From Mexican-tinged folk to British gothic, this week sees some great new music. Our pick of the week is the Joe Henry-produced album from Over the Rhine.
Cut Copy – Zonoscope
have never been able to figure out whether they’re indie rock experimentalists or ‘80s dance purists. So they’ve become both. Zonoscope, the Australian quartet’s third full-length studio album, is their most impressive balancing act yet, walking a fragile tightrope to either a world where pop radio is a hell of a lot weirder or one where the freaks are DJing the school dances. Read Ryan Reed’s review or download a free mp3 from the album.
David Wax Museum – Everything Is Saved
A Missouri native, David Wax’s love affair with Mexican music took root during the summers he spent South of the Border working with the American Friends Service Committee during college. After graduating from Harvard, he returned to rural Mexico in a year-long fellowship where he began mixing the folk of his Midwest upbringing with traditional Mexican music. Along with fiddler Suz Slezak, Wax has toured as David Wax Museum with The Avett Brothers and the Old 97’s and was the breakout act at The Newport Folk Fest last year. Download a free mp3 from the album.
Esben and the Witch – Violet Cries
Gothic, ethereal, dark. These are fitting descriptors for a band that takes its name from a Danish fairytale about a boy’s encounter with a murderous witch. Esben’s debut album combines heavenly vocals with brooding guitars and a thundering rhythm section. The sound is intense. “I think it’s very important to challenge the listener,” Copeman says. “There should be a level of hostility within the music that you make. You’re trying to describe a whole gambit of emotions with the course of an album. Musically, the best way to do that is to pull people around.” Read Bo Moore’s Best of What’s Next story on the band.
Jessica Lea Mayfield – Tell Me
Tell Me is all meaty guitar licks and sad-edged vocals, like Fleetwood Mac for the blog generation. With song titles like “Run Myself into the Ground,” “Nervous Lonely Night,” and “Sleepless,” Mayfield makes no bones about her forlornly expressive approach to writing. Still, Tell Me feels genuine and unpretentious throughout, setting the tone for a night of cathartic, misty-eyed introspection. Read M.T. Richard’s review.
Nicole Atkins – Mondo Amore
Some break-up records are about a boy. And some are about a girl. But Nicole Atkins’ new album Mondo Amore is about a boy, a band and a record label. Three years after her Columbia Records debut, she’s rediscovering the joy of independence, recording her new album with the help of fan donations and touring with a soul sister on guitar. Read Josh Jackson’s Catching Up With interview with Nicole Atkins or China Reevers’ review.
Over the Rhine – The Long Surrender
Detweiler and his wife Karin Bergquist, the sultry voice of Over the Rhine, have been at this for 20 years now. They’ve watched musicians and record labels come and go, career hopes wax and wane, and their marriage strain under the weight of too many nights on the road. Here they emerge on the other side of disappointment and trauma, a little weary, a little chastened, but full of hard-won hope. The desperation comes through on almost every song, but so does the determination to hold on at any cost. Giving up never sounded so good. Read Andy Whitman’s review.
Baby-faced beatmaker Mike Skinner can work magic with a rhyme. On Computers and Blues’ first track, he raps: “The world is outside but inside warm, inside informal, outside stormy, inside normal.” Unfortunately, the man behind The Streets takes his iambic leaning too far sometimes, and his latest—and final—album showcases this tendency. Read Rachel Dovey’s review.
Teddy Thompson – Bella
“It was quite old-school recording studio, which there aren’t many of anymore,” Thompson says about his fourth album. “It felt almost decadent, making an old fashioned record in a big studio. In the first few weeks, when we were going into the big room, I felt like I was really going to make a record as opposed to going into some little room with computer screens, which it so often is these days.” The son of Richard and Linda Thompson is heading out on tour with the Old 97’s.
Young Galaxy – Shapeshifting
The Montreal band has toured with fellow Canadians Stars and Arcade Fire. Download to a track from their debut and read Jonah Flicker’s debut later today.
Yuck – Yuck
The noise rockers’ self-titled album captures a buzz band actually capable of exceeding lofty expectations. Yuck borrows everything great about late ’80s and early ’90s indie-rock, piecing together the formidable bits of this compelling era into a cohesive and enticing record. Read Max Blau’s review or Lindsay Eanet’s Best of What’s Next feature.