Jairus Sharif :: Water And Tools

There’s a moment halfway through “Humility,” the opening track on Jairus Sharif’s Water and Tools, that sounds like the skies opening up. Where harsh, metallic ripples of cold electronic synths were rumbling, the renegade, proclamatory exaltation of Sharif’s saxophone suddenly takes on a warmer, less defiant tone. And the backdrop, too—bright, wooly synths and avian chirps—feels like the arrival of spring as Sharif’s horn elevates with undulating keys—the music pure, joyous, and untethered.

Mouth Painter :: Tropicale Moon

For their third release, Mouth Painter mold their high-lonesome exotica into a different kind Americana altogether, something more Kosimiche than cosmic. It’s the kind of music that might be playing on the jukebox in some Venusian honky-tonk. While the languid haze of Barry Walker’s pedal steel is certainly a touchstone of Mouth Painer’s sound, it’s complemented perfectly by Jason Willmon’s rhythmic drive, and the warm, proggy breeze of Valerie Osterberg’s flute.

Perfect Angels :: Exit From the Ultra-World

The latest from DIY lifer Zach Philips is a dizzying and resplendent work of lysergic cool-jazz, deconstructed art-pop, and library exotica. Billed as Exit From the Ultra-World by Perfect Angels, the record was pieced together on tape in Brussels with transmitted vocals from French singer Olia Eichenbaum, and additional contributions from psych-pop pioneer Chris Cohen, jazz saxophonist Shoko Igrashi, and a cast of like-minded multi-instrumentalists from around the globe.

Innovations :: Seabird

Peruvian yacht-rock gold, circa 1977. The Alessi Brothers cover is a DIY bedroom relic, coasting off the sunset of a downbeat synth groove with an eerie harmony tunnel like some bizarro Beach Boys outtake.

Conor Oberst :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Conor Oberst has never shied away from the apocalyptic, but on the new Bright Eyes album Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was he sings about the end of the world like an eye witness reporter. “I think we all, to some degree, are dreaming the same dreams and we’re fighting the same internal battles in our minds and hearts.”

Wyatt Waddell :: FIGHT!

23-year-old Wyatt Waddell wrote, performed and recorded “FIGHT!” in 24 hours after witnessing the protests sparked by the brutal killing of George Floyd. That urgency presents itself both lyrically; “There’s already so much pain / And there ain’t nothin else we can do / But to fight,“ and musically; sparse church rhythms keep a fierce pace as the Chicago native’s gritty tenor transforms into a sea of otherworldly voices. Wonderful funk breakdowns help release (or it increase?) the tension, while Waddell’s vocals climb higher and grow more exasperated with each passing verse. By the end of the track, he’s levitating above the masses that he’s instructing. This is a distinctively inspiring voice that we would all be wise to follow.

Tōth: 10 Things I Do To Feel OK

Experimental pop producer Tōth joins us to examine a few of the items in his emotional and mental toolkit, and his observations reveal that his album’s title—Practice Magic And Seek Professional Help When Necessary—is more than a clever comment on the self-care movement we all find ourselves considering, but rather, a code of openness and directness that finds careful application in his life and creative work.

Maurice Louca :: The Leper

Like his occasional collaborator, Alan Bishop’s Sun City Girls, Egyptian composer Maurice Louca synthesizes sounds from all across the globe: the American and British rock he internationalized as a youth, electronic music, free jazz, avant-garde, and shaabi, or “of the people” Egyptian pop music.

RIP Francis Lai :: 1932-2018

This past week we lost one of the most prolific and influential French film composers, Francis Lai. Best known for his collaborations with director Claude Lelouch, as well as his Academy Award winning score for Love Story (1970), Lai scored over 130 films in his lifetime — between 1966 and 2015.