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Playboy’s 2013 Music Guide
  • April 01, 2013 : 15:04
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Lots of white boys in T-shirts can make a guitar ruckus, but these mangy Cleveland hair balls steer through the skids as they mix astringent guitars with bristling lyrics about postcollege frustration, harnessing mayhem to keep moving forward. Singer Dylan Baldi has said Attack on Memory’s eight songs are “all sort of depressing,” but depression is rarely this exhilarating.

Eighties electro-pop hasn’t sounded this great since, well, the 1980s. Amid chilly, stabbing synthesizers, Lauren Mayberry (half Natalie Portman, half Audrey Tautou) calmly coos lyrics such as “I’ll be a thorn in your side till you die.” With “Lies,” “We Sink” and “The Mother We Share,” this retro Glasgow trio became our favorite new band of 2013, as they would have been in 1983.

The traditions of AC/DC and Led Zeppelin have gone awry: It’s more difficult than ever to find headbangers who don’t sing about Satan’s cock or howl as though they’re surrounded by zombies. Baroness, a quartet out of Georgia, achieves twisted catharsis in heavy, complex ruminations that never sound ludicrous. The band has toured with Metallica, but its songs “Little Things” and “Cocainium” also show a curiosity about funk music.

There’s no way around the comparison: Deap Vally sounds a lot like the White Stripes. Vally plays loopy, distorted blues rock, and it’s a duo. But it’s a duo of women, which is a crucial difference. When singer-guitarist Lindsey Troy crows, “I’m gonna make my own money” or reprimands an unfaithful man, she and drummer Julie Edwards claim an equal right to defiance and autonomy.

They look like they escaped from the pawnshop basement scene in Pulp Fiction. Masked, mysterious and often bare-chested, Goat claims a backstory that sounds like bunk: Supposedly the band lives in a commune in Korpilombolo, a small town in northern Sweden with an ancient history of voodoo worship. On World Music, Goat combines 1960s psychedelic guitars, tribal village percussion and organ drones with simple, ominous chants (“Boy, you better run to your mama now”). It’s an evil yet joyful din, like a pagan cult having an orgy under a solstice moon.

He has been making records since 1968 and has won a couple lifetime-achievement awards, yet 314 million Americans have never heard this sensational British rock guitarist. Thompson’s new album, Electric, adds plenty of ornery, braying solos to grimly funny songs about conflict and betrayal. The uninitiated could start with earlier records: Amnesia, Hand of Kindness or Shoot Out the Lights, about the collapse of a marriage.

Launching a jazz label in the 21st century seems like an insane idea. Yet since it started in 2001, Pi Recordings has released vibrant, daring records, often dominating critics’ polls despite issuing only three to five releases a year. David Virelles, Henry Threadgill and other Pi artists all “aim for some edge that hasn’t been reached out to before,” says Yulun Wang, a former investment banker who runs the label with founder Seth Rosner.

R&B singers should do one song about sex for every two songs about love, and this personable NYU grad caught our ear with “Sound Proof Room,” a bouncy, commanding request for a noise-making tryst. Her debut album, Perfectly Imperfect, has a hint of throwback (classic-soul fans won’t be disappointed), as well as a winning sense of humor: “I can’t help being depressed/When I look down at my chest,” Varner sings amiably.

By incorporating interviews with musicians from Barry Manilow to punk-rock howler Lee Ving, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters turns his documentary Sound City into a poignant and funny recounting of the heyday of a dilapidated Van Nuys, California recording studio. It’s on a par with our other favorite rock docs, which are now easy to find online or through pay-per-view: 1984’s Stop Making Sense, a giddy and elegant concert film of Talking Heads’ theatrical funk-rock; and 2010’s Who Is Harry Nilsson?, which retraces the lovely art, grim childhood and madcap addictions of an American singer beloved by the Beatles.

Sound City

Stop Making Sense

Who Is Harry Nilsson?

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read more: entertainment, music, issue april 2013


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