Sol.iLLaquists of Sound As If We Existed (Anti-/Epitaph Records)
You've got to compliment Sage Francis' taste. The longtime poet/MC stumbled over this Orlando-based crew and knew it was something to write home about. Swamburger's spitfire delivery rides the bucking, ever-shifting beats with the confidence of a master. Rich production textures fresh rhythms with cellos, acoustic guitars, piano—instruments that only make cameos on even the best hip-hop albums. Infuse all that with drop-dead gorgeous diva vocals and smart, specific social messages, and these narrators have got themselves one hell of a debut. Burque's real heads shouldn't miss the S.O.S. show at the Launchpad on Saturday, Oct. 14.
Russian Circles Enter (Flameshovel)
The three-man orchestra behind Enter says "never mind your vocals, your screamers, your tired crooners." A composite of rock's many faces, these guys pay homage to none and instead use each as a clipping in a much bigger collage. This album is so expressive, there's no hole where a singer would have been. The riffs don't wear thin, nor do they change so frequently and drastically that the tracks fall apart at the seams. Be warned, this is no background muzak. Don't put it on at a party for filler sound. With utensils only as common as guitar, bass and drums, the Russian Circles will demand countenance from everyone in earshot.
Owen At Home With Owen (Polyvinyl Records)
He calls himself Owen, though his real name is Mike Kinsella and he's been in projects like Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, American Football and Owls. At Home, mellow though it may be, draws necessary tension into the tracks with instrumentation that's a little out of the ordinary (but always pretty) and lyrical delivery that's difficult to predict. The only lapse is the cover of Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale." It's nice enough, but maybe that's the trouble. The original had a bite to it. Still, if you're a fan of the quieter side of indie, this release won't let you down.