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New Music Tuesday: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds • Atlas Genius • STRFKR • Beach Fossils • Jamie Lidell • Iceage • Mark Kozelek • Matmos

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away

Every Tuesday, we focus on new music releases by naming our top tracks, album highlights, lowlights and important takeaways for select albums.


Nick Cave and the Bad SeedsPush the Sky Away

2-BamsTop Tracks:
“Higgs Boson Blues”
“We No Who U R”
“Waters Edge”

Album Highlights: Nick Cave sets his dark tone right away with the haunting opener “We No Who U R.” The song, and really the whole album has very little guitar work, but instead focuses on percussion, violin, and Caves’ uncanny lyrics. In “Higgs Boson Blues,” Cave sings about how “Miley Cyrus floats in a swimming pool in Toluca Lake”, and there are plenty of gems like that throughout the album.

Album Lowlight: Nick Cave was definitely not making a rock ‘n’ roll album this time around, and that’s fine, but it barely changes tempo and didn’t captivate me until the second to last song “Higgs Boson Blues.”

Takeaway: One of Caves’ main themes is water, and the song “Mermaids” gives a sense of the whole album in one track. It references many different types of water and captures the overall feel of love and despair between a man and this mermaid. This is a borderline concept album that is very dark and lyric-heavy. This record would play nicely with headphones on in a dark room, but I wouldn’t play this on a sunny Saturday.

~Pete Mauch


Atlas GeniusWhen It Was Now

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Back Seat”
“Trojans”
“Symptoms”

Album Highlights: It is no surprise that “Trojans” would be the lead single of the album, as Atlas Genius has impeccably crafted a pop gem. A subtly sexy radio friendly hit, the song is infectious and will have you singing and clapping along from first listen. As a bona fide plan B, the track is strong enough to keep Atlas Genius relevant on the one-hit wonder circuit at least for years to come. Although, “Back Seat” will most likely prevent Atlas Genius from the one and done career.

Album Lowlight: An awkward departure from the New Wave sound of the rest of the album, the acoustic guitar-driven track “Through the Glass” gets muffled amongst the excess production as the band tries to blend the song’s elements into cohesion. The lyrical structure is off beat, trying to figure out its place within the composition’s confusion, and the meaning is lost amongst the noise.

Takeaway: “When It Was Now” is most exemplary of what Atlas Genius is capable of creating. The album definitely came off as a debut, full of potential stabs at mainstream airplay. The talent is there, and “When It Was Now” best dictates their strongest songwriting technique, and the direction their sophomore effort will most likely head toward.

~Molly Kish


STRFKRMiracle Mile

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“While I’m Alive”
“I Don’t Want to See”
”Leave It All Behind”

Album Highlights: STRFKR gets funky on its opening track “While I’m Alive”. Still tying in their signature Casio dance beats, they throw it back a couple generations with thumping bass lines, harmonizing falsettos and disco laden guitar riffs. Branching out from their standard indie rock formula, the boys embrace several different approaches to create a successful pop album. “While I’m Alive” opens their most ambitious effort to date with a pulsating hit ready for any dance floor.

Album Lowlight: Except for the lyrical mention of the album’s title, “Fortune’s Fool” serves little to no significance on the album. The track isn’t cohesive with the album’s composition or STRFKR’s overall sound. Furthermore, it is an awkward track that causes a division between the album’s experimental first half and more pop-centric second act.

Takeaway: Effortlessly segueing out of “Golden Light”, “Nite Rite” keeps you lingering for an entertaining seven-minute journey to the close out the album. More of prolonged jam than the typical STRFKR crafted track, the band plays with a mélange of audio effects accompanying a steady bass line, drum beat and tension building breaks. The effect is a wall of sound destined to stun in the capacity of a live show.

~Molly Kish


Beach FossilsClash the Truth

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Careless”
“Shallow”
“Crashed Out”

Album Highlights: It’s another decent slice of shoegazing pop from Dustin Payseur and company, perfect for a rainy day inside or a sunny drive down the coast. Personnel changes marred the band in the past year, so the fact that Payseur soldiered on shows great dedication to this act, even while it splintered. Songs like “Burn You Down” demonstrate their knack for a precious sound that one can easily get lost in.

The inclusion of singer Kazu Makino on the song “Vertigo” is a pleasant surprise, as the absence of Zachary Cole Smith displays the lack of melody that was a key part of this group in previous years.

Album Lowlight: Honestly, for the amount of time taken since the release of their heralded self-titled release some three years ago, this album falls a little flat. Maybe it was that many other similar bands like Wild Nothing and Real Estate released solid sophomore efforts well before Beach Fossils did. Maybe the departure of Zachary Cole Smith to form DIIV put a crutch in the writing and recording process of Beach Fossils.

Takeaway:Fans of this band will enjoy this listen, but likely still go to previous releases more often than this effort. Sometimes great stretches of time between recording can muddle the writing process, and this may be the case for Clash the Truth.

