July 7Broken Social Scene, “Hug of Thunder”Musical collectives are a strange thing in this day and age. Before the internet, when we didn’t know the intimate details of every member of a band, or even their names sometimes, and a new voice or instrument showing up in a collective was a dazzling thing. Now, it has lost a little bit of its magic and can lead to more convoluted themes and performances. Broken Social Scene returns for their first album in seven years, and while their previous work seems defined by these massive peaks of sound, “Hug of Thunder” revels in the low-key moments. The title track is full of whispers from singer Leslie Feist and a subdued bass line that seems to carry more weight than any of the grand lambastes of sound that came before it. The track “Halfway Home” feels much more typical, an explosion of sound and color that would feel at home in a massive theater art piece. Listeners have been waiting for this record for a long time, and it is dynamic enough to both satisfy old fans of everyone involved in the project and bring in new fans of jubilant rock music.
Haim, “Something to Tell You”The three sisters of Haim made a huge splash with their early 2012 appearance at SXSW and the subsequent release of their first album, “Days Are Gone.” And now they are back! With another record full of pop rock filled with crazy three-way vocal harmonies that, once I noticed, I couldn’t get over how well-performed they are. The three sisters are so in tune with each other it’s crazy. All three of them have serious musical chops, but my favorite (if I have to pick one) is Este, the bass player. Watch a live performance by these girls and focus on Este and you will see some of the greatest bass faces of all time, all while performing great bass lines and vocals. If you think Lorde and Florence could use a little more Tom Petty musical stylings, then check out Haim.
Decapitated, “Anticult”Probably don’t need too many guesses to figure out what Decapitated is all about. They play no-frills death metal and have for a very long time. I first found them when my friend Justin showed me the tracks Spheres of Madness when I was in high school and, my hands shaking and my brow shining with new sweat, I muttered “How can he be that fast?” like a character out of “Dragon Ball Z.” The drummer who made me feel so strange has sadly since passed, but the band marches on. I feel Decapitated is pretty approachable as far as death metal goes, where a fan of Rob Zombie or Disturbed could easily cross over with a record like “Anticult.” There are some killer riffs and solos, wonderful vocal delivery, and seriously ridiculous drumming from Krimh, who continues to show why he is one of the best in the game.
Toro y Moi, “Boo Boo”I love the abundance of people who have come to embrace ambient music over the past few years. “Boo Boo” is so full and lush I just want to sleep in a bed made of it. That, combined with the newfound love of old-school synthesizers in the general music scene, has made me a happy music fan. The new Toro y Moi comes a couple years after his last record, and it is perfect for the hot, heavy heat of late summer, with punchy beats drowning in fuzzy synths and delay pedals with their shimmer setting at max. It’s got a nostalgic R&B feeling to it as well, like if Gary Numan or Peter Gabriel worked with later-era Prince. It’s closest contemporary is that most recent Childish Gambino record, but they are definitely distinct enough from each other to exist independently in your record collection.