Since January 1, The Orchard has added over 60,000 UPCs to its digital distribution catalog. These ten grabbed our crate-diggin’ hearts faster than we could say “Nyan Cat Triple Bypass.”
The New Mastersounds: Breaks From the Border [Tallest Man]
Seventh album of warm retro-leaning funk and soul-jazz from these long-grooving Brits, this is The New Mastersounds’ first platter recorded in the US (Tornillo, TX) and their first with vocals (they’re great). If you dig Sharon Jones and Daptone Records, you’ll dig this. Stream it here.
Wooden Wand: Briarwood [Fire]
The rockingest entry to date in Wooden Wand’s prodigious discography, Briarwood marries James Jackson Toth’s Denis Johnson-esque tales of hopelessness and questionable morality with whiskey-drenched smoke-stained country rock courtesy of Duquette Johnston [ex-Verbena], his band the Gum Creek Killers, and a few other friends. Stream “Motel Stationary” here.
Mike Quinn: MAGICO [Prairie Queen]
Loose, funny, and profane, MAGICO is the debut solo album from Pennsylvanian Mike Quinn (And The Moneynotes, Okay Paddy). He delivers lines like “do you remember blowing smoke rings in the backseat with that warthog eatin’ speed” with a blustery Dylan/Jagger drawl that’s hard to resist. And “Big Shit” has the best “cruising Philadelphia” video since DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince’s “Summertime.”
Cuckoo Chaos: Woman [Lefse]
Song titles like “Slut Barf” and “Possessed by a Corpse” belie the sound of this San Diego quintet, which fuses bright worldbeat/Talking Heads-inspired polyrhythm with heart-on-sleeve lyrics. As evinced by the lead single “Jesus Flag American Fish,” Cuckoo Chaos are way too catchy to stay under the radar for long.
Willie Evans, Jr: Introducin’ [High Water Music]
This debut album was self-produced by Florida MC and spits intelligent rhymes over gritty warped-ass soul samples. Watch for cameos by Pharoahe Monch (elevator dude) and Jean Grae (an epic face-mash/bird-flip) in the “good day/bad day” video for “Introducin.’”
Tom Ze: Grande Liquidicao [Mr. Bongo]
This Tropicalia pioneer’s 1968 debut is a gloriously frenetic and awe-inspiringly quixotic mélange of Brazilian pop, funk, psychedelia, bossa nova, and pure Dadaism. Os Mutantes fans should scoop this up immediately. You can currently stream the entire album on SoundCloud.
Kakkahätä-77: Huoltoasemalle unohdettu mies [Stupido]
I have no idea what these Finnish punks are saying, but their name Google Translates to Poop-Emergency 77. According to Wikipedia, they broke up two months ago. If a Finnish band plays raw Clash-like gang-vocal anthems, then has a poop emergency in the woods, then breaks up, does it make a sound? Yes, yes it does.
El Rego: El Rego [Daptone]
Crate-digger extraordinaire Frank Gossner [Voodoofunk] curated this collection of rare ’60s and ’70s recordings from Benin’s “Godfather Of Funk” Theophile Do Rego [NPR feature] and it burns from start to finish. In contrast to the marathon grooves favored by some of his contemporaries, El Rego keeps it tight, rarely eclipsing the four-minute mark, but the tunes are no less danceable. An undeniable fusion of raw James Brown-style funk, Afrobeat, psychedelic blues, and Latin-American influenced rhythms.
Future Virgins: Western Problems [Starcleaner]
Debut album from energetic Tennessee band whose ragged sing-along anthems remind us of The Replacements, The Thermals, and The Figgs. The average song length on Western Problems is two minutes and one second. They’re internet-shy, but you can stream a song via a blog called Late Night Wallflower. We need more of this happy pogo music.
Blut Aus Nord: 777 – Sect(s) and 777 – The Desanctification [Debemur Morti]
Black Metal didn’t quite “break” in 2011 but the genre did receive a surprising amount of attention from mainstream US press (hello New Yorker) thanks to acclaimed albums from bands like Krallice, Tombs, and Liturgy. Blut Aus Nord, the solo project of utterly mysterious French multi-instrumentalist Vindsval, made numerous “Best Metal Albums” lists [Pitchfork, Stereogum etc] with 777 – Sect(s) and 777 – The Desanctification, the first two albums in a proposed trilogy, but there’s no reason these records should be marginalized either. Both albums are unrelentingly heavy and brutally foreboding, but richly textured and aggressively beautiful in their own way.
Want more? Here’s last year’s list.