Photo: Montsho Jarreau Toth
Will Schube has a lot of very good ideas.
alexalone ― ALEXALONEWORLD
Much like me, Alex Peterson (AKA alexalone) is an mf’ing Austin institution. They are a trusted collaborator of two ATX bands/artists, Lomelda and Hovvdy, and while the latter doesn’t always scratch my musical itch, alexalone’s new LP, ALEXALONEWORLD, absolutely does. First of all, it’s weird as hell in all the right ways. Songs build and build and delicately fall to the ground like a feather from a bird perched in a tree, and all of that excess tension and restraint feeds into an atmosphere that is somehow both apocalyptic and idyllic. “Where in the World” is an advance-level course in noise rock, somewhere between early No Age and those earlyish Mount Eerie songs that were pasted with walls of sound.
Comparisons are useful―Peterson made a wonderful playlist on Spotify shedding light on some of their inspirations for the project, like Autolux, Low, and Slint―but what struck me about ALEXALONEWORLD is how affectingly unique it is. There’s just not very much rock music made like this in 2021, and it’s a supercharged ass-kicking masked as a breath of fresh air. There are morsels of krautrock, shoegaze, and post-rock, loosely tethered together by alexalone’s exacting vision. The sprawl is expansive but precise, nimble in its introduction of layers of disparate parts that fit like a surrealist interpretation of a jigsaw puzzle. You can’t solve this album, which is about all you can ask for from music.
Rosali ― No Medium
Odds are, Rosali would have made a nearly perfect album on her own, without any help, but just to guarantee such success, she recruited one of my favorite backing bands on Earth to join her on her breathtaking no album No Medium. The Philly/Michigan based songwriter recruited members of the David Nance Group to accompany her stirring, anthemic songs. An obvious contender for Song Of The Year, “Bones” melts with scorching electric guitar solos that sound like Rust Never Sleeps, while Rosali phrases her chorus such that it coils around itself, picking up the pace from the slower verses.
The music is absolutely fantastic, sure, but there’s also another phenomenon at play I want to discuss. Namely, the album art, which features Rosali and a gorgeous brown horse. Here’s a tip for all aspiring musicians: Don’t spend money on studio time, lessons, tours, anything. Spend it on a horse to put on your album cover. It will make the album good, no matter what. Once you’ve introduced an equine element, all bets are off, the jello is in the fridge, etc. Much like her use of the David Nance Band to help secure musical excellence, Rosali must also have known that putting a horse on your album cover would guarantee perfection. Prince did it, Vashti Bunyan did it, Tinariwen did it, and Rosali did it. There’s your free advice for the day. Now go to the stables and pick a winner.
Joy Guerilla ― The Park Is Closed
Jeff “The Boss” Weiss sent me the new Joy Guerilla album, because a) he knows I like good things and b) the Joy Guerilla album is a good thing. See? Not everything needs to be so difficult. The record was written, arranged, and produced by Magdalena Daniec and Adam Grab, who are the two members of the LA based Joy Guerilla. They make a sort of lounge jazz music that messes with bossanova, pop, funk, and all sorts of other excellent stuff. “The Great Stress” begins with a synth line that sounds like an early test for the Moog, before oscillating tones and a ferocious drum groove get everything in lock step. There’s also just the slightest waft of g-funk on the occasional track, which (MORE FREE ADVICE, YOU’RE WELCOME) is always an extremely good thing.
There are a few things here we should reiterate before the next blurb. One, always listen to your boss if they’re a good person. Never listen to them if they’re a bad person. Two, Joy Guerilla are a brilliant post-jazz group, and years after Low End Theory ceased to be a hub for the intersection of electronic music and jazz, it’s thrilling to see a new wave of LA artists emerge to fill the void. The collective energy may not be there, but with bands like Joy Guerilla making albums like The Park is Closed, the torch has been passed and the duo have begun to break away from the pack.
Corntuth ― The Desert is Paper Thin
If you are one of the millions of readers that is a massive fan of my work, you probably know that I am an absolute sucker for ambient country music. The genre tag alone is enough to get me to press play. Here’s one more tip: If you’re a bad band making bad music and want me to hear it, just put ambient country in the email subject and I’ll give it a listen before getting angry about being duped even though it was my idea in the first place. Lucky for all of us, though, Corntuth is decidely not duping me. Corntuth is the alias of a mysterious producer who sent me this record because they read my review of Anenon’s Tongue and thought their music might be a RIYL option. They were right! Anenon-adjacent is a helluva place to be and while the desert wanderings of Corntuth are far more acoustic than Anenon’s claustrophobic interpretation of LA, The Desert is Paper Thin is a gorgeous pedal steel and synth affair; the platonic ideal of what Edward Abbey was envisioning when he was blabbing on and on and on about the beauty of the desert.
HUMAN ERROR CLUB ― HUMAN ERROR CLUB DAY
A year ago, HUMAN ERROR CLUB, an excellent post-jazz-ish trio out of LA released an album called HUMAN ERROR CLUB. To celebrate the one year anniversary of the album, the band released another project of miscellaneous recordings they made between 2020 and 2021. They named the new album HUMAN ERROR CLUB DAY, and while I would support this album on the sole basis of it being hilarious to name a day after yourself (I have four), the music is really interesting and cleverly arranged to boot. We’ve learned a lot today, mostly about how music can be good even if the music isn’t good thanks to overlooked factors like album art, genre tags, etc. You can basically game the system even if you’re talentless. Or, you can be like HUMAN ERROR CLUB and reduce all risks of sucking by just being really, really, really good. And that, my friends, is the last free tip you’ll be receiving from Noise Pollution this week.