New at Southwest Sound: Dec. 9

by Cooper Stapleton

Dec. 21. Neil Young, “Peace Trail”On this, his 41st studio album (not including live recordings or EPs), Neil Young continues to strive to show the value of peace, conversation and the environment. “Peace Trail” is no significant departure or stylistic change for Neil. The focus is on acoustic songwriting and lyrics that move the listener. On tracks such as “Peace Trail,” some of the noise of his more garage-y material pops up, but it is not overbearing in the slightest. Sometimes, he does duets with himself, like on “My Pledge.” The world always needs more Neil Young, and this album should delight old fans and those who just discovered him in the Telluride valley a few months ago.

2. Tech N9ne, “Storm”People talk a lot of shit on Tech N9ne. Maybe it’s the association with the juggalo movement? Maybe it’s from back when he used to wear face paint? I dunno. Regardless, the dude is one of the hardest-working rappers in the game, and at 45, he shows no signs of slowing down. This new record is an album in three movements, Kingdom, Clown Town and G-Zone, all referring to different aspects of Tech’s personality and career. The single “What If It Was Me?” comes from the record’s G-Zone section and tells a simple but poignant story of a time when Tech was selling CDs outside a convenience store and cops stopped him. An all too familiar story for the times, and one that is handled with a surprising amount of tact and empathy. Don’t sleep on this one if you want a solid hip-hop record from one of the best and the fastest to do it.

3. Sun Ra/Merzbow, “Strange City”All right guys, getting into the real shit now. “Strange City” is a reimagining of two legendary Sun Ra albums, “The Magic City” and “Strange Strings,” by Japanese harsh noise pioneer Merzbow. It is harsh and dissonant and scary. “Strange Strings” is the resultant noise from giving a bunch of classically trained reed instrumentalists all string instruments and being told to “play when I (Sun Ra) point at you.” I will admit, this recording was dense even for me, a lover of both free jazz and noise music, so venture in with no expectations and a heaping spoonful of aural endurance and prepare yourself for something different.

4. Atmosphere, “Frida Kahlo vs Ezra Pound”All last year, before the release of “Fishing Blues,” Atmosphere had been releasing single after single digitally that never showed up on an actual release. You will find those singles collected here, a carefully curated EP by Slug and Ant that mirrors their usual quiet and contemplative approach to hip-hop music. The songs have nothing really unifying them, but if you are a sucker for Atmosphere’s unique take on the genre like so many people in this town are, this one will be worth paying attention to. It also includes appearances by Aesop Rock, Prof, Grieves and Blueprint.

5. Last Shadow Puppets, “Dream Synopsis”After dropping their surprise return “Everything You’ve Come To Expect” back in April, The Last Shadow Puppets are back with an EP with two re-recorded tracks from the new record and a smattering of covers from notable acts like Leonard Cohen and The Fall and more obscure artists like The Glaxo Babies and Jacques Dutronc. Last Shadow Puppets are practically a supergroup to those in the know, featuring members of The Arctic Monkeys, Simian Mobile Disco, The Rascals and Mini Mansions. They play a quiet take on fuzzed-out rock, with a whole lot of space in the production. If you want something heady, check out this EP, and their newest album as well.

Cooper Stapleton


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