Will Schube still bumps “Fangela.”
Art Feynman– Half Price at 3:30
Luke Temple has never found comfort in playing the same game twice. His first band, Here We Go Magic, seemingly dissolved as the group was reaching a creative apex, and his solo music under his own name has moved from folk to pop to experimental music within the course of a single album. But his work as Art Feynman has been honed in by a singular vision, which finds Temple trying to pull music from all over the world (Germany, Nigeria, Brazil) into his unique take on pop music. I described his first album, Blast Off Through the Wicker, as “coked-out dub-kraut,” which is as good of a sentence as I can write. His latest album under the moniker, Half Price at 3:30 is more tactile than its predecessor; Temple’s music is still grooved-based, but the album is dreamier and more enchanted by the slow collision of disparate sounds than Blast Off. I think it’s the best thing Temple has ever made, but I’ve said that about each of his albums at one point or another. He’s one of music’s true originals, a stylist sent from the future to clue us in on where we may be headed. Half Price continues this trend, blissfully turning an epic collection of ideas into a singular statement, both extra-terrestrial and a priori.
Kansas Smitty’s– Things Happened Here
Kansas Smitty’s is a group based in London and led by American-Italian saxophonist/clarinetist Giacomo Smith. The group is named after the London club of the same name, which serves as both a residence and hometown venue for the band’s players. On the group’s new album, Things Happened Here, they meld ‘70s spiritual jazz with gospel traditions of the ‘40s and ‘50s, seamlessly blending the tenets of each into an intoxicating new concoction. Smith is the bandleader, but on the first track, “Riders,” he provides a simple loop for guitarist Dave Archer to wail over. The group is an amalgamation of everything exciting in London’s jazz scene right now, echoing the cosmic callings of Shabaka Hutchings and the progressive grooves of GoGo Penguin. While the group remains loyal to a psychedelic spirituality, they emphasize the transcendental steps such a journey provides. We’re all aiming for the heavens, but you don’t get there without a few earthly leaps.
Dougie Poole– The Freelancer’s Blues
With tracks like “Vaping on the Job,” “Buddhist for a Couple Weeks,” and “These Drugs Aren’t Working,” Dougie Poole realizes that he’s not in on any joke, because late capitalism excludes all of us. His new album, The Freelancer’s Blues is horrifyingly relatable. Take that first track, “Vaping on the Job,” a crunchy, Muscle Shoals style jam. Poole sings, “They say Michelle turned in her BFA for a CDL/ And now she drives that box truck fifty hours a week/ She don’t paint anymore, she misses it for sure/ But who’s got the time?/ And that taste she got of money sure was sweet.” Box trucks are the mark of an entrenched PA, the $150 a day warrior. Imagine Father John Misty playing outlaw country music and with a shred of empathy and you get close to what Poole’s doing on his second album. The LP is out on the stellar Wharf Cat Records, and Poole does more than immerse us in general malaise. He embodies the artist too poor to create, the writer in absolute horror when the screenplay they’ve been discussing for two years fails to materialize because the office job is soul crushing. Dougie Poole is all of us, vaping on the job because there’s nothing better to do and cigarettes are too expensive without healthcare.
Clarence James– Fucked Me Up
Clarence James is a new musician out of Austin with a wonderfully skewed approach to indie rock and a stellar voice. He’s collaborated with Fat Tony and has been a steady presence in Austin’s increasingly exciting indie rock scene. His debut, Fucked Me Up, came out on the 19th and the good man of Bat City donated first week purchases to Black Lives Matter and the heroes at Austin Justice Coalition. James first came onto the scene in 2018 with his song “Ronson Princess,” which made its way onto some buzzworthy Spotify playlists and racked up a few million plays. It hinted at what he does on Fucked Me Up, which blends the morose guitar melodies of post-trap R&B with a sort of emo post-punk that, at its most aggressive, recalls bands like Dogleg. It’s expansive, moving all over the sonic landscape from moment to moment with preternatural ease. At only 20, it’s exciting to imagine a future of music in Austin that stars kids like Clarence James, untethered to any tradition in hopes of building something entirely new.