As fun as it is to complain about “music these days,” and how it’s all been downhill since The Chronic came out, it’s even MORE fun to listen to — wait for it — good music. Every Tuesday, a.k.a. Music Release Day, we’ll highlight five albums worth (legally) downloading or driving to the local Best Buy (lolz) for.
Today, we’ve got selections from Phosphorescent, Marnie Stern, RZA, and more.
Muchacho by Phosphorescent
Muchacho plays tricks on you. It begins and ends as a Fleet Foxes clone, with frontman Matthew Houck's hymnal voice infinitely echoed while singing about the sun, before turning into something akin to if Willie Nelson had come up today, and drank whiskey instead of smoked pot and fiddled around on his laptop while also tuning his guitar. Phosphorescent is sort of a mournful country act (the album's title was inspired by "getting your ass handed to you"), but that would be a disservice to the electropop on "Song for Zula" and the liquid guitar murmurs on "Ride On, Right On." It's an album that requires a lot of backpedaling to explain, because of the way it zigs to raucous brass sections then zags to sad beauty, with one exception: it's really, really good.
The Chronicles of Marnia by Marnie Stern
On The Chronicles of Marnia (still can't tell if that's a brilliant or awful album title), the hyper-talented Stern doesn't make her incredible finger-tapped guitar assaults the star; they're a supporting character. It's a more relaxed album than her previous work (Stern's longtime drummer Zach Hill departed for Death Grips, and without his spastic rhythms, her peppy aggressiveness sounds intentionally restrained), though don't mistake "relaxed" for "boring." Marnie can wail with the best of them.
RZA Presents: Shaolin Soul Selection Vol. 1 by RZA
Perfect for fans of Wu-Tang and Otis Redding, Shaolin collects over two and a half hours of old school R&B and soul records from Stax and its various subsidiaries on one two-disc set. Artists represented include the Emotions, the Mad Lads, and Albert King. It's basically a Quentin Tarantino wet dream.
The Invisible Way by Low
Duluth, Minnesota's Low have been making "slowcore" — think minimalist arrangements, guy/girl vocals, misery — beautiful for 20 years now, and on their excellent 10th album, they drafted Wilco's Tweedy to produce their lush sound. Any and every song on The Invisible Way would sound great at a funeral.
The 20/20 Experience by Justin Timberlake
Check out our review here.