The Breeders, Istanbul (download)
Kim and Kelley, the supernal sisters Deal, have once again reunited the Breederstheir ragtag group of ’90s-era grunge holdoutsto record another studio masterpiece. Well, the album, called Mountain Battles (April 7), was actually written and recorded in pieces over the past three years during what little breaks Kim could find from her taskmaster of a boss at her day job, as the documentary surely shows. His honorable Steve Albini returns as producer, thus completing the holy stations necessary to master the garage-stripped, lo-fi aesthetic that launched a thousand bands.
Clinic, Memories’ (download)
Clinic, my favorite musical enigmas, have returned with a new album called Do It! (April 8). Led by Ade Blackburn and formed in Liverpool (making them Liverpudlians, natch), the members of Clinic have still, to my knowledge, never been photographed without their trademark surgical masks on, which lends an air of mystery to the members, similar to the giant eyeball masks that keep the Residents’ identities a secret to this day. Except that the members of Clinic at least have names. Dusting off their rummage-sale keyboards, vibraslaps, and fuzz pedals, Clinic launches another album of ’60s pop-influenced non sequiturs with the stompy, time-changing Memories.
M83, Graveyard Girl (download)
In comparison to the rest of this month’s collection of weary old troubadours, M83 is the fresh young blood. Formed in France in 2001 by Anthony Gonzalez and Nicolas Fromageau (who would later leave the band), M83 has cultivated a rich shoegazer-esque drone of electronic distortion and ambience. The new album, Saturdays = Youth (April 14), takes a somewhat radical departure, however, in that it features songs with discernible vocals and traditional verse/chorus/verse formats. The instrumental approach, too, seems to have traded in its relentless, euphoric assault in favor of more measured, middling atmospherics and moods. On first listen, it struck me as hearkening back to the Cocteau Twins, Public Image Ltd., or the Sugarcubes, with traces of Sigur Rós. Well, it turns out those bands’ old producer, Ken Thomas, has had some strong influence here as well.
Portishead, Threads’ (download)
Ten years since the release of a live album recorded at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, Portishead has finally seen fit to give the world the follow-up it so desperately needs. Having spent the interim keeping a very low profile with solo projects or otherwisethe members being somewhat media-shyit still doesn’t figure that a band of such critical and commercial success would let a decade slip by off the record. Thankfully, shortly after a benefit concert in their native Bristol more than three years ago, the trio of Beth Gibbons, Geoff Barrow, and Adrian Utley announced they were working on a new album. The appropriately titled Third (April 28), while maybe not 10-years-in-the-making good, is, nonetheless, darn good.
The Roots, Rising Down (download)
Portishead could stand to take a cue in productivity from our final featured artists, hip-hop’s most ubiquitous group, the Roots, who release their ninth studio album, on April 29. Spokesman, mastermind, drummer, and producer extraordinaire ?uestlove has said that he wants to be the first rap artist to actually make a good 10th record, and hot on the heels of their last success, the new Rising Down pushes him and the group one step closer to that goal. The album’s title seems to come from William T. Vollman’s encyclopedic treatise on the history of human violence, but thinking big has always been the Roots’s trade in kind. Title track Rising Down, featuring guest spots from Mos Def, Styles P, and Dice Raw, paints a bleak picture of Earth’s future, but would sugarcoating things really help?