In Case I Don't Make It
[Mello Music Group, March 29]
We forget there's still a chance of snow on the other coast. Has-Lo reminds us with the gentle gnaw of melancholy in his latest album, written and produced in its entirety by the contemplative Philadelphia rapper. Whether reflecting on the halcyon glow of the past in "12 Years Later" or riding the swell of "Sub-Ether," his delivery is easy; his production, mesmeric. A subtle yet biting sense of nostalgia permeates the entire record, which left us tripping down memory lane. Sounds just as good watching the sun set as the snow falls.
JOSH T. PEARSON
Last of the Country Gentlemen
[Mute, available now]
Southern Gothic country, plus some of the "weird old America"'s ole-time religion: The Europeans love it, even when it's not delivered by a lugubrious Australian Bad Seed. In fact, what better purveyor than a man who once titled an album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads? Those who've heard Pearson's old band Lift to Experience will be surprised by this one's bleaker, more mature sound. Music for drunk people. Nice cover, too: no spiritual crisis a little nipple can't cure.
[Heavenly, available now]
The former leader of Scottish cult heroes Orange Juice had two cerebral hemorrhages in 2005, but they didn't stop him. Like Robert Wyatt, Collins just rolled the whole bizarre experience of sudden disability into what he knows best: frank, smart songwriting. Sample titles: "What Is My Role?" "Do It Again," "Bored," "Over the Hill," "Searching for the Truth." Then there's the title tune, backed by a track you would swear is a long-lost Supremes outtake. Moving.
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[Famous Class Records, March 15]
Brooklyn trio — wait, don't stop reading! Yes, the scent of Hipsterdam might cling to Tony Castles, and their debut EP likely will become threadbare this summer from being spun so often at rooftop parties. But it wriggled its way into our (non-hipster) hearts with surprising shifts, as in "Black Girls in Dresses," and retro reverb in the funky throwback "No Service," not to mention Paul Sicilian's sweet, then screaming, tenor. Sofia Coppola's life is just waiting to be distilled into a short — this should be the soundtrack.