~Kevin Quandt


IceageYou’re Nothing

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Ecstacy”
“Morals”
“Wounded Hearts”

Album Highlights: The follow-up to 2011’s New Brigade does not disappoint, full of blistering angst-ridden Danish post-punk in all it’s youthful glory. Songs like “Everything Drifts” showcase a more musical focus with clearer sounding vocals by Elias Rønnenfelt and more in depth guitar chords. The blistering thrash of their debut has made way for a fuller, dare I say more mature sound overall. There is also a sonic richness which is more prevalent on their Matador label debut.

Lyrics have not deviated much from the societal gloom these young-ins have demonstrated on “Ecstasy”: “But bliss is momentary anyhow / Yet worth living for — take me now”.

Album Lowlights: Fans who prefer the more thrashed-out side of this band may grumble at it taking a more commercial, emotive direction, comparatively. Yes, this album comes across as less detached than the previous, but it’s with this growth that the excitement is bred. You’re Nothing is still a rough-edged album, but this new depth will please many as they make their way to comparisons of Black Flag and Fugazi.

Takeaway: How awesome is it that a bunch of Danish teenagers are the face and sound of some of the more progressive punk and hardcore in the past few years? And with their first release on Matador, they’re showing that with a few extra resources, they can bring their game to the next level while not compromising their integrity.

~Kevin Quandt


Jamie LidellJamie Lidell

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“Do Yourself a Faver”
“Blaming Something”
“So Cold”

Album Highlights: Jamie Lidell’s self-titled release is funky and soulful, yet takes a couple listens to grow on you. His first album since 2010, Lidell’s 2013 offering has an interesting flair. Most of this record sounds like a 21st century funk-infused disco that Prince commissioned to write for the Ghostbusters III soundtrack. It combines elements of 80’s R&B funk with contemporary elements of dubstep without getting too “wobbly.”

Fans of Lidell might be displeased with this departure, as electronic pop dominates over his signature soulful sound.

Album Lowlight: Jamie Lidell is at his best when he is channeling his inner Prince. (Aren’t we all?) Unfortunately, that channel breaks signal several times throughout the album, slowing down the upbeat pace of most of the songs. It’s a shame that the first single from the record is “What A Shame,” one of the weakest tracks on the record, in my opinion.

Takeaway: This album definitely has it’s moments, and for the most part, it is a very soulful funktronica album. The highlights outweigh the lowlights, which are sprinkled in just enough to cause this album to fall short of greatness.

~Kevin Raos


Mark KozelekLike Rats

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Free for All” by Ted Nugent
“Silly Girl” by Descendents
“Carpet Crawlers” by Genesis

Album Highlights: Mark Kozelek continues with the tone that made his 2012 record as Sun Kil Moon Among the Leaves such a success. Kozelek’s hypnotic acoustic guitar repetitions and soft baritone voice combine to strike emotional depth unmatched by most contemporary artists. And with Like Rats, Kozelek takes a diverse collection of tracks from other artists to create a record that completely transforms the songs into Kozelek’s wheelhouse — moaning sentiments of self-reflection and loathing “what could have been” feelings.

Album Lowlight: My personal lowlight is just realizing I missed Kozelek on Sunday evening at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco by one day, but seriously, this guy can do no wrong as far as I’m concerned. His songs grow on you easily if you let them, and even the dark cover of “I Killed Mommy” by Dayglo Abortions works well enough, assuming you like tales of killing your family members.

Takeaway: Mark Kozelek, the prodigious singer songwriter also known as Sun Kil Moon, has embarked on a record featuring covers from other artists. The attempts at covers are wide-ranging and mostly successful; how many singer-songwriters could nail covers by Ted Nugent, Descendents and Genesis in one album? It’s worth a listen or two, but it’s hard to give Kozelek full credit since he is such an accomplished songwriter.

~Mike Frash


MatmosThe Marriage of True Mind

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Tunnel”
“Mental Radio”
“Teen Paranormal Romance”

Album Highlights: Electronic duo Matmos run the gamut of music genres with The Marriage of True Mind, and it somehow does it successfully without any obvious unified theme, other than vocalizing its love of “Triangles.” This record has influences in deep house music, jazz, blues, space glitch and everything in between. “Tunnel” builds tension with a growing chorus of bees and alarm sounds — and it starts as a jungle-influenced world music track but progresses to spoken word over didgeridoo that builds to a cacophony of sound, ultimately breaking to an outro release that finishes with a hacking-bong rip cough. It’s a busy track and record, but triumphs like “Tunnel” make this LP addictive.

Album Lowlight: Attempts at Amon Tobin-like ambient space jams in “Ross Transcript” put forth a good effort but work better as a transition as opposed to a listenable song.

Takeaway: The Marriage of True Mind is a crazy blast of noise mixtures. It is experimental in nature and not beholden to any one sound aesthetic. It feels like one long jam, as if the idea of making individual songs didn’t cross the creator’s minds. It works as a cinematic soundtrack, and it is fun to see Matmos toy with genre-mixing. This LP’s obsession with the triangle, combined with alt-J’s geometric dogmatic worship of the shape, shows that triangles are so hot right now.

Matmos is not afraid to fuck with any sound, and the record contrasts light and dark tones, as well as mellow beats and intense builds.

~Mike Frash

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