This year, infamous and prolific lo-fi artist Sam Ray unexpectedly returned to his cult-famous rock project, Teen Suicide . Though Ray is the frontman, it's a collaborative full-band effort that takes on multiple styles and genres.
The new album, It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir The Honey Pot, has a much cleaner production than prior releases. Though the mood and feel of it is lo-fi punk, the group ties in influences from midwest emo, ambient, post-punk, noise, folk and pop. Undoubtedly, the tracks are dark and emotional, but sloppy off-the-cuff performances also make it mysterious and detached in an enthralling fashion.
"Alex" is a melodic and shouting romp about suburban drug abuse and its affects on teenage life. Though the track is likely personal, the reverb-drenched vocals make the story sound like a blurry distant memory with lost details. Standout track, the heartfelt "Falling Out Of Love With Me," is simultaneously comforting and odd — which, for a song about losing feelings for someone, is quite appropriate.
The 26-track album is a big pill to swallow. Clocking in at more than an hour, there's a lot to chew on. Overall, It's the Big Joyous Celebration, Let's Stir the Honey Pot is a magnificent effort from Ray and company. What it lacks in to production-value consistency, it makes up for in originality and songwriting.
The former bassist of Woods and the frontman of The Babies, singer-songwriter Kevin Morby released his third solo record, Singing Saw, on his new label, Dead Oceans. Pulling influences from '60s folk like Bob Dylan and Lou Reed, Morby adds a modern twist with more refined songwriting, thus creating his strongest tracks to date.
"I Have Been to the Mountain" is a rollicking, freewheeling stomp with an infectious, catchy bass line and a strong chorus line that avoids a fall into the cliché pitfalls of folk rock. Closing track, the gospel-influenced "Water" is a piano-led track boasting a rocking, country swing. Singing Saw seems to be a deeply personal album. It takes time to dissect and pick apart, but at first listen, it's instantly enjoyable and unmistakably timeless.
Hold/Still, the third studio album from Canadian experimental-rock band Suuns, juxtaposes dark with light, electronic with rock and pop with avant-garde in equal measure. Though the group creates heavily orchestrated compositions, the off-kilter nature of its sound lends for a more organic and exciting listen. Much like Viet Cong, or even Palm, the group takes post-punk and pop structures and throws a wrench in the gears to bring us an unconventional but enjoyable sound to the trained ear.
Tracks like "UN-NO" feature electronic synths and drum patterns mixed with rabid, barbed guitar — only to be soothed by Thom Yorke-influenced crooning vocals. "Translate" is a spidery, menacing track with driving poly-rhythmic guitar and drums. What Suuns does so well is meshes together opposite ends of the musical spectrum without going too far in either camp, resulting in a style that appeals to multiple audiences. The group may sound very similar to its contemporaries, but Suuns' Hold/Still features its strongest set of tracks yet.
Calvet is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists.