Aug. 18Grizzly Bear, “Painted Ruins”What is left behind after we crumble, and what masks do we don when we are nothing but rubble? These are the questions central to “Painted Ruins,” Grizzly Bear’s subdued new record out on RCA. This is their first album since 2012’s “Shields,” and while it doesn’t feel completely removed from the prior sounds of their discography, “Painted Ruins” definitely stands on its own. The prominent vocal melodies of previous records are still there, but utilized sparsely, lending more gravitas to the emotional peaks that these harmonies represent. The instruments are lush, but also subdued in the same way the vocals are, with a generous amount of reverb, giving even flashy brass some wavy lines. 2017 has been a banner year for indie, and “Painted Ruins” lands far on the positive side of the spectrum of releases.
Thy Art Is Murder, “Dear Desolation”I went to a show a few years ago in Farmington for which Thy Art Is Murder came all the way from Australia to pummel our faces in, and it was one of the best shows I have ever been to. That was right when their last album, “Holy War,” came out, and since that moment, I have been looking forward to their new record. Lo and behold, it pummeled my face in. The band has been trying to avoid its typical categorization of deathcore, and that is immediately apparent with the album opener “Slaves Beyond Death.” The whole record is wonderful if you are still lamenting what happened with that last Suicide Silence album. Though the album does have brief moments of quiet, for the majority, subtlety is not a word that crossed the songwriters’ minds. And sometimes that isn’t a bad thing.
Jerry Douglas, “What If”If Bela Fleck is the god emperor of bluegrass, Jerry Douglas easily has a spot on the council of high lords, and he may be attempting to overthrow Fleck. After winning 14 Grammys and performing on over 2,000 releases, Douglas presents a new album of his own design, melding local genre faves bluegrass and jam bands (it’s a genre). Some of the tracks straddle that line between jam band and freeform jazz in a really stellar way, with “Cavebop” a highlight in that sense.
KMFDM, “Hell Yeah”This is the 20th album from industrial warheads KMFDM, and it is probably their most essential one in almost 20 years. Industrial music has a strange relationship with the mainstream, wherein success eludes even the biggest bands that still revel in the electronic body music scenes of some of the smokier cities. The digitized guitars, triggered drum samples, and movie soundbites have consistently been co-opted by top 40 music for years now. This new KMFDM will not bring them into the limelight unfortunately. But those that still share the desire for boot-stomping hard dance beats will find plenty to genuinely love here.