1. Aparna Nancherla – Just Putting This Out There
Nancherla’s debut album is also the first release on Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball Records, an imprint of Secretly Canadian. It’s a strong showing, partly because Nancherla is a seasoned stand-up and writer. She’s spent a lot of time on the road and landed a job writing on Late Night with Seth Meyers last year. She has honed this material, and her perspective as an anxious outsider, not sure how to hop in the mix with her fellow humans. When she moved to New York, she wasn’t prepared to see so many super models just walking down the street. “Models, to me, feel like self-esteem pick-pockets,” she says. “Like, they’re fine at a distance, but then you directly walk by one, and you’re just like, ‘Nooooo. I have nothing! Even my personality’s the wrong shape.” Her bright and cheery stage cadence belies the fact that she’s often talking about depression. She’s wistful about bad weather, for example. “I love rainy weather. I love when it’s gray and cold and windy. ‘Cause for me, it reminds me why I got in the whole depression game.” She even sounds like she’s describing a glass half full when she asks, “Don’t you think that any pizza can be a personal one if you cry while you eat it?” She’ll be touring the U.S., with a stop in Quebec, in support of the album.
1. Night Verses – Into the Vanishing Night
The first thing I thought of when I heard the intro to “A Dialogue In Cataplexy,” the first song released in advance of Night Verses’ second full-length album, Into the Vanishing Night, was the bouncy arpeggios in King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair.” That changed quickly at the first verse, where it gets all screamy. The song changes complexion frequently, and that describes a lot of the album. It’s angular and atmospheric at one point and relentlessly loud the next, from calm to cacophony.A lot of instrumental textures and curveballs. After establishing his unhinged wail on the first two tracks, singer Douglas Robinson suddenly sounds like he’s hired the Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler as his vocal coach on “Drift.” “Panic and Pull Your Heart Out” is trance-like before it breaks into chaos. The one thing that consistent, the music is heavy.
2. Slow Season – Westing
Consequence of Sound called “Y’Wanna” from Westing “Janes-Addiction-esque,” and that’s apt, with the new-Zeppelin riff and the pounding drums. But to my ears, it also sounds like Neil Young’s “Mr. Soul,” especially with the droning vocals and throbbing low end. That’s an awful lot of references for one song, but that’s the territory Slow Season is plowing here. They groove like mad, and they like their guitars up front and riffy. If you slipped “Saurkonig” onto newly-pressed versions of Houses of the Holy, it might take a while before people noticed it didn’t belong there. Not a lot of bands do that convincingly that anymore, but Slow Season owns it. If you’ve been missing that sound, here it is.