Toro y Moi – What For
Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi trades in his electronic dance-pop for indie-rock guitar and softer lyrics on his newest album What For?. More closely resembling June 2009 than his recent releases, the album is full of indecisiveness and quiet probing. Hazy electronic guitars, bass, and soft drums create psych melodies that compliment the ambiguity of his lyricism. He asks repeatedly, “Does anyone know where we go from here?” on the track “What You Want” and “Do you understand what must be done?” on “Spell It Out”. “Buffalo,” said by Bundick to have set the precedent for the entire album, is full of 70s funk and gauzy melodies. Whether it’s lack of direction or a purposeful push towards a more laid back sound, What For? shows Bundick’s range and thirst for musical growth.
The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ
Beat The Champ is the newest album from the Mountain Goats. The album is all about lead singer John Darnielles’ experiences with Lucha Libre wrestling growing up. With this fact in mind you might think that the album will be fun and lighthearted unlike many previous Mountain Goats’ album, but you would be wrong. The album encompasses the same confessional and heartbreaking lyrics that fans have grown to love. Darnielle escapes his horrible childhood through wrestling, and this album conveys that escapism. While the lyrics are sad, dark, and beautiful, the music itself is catchy and prompts you to sing along making Darnielle’s message easier to swallow. The album is quintessential Mountain Goats with a quirky topic.
Shlohmo “Dark Red”
Darker than his previous work, Dark Red is an abysmal and distorted melody. After a long period of personal loss, electronic producer Shlohmo’s second full length album ventures into a mournful place with its detachment from pop and admission into a realm of sluggish, monotonous expression of unhappiness. This sense comes out most in the middle of the album, the first five tracks being more dynamic and the last two more reminiscent of his earlier, more energetic work. The album reflects the discomfort he felt when he wrote it and with that energy in mind, the succession of variation and repetition throughout the album is telling of his attitude. In this iteration of his work, Shlohmo has stripped his sound of any collaboration or vocals, which creates an even more eerie, ominous, and almost tragic tone. Without a doubt this album explores the many dimensions of loss and the equally complex systems for coping with that.
– Kira Hynes