SuperGiant giant Jeremy McCollum has a side project called Black Unicorn, a rumbling, slithering power trio comprised of McCollum on guitars and vocals, Keith Laffler on bass and Jason Wolf on sticks. Jeremy wrote the songs on the group’s new, self-titled EP and vocalizes in a casually insouciant tone that easily allows listeners to forget the proggish, lead-guitar heavy, astronomically themed stoner rock epics that made SuperGiant such a perennial draw at local and regional rock clubs. Black Unicorn hands out a healthy hit of garage rock vibes on this recording, affably and consistently shifting gears from bluesy to surfy with pounding drums and a reliance on rhythm guitar that woulda absolutely driven the Big Kahuna to drop his surfboard wherever and begin twitching out the Watusi for all to see. Favorite tracks: “Dancing” and “Surf Fever.” Cowabunga, dudes!
Long-time essential underground Albuquerque music master Eric Oldman—he of Italian Rats, kids—ventures into solo territory with an intensely interesting, counter-intuitively challenging record that begins by deconstructing tropes from electronica, pop and art music. Oldman then proceeds to build a new, almost unheard of world from the ashes of what they began to burn up but then decided to rebuild—beautifully, with small frailties and epic scale gorgeously intact. Uncatagorizable, infuriating and deeply listenable, Oldman demonstrates mastery of the thing called modern music proceeding through sonic landscapes that terrify with simplicity and surprise with narrative complexity. Somewhere in this work, the artist maintains there’s a story about “a lonely creature lost in a wasteland,” but overall, this work, especially tracks like “Nobody Likes You When You Do That” and “Unclean Overture” have an urgency that seem to speak more to redemption than damnation.
DilesAlma II(Visceral View)
On Alma II, Diles glitches it up on an introductory track called “Texture” before diving into serious matters of spiritual relevance on tracks like “Feliz” and “Portals.” In between are jazz soaked discourses that seem to be about travel but probably the kind the happen inside listeners’ heads. There is some super excellent playing on this record, and it’s hard to tell how much of that is real, as none of the players are credited. The piano playing, especially on tracks three and four, is so fucking tasty that I want to believe it—and all of the music on this record—happened at Central Root Studios, but who the hell knows these days. In either case, whether composing or sampling, here or in the uncanny valley, Diles nails this one to the wall with soul and substance.