidation that we popped this Arcade Fire–related project from a bunch of Montrealers recording in Toronto. We were shocked: subtle (no anthemic, pounding, churchy shit here at all), urbane and forward-thinking, music that sails past the obvious Stereolab references to find Les Disques du Crépuscule's Antena. Also: bonus point to amazing singer Jessie Stein for using weird instrument the Moodswinger.
COUNT FLEET: Count Fleet EP
[Self-released, available now]
Elliot Glass might be best known as a video director for the indierati (his Rolodex includes Local Natives, Avi Buffalo, et al.), but he has teamed up with Caitlin Dwyer for a focused set of pop tunes that, dare we say it, manages to outdo his way buzzier clients. Yes, it's retro — the sound of the Count Fleet EP is very early-'70s (Glass and Dwyer lo-o-o-ve those solo Beatles chords). There's even a Mo Tucker–esque turn by Dwyer in "How It Ends" — but it's done well and a gorgeous Echo Park soundtrack.