Birds of Maya – Valdez (Drag City)
As a band, Birds of Maya are just as loose as their sound. Their sporadic releases have been the highlight of many years, but their output has lacked in recent times. Valdez is their first record in almost eight years and was also recorded seven years prior, awaiting release until now. True to their sound this record is just as fuzzy, scuzzy, and noisy as their previous releases.
Most tracks last until the eight minute mark with intense, repetitive, and noise-drenched riffs leading the way. Its blues rock taken to the extreme and reinvented as something original and totally infectious. Flashes of Stackwaddy, Spaceman 3, and Peaches en Regalia era Frank Zappa are ever present on this record. This group might just take the trophy for best garage jam band of our era. At the very least, this should be your jam record of the summer.
Valdez is out on Drag City.
The Mountain Goats – Dark in Here (Merge Records)
Legendary North Carolina folk band The Mountain Goats return with a somber follow up to 2020’s Getting Into Knives. Although it is a companion record to Getting Into Knives, Dark In here is a much stronger record.
Conceptually, the record invents characters that wallow in sadness and gloom. That being said, this LP doesn’t fall trap to one of Getting Into Knives’ pitfalls, which were getting too lost in anxiety-driven gloom. There are moments of resolve and sarcastic comedy. It’s a lighter record. Still, there are tender moments of sadness and sorrow; they just work better in contrast with more lighthearted tracks. Certainly one of the best Mountain Goats releases in recent years.
Dark In Here is out on Merge Records.
The Murlocs – Bittersweet Demons (Flightless Records)
Serving as the creative outlet for Ambrose Kenny-Smith of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Murlocs have consistently delivered catchy blues and R&B inspired tunes since their inception. 2019’s Manic Candy Episode and 2017’s Old Locomotive were among the best releases in the Murlocs discography, certainly a difficult duo to follow up. That being said Bittersweet Demons holds its own among previous releases.
While it isn’t a record that takes any big risks it still delivers what the Murlocs are good at, endlessly fun and catchy songs. The ballads are especially good on this record. “Misinterpreted” is no doubt a career highlight for the band. Overall, this is the record that proves The Murlocs never fail to stay fresh and exciting.
Bittersweet Demons is out on Flightless Records.
Faye Webster – I Know I’m Funny haha (Secretly Canadian)
The Atlanta singers last LP Atlanta Millionaires Club was one of the best of the year. Webster mixes pop, country, and hip hop so effortlessly to create her own sound. I Know I’m Funny Haha picks up exactly where she left off, sounding as full as ever. I think the title is a perfect reflection of the lyrical content on this record. A meandering series of thoughts that cover seemingly insignificant topics like boredom, loneliness, shitty landlords, and whatever else floats through Webster’s head.
It’s a slice of life window directly into her head. The track “Cheers” is the most punk inspired song in Webster’s discography. The title track “I Know I’m Funny haha” is a classic Faye Webster country/pop ballad. While she doesn’t reinvent the wheel on this record, Faye comes through with another absolutely infectious record.
I Know I’m Funny haha is out on Secretly Canadian.