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.