Bonnie Stillwatter – “The Devil is People”
If anything, Bonnie Stillwatter represents a collaboration that I would never have considered — Will Oldham, Watter and Stillwater Artisanal, a craft brewery. There is a beautiful logic to this combination though, with Watter’s Tyler Trotter having a stake in the Louisville Beer Store, Holy Grale and the Gralehaus, and the relationship between Watter drummer Britt Walford and Oldham. The end result is a song of remarkable grace, and more than a little darkness, indebted equally to the Americana piece of Oldham’s work and the murky ambient prog of Watter. We can only imagine what effect the brewery’s product may have had on the resulting work, although it never falters or stumbles in its narrative path.
Twin Sister Radio – “Into the Flames”
There is a nice bounce to this track, the second released from Twin Sister Radio’s impending album “Basement Operettas,” that drives the song in a way that remains fun despite the brooding quality of the music. Singer/guitarist D.M. Wright has a voice that matches the post-punk, kraut-rock found here, a kind of staccato repetition that drills into your brain. The hooks are heavy, although that isn’t to imply that this is pop music by any stretch of the imagination, unless your vision of pop is indebted to Neu or Faust. There is a fragility to the guitars that makes them all the more grating, like they’re so brittle at times that they may splinter, perhaps by the sheer force of will. And if this isn’t a great track to run to, with its never-ending 4/4 timing, I don’t know what is.
White Reaper – “Make Me Wanna Die”
I’m pretty sure that White Reaper is the most summertime band in existence. If you can hear their music and not want to wear shorts and go on bike rides, something might be wrong with you. In fact, I’m suggesting you seek medical attention if this doesn’t get you riled up at least a little, as it seems you’ve caught a bad case of the Mondays. I get the irony here of inferring that a song named “Make Me Wanna Die” is in some way uplifting or fun, but it really just is. White Reaper makes music that is powerfully infectious, so thick with good riffs that you can’t help but roll the windows down a little bit and just enjoy that nice breeze on a nice day.
SateLight – “The Truth”
The search for the truth is something sought by everyone from the religions of the world to The X-Files, but somehow it’s still reassuring to know that rapper SateLight is on the case. For SateLight, his truth is socio-economic, about hip-hop culture and the surrounding accoutrements, and about the effect of money on your environment. The beat to the song is synth heavy, with a clear reggae influence, made sublime by the fusion here between more traditional hip-hop elements and the tropes found in dub. As such, the relationship between the music and the narrative blends to create a wholly socially-conscious sound, a term I’m a bit loathe to use, if only in that it suggests the social irrelevance of virtually every other song, as if one song is more or less subject to careful examination or capable of delivering cultural commentary. Still, that does seem to be the explicit goal here.
Jasun K – “Box Body”
This month, Jasun K, half of the emcee hip-hop duo Bird Zoo, has released a series of singles, ostensibly in advance of a new album, although nothing has been formally announced. Regardless of the delivery system, “Box Body,” the first of said singles, is a fantastic entry into Jasun K’s growing canon, with a track that somehow manages to make adult contemporary music seem tough. The beat is pure vaporwave, a genre reliant on that kind of slick and seemingly soulless sort of jazz best suited for elevators, sultry soap operas or the kind of instructional videos you have to watch at work, re-contextualized as something wholly fresh; it’s kind of ironic, but also kind of awesome and fun to listen to. For Jasun K, the music serves as a counterpoint to his narration about the entrapments of wealth and the material world, versus the violence created by money and poverty. This is a cold banger, and one to put on late at night somewhere in the city while you’re thinking about the world.
All Wool and Yard Wide – “Broke All The Rules”
When I first caught wind of this project, the newest from Daniel Duncan of The Commonwealth, I knew that it was going to be gold. Like the most recent records by My Bloody Valentine or Portishead, this too has been worth the wait. I have no idea what this band’s ultimate goal is, whether it’s just to make a nice noise together and maybe play a show or ten, but everything about their first release is about as professional and well crafted as it gets. This is music by people who know exactly what they want. The track “Broke All The Rules” seems to exemplify all of this — every note is earned and there is a restraint rarely paralleled, not only among their Louisville peers, but on a broader, national level, as well. This is a truly remarkable release and absolutely required listening.