Snap Sounds

Snap Sounds: Scott Walker

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SCOTT WALKER
BISH BOSCH
(4AD)

When pop crooner Scott Walker plunged into the abyss on 1995’s Tilt, he initiated one of the most radical transformations in the history of recorded music, rejecting the tuneful chamber pop of his '60s-’70s output for a pitch-black sludge of musique concrète, avant-classical, and industrial art-rock. Walker hasn't looked back since, doubling down with 2005’s The Drift, and now Bish Bosch: an album as erratic, scary, unhinged, darkly hilarious, and wildly imaginative as any in recent memory. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Laetitia Sadier

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LAETITIA SADIER
SILENCIO
(DRAG CITY)

In her 20 years as the lead singer of Stereolab, Laetitia Sadier has dependably imparted a vital, earthy humanity to her band's sterile, mechanized productions.

In turn, on Silencio, her newest full-length, Sadier forgoes Stereolab's rigid aura, in favor of a warmer, airier sound, more relaxed in approach, and endearing in its lack of cohesion. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Midnite Snaxxx

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MIDNITE SNAXXX
S/T
(RED LOUNGE RECORDS)

Midnite Snaxxx are like the quintessential cool girls of high school, in an alternate garage-punk universe. Clad in tough leather jackets, singing with a Nikki and the Corvettes-cherry-topped snarl (they even played with Nikki Corvette this summer), creating rock'n'roll Ramone-esque pop hooks, and hitting the shit out of those drums — they positively explode on their debut self-titled LP in tracks like "Spend the Night," and slow things down sweet on noisy rock ballads such as "In Your Eyes." Read more »

Snap Sounds: Guantanamo Baywatch

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GUANTANAMO BAYWATCH
CHEST CRAWL
(DIRTNAP RECORDS)

Thick, wet reverb lays the sexy underwater groundwork for most Guantanamo Baywatch songs. Those surfy chords echo forever then build to dissolving fizzy chaos on the sleazy Portland, Oreg. trio's full-length Chest Crawl, which veers towards the Ventures on uppers during mostly instrumental songs like opener "Barbacoa" and the title track, or rises to unintelligible screams like Dick Dale on crank on tracks such as "Frizella" and energetic doo-wop standout "Baby Please." Read more »

Snap Sounds: Sébastien Tellier

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By Irwin Swirnoff

SEBASTIEN TELLIER
MY GOD IS BLUE
(RECORD MAKERS)

His last record was called Sexuality, and tapped into the most up front and direct body moving songs of his career, but Sébastien Tellier has always made music dripping with raw sensuality. His latest album sheds the immediate dance-pop sensibility of his last offering and finds him delving deep once again in a more nuanced, textured, and left of center romantic pop approach.Read more »

Snap Sounds: Carletta Sue Kay

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Carletta Sue Kay
Incongruent
(Kitten Charmer)

Carletta Sue Kay is the female alter-ego of SF musician Randy Walker, and this identity shift pushes his art in some astonishing directions. (Walker's previous band Mon Cousin Belge was notorious for its onstage performance art antics). Androgynous to its core, and loaded with overtones, his vocal delivery as Carletta Sue Kay can recall Annie Lennox, Gene Ween, and Joanna Newsom, all in the same breath. Normally, a voice this powerful is cultivated over years of recording, so it's hard to believe that Incongruent is this former Amoeba employee's debut full-length. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Bullion

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Bullion
Love Me Oh Please Love Me EP
(Deek)

Releasing singles and EPs as Bullion since 2008, laptop-whiz Nathan Jenkins has managed to avoid the generic, cut-and-paste aesthetic that's corralled so many of his colleagues into mediocrityville. He's always edited his samples with an old-school rock musician's touch, allowing the drums, synths, and guitars to breathe, instead of exposing them to heavy-handed whiplash. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Void

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VOID
SESSIONS 81-83

(DISCHORD)

Void was hardcore in a blender. It was loud, frantic, messy, and fast as hell. A brief yet seminal (there's that word again) punk act, formed in 1979 D.C., Void was known equally for its early mix of hardcore and thrash, as its frenzied live shows, which often turned violent. And for such a memorable act, we future listeners were left with little to actually, well, listen to. It was all buried in seven-inches, splits, and hard-to-find comps. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Islands

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ISLANDS
A SLEEP & A FORGETTING

(ANT-)

Nick Thorburn started constructing A Sleep & A Forgetting alone, on a piano, while processing a painful breakup. His soul-exposing lyrics carry questions and incredulity. Although there aren't many uplifting spots in here — literally every song is sad — his voice oscillates between sunny and depressive, heartfelt and sardonic. Quite a conceptual turn from Islands' last album, Vapours, which featured upbeat, carefree love songs. Read more »

Snap Sounds: Young Magic

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YOUNG MAGIC
MELT

(CARPARK)

Hearing a band being described as "tribal electronic" gives me a headache, but Young Magic actually pulls it off on its debut full-length, Melt. This New York-via-Australia trio works irregular drum machine beats, swirling synths, and haunting vocals into dark, psychedelic pop songs. The sluggish, heavily reverbed "Night In The Ocean" is sensual and explosive. With its fluttering synths and repeated "I found love with you" vocals, "Jam Karet" is catchy and almost chant-like. "The Dancer" opens with a few creepy music box notes, and features what sounds like a shrieking tropical bird. Read more »