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Big Takeover #81 Fall 2017

Ryan Gabos

Ryan Gabos first cut his teeth as a music critic in 2011 with 402 Productions, for which he soon rose to the position of Editor through 2013. Since then, he has written for Good, Bad, Ugly Music Reviews, Next2Shine, and GrooveVolt. He also stays musically active, fronting the band Sotto Voce and representing one half of the punk group Hot to Trot.

The Wichita Flag - S/t

The Wichita Flag - The Wichita Flag (Thunder Kick Records)

15 December 2017

The Wichita Flag earns much more than it sets out to achieve, and across its felicitous 15-minute runtime, Les Easterby crafts a clever riposte in the face of blindly homogenized moralism.

The World Palestine - Dik Dik Sounds

The World Palestine - Dik Dik Sounds (Easter Bee Home Recordings)

14 December 2017

The first of Wichita wunderkind Les Easterby’s Black Friday EPs stems from his longstanding World Palestine outfit. It features his wonderfully typical subtle poetry and guitar-centric, asymmetrically divine compositions.

OCS - Memory of a Cut Off Head

OCS - Memory of a Cut Off Head (Castle Face Records)

1 December 2017

For Dwyer and company’s 20th release (and Castle Face’s 100th title overall), they’ve changed the instrumental environs and even tweaked the project name to better resemble their humble beginnings.

Bibio - Phantom Brickworks

Bibio - Phantom Brickworks (Warp Records)

27 November 2017

Stephen Wilkinson’s latest outing as Bibio is over an hour’s worth of ambient music that is sometimes somber, other times uplifting, and always sans-vocals.

Nai Palm - Needle Paw

Nai Palm - Needle Paw (Sony Masterworks)

7 November 2017

Needle Paw fulfills any Hiatus Kaiyote fan’s dream of hearing an MTV Unplugged set from the foursome’s mastermind, accompanied by an autobiographical music diary.

Deradoorian - Eternal Recurrence (anticon.)

6 November 2017

The tortured self-searching gloom Deradoorian applies to this collection of meditative pieces prove too unsettling to be filed under “easy listening.”

Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent

Protomartyr - Relatives in Descent (Domino)

10 October 2017

The Detroit post-punk quartet’s latest LP is largely indistinguishable from its predecessors for the best reasons.

The Clientele - Music for the Age of Miracles

The Clientele - Music for the Age of Miracles (Merge Records)

9 October 2017

The Clientele’s first record in seven years proves that they are still inarguably capable of elegance, but occasionally lapse into obscurity, or even worse, a retreading of old ground, playing into a law of diminishing returns.

Lee Ranaldo - Electric Trim

Lee Ranaldo - Electric Trim (Mute Records)

27 September 2017

Save for a few moments of mastery, Electric Trim is a frustratingly uneven LP from modern guitar curator Lee Ranaldo.

Deerhoof - Mountain Moves

Deerhoof - Mountain Moves (Joyful Noise Recordings)

21 September 2017

If you’re willing – in a profoundly strange but fun way, Mountain Moves is the kind of album America needs now to begin the healing process, if that’s at all feasible.

Chad VanGaalen - Light Information

Chad VanGaalen - Light Information (Sub Pop)

21 September 2017

With his sixth solo outing, VanGaalen mines his haunting production values to yield the same goofy brand of surreal yarns we know him for.

Alvvays - Antisocialites

Alvvays - Antisocialites (Polyvinyl Records)

13 September 2017

Alvvays have raised the stakes, brushing up on the handbook of pop and making the competent, forward-thinking, deceptively saccharine album they’ve been studying for.

Oh Sees - Orc

Oh Sees - Orc (Castle Face Records)

12 September 2017

Following several LP and song names that could double as entries in the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, they now fittingly bring us Orc.

Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins

Grizzly Bear - Painted Ruins (RCA)

23 August 2017

Painted Ruins is such a reversal of Shields’ instant accessibility that although genius, its palette may appear alienating to some. To quote the lyrics of member Daniel Rossen, “It’s chaos but it works.”

Cornelius - Mellow Waves

Cornelius - Mellow Waves (Rostrum Records)

8 August 2017

Just short of 11 years have passed since the last proper full-length from Keigo Oyamada’s Cornelius outfit, and after such a long gap, it’s difficult to determine whether or not his latest effort invokes more than it originates.

