JONWAYNE Bowser [Alpha Pup
Records, April 19] Gurgling with bleeps and burps, rapper-producer Jonwayne's new album is like the video for A-Ha's “Take on Me”: Instead of a comic book, though, it sucks you into Super Mario Bros. As expected from a record dedicated to an antagonist, the sound is mostly ominous, save for a few unsuspecting tracks (the lush double lullaby of “Featuring Mndsgn” and “Dreamland”). He mostly steers clear of samples, but when he uses them, the result is quirky-funny (“Trilla G”). Consider him one of our Low End locals to watch.
JAMES PANTS James Pants [Stones Throw, May 3] The funk-loving multi-instrumentalist Stones Throw–intern–turned artist/producer from Texas uses vocals, drum machines and a substantial quiver of synths to create a charming mix of off-kilter tropicalia (“Clouds Over the Pacific”), gritty blaxpoitation (“Screams of Passion”) and post-punk (“These Girls”). It just manages to escape classification as pure kitsch due to its attention to detail and purposeful production. Thanks to Pants' impressive arsenal of vintage equipment and his skillful manipulation thereof, the analog signals, like Frampton, come alive.
THE FLING When the Madhouses Appear [Dangerbird Records, May 3] Since their 2008 EP, this Long Beach foursome has transformed into a band that can command the stage with the verve of a young Beta Band (or vintage Cold War Kids). Rhythmically complex songs, layered enough to invite multiple listens yet simple enough to make you sing along. A veneer of psychedelia and melancholia hangs over the record, connecting waltz-tempo upbeat tracks with the loping, drunken wisp of a piano on “Spooks” and the depressing (but also catchy) “Strangers.” A thoughtful and contemplative record. VARIOUS ARTISTS
Follow Me Down: Vanguard's Lost Psychedelic Era (1966-1970)
[Vanguard, available now]
When you think Vanguard Records, you think Odetta, Joan Baez and “We Shall Overcome”–era folk and blues. You definitely do not think face-melting Hendrixian psychedelia, several slabs of which have just been dug up from the label's vaults and pressed on delicious vinyl by a gang of record-collecting freaks who infiltrated them. Everybody wins.