The rascally devil music of King Dude must have something to do with the weather. This stuff is from Seattle, and I can’t imagine Dude mastermind TJ Cowgill crafting these sorts of incantations in sunny New Mexico. Dude probably can’t even step in the sunshine to begin with ... if you get my drift. Fear, the latest release from Cowgill’s alter ego, sounds like hell. That might be a good thing—if you relish suffering and schadenfreude with a twangy, underbelly-of-America twist—but for many listeners, the depth of desolation here will likely mimic the effect of garlic upon vampires. The S&M themes explored by King Dude, including less-than-shocking opener “Fear is All You Know,” come off as tawdry affectation based in marketing and capitalistic motives. I don’t know what’s worse: bad dark music or bad dark music that’s been co-opted by corporate faux-neo-fascism.
Nayvadius Cash is the future ... or at least one version of it. Cash’s catalog as Future now boasts two full-lengths. 2012’s Pluto showed promise and scored a grip of accolades from hip-hop tastemakers including top 10-list kudos from WaPo critic Chris Richards and the Grey Lady’s Jon Carimanica. Future’s new LP, titled Honest, is, as its moniker suggests, blunt in its depiction of urban life, from drug dealing in “Move That Dope” to the fragile structure of human life and relations explored in “T-Shirt.” Auto-Tune use is thankfully restrained, and the musicians gathered together are competent and inventive alongside sometimes breezy melodies and vocals. Cash’s flow ranges from profane to plaintive and petulantly observant, and contributes to an overall effect that touches on pop while maintaining hardcore cred. Although this outing features some dude named Lil Wayne, it’s also graced by Andre 3000’s presence.
Swedish outfit Makthaverskan’s definite tendency toward dreamy flights of soulful melody is evidenced on their second album. Released in the US on May 3 by Run For Cover Records, II immerses itself in nighttime visions of power-pop and post-punk angst populated by yearning vocals, power chord resolutions and the trebly, jangly guitar antics that made Peter Buck of R.E.M. into a listless rocanrol god. Orchestral ’80s-esque keys add ethereal yet somehow nostalgic touches. The rhythm section is muted, allowing the aforementioned guitar-and-vox combo to take wing and soar around ruins built by the genre’s designers. On tunes like “Something More,” there are touches of The Sugarcubes, references to The Cure and nods to Thompson Twins at just about every coda. That’s just fine though, as Maja Milner, Irma Krook and Andreas Wettmark do a perfectly plausible job of inhabiting the boots of those who came way before them.