Jason: After hearing what Willis Earl Beal‘s voice was capable of in a handful of early videos when he was still something of an enigma a couple years ago, I was sorely disappointed when I heard his seriously lo-fi debut LP Acousmatic Sorcery, which was recorded on a karaoke machine and didn’t draw out the best in this unique performer. That disappointment turned to excitement when I heard that this Chicago native anti-folk musician was releasing his sophomore album this month on XL Recordings. That new record, entitled Nobody knows., finally does Beal’s talent justice, featuring layers of his soulful voice coupled with moving, simple beats and instrumental accompaniment over fifty-plus minutes of flat-out brilliance. Listen to “Too Dry To Cry” below:
Anna: The Wrens‘ The Meadowlands passed its 10-year anniversary this week, a fact that Stereogum celebrated by publishing a fantastic oral history of the album. I’ve always had a fondness for the Wrens for several reasons (including, but not limited to, the fact that they have an album entitled Secaucus, where I was born), and “This Boy is Exhausted” off of The Meadowlands is one of them. This song immediately became an ear-worm when I first listened to the album (not 10 years ago, mind you, not that it really matters), and continues to feel catchy and anthemic to this day.
Ben: Terry Malts‘ sophomore album, Nobody Realizes This Is Nowhere, is another winner for one of our favorite bands and the always-reliable Slumberland Records. This songs feel even louder this time around, full of catchy choruses and a surprising-for-the-genre sonic depth that shows why this band is a cut above. If these guys keep it up, a lot of us may no longer hesitate to connect the words “pop” and “punk”with a hyphen in between them.
Zack: Ever since we wrote about them back in late March, I’ve been obsessed with Blood Sister‘s debut EP ‡. Featuring members of Night Manager and Ganglians, the whole thing is a fuzz & reverb masterpiece with hooks too good to be this under-the-radar. “Why Would You” reminds me of running in a dream — the hazy guitars and vocals cleverly masking a band in full sprint. I don’t think they’re playing many live shows these days (if any at all), but I can’t wait to see them in the future.