By August March
William Beven, who records as Burial, has a new EP out. Titled Rival Dealer, the south London electro wiz continues to circumnavigate the fringes of dubstep, club music and British electronica with three tracks that are, in many ways, a departure from earlier works that some refer to as bleak. While Beven continues to slyly and forlornly nod in Thom Yorke’s general direction, this new set of recordings is more lively and less derivative. The music of Burial oscillates between mad danceabilty and moments of sharp reflection and emptiness. The final track, “Come Down to Us,” has a groovy sitar riff and a lot of interesting clicks, voices and scratches if you’re down for that sort thing. On the minus side of things, Beven uses Autotune on some vocals. Bummer, but it’s something that will get Rival Dealer heavy rotation on Radio 2.
You should listen to Love’s Crushing Diamond. Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jordan Lee, operating as Mutual Benefit, tells American stories wrapped in the ephemera of wind chimes and bird songs. Harp, banjo and fiddle drift through the whole affair. Lee’s astonished, breathy vocals lend a mystical quality to this set of seven tunes. This collection of recordings is paradoxically wide-ranging and intimate, and it captures a sense of musicality both familiar and elusive in the same way traveling over this continent by train might have been in the early 20th century. This is roots music for sure, but Lee’s voice is new and provocative in its wonder, and it lends the genre a second life as official journal of a new generation of folk artists.
Boston has cred. That kid parading a tattered copy of their first album—“Check out the cool guitar-spaceship, it’s really a city, dude!”—around your 8th grade lunchroom was partially correct. Tom Scholz should be remembered as a competent engineer and inventor from a privileged family who spent his life tinkering with rock and roll. Boston’s tunes are still ubiquitous—the soundtrack of America. Why some even say Cobain listened to “More Than a Feeling” just before writing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But Scholz should have started a new project years ago. The new Boston album, Life, Love & Hope, is so crispy it’s clinical; Scholz seems frantic to demonstrate what Boston sounded like 35 years ago, and the record suffers as a result. Boomers and Gen-X lurkers may experience a brief reverie, but this ultimately lacks the gravity which causes the aforementioned spaceship to sail into the void without ever “Smoking.”
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-