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MJC Adds: 2/14

  • Post Author
    by Music director
  • Post Date
    Sun Feb 19 2023

Every Tuesday at WSUM, Music Director Amany chooses her favorite new releases to add to our music library. Here are this week's favorites, presented to you by WSUM's Music Journalism Club.

Caroline Polachek, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Bunny Is a Rider,” “Billions,” “I Believe,” “Pretty in Possible”

GENRE: Art pop

RIYL:  Frou Frou, Björk, Charli XCX

Indie pop singer Caroline Polachek (formerly of Chairlift) released her last album, Pang, in 2019 and it quickly became a highlight of the year. The long-awaited follow-up, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You is a powerful progression from the ethereal art pop of its predecessor. Danny L Harle handles the bulk of the production, and while much of his discography leans into his maximalist tendencies, the production choices here are comparably sparse while still maintaining a sense of lushness. Each song leans into a unique instrument or sound, such as a Procol Harum-style Hammond organ on “Butterfly Net” or a bagpipe solo on “Blood and Butter.” Polachek's vocals are as exquisite as ever, with the chorus of album opener “Welcome to My Island” seeing her hit high notes that are simultaneously airy and soaring. Special attention should also be paid to the fascinating and psychedelic lyrics on this project, as Polachek seems to never quite tell us exactly what she's thinking. On closer “Billions,” Polachek drops into a lower range to whisper “Headless angel, body upgraded / but it's dead on arrival,” and on “Pretty in Possible,” she croons “Pity the mayflies in the swimming pool at dawn / but down in the deep end I can't be left alone.” And after one listen, you won't want to leave this album alone, either.

— Andrew Schneider

Yo La Tengo, This Stupid World

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Aselestine,” “Apology Letter,” “This Stupid World”

GENRE: Indie rock, post-rock, dream pop

RIYL: Galaxie 500, Stereolab

Upon listening to the opening track, “Sinatra Drive Breakdown,” off This Stupid World, I immediately had to sit back and fully absorb the collection of sounds that flooded my ears. The entire album explores a range of genres that even the most pretentious music lover couldn't list. The newest album from Yo La Tengo has quickly become one of my favorite releases of the year so far and it's due largely in part to the diverse sound Yo La Tengo has mastered.  From the twangy, folk sound of “Aselestine,” to the shoegaze-esque title track, to the ethereal blend of dream pop and post-rock featured in the closing track “Miles Away,” this album provides a song for every emotion you could experience thinking about how stupid the world can truly be. 

— Elliot Novak

Pearla, Oh Glistening Onion, The Nightime Is Coming

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Ming the Clam,” “Effort,” “Funny in Dreams,” “The Mysterious Bubble of the Turkey Swamp”

GENRE: Folk, indie-pop

RIYL: Babehoven, Sadurn, Tenci, Meg Baird, Friendship

Nicole Rodriguez repeatedly sings “you stole my universe” on her new album Oh Glistening Onion, The Nightime Is Coming. What Nicole does with her Brooklyn-based band Pearla is recreate her own universe on her own terms. Using country-folk roots painted over by explosive indie-pop, Pearla gallops between dreams and the beautiful nature on Earth. With songs reminiscent of the Moldy Peaches (like “Ming the Clam ” and “Funny in Dreams”), we are able to run with Nicole as she takes us through her most bizarre moments of uncontrolled consciousness. Although the album is full of intense dream-pop moments, the use of country-folk roots is able to keep the dreams grounded in real life. Full of self-rejuvenation, we can't help but to join Pearla in her freeing new universe on her latest album.

— Shea Roney

Afternoon Bike Ride, Glossover

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “For The Breakdowns,” “Not Ideal,” “All On Me”

GENRE: Lo-fi folk, dream pop

RIYL: Clairo, Japanese Breakfast, Beabadoobee

This Montreal-based trio's second album feels almost impossible to fit into any one genre, pulling from ambient noise and lo-fi production, all with beautiful, dreamy female vocals at the forefront. Each song excels at pulling you into a specific scene. On “Summertime,” its quiet vocals and steady guitar sets you down lightly into a late summer night, with vague lyrics leaving the space for your imagination to run its course. Throughout the album Afternoon Bike Ride switch up their formula, never letting any one song get stale, whether it be through vocal features such as on “Glossover” and “Ensemble Mais Perdu,” or experimentation with a faster, less laid back pacing, like on the track “All On Me.” Glossover captures the essence of nature in a way that will, without fail, lull you into relaxation, each song tugging at memories of all four seasons. As we come closer to spring, definitely keep Glossover in mind whenever you're on a foray out into nature.

– Kian Murphey

Narrow Head, Moments of Clarity

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Moments of Clarity,” “Caroline,” “Gearhead,” “Flesh and Solitude,” “Soft to the Touch”

GENRE: Nu-metal, Shoegaze

RIYL: Deftones, Hum, Helmet, Smashing Pumpkins

Houston-based rock band Narrow Head is back with their third studio album.  Moments of Clarity pulls on elements of shoegaze, grunge and nu-metal to craft a raw and melancholic sound. Tracks like “Moments of Clarity” and “Caroline” headline the softer, dreamier end of the album.  Still, the album's heaviest tracks are its best.  “Gearhead” grabs you from the very beginning with nu-metal-inspired riffs, and “Flesh and Solitude” pairs industrial riffs with the harshest vocals on the album.  Meanwhile, “Soft to the Touch,” the album's final track, veers off into an intriguing electronic direction.  It's arguably the best and most interesting track on the album. At the heart of each track is a careful give-and-take between heavy, distorted riffs and soft, cathartic vocals. 

— Nick Bumgardner

Quasi, Breaking the Balls of History

HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Breaking the Balls of History,” “Doomscrollers,” “Riots & Jokes” 

GENRE: Indie rock, psychedelic 

RIYL: Pavement, Sleater-Kinney

Portland-based indie rock duo Quasi ended a decade-long hiatus with Breaking the Balls of History. The album begins with “Last Long Laugh,” a percussion fueled display of heavy guitar distortion, before “Riots & Jokes” shows off the electronic harpsichord elements which set Quasi apart from their indie-rock peers. “Doomscrollers” addresses the numbing qualities of online interaction in an age of normalized crisis, touching on modern issues in a nuanced, off-beat way. A hazy combination of cynicism, wit and deliberate chaos, this album pulls Quasi into the present and shows that they understand it better than anyone. 

— Claire Borgelt