The number of new music releases each week is overwhelming. This is our attempt to help you navigate the never-ending deluge.
Following 2009’s Rejoicer, Grooms’ sophomore album was recorded by Philly knob-twister Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, War on Drugs) and mixed back at the band’s Brooklyn lab. Rejoicer showed the trio of guitarist-vocalist Travis Johnson, bassist Emily Ambruso and drummer Jim Sykes invoking the combative guitar dissonance of groups like Sonic Youth and Trail of Dead, and on Prom their sound is even more massive and enraged. They’ve also expanded their palette with gorgeous melodies that are as catchy as herpes in a dorm, particularly on standout tune “Expression Of,” which was born to be a summer-bummer pop anthem. They play an opening set at M Room (15 W. Girard Ave.) Fri., June 24, with Tape Deck Mountain headlining.
Marissa Nadler (Box of Cedar)
Boston-based folk singer-guitarist Marissa Nadler returns with her fifth LP, which was produced by Philly’s Brian McTear (Weathervane Music co-founder). Having entered Nadler’s delicate, acoustico-mystical world through the soul-crushingly intimate “Diamond Heart” (arguably her best song, which opened 2007’s Songs III: Bird on the Water), her overt alt-pop attempts on 2009’s Little Hells were unexpected and unsuccessful: While her past work was like having a conversation with the ghost of an old friend, Little Hells felt sterile, distant. With her latest LP, she has captured both her woodsy, confessional charms and her pop vision. She’s even gone a bit country, especially on the pedal-steel soaked “The Sun Always Reminds Me Of You,” which summons Wrecking Ball-era Emmylou Harris.
Lounge Lizards (Mexican Summer)
A 12-inch of six crunchy tracks by Philly’s Purling Hiss slams on Mexican Summer (a label named after a Marissa Nadler song). “Voices” begins with a biting screech before plunging into a gnarly, low-end riff-cavern. The production quality is gritty, shitty, with the funk drowning in AM radio gism. Sweet, cheesy ’80s guitar action abounds as Mike Polizze growls and falsettos, power-drilling deeper into the warm brain of the fantastical Planet Rock whose genesis we heard on Hissteria and Public Service Announcement.
David S. Ware, Cooper-Moore, William Parker and Muhammad Ali
Planetary Unknown (Aum Fidelity)
This is an important moment for Philadelphia’s jazz legacy, for it marks Philadelphian drummer Muhammad Ali’s first recording since 1983. The brother of drummer Rashied Ali (well-known for his duos with John Coltrane), Muhammad appeared on two of the most critical experimental jazz recordings in the late-1960s—Noah Howard’s Black Ark and Albert Ayler’s Music Is The Healing Force Of The Universe—and has worked with Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry. After more than 20 years away from a microphone, he’s back with a vengeance alongside an all-star lineup of saxophonist David Ware, pianist Cooper-Moore and bassist William Parker. The quartet rips powerful fire jazz passages, but frequently cools out with spacious interludes and profound blues ruminations.
PW's Music Issue 2014