This Week’s Best Albums: April 9, 2013

This Week's Best Albums: April 9, 2013

Each week, editor-in-chief Chris Force and music editor Scott Morrow choose ALARM’s favorite new releases for This Week’s Best Albums, an eclectic set of reviews presenting exceptional music.

Mike Patton & V/A: The Place Beyond the Pines soundtrack (Milan)

"Handsome Luke"

Though still über-busy with band gigs and solo projects, songwriter and anomalous vocalist Mike Patton has added film-scoring to his hectic schedule since 2008. His latest, for the Ryan Gosling-led The Place Beyond the Pines, is another step toward traditional soundtrack arrangements and emotionally driven accompaniments, albeit with a few of the usual characteristics of the Faith No More front-man.

The biggest difference between this and his last score — for The Solitude of Prime Numbers in 2011 — is the inclusion of dramatic, operatic vocals (or keyboard-based faux-cals). Over another batch of short, eerie motifs (whether built around strings, guitar, or piano), harmonized choir effects build and release. Patton's own vocals are relegated to weird effects that accent or twang in the background, content to let the dark yet melodic content speak for itself.

The end of the soundtrack offers diversity from a handful of other recording artists, including the oldie / radio ditty of The Cryin' Shames’ "Please Stay," an emotive movement by Arvo Pärt, a piece from film-score master Ennio Morricone, and an overdubbed acoustic closer by Bon Iver. The changes of pace should work better in the film, but regardless, The Place Beyond the Pines is another impressive step in Patton's evolution as composer.

- Scott Morrow

Como Asesinar a Felipes: Comenzará de Nuevo (Koolarrow)


The worldwide debut of Chilean band Como Asesinar a Felipes begins with the only English on the record, a scratched voice declaring, “This is not a pop album.” And though a mix of moody synths, hip-hop vocals, bass grooves, and jazziness may seem to give the lie to that statement, this auditory collage is surprisingly accessible, even in its darker moments.

In a way, listening to the album’s six tracks with no understanding of the vocals makes it more special. Non-Spanish speakers are left to analyze themes through sound alone — the titillating piano, pained breathing, and dramatic cymbals on “De Doble Filo” write a story as clear as any lyrics could, and the rising tension of “Alto” acts as an undercurrent of threat.

The band’s fourth record, Comenzará de Nuevo is an auspicious step onto a bigger stage. It’s not hip hop as you’ve heard it before.

- Lincoln Eddy

Enabler: Shift of Redemption EP (Think Fast!)

"Live Low"

Last year, Milwaukee hardcore quartet Enabler released its Southern Lord debut, All Hail the Void, a hyper-aggressive mix of metal, hardcore, punk, and grind. The Shift of Redemption EP finds the band with two new parts — current and ex-members of Mouth of the Architect and Harlots to join guitarist/vocalist Jeff Lohrber and bassist Amanda Daniels — and it's a fiery, commingled mass of metalcore.

D-beat hardcore punk, chugging guitars, speed riffs, and even double-bass blasts tear through four songs in 12 minutes. At that length, it's the perfect short-player — balanced by the likes of high-speed, fuck-you rager "Live Low" and sludgy, down- and mid-tempo closer "Fallselflessly."

When put together, the songs are a solid intro to Enabler — not a new name, but one to know.

- Scott Morrow

Honorable Mentions:

James Blake: Overgrown (Republic)

Broadheds: s/t (Dangerbird)

The Knife: Shaking the Habitual (Mute)

Rival Schools: Found (United by Fate)

Terror: Live by the Code (Victory)

John Zorn: The Mysteries (Tzadik)