MEXICANS WITH GUNS
Leisure Records, available now]
With synth-heavy, bass-vibrating walls closing in, you think you're surrounded. But a lone masked crusader, Texas producer Ernest Gonzales, is slinging the hurts-so-good beats on this debut album. The galloping “Open Incantation” sets the record's dizzying tone, nicely grounded by L.A. rapper (by way of Gary, Ind.) Freddie Gibbs in “Highway to Hell.” But this is also a party (“Me Gusto”), albeit one teetering on the edge of a scary mushroom trip. (And that's a good thing.)
[Sargent House, May 24]
The Japanese face-melters will be releasing this alongside another album, Heavy Rocks, and only a couple of months after the Japan-only New Album (aka “the one where the nutso Japanese drone/noise people got their fans to listen to J-Pop”). The three projects share tracks: This one, featuring shockingly poppy vocals by Goddess of Cool/guitarist Wata, keeps twisting their perverse tease of normal listeners. Highly recommended.
Annabel Alpers mixes looped and heavily processed vocals with '80s synths to make something that sounds like Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier lending her vocals to Spectrum's dreamier offerings. She has said she loves computers because they allow her to explore her vision without compromise — and compromise she doesn't. Alpers' voice is an androgynous mix of angel and computer as she uses her (considerable) production and composition chops to explore themes like birth, death and quite a bit in between.
One of the biggest surprises of the post-'80s era is how hugely influential Depeche Mode turned out to be (go to any club where the syntherati congregate and chances are every other song sounds like “I Just Can't Get Enough”). Their influence has even permeated non-techno areas of the music world. Acclaimed jazz singer Patti Austin's new album, Sound Advice, includes — alongside versions of songs by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and Des'ree — this awesome cover. Download it for free at blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound.