Hello and welcome back to WSUM’s records of the week! This week’s wide-ranging records come from indie rocker turned musical polymath Toro Y Moi, synthy sojourners Chromatics, illustrious R&B powerhouse Sudan Archives. Enjoy!
Chromatics, Closer to Grey
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “You’re No Good,” “Twist the Knife,” “Touch Red”
GENRE: Synth Pop
RIYL: MGMT, Boy Harsher, Sweet Trip
On their new album Closer to Grey, Chromatics presents a solid track list of contemporary synth-pop tunes. While Closer to Grey is majorly a synth pop record with a retro sound, the instrumentation often sounds modern. Songs like “You’re No Good” let dreamy vocals glide over slick, modern production, while songs like “Twist the Knife” provide a more retro production style, with abrasive vintage synths. Though the sound of Closer to Grey might not be entirely unique, it has enough variation in songwriting and production style to be a worthwhile listen. — Ayden Schultz
The Growlers, Natural Affair
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Natural Affair,” “Truly,” “Die and Live Forever”
GENRE: Neo-Psychedelia, Indie Rock
RIYL: Surf Curse, Tonetta, Foxygen
California’s The Growlers are no strangers to the world of psychedelia infused rock, however, on their new album, Natural Affair, the band often approaches a sound I can describe as David Byrne-ish. Take the title track of the album, this particular cut actually reminds me quite a lot of Canadian outsider-pop artist, Tonetta, an artist the band has expressed their admiration for and covered. In addition, the album is heaving with jangly and laid back tunes. Take the song, “Truly,” for example. Llisteners in need of an eclectic indie record should be pretty content with what Natural Affair offers in its 41 minute runtime. — Matt Jarosinski
Sudan Archives, Athena
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Confessions,” “Did You Know,” “Iceland Moss”
RIYL: Moses Sumney, Kadhja Bonnet, serpentwithfeet
Sudan Archives is an avant-garde violinist whose music draws from influences as varied as the Celtic-inspired music she heard growing up, Sudanese fiddle traditions and Francis Bebey’s African Electronic Music 1975-1982. On Athena, Sudan Archives, the solo project of Brittney Parks, blends elements of hip hop and R&B with her virtuosic violin playing to create a sound uniquely her own. The album is one of self-reflection, full of poetic, didactic elements at times reminiscent of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
— Zoey Knox
Cartel Madras, Age of the Goonda
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Goonda Gold,” “Dawood Ibrahim (woof woof),” “Lil Pump Type Beat”
GENRE: Rap, Hip Hop
RIYL: Jae Sterling, The Sorority, Kimmortal
Cartel Madras is an up and coming sister rap duo from Canada. Their latest release Age of Goonda is an experimental rap album that combines traditional beats with a new contemporary sound. The sisters blend traditional rap, punk, house and South Indian aesthetics into something they brand as “goonda rap.” This album is an explosive follow-up to their first EP and has a faster and more “hype” sound. The lyrics dive into current social issues in hopes to bring these ideas to their audience. — Jessica Hall
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Studie” (feat. Panda Bear), “Slumber,” Atoms Song
RIYL: Shlohmo, Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing
If there’s one thing you should know about L.A. producer Teebs, it is that on top of being a record producer, he’s also a visual artist. Once you dive into his most recent release Annica, it’s clear how these two passions are intertwined. The sparse, ambient soundscapes he creates with sparkling synths, gossamer vocals and gentle percussion make you feel like you’re walking through a modern Van Gogh. In the track “Daughter Callin’,” featured artist Pink Siifu croons repeatedly “that’s peace, at ease,” and that’s how I’d expect someone to feel after listening to this album.
– Shelby Len
Rex Orange County, Pony
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “10/10,” “Face to Face,” “Never Had the Balls”
GENRE: Indie Pop
RIYL: Ryan Beatty, Clairo, Wallows
Rex Orange County’s music feels like you’re talking to a good friend you haven’t seen in a long time—it’s confessional and conversational. Rex Orange County never subscribes to the belief that lyrics need to be sparsely used. By the time you’re through Pony, you feel like you know him and how he’s felt since he’s last spoken to you. It’s refreshing, especially how it’s presented, wrapped up in a hazy and soothing genre blend of jazz, hip hop, and electronica. Pony will excite fans because Rex Orange County hasn’t strayed too far from the music he’s always made. And newcomers to his music should have no fear of jumping in—the embrace of the album is just as warm as you could ever hope it to be.
– Jane Lazzara
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Drnuk,” “G2g,” “California”
RIYL: bLAck pARty, Dijon, SiR
Berhana is an artist based in Atlanta who just released an album titled HAN that explores the elements of funk, soul, rock, and pop. Because most of this experimental album was recorded in Japan, the drawing of ideas and inspiration from the Japanese soul and funk music scene is prevalent in his 14 tracks. Berhana breaks the boundary of being a musical artist by producing a collection of songs that explore different genres yet are still tied by the distinct groovy sound that is present in every song. With the release of HAN, Berhana solidifies his potential as an artist to grow and produce projects that defies expectations of previous listeners.
– Kayla Chung
Swans, leaving meaning.
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “It’s Coming It’s Real,” “Amnesia,” “The Nub”
GENRE: Post-rock, Experimental rock
RIYL: Angels of Light, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Microphones
At 65 years old, Michael Gira is still at it. Stylistically, leaving meaning. is reminiscent of the mellower and more meditative parts of Swans’ past few albums. However, Gira hasn’t lost all his energy. “Sunfucker” retains the shout-style vocals that were the driving force behind albums such as To Be Kind and The Seer. In contrast, the layered and sometimes choral-style vocals differentiate this from other Swans projects—“The Nub” even calls upon several guests vocalists. Though leaving meaning. sometimes feels like a rehash of previous Swans releases, it’s worth a listen for long-time fans of Gira and his side projects.
– Daniel Palmeter
Toro y Moi, Soul Trash
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “tron_new_rose_hifi_v2”, “4-28-18_tonys_drewbanga_hifi”
GENRE: Experimental indie, alternative
RIYL: Blood Orange, Channel Tres, Jai Paul, HOMESHAKE
Toro y Moi’s newest album, Soul Trash was released as a digital album on October 29th as a more hi-fi version of the original free download that was released in early 2019 as a cassette tape bounce. As the original album was a cassette, all of the songs have long number titles. Many of the lyrics are spoken more like a rap over different unique beats; a little different from Toro y Moi’s more traditional, upbeat sound on their last album, Outer Peace. Several of the songs on the album are instrumental, and there are a few features from Caleon Fox, Elijah Kessler, and Old Grape God. A 30 minute short film was also released along with the mixtape, featuring psychedelic, colorful tour footage to accompany the experimental sound of the album. About the video, Laneya Billingsley, the director, says: “Chaz Bear and I sought to create a vibrating immersive piece that mirrored the soft melancholic bounciness of the mixtape, making sure every delicate part was exactly how we envisioned. We wanted the video to feel like a sort of tour through internal rooms led by Chaz our tour guide, or soul guide if you will.”