Mandolin Orange - Such Jubilee; Yep Roc Records
The North Carolinian duo Mandolin Orange released Such Jubilee back in May, but unfortunately it didn’t find its way to my ears until this fall. Their Appalachian roots shine on this simple, understated collection of barebones, mostly percussion-less Americana. Emily Frantz’s voice sounds eerily - gloriously - like Soul Journey-era Gillian Welsh. But the record soars when she and Andrew Marlin harmonize. Nothing is forced, as each note sounds like it’s naturally falling into place on the delicate Such Jubilee.
Stand-out tracks: “Rounder”, “That Wrecking Ball”, “From Now On”
Loma Prieta - Self Portrait; Deathwish Inc.
Deathwish’s seemingly unstoppable hot streak continues with the terrific fifth album from the San Francisco hardcore/punk band, Loma Prieta. Though their most melodic, textually varied work, Loma Prieta maintains its intensity and grit through all of Self Portrait. As that title suggests, the subject matter is ruminative and bleak. On “Nostalgia” they belt out, “Life is tunneling deeper all the time / So with each year there’s a little less light.” Not the easiest pill to swallow, but reflective of a serious, mature band that have steadily improved for over a decade.
Stand-out tracks: “Nostalgia”, “Love”, “Satellite”
Oneohtrix Point Never - Garden of Delete; Warp Records Limited
Over the years, Daniel Lopatin’s work as Oneohtrix Point Never has consistently challenged, confused, and defied expectations. Find 2013’s R Plus Seven to hear him at his finest. His dense waves of zipping electronics and rattling beats fly in and out of his arrangements, building to an auditory overload that the listener can almost feel creeping under their skin. Garden of Delete bottles Lopatin’s energy at its most anxious points, only to burst out the other side in a blizzard of dizzying digital shrapnel. Yes, this is a difficult listen, but that just makes the reward is all the greater.
Stand-out tracks: “Sticky Drama”, “Mutant Standard”, “Lift”