Melvins - A Walk with Love and Death

Melvins - A Walk with Love and Death (Ipecac Recordings)

19 July 2017

Melvins’ first ever double LP combines an eerie film score with a record of their traditional song-based (and naturally heavy) standard fare.

Toro Y Moi - Boo Boo

Toro Y Moi - Boo Boo (Carpark Records)

12 July 2017

Chaz Bear’s acuity for pop showmanship hasn’t ditched out on this record, but along with the themes, the compositions sound vastly darker and more contemplative than ever before.

Tim Kinsella - Joan of Arc

Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc)

7 July 2017

Tim Kinsella talks about his writing process, the decisions that go into the latest iteration of Joan of Arc’s touring setlists, and how being in a band after 20 years is becoming increasingly more manageable.

Spooky Action - Jason Loewenstein

Jason Loewenstein - Spooky Action (Joyful Noise Recordings)

27 June 2017

Like staring at the clock and waiting for your ninth period class to come to an end, Jason Loewenstein’s latest effort is a tight, fast assortment of controlled chaos that rings that bell to set you loose.

Phoenix - Ti Amo

Phoenix - Ti Amo (Glassnote Records)

16 June 2017

Ti Amo is the aural equivalent of a by all means successful – and at times particularly elating – booze cruise.

Amber Coffman - City of No Reply

Amber Coffman - City of No Reply (Columbia)

5 June 2017

Coffman’s debut strips itself of any self-pity, granting universal empathy and a countering effect to the notion that it’s a breakup album and nothing more.

Elf Power - Twitching in Time

Elf Power - Twitching in Time (Orange Twin)

25 May 2017

Now fourteen albums deep, Andrew Rieger, Laura Carter, and company are still endlessly dedicated to crafting power pop via fuzzy, chugging powerhouse or wistful, shimmering acoustic number.

Girlpool - Powerplant

Girlpool - Powerplant (ANTI-)

16 May 2017

Girlpool may have enlarged their sound, but they still possess a nakedness to their performance that is unmistakably their own. If anything, expanding to a full band has strengthened their identity.

Arto Lindsay - Cuidado Madame

Arto Lindsay - Cuidado Madame (Northern Spy)

25 April 2017

Displaying a clamor of ideas and a cavalier misdirect of convention, Lindsay’s first album in 13 years sees his avant garde leanings at their most pronounced yet in his Brazilian influenced work.

Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 - Star Stuff

Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 - Star Stuff (Company Records)

17 April 2017

Combining forces with The Mattson 2 has granted Bundick with his most accomplished product to date, and although Bundick prefers to explore new territory rather than retread old digs, we may hope that should he choose to break tradition someday off in the future, he sees fit to return to this psychedelic powerhouse.

Nana Grizol - Ursa Minor

Nana Grizol - Ursa Minor (Orange Twin)

4 April 2017

Nana Grizol return with their first album in seven years without skipping a beat, continuing to craft intimate anthems for those who prefer their romanticism served with a side of reasoning.

Jay Som - Everybody Works

Jay Som - Everybody Works (Polyvinyl Records)

16 March 2017

Jay Som, the project of Oakland musician Melina Duterte, channels her bedroom-produced lovelorn ballads into its first proper LP, proving that headspace and recording space share no correlation.

Brokeback - Illinois River Valley Blues

Brokeback - Illinois River Valley Blues (Thrill Jockey)

2 March 2017

Whether on the move or sedentary, listening to the intensely atmospheric Illinois River Valley Blues will awaken your inner roughneck traveler/wanderer.

Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me

Tobin Sprout - The Universe and Me (Burger Records)

10 February 2017

In Sprout’s conquest to bridge a semblance of meaning between our youth and its relation to maturity, he may have hit the mark with his greatest accuracy yet.

Joan of Arc - He's Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands

Joan of Arc - He's Got the Whole This Land Is Your Land in His Hands (Joyful Noise Recordings)

24 January 2017

Joan of Arc have just turned in what is easily their most “challenging” album since “In Rape Terror and Fantasy Sex We Trust”, but the new direction in sound only serves to entice.