Author Archives: djsacramento

various artists – 1980-something: an 80s cover comp for no more dysphoria [heavenly creature]

Mmm. Covers. You know they’re either going to be spot-on or ultimately forgettable, and who even is going to make that determination? That’s right: you will. You, the listener. Great idea, amazing cause, and quite a few enjoyable covers. Plus: lots of vaporwave! Even better, all the proceeds from the album go to the nonprofit […]

The Cog Is Dead – Incognito: Cog Covers, vol. 1 (s/r)

Y’all. First off, I– Black Hat. Black suit. My shady clothes.Mustache twirled tight beneath my noseCreepin’ I lurk in the shadowsCause I’m a criminal. Boo! Hiss!At me when I’m aroundthat miss I’ll take without a soundmy lair is hidden undergroundMy scheme? The pinnacle! –love covers, but only when they diverge significantly from the original enough […]

Peggy Lee – Decca Rarities (UMG)

If you know Peggy Lee, you know what you’re getting, even if these are rarities: super soft, crooning light jazz from the 1950s, heavy on the harp glissandos. Think Perry Como and you’re halfway there. As a bonus, this collection avoids all nine (9) of Lee’s songs that have appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 […]

PALOMA FAITH – INFINITE [SONY UK]

Okay look: Paloma Faith is all about pop. Alllll about it. And this album’s no exception. This trite bubblegum pop aspires to be something a little deeper and nearly succeeds, except when it doesn’t. The lyrics are very basic (“We got the love, we got each other, we’ll survive”), the arrangements straightforward and boppable. But […]

Ani diFranco – Do or Die (single), [Righteous Babe Records]

Does what it says on the tin. This feels like a very welcome throwback Ani sound with soft jazz, like Not So Soft meets Knuckle Down. The lyrics all pertain to what’s happening right now in the United States, and I think we can all agree that we need Ani to keep releasing songs until […]

Graham Nash – Vote (single) [Blue Castle Records]

Gentle and insistent, much like you have to be when you convince your family to head to the polls this year and do the right thing. While he originally wrote this tune back when all the American people had to contend with was Richard Nixon, legendary American folk songster Nash only released this understated and […]

Professor Elemental – Professor Elemental and His Amazing Friends, Part 2 [Tea Sea]

An introspective, Brexit-free and darker Elemental offering, filled with thoughts about touring and growing as an artist, and with a strong theme of THE INTERNET IS TERRIBLE. Liked and Shared! Remixes of some well-tread favorites (and frankly “You Remind Me of the Hustle” needed an update, just possibly not… this one) cuddle up to a […]

Julia Nunes – UGHWOW [Rude Butler]

Holy lo-fi bedroom pop, Batman, a new Julia Nunes album! Musically mature while the lyrics are an internal monologue of feelings distilled down to a basic core. Lots of the non-traditional instruments Nunes is famous for (toy xylaphone, ukelele, kazoo) woven into the backgrounds. Very early twenties (she said, from twenty years on) and earnestly […]

Adam and Cuth — “Actual Cake” [SELF-RELEASED]

Delicious low-tempo, relaxed and groovy hip-hop. Rich with samples and clever wordplay, each song paints a picture of contentment, or at least only mild disgruntlement, mainly aimed at Brexit.     Label: self-released FCC: 4, 6, 7, 9, 11 Start with: 1, 3, 5, 14 RIYL: Moon Dials, Frankie Stew, Teej, Edward Scissortongue, Ty

L.A. Girlfriend – “Is Freedom” [SINGLE] [SELF-RELEASED]

Straightforward 80s-style summer synth about luuuuuuuuv. Simplistic lyrics and a rainbow of chords over an artificial bassline with all the taste and none of the calories of the real thing. Bop along or drive with the windows down. Label: self-released FCC: Clean RIYL: Pat Benatar, Lush, Voz Propia

She Past Away – Disko Anksiyete [Metropolis]

Riding the current 80s vaporwave zeitgeist, She Past Away’s dark electronica would be perfect for late-night studying or for making overcast afternoons feel like a missing episode of La Femme Nikita. Driving synth beats meet lengthy, judgmental Casio chords and a depressed baritone. Also: laser noises! Plus, the whole album’s in Turkish. Label: Metropolis Records […]

Various Artists – Say Yes! A Tribute to Elliott Smith (American Laundromat)

A collection of rock so soft it’s one amp away from folk, these covers of Elliott Smith tunes are down-tempo and slightly dreamy, with some solid standouts. Track 5, Juliana Hatfield’s “Needle in the Hay” is musically complicated and hummable and has Juliana Hatfield in it. Track 9, “Waltz #1” by Escondido, is the best thing I’ve heard […]

OIM: Vol II (OIM Records)

A whole lot of sighing soft rock in one place. Track 3 is like The Brazilian Girls doing meditation. Track 4 has likely appeared in one of David Lynch’s dreams. Track 5 will appeal to people having a mid-life crisis. Track 6 escaped from a late ’90s young persons angst movie. Track 10 wishes it […]

