This Week’s Best Albums: August 21, 2012

This Week's Best Albums: August 21, 2012

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.

Bloc Party: Four (Frenchkiss)


After a hiatus that saw front-man Kele Okereke testing the solo waters of R&B-inflected electronics, London indie outfit Bloc Party has returned leaner, meaner, and more dynamic than ever. Rawer sounds and a live recording environment make Four the closest to representing the band at its naked best.

Throughout the album, Kele puts his hard-earned confidence to good use — testing a snarl on "Octopus" and subtle R&B shadings on "Real Talk." The guitar-heavy material plays up Bloc Party's best attributes, offering a post-punk take on Brit pop with Kele's pliable, dramatic vocals.

- John Dugan

JJ Doom: Key to the Kuffs (Lex)


In February, producer/rapper Jneiro Jarel and masked wordsmith MF Doom announced a collaborative album under the name JJ Doom, teasing us with “Banished” as well as a string of contributors such as Blur/Gorillaz front-man Damon Albarn, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, and Jarel’s old Willie Isz partner, Khujo Goodie. Now the wait is over, as Key to the Kuffs finally gets its release on Lex.

The album offers everything you’d expect: Doom’s intricate, hyper-literate rhymes on top of Jarel’s future-retro sound. And Doom, naturally, doesn’t hold back: On “GMO,” he seethes about his frustration with the food industry, as Gibbons’ ghostly vocals hover throughout. Meanwhile, on “Banished,” he declares, “enough’s enough,” rapping about a dog-eat-dog world with lightning-fast delivery.

- Text by Meaghann Korbel. Read the full review here.

Six Organs of Admittance: Ascent (Drag City)


An undulating, tripped-out space opera, Ascent is the latest from guitarist Ben Chasny’s psych-folk project Six Organs of Admittance — here joined for an electric, full-band lineup by his Comets on Fire bandmates Ethan Miller, Noel Von Harmonson, Ben Flashman, and Utrillo Kushner.

From the start, Chasny’s guitar comes alive with candescent color, invoking the avant psych-geist without pastiche. Rolling lines of finger play provide atmospheric breaks, and reflective pieces like “Your Ghost” prove that, despite the special guests, his softer sensibilities are undamaged. But make no mistake: the main focus here is the roar and reason of electric guitar.

- Text by David Metcalfe. Read the full review here.

Honorable Mentions:

Call of the Wild: Leave Your Leather On (Kemado)

Evan Caminiti: Dreamless Sleep (Thrill Jockey)

The Darkness: Hot Cakes (Wind-Up)

The Heavy: The Glorious Dead (Counter)

Like Rats: s/t (A389)

Nihill: Verdonkermaan (Hydra Head)

The Old Ceremony: Fairytales and Other Forms of Suicide (Yep Roc)

Wake: The Fifth Finger EP (Proximal)