Monday, April 1
Rhye, Nosaj Thing
Love hurts! On the one hand, Rhye does offer more of that sort of nu-quiet-fire sexy pop that blows through cocktail bars from here to Ouagadougou. You know, the kind that, if your timing is off in the hearing of it, might just encourage you to go ahead and end it all. The duo's just-out debut, Woman, is a gorgeously produced slice of gently disco-fied sensuousness, laced with burnished-gold washes of brass and strings among its avantishly textured house-lite forays, all the better to frame smoky-toned vocals so double-edged in bittersweet languor that it's like an homage to the wondrous but painful idea of romance itself. Also playing is L.A. DJ/soundscapist songcrafter Nosaj Thing, whose recent LP Home features collaborations with Toro y Moi and Blonde Redhead singer Kazu Makino. --John Payne
Tuesday, April 2
Since 1993, Minnesota indie-pop band Low has been living up to its name with low-volume, slow-moving, gentle soundscapes that, at their best, are quite hypnotic. Of course, the danger with such a sleepy style is that when Low is not at its best, the group can be quite boring. On the trio's latest album, The Invisible Way, singer-guitarist Alan Sparhawk and his drummer-singer/wife, Mimi Parker, have cobbled together a more engrossing collection of tunes than usual, in large part because the previously overshadowed Parker gets to sing lead on half the songs. Whereas Sparhawk's introverted crooning often comes off as bland, Parker imbues "Holy Ghost" and "Just Make It Stop" with a warm glow that gives these solemn and spare ballads some much-needed personality and soul. --Falling James
Richard Walters understands at least two things with a rare intuition, and they are that the heavy stuff goes down easily with a spoonful of sugar and that there are ways to turn the superficially sweet-toned pop song inside-out. The U.K. singer-songwriter's third album, Regret Less, brings the young veteran composer/voice-for-hire's avant-easy, listening-chamber pop into realms of subtle, slightly anxious mystery. Songs plumb the darker depths of heartbreak, of course, but go crackers too as they shift perspectives musically and lyrically. You may have noticed the style when you heard his songs in a plethora of TV shows, including Grey's Anatomy, CSI: Miami and So You Think You Can Dance. --John Payne
It's perhaps no coincidence that the recent rise of culturally bonding, tradition-rooted folk metal has paralleled the propagation of faceless cyber "connectivity" and cold digital everything. For reasons lost in the Baltic fog, the genre's New Millennium explosion centered in Finland, where Finntroll got things rollicking along in the early aughts. Then, in 2007, compatriots Ensiferum took their "heroic," Viking-themed marriage of distorted guitars and raw-throated vocals and folkie beats and instruments to the top of the Finnish singles charts with "One More Magic Potion." Even with hottie keyboardist Emmi Silvennoinen aboard, this otherwise bare-chested, kilt-clad quintet is ludicrously Lord of the Rings-y, yet conjures a colossally comforting sense of battle-ready, brotherly togetherness at a time when Facebook "pokes" far outnumber hearty handshakes. --Paul Rogers
Wednesday, March 3
Whether he's plugging in with his Entrance Band or strumming a guitar solo, Guy Blakeslee is a man from another time. He probably should have come up in the 1960s or, given his love of old blues, the '30s. On such folksy laments as "Honey Moan" and "Cocaine Blues," Blakeslee sounds like a less mannered Jack White or a more polite Jeffrey Lee Pierce. Naturally, he rocks harder and trips the light fantastic heavier with Entrance Band, who ramble onward with fully electric psychedelic power, so look for him to strip down tonight into a more intimate persona, unpeeling those circular arpeggios and letting loose with his keening vocals. Next month (on May 9 at the Standard Hotel), Blakeslee changes forms yet again when he leads an all-star tribute to the freaky Source Family band Ya Ho Wha 13. --Falling James
Thursday, March 4
Brainfeeder's Jeremiah Jae is a thinker and a seeker who loves experimental music because he loves to experiment, and who once sampled home-taper folk hero R. Stevie Moore as much for the actual music as probably just to honor a kindred spirit. Jae loves organic food and arcane mystical knowledge, and yet his latest project, Rawhyde -- with MC Oliver the 2nd -- is a Saturday-afternoon Western full of cowboy shit-talking, saloon piano and woozy beats that comes off like RZA and MF Doom in a firefight at high noon. And somehow, that makes perfect sense for Jae. He's a musician, yes, but he plays by the gunslinger's rules: The day somebody else moves faster than you is the day you end up dead between the cacti. Congrats on another record nobody could have seen coming. OXYxMORON also play. --Chris Ziegler
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