Summer is here! So escape the heat by sitting in a basement with an airconditioner and a good pair of headphones! And listen to this lot!
Toro Y Moi — Boo Boo (July 7)
Chillwave is but a distant memory, having all but disappeared from playlists and record company rosters alike, and as with all fads, the majority of its progenitors have disappeared with it. Inevitably, the ones who’ve remained have proven the most interesting and versatile, and so it goes with Toro Y Moi: Chaz Bundick’s music has become increasingly dancefloor-oriented over the years, and this collection of liquid funk certainly spends some of its time shimmying underneath the disco lights. But there’s also plenty of sitting in the corner ruminating as the party goes on all around; apparently Bundick “used the writing of this album as a form of therapy to deal with a period of personal upheaval,” and while it’s not anything as straightforward as, say, that last Dirty Projectors album, there’s an emotional depth here, and the music is better for it.
Boris — Dear (July 14)
Sometimes you need to defer to others’ words. In this case, we defer to NPR, who headlined their piece on this album’s lead single as follows: “Boris Celebrates 25 Years By Cleaving The Earth In Two With ‘Absolutego.'” Apparently this was, at one point, to be the last Boris album; thank god it isn’t, because a band that has the power to create riffs this colossal should last forever. This song shares a title with their first album, but it’s a new composition for this record, and it’s, well, earth-cleaving.
Saba Lou — Planet Enigma (July 14)
God knows what it must be like growing up with a magnificent lunatic like King Khan as a father, but from the sound of this album, it breeds a desire to record beautiful country-tinged acoustic ballads. Saba Lou was nine when she sang on her father’s 2012 album Good Habits (and Bad), and five years later, she’s made her own record. The debut single, “Lost and Found,” is on her father’s Bandcamp now, and it’s…. well, it’s really lovely! We’ve only that song to judge by so far, but if the rest of the record is half as good, then Saba is a precocious talent indeed. And even if it’s not, shit, just the fact that she’s written and recorded an entire album herself at the age of 14 is pretty damn impressive.
Shabazz Palaces — Quazarz: Born On A Gangster Star/Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines (July 14)
Not one but TWO Shabazz Palaces albums? July, you’re spoiling us.
Alan Vega — IT (July 14)
The great Alan Vega died last year at the age of 78, but he was working right up to the end, as evidenced by the appearance of this album, recorded over the course of the last six years of his life. As per the album’s press release, Vega “found inspiration for the sound and messages throughout IT by religiously consuming global news and taking frequent late-night walks alone throughout the streets of downtown New York.” There was certainly plenty of global news to consume over the period 2010-16, and not much of it was good. This shows through in the album, which isn’t exactly cheerful listening: the lead single, “DTM,” is underpinned by a beat that sounds like a chainsaw, over which Vega intones a litany of indictments of the world, concluding thus: “DTM. Dead to me.”
Black Asteroid — Thrust (July 14)
Some dirty techno for your basement party. The fact that Bryan Black — aka Black Asteroid — has enlisted Zola Jesus and Cold Cave as guest vocalists for this record should give you a pretty good idea of what it’ll sound like.
Neil Young — Hitchhiker (July 14)
It’s kind of a shame that Neil Young has become something of a Pono punchline over the last couple of years, although it’s his own stupid fault, too — as long as he keeps on insisting that there’s some sort of magic about super high resolution recordings, people will keep ridiculing him about it. But still, here’s something to remind everyone that Young is a musician, not just a snake-oil salesman: a collection of Young’s unreleased acoustic songs, recorded live in 1976. Young fans tend to divide into those who like his acoustic work and those who like to hear him cutting loose with Crazy Horse; I’m in the former group, so I can’t wait for this.
Waxahatchee — Out in the Storm (July 14)
Can Katie Crutchfield prosper without the input of mysterious genius collaborator “Jacob”? Only time will tell.
Xordox — Neospection (July 14)
Xordox is the latest alias of the great JG Thirlwell — it makes a change from variations on “Fetus,” I guess — and it finds him collaborating with Flavorwire favorite Sarah Lipstate, aka Noveller. The result is gorgeous — the music sounds like it should be soundtracking journeys to distant stars, and they’re journeys that I want to go on.
Avey Tare — Eucalyptus (July 21)
And finally, we come full circle back to the band who were more responsible than anyone else for chillwave, albeit not to blame: Animal Collective. Avey Tare’s solo work has been kinda questionable over the years — remember the album he released backwards? — and he’s been kinda cagey about this record, not releasing any singles or preview tracks. (Inevitably, it leaked anyway.) But as it turns out, this is very much worth hearing — it’s quiet, serene and reminiscent of the psych folk that made for some of Animal Collective’s most important influences.