Text by Paul Parreira
As the sun sets on summer vacations and the winter chill begins to creep in, it’s time for fall sweaters and a flood of new music releases. Record labels tend to drop a plethora of new music on us every autumn. It makes sense. We’re back in school, back to work, and we’ve got time to focus before the distractions of the holidays. Here are our top four fall releases you must pick up.
Born in Sudan and raised in the U.S., Ahmed Gallab is a multi-instrumentalist who records as Sinkane. Gallab paid his dues as a sideman on various projects, including a stint in Caribou’s touring band, but his roots are firmly placed in Brooklyn’s pan-global music scene. Sinkane’s 2012 release, Mars, was as close as you can get to a classic: great songs with a live studio feel, featuring a funky, spaced-out African guitar sound, breezy synths, and a trunk full of percussion. Mean Love builds on the world beat fusion of Mars, but leans more towards R&B, Afro-pop, and funk, with ballads galore in this dense set of tunes. Gallab’s singing is higher in the mix this time around; he sounds like an indie Curtis Mayfield backed by Yeasayer (another great Brooklyn-based act mixing the percussion way high into the mix).
Aphex Twin – Syro
Available September 23rd on Warp Records
The once-great Richard D. James has not released an album since 2001, and that effort, Drukqs, was a mixed affair depending on who you ask. If you’re on the Selected Ambient Works side of the field, you probably thought it was a mess. If you’re a fan of his Analord series (or his “anonymous” releases under various monikers), then you probably liked it. I thought it sucked. Aside from a few sublime piano pieces, Drukqs sounded like someone cherry-picking from a set of unfinished demos. Regardless, Aphex Twin remains the most influential electronic music artist since Brian Eno. That, you can’t argue with. From Radiohead to Washed Out on the indie pop side, and all the way to Eluvium and Burial on the ambient tip, artists are still cycling through ideas that Aphex Twin tossed over his shoulder 20 years ago. We’ll see what he has in store for us this time around.
Peaking Lights – Cosmic Logic
Available October 6th on Weird World Records
Peaking Lights is a husband-and-wife duo based out of L.A. that create a very special mix of dub, electronic pop, space rock, and psychedelia. On paper, it’s a funny display of genres that might make you scratch your head—but it works. The songs are happily sung by Indra Dunis in a reverb-drenched cloud of melody teetering on the edge of flat notes—but it works. The music, created by Aaron Coyes, mixes pop structures, reggae bass lines, drum machines, modular synths, stacks of FX that sound like signals from outer space—and of course it all works. They’ve recorded two stellar albums in a row, 2011’s moody and mellow 936, and 2012’s more polished affair with one of the most appropriate titles I’ve ever seen on an album, Lucifer. Based on what we’ve heard from the first single, “Breakdown,” Cosmic Logic leans slightly to the right, with a sound that appears to be a bit more accessible, but singles are meant to be misleading.
Kindness – Otherness
Available October 14th on Female Energy Records
No, you’ve never heard of Kindness. And that’s a good thing. One of indie music’s best kept secrets, Kindness is the nom de guerre of Adam Bainbridge, a London-based musician who has a thing for ’80s funk, nu-disco, and French house music. He’s buddies with Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), has covered the Replacements, and worked with Philippe Zdar, Phoenix’s go-to producer. Bainbridge’s debut, World, You Need a Change of Mind flew under the radar in 2012: not Pitchfork, not Stereogum, not Spin, no one covered this guy with the praise he deserves. Yet the record was almost perfect, due mainly to its cockeyed sense of style. It jumped genres, transitioning from R. Kelly-style R&B to deep house to slick ’80s electro-funk, with Bainbridge’s boyish vocals riding high in the mix singing about dancing, colors, and falling in love. What else do you want from a pop record?