by Erik Ritland
Hello everyone and welcome to the first in our new series New Music Fridays! Each week we'll be reviewing three recently released albums.
This week it's the experimental jazz of BadBadNotGood, garage rockers Omni, and some riffy complexity from TTNG. Thanks for reading!
Note: a video or playlist with each albums contents appears below each review!
BadBadNotGood – IV
Experimental modern jazz / hip hop / modern rock
BadBadNotGood mix jazz, hip hop, and space rock in a delightfully bewildering way. Often they’re reminiscent of a slightly less spacey Sun Ra (“And That, Too”) and the jazzier, more improvised moments of King Crimson. Samples, keys, synths, and a myriad of horns create compelling atmospherics throughout. There are two distinctive sides to IV, the first half being more experimental, while the second half features more traditional sounding jazz (the title track) and smoother, more soulful material (“Structure #3,” “In Your Eyes”). A beautiful, well-crafted album.
Omni – Deluxe
Indie rock / garage rock / punk
Omni, which features members of indie rock favorites Deerhoof and Carnivores, exceed expercations on their debut Deluxe. It has all the qualities of a great album proper: a uniform sound, enough variety to stay interesting, and a running time that doesn’t overstay its welcome at 30 minutes.
The songs are short and simple, sticking to a guitar/bass/drums formula, but with high energy and engaging layers of clean tone guitars. Although predominately garage-y and jangly, the songwriting has a childlike Syd Barrett energy, immediacy, and feel. “Earrings” has the goofiness and melody of an outtake from David Bowie’s Lodger, while“Jungle Jenny” and “Siam” are good examples of how catchy the songs are throughout. The psychedelic freak out at the end of "Siam" is a high point of the album.
Math rock / Indie rock
TTNG stands for This Town Needs Guns. The band changed their name because they felt like its irony wasn’t clear enough. It’s too bad, because that’s a great name, and I hate it when people are forced to dumb themselves down.
Like their previous two albums, Disappointment Island is fairly straightforward math rock. Fast, intricate clean guitar tones are the focus, while the bass and drums tightly keep an array of dizzying time signatures. The musicianship is jaw-dropping. Like most math rock, however, it can start sounding the same after awhile, no matter how many interesting time signatures they throw in.
Although the vocals are practically just an ornament for the music, Henry Tremain’s singing is a bit whiny (a little bit of echo on them would have gone a long way). His lyrics are poetic and worth sitting down and reading, though, even if they are sometimes a bit insular.
Disappointment Island is musically and lyrically interesting if you like intricate rock. I’d almost prefer if the stunning guitar work and musicianship would be turned into rap beats, though. Math rock hip-hop. Somebody needs to get on that.