Toadies – Heretics (Kirtland)

Inoffensive and competent soft rock that won’t break any hearts or new ground, but is gentle and melodic and, at times, a little melancholy/creepy. Even the “edgier” cuts. Soft, drowsy and a little pedestrian. Track 6 is a Blondie cover. Play: 1, 3, 8 (has a nice marimba part) FCC: None RIYL: Better Than Ezra, Crash […]

MC Lars – Zombie Dinosaur LP (Horris Records )

A very mixed fourth outing for longtime MC Lars fans: characteristic story-songs about Jack Kerouac, dinosaurs and The Simpsons vie for place alongside name-dropping odes to the party-DJ lifestyle and Lars himself. Newcomers, try cynical ska anthem “Sublime with Rome (Is Not The Same Thing As Sublime” and the delightful title track, where San Francisco gets destroyed by the […]

Ezra Furman – Perpetual Motion People (Bella Union)

Relentlessly upbeat and different in the good way, “Perpetual Motion People” features the off-kilter earnestness of Bowie, the zaniness of Madness and a splash of Motown. I’m just going to apologize in advance for popping around corners singing #6 at full volume. FCC: None Play: 1, 6, 7, 8, 13 RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Violent Femmes, The Wombles

Fist City – Everything is a Mess (Transgressive)

Super-short, experimental uptempo noises that tend towards messy surf but stop short of punk. Like fuzzy garage but looser and less organized; they stay melodic and will definitely find fans. 6, 8, 9 & 10 are instrumentals. Play: 8, 14 FCC: 2, 3, 4, 5, 12 RIYL: Honeyblood, The Raveonettes

Nova Heart – Nova Heart (self-released)

Excellent dark & otherworldly midtempo electrogoth, with strong female vocals. 11 is a Patti Smith cover, 5 is a super-danceable tribute to Blondie’s “Rapture”. 1 & 6 are instrumentals. Play: ALL THESE FINE NOISES esp 1, 4, 5, 7 FCC: none, but play 9 outside school hours RIYL: Kate Bush, Rosetta Stone, Jan Hammer

Magic Duo – Shadow of the Sun (Sacred Bones)

Missing psychedelia with a prog rock beat? Looking for gothsway on prozac? You are in luck! Vocals are super mushy (hello echo effect, how *you* been?), but that doesn’t affect the poppy danceability of these electronic, mid-tempo foot-shufflers. FCC: Clean or too unintelliglble to be heard by the human ear. RIYL: Styx, Honeyblood, Quartz Bijou […]

Dengue Fever – The Deepest Lake (Tuk Tuk Records)

Cambodian surfpop. Soothing and groovy, with a conscious invoking of 60s psychedelia and beach-blanket dance parties. Lyrics in Cambodian and English, sometimes within the same song. Highly recommended. Play 1,2,3,4,6,9. FCC clean. RIYL: Cambodian Space Project, Dick Dale, B-52s.

Amason – Sky City (Fairfax Recordings)

Trippysoft, soporiffic pop songs tinged with Scandinavian dreamtime melancholy. Female and male vocals, the latter of which sounds like Thom Yorke. Songs in both Swedish and English. FCC clean. Play: 5, 9 RIYL: Basia, Banks, Gorgon City, Lorde.

Violent Mae – Violent Mae (self-released)

Down-tempo, spare, breathy rock, mellow and a little sad. Deep, reverb-y guitars, sonorous vibraphone, laidback snare brushwork. Inconstant, lonely female vocals. Recorded in a barn and carries that feel with it. Track 5’s a little disjointed, but intentionally so and very, very interesting. Play: 3, 5, 10.  FCC: 1,9 RIYL: Honeyblood, Jolie Holland, Smoke Fairies.

Heroes of the Dancefloor – Shelter (Heroes/INgrooves)

Very traditional praise-style New Orleans jazz. Songs are little-known New Orleans jazz standards covered with lots of horns and stunning female vocals. Stunning. 100% of the proceeds from the album benefit a New Orleans homeless shelter. FCC clean. Play 3, 9, 10, 12. RIYL: Kelly Price, Rebirth Brass Band, The Pace Sisters.

The Huaraches – The Huaraches Steal Second (Huarecords)

Reverb-heavy, straightforward surfpunk instrumentals from Ontario, Canada. Echoey drums and bass punctuated by double-guitars, featuring long runs and arpeggios. A throwback to the classic sound of surf. RIYL: Tiki Creeps, Daikaiju, Dick Dale. FCC clean. Play: 2,3,5

Fly Golden Eagle – Quartz Bijou (ATO)

Psychedelic throwback funkrock with horns, organs and far-out, echoey male vocals. You will groove. FCC: 3. Play: 8, 9, 12. RIYL: Cream, The Black Keys.