Some tidying up. Running into the same problem of wanting to revisit albums just one more time before I put them aside, mostly because I’m having trouble finding A records.
MAC MCCAUGHAN – Non-Believers (Merge): Softer than Superchunk, and often slower. It’s not that McCaughan can’t write a decent slow tune, but with a voice like that it’s hard to take him seriously. Especially when he invokes Yoda: “There is no try, there is only do.” B PLUS (***)
SHARON VAN ETTEN – I Don’t Want to Let You Down (Jagjaguwar EP): As the title of this not-unenjoyable EP suggests, Van Etten lives to please, and so long as you’re the type looking for another set of near-identical songs—crescendoing acoustic guitar strums, inactive bass lines, drum patterns for children—sprinkled with that mercurial if not beleaguered croon of hers, you can’t be let down. B PLUS (**)
CANNIBAL OX – Blade of the Ronin (IGC): Vast Aire and Vordul Mega, hip-hop duo whose 2001 debut (produced by El-P) set off firestorms. Fifteen years later Bill Cosmiq takes the production helm and gets a bit of blame that the boom-bap harkens the past rather than the future. I say maybe you shouldn’t wait 14 fucking years to make a follow-up, but what do critics know? I thought this was fine. No revelation, but at least a few good samples: “The Power Cosmiq,” “Blade (Art of the Ox,” “The Fire Rises.” B PLUS (**)
TOBIAS JESSO, JR. – Goon (True Panther): I probably gave weak-voiced Natalie Prass—Jesso’s natural counterpart—too much credit, and this sour Canadian John Lennon sure ain’t a wiz with words: “When I found out that you’d gone and met a new man / I felt so lonely that I cried,” “I feel like I just hit the ground / I wish I could show you what it’s like.” It’s probably like hitting the ground. B PLUS (*)
MATT & KIM – New Glow (Harvest EP): Easily the worst album (er, EP, sorry) I’ve heard all year. Indie music allergic to hooks with a lead singer whose voice approximates a pubescent sea otter. Utterly unlistenable.
TWIN SHADOW – Eclipse (Warner Bros.): George Lewis, Jr. mistook Confess’s favorable reception as an affirmation of his artistry and not his knack for making big, dumb, 80s-inspired hooks, so naturally he beefs up the sound and guts it of catchiness.