Best of September 2012
I have to catch up with some September releases that I missed, but one of my biggest surprises came at the hands of Nude Beach, the raucous Brooklyn three-piece. The drunken yet precise brand of garage-rock they explore on II sounds like The Strokes if that band could rewind years of Nigel Godrich and Drew Barrymore and were forced to play left-handed at your favorite bar. On “Some Kinda Love,” exactly no one in the band can hit the big note near the end, but the way their voices strain and fray for it only makes them more endearing.
Animal Collective is one of my favorite bands, but Centipede Hz left me a bit cold. I guess it’s more lyrical than their last album, in a literal but not a figurative sense. I thought I would like a return to their more manic, breathless style, but I don’t feel the need to come back after my first two listens. (I’m including a song here, but Grizzly Bear kind of whiffed too, didn’t they?)
I can’t say the same for How to Dress Well’s Total Loss, which is the best album of the month if not the year. Tom Krell’s first album under that name, Love Remains, stretched ghosts in machines past their breaking points, daring the reverbed, water-logged samples to burst at the seams. Total Loss gropes for the same fuzzy textures, but it’s also an achingly personal, original album in all the ways its predecessor was derivative. There’s way more space in these minor-key songs for Krell’s willowy falsetto to float over, and the emotion is raw, spare, and intimate. This is winter music: supply your own crackling, dead leaves.
On the song front, “In a Big City” by Titus Andronicus is promisingly cathartic. It’s messy and soaring and bleary-eyed in the way I want all their music to be, quoting Hamlet one line and bragging about wiping their asses the next. They’re like the college-educated older brothers to Japandroids, and I hope the latter’s fans, including myself, can similarly champion the new Titus album in October.
Oh, and Carly Rae back. Really, girl? That’s just the A chorus?