by DENISE LU
SPOTLIGHT: California X – California X [Don Giovanni]
California X has already garnered tons of comparisons with Dinosaur Jr., with whom they share the same hometown of Amherst, MA. Though is no small nod of approval, California X isn’t just a rehash of their influences. Instead, the band, led by frontman Lemmy Gurtowsky, creates a new energy drawing from different directions of garage rock and fuzzed out pop. Their self-titled debut is out this week on Don Giovanni Records (home for the likes of Screaming Females and Byrds of Paradise), and it’s full of the best sludge-punk hooks (just take a peek at “Spider X”) fit for all kinds of rowdy shenanigans.
A$AP Rocky – LONG.LIVE.A$AP [Sony]
A$AP Rocky’s long-awaited major label debut finally comes out this week and it doesn’t disappoint. Featuring a slew of big names from Drake and Kendrick Lamar to his cohort of up-and-coming rappers like Schoolboy Q and Danny Brown, A$AP doesn’t compromise his signature laid-back beats, thanks to the likes of Clams Casino, who rounded out his Live. Love. A$AP tape back in 2011. “1Train” boasts a giant name-dropping bill, and the track glues a revolving door of personalities together with an addictive, cinematic beat.
Christopher Owens – Lysandre [Fat Possum]
Complete with his girlfriend, Hannah Hunt, on backing vocals on the majority of the songs and lots of Renaissance-esque themes on lute and soft guitars, Girls frontman Christopher Owens’ solo debut is almost like a sweeter version of Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost from 2011. “A Broken Heart” showcases the album’s balance of the honesty of his former band along with Owens’ newfound narrative.
Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory – Elements of Light [Rough Trade]
It’s been a while since a dance album really captivates and hypnotizes to the extent that Elements of Light does. German producer Pantha du Prince teams up with Norwegian percussion ensemble The Bell Laboratory to create an intoxicating mix of house dabbled with just enough flecks of subtle echos and accents on glistening bells to make it a much more atmospheric endeavor than a pounding techno album. “Spectral Split” also exhibits another side of the album that reflects on minimalist influences like Steve Reich.
Criminal Hygiene – CRMNL HYGNE [Small Smile]
Dutch Uncles – Out Of Touch In The Wild [Memphis Industries]
Everything Everything – Arc [RCA/Victor]
Free Energy – Lovesign [Free People]
Holopaw – Academy Songs Vol. I [Misra]
Lee Harvey Osmond – The Folk Sinner [Latent]
Mystical Weapons – Mystical Weapons [Chimera]
VA – West of Memphis: Voices for Justice OST [Legacy]
Yo La Tengo – Fade [Matador]