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 way that delightfully messes with your mind. Often they’re reminiscent of a slightly less spacey Sun Ra (“And That, Too”) and King Crimson’s jazzier, more improvisational moments. The endlessly entertaining atmospherics on IV include samples, keys, and synthesizers, in addition to a myriad of horns. The first half is more experimental while the second half features more traditional sounding jazz (the title track) and slightly smoother, more soulful material (“Structure #3,” “In Your Eyes”). A beautiful, well-crafted album.
Omni – Deluxe
Indie rock / garage rock / punk
Omni features members of indie rock favorites Deerhoof and Carnivores, and as such there were high expectations for them. They definitely deliver on their debut Deluxe, which has all the qualities of a great album proper: it has a uniform sound throughout that is still varied enough to keep you interested, it doesn’t overstay its welcome at an inviting 30 minutes, and it doesn’t try to do too much. The sound perfectly fits its loose, jangly garage band feel, with just enough quality to make it easy to listen to but also with a lo-fi edge.
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 and “Jungle Jenny” and “Siam” are good examples of how catchy the songs are throughout (and the psychedelic freak out at the end of the latter is one of the high points 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 for some people. It’s too bad, because that’s a great name, and I hate it when people feel like they’re forced to dumb themselves down.
Their third album Disappointment Island, like their previous releases, is fairly straightforward math rock. Fast, intricate clean tone guitar are the focus, while the bass and drums tightly keep a myriad 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 sounding (a little bit of echo could 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.