Aug. 11Kesha, “Rainbow”One of the most telling things about the new Kesha album is that she has dropped the dollar sign from her name. “Warrior,” her last album released in 2012, was symbolic of pop music as a whole, feeling rehashed and out of breath while simultaneously revealing the all-too-familiar story of label control and horrifying behavior of the people who write the contracts. Having removed herself from the clutches of former producer Dr. Luke, Kesha shows that her songwriting can shine when it isn’t drenched in overzealous Autotune and rehashed 4/4 techno beats. The genres and inspirations on this record are myriad, with most of the inspirations stopping by to contribute to the songs themselves. There are reworked Dolly Parton tracks featuring the Smoky Mountain Songbird herself,album highlight “Let Them Talk,” an anthemic rocker featuring Eagles of Death Metal, the funk-tinged “Woman,” featuring the absolutely wonderful Dap Kings, and then tracks like “Praying,” produced by Macklemore alum Ryan Lewis. If you aren’t a pop fan, this record probably won’t pull you away from your underground French crust punk cassettes, but if you want to hear a woman coming into her own after a long time of troubles, “Rainbow” will have you feeling strong and loud.
Incantation, “Profane Nexus”Incantation is a metal band that separate the true, who live amongst the gold halls, and the false, who are made to leave the hall with all the other wimps and posers. “Profane Nexus” is their 11th studio album, coming off of 2014’s “Dirges of Elysium” and myriad lineup changes, and it never loses sight of what it wants to be. The record is grimy like a battlefield, roiling and churning like the angry sea, speeding up and slowing down with no warning. “Messiah Nostrum” is a highlight, slowly building chugging riffs on top of other massive riffs until we get a split second of silence before it all collapses into blast beats and demon shrieks. Couple that with some gorgeously disturbing art from Eliran Kantor and you have a titan of a death metal record.
David Rawlings, “Poor David’s Almanack”Once again coupled with folk darling Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, having dropped the “Machine” from his moniker, returns with “Poor David’s Almanack.” Where the previous efforts were definitely rooted in the singer/songwriter stylings of Young and Dylan, this new record seems more steeped in traditional folk, with minor key variations almost bringing it to the Gothic folk side. Ultimately this album almost feels more Gillian Welch than Dave Rawlings, but his playing is never overshadowed by the multiple voices that appear throughout.
Downtown Boys, “Cost of Living”We got a promo copy of this LP in from Subpop a few weeks back, and it was only with great trepidation that it ever left the platter of my turntable. Downtown Boys make a really cool punk rock with a reed section reminiscent of X-Ray Spex in both style and delivery. Beyond the upfront similarities of the saxophone, vocalist Victoria Ruiz channels Poly Styrene in both delivery and attitude while not being derivative of her. Punk rock is more valuable now than it has been in a long time, and this record feels very important. These kids are smart, they are well-researched, and they are pissed off at people that the young need to be pissed off at. Pay attention to this record.