"Congratulations, You Are Good Enough"
Though Retox vocalist Justin Pearson (of The Locust) gets first mention for his name recognition, the rest of this Southern California hardcore-punk outfit is no less tenured or talented, with other projects that span from noise-core to Americana.
YPLL, the band’s sophomore “LP” — which hits 22 minutes after just 13 on the band’s freshman affair — is another dose of high-speed aggression and witty/pithy song titles (“Greasy Psalms,” “Soviet Reunion,” “Congratulations, You Are Good Enough”). New addition Brian Evans suitably replaces the whirling-dervish Gabe Serbian on drums, and with only two tracks on YPLL that eclipse two minutes, his maniacal energy is crucial. Whether you’ve followed the lineage of Pearson’s Three One G label or just love riotous punk rock with smarts, pick this up.
-- Scott Morrow
AM & Shawn Lee: La Musique Numérique
United by a love for vintage soundtracks and digital effects, soulful songwriter AM and omni-instrumentalist Shawn Lee issued a collaborative album of funky assortments in 2011. Now on their second album, the two demonstrate their predilections with a new collection of psychedelia-tinged earworms.
In addition to summoning the digital ghosts of soul, funk, R&B, and ragga, the album features a dazzling array of swirling effects, bass workouts, and vintage drum-machine charm. Lead single “Two Times” is representative of this “updated throwback” style, serving as a functional “Sleng Teng riddim” with fat analog tones, shuffling falsettos, and a sparkling-clean guitar solo — but also benefiting from boosted bass and production quality so glossy it could put a candy-coated low rider to shame.
-- Brandon Goei
Mylets: Retcon retrospective (Sargent House)
Talib Kweli: Prisoner of Conscious (Javotti Media / Capitol / EMI)
Sadgiqacea: False Prism (Candlelight)
Savages: Silence Yourself (Matador)
She & Him: Volume 3 (Merge)
Nick Urata: What Maisie Knew soundtrack (Milan)