Songs of the Week: Danny Brown, In Solitude, Whiskey Myers, and More
Danny Brown, “Wonderbread”
Let’s give it up for Danny Brown’s excellent new-ish LP Old for being — among its many other attributes — the best-sequenced album of the year. Like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” this record is all rising action, building toward an ecstatic EDM rap climax that nods to A$AP Rocky’s “Wild for the Night” while inhaling handfuls of Molly. “Wonderbread” is a brief segue into weirdness for weirdness’s sake from Old’s front half. It’s begging to be skipped over on an album loaded with highlights, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for weeks.
In Solitude, “Pallid Hands”
Not since Watch the Throne have I been as in love with an album’s production as I am with In Solitude’s Sister. This is exactly how I want hard-rock records to sound — the Martin Birch drum snap, the Roy Thomas Baker guitar clarity with a bit of early ’80s Steve Lillywhite atmospherics, and vocals mixed just below the maelstrom. As far as I’m concerned, this is full-on sonic porn.
Whiskey Myers, “Home”
I’ve been hoping that these Skynyrd-obsessed Texans might pull it together and come up with a drunker, dumber, and less self-aware version of Southern Rock Opera. The upcoming Early Morning Shakes isn’t that record, but it is a move in the right direction — Whiskey Myers has set aside any pretense of being a country band and taken a deep dive into the murk of blues-rock sleaze. It seems like a foregone conclusion that “Home” will eventually score an episode of Sons of Anarchy.
Omar Souleyman, “Wenu Wenu”
Syrian vocalist Omar Souleyman became a star in his native country as an in-demand wedding singer known as a master of the high-energy dance music known as dabke. Recordings of his wedding performances were circulated on more than 500 albums sold throughout Syria before he was discovered by an international audience in the late ’00s. The new “Wenu Wenu” is Souleyman’s first release recorded in a studio, and it’s produced by Four Tet’s Kieran Hebdan. The title track bolsters the case for wedding music being an underappreciated art form.
Elephant Stone, “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”
By default, Rishi Dhir of Elephant Stone is probably the top sitar player in rock right now. But judging by “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin” (a highlight of this free compilation recently posted as a free download by the Canadian band), he’s equally great at writing songs suited for Rickenbacker guitars.
Red Fang, “Blood Like Cream”
Your mid-column metal smoke break, courtesy of my favorite “big dumb rock record” of the moment, Whales and Leeches.
Jonathan Wilson, “Dear Friend”
As a producer, Jonathan Wilson specializes in relatively straightforward evocations of early ’70s SoCal folk-pop like Father John Misty’s Fear Fun and the first two Dawes albums. But as a solo artist, he’s the weirdest and most self-indulgent cat currently sauntering around Laurel Canyon. Wilson’s 2011 album Gentle Spirit openly aspired to obscurity, presumably so that it can be rediscovered in 20 years and be declared a lost classic. The new Fanfare is similarly wired, plugging into a heavy If I Could Only Remember My Name vibe on jammy, meandering tracks like “Dear Friend.”
Brandy Clark, “Stripes”
“Folsom Prison Blues” for the Orange Is the New Black era.
Cass McCombs, “There Can Only Be One”
I’ve tried on three different occasions to get all the way through Big Wheel and Others, the latest album by reclusive singer-songwriter Cass McCombs. But there’s a lot to get through — at 22 songs and 85 minutes, Big Wheel is a brick of tuneful perversity. But even if I only make it through once, I’ll keep coming back for “There Can Only Be One.”
Mind Spiders, “Inside You”
This Denton, Texas, garage-punk outfit will probably always be burdened by Jay Reatard comparisons. Me, I’m just glad that somebody is still making records like this in 2013.