Snoop Dogg, SD Is Out (download)
Making a glorious return to form, everyone’s favorite Doggfather is back with an album of laid-back beats, effortless flow, and a gloss of sleazy brilliance. Few rap stars have been able to move beyond the rap star mantle, but Snoop Dogg has become a household name in every corner of America, if not the world, due to his ubiquity in musicEgo Trippin’ (March 11) will be his ninth album, not to mention countless guest spotsand filmBones, anyone? Soul Plane? Whereas other rappers occasionally get into wars of words with their colleagues, rarely making mainstream headlines, Snoop currently has some high-profile beef with Oprah. Apparently this new album, steeped in what has become known as the T-Pain vocal effect, is for the women. I just hope the women are ready. Had it been released a few months later, Sensual Seduction [download] would have been this year’s summer jam. In his own words, If you don’t know by now, Doggy Dogg is a freak.
Be Your Own Pet, Becky (download)
Taking the I don’t like _________ anymore format to a more personal, juvenile level is this month’s Get Awkward (March 18) from Nashville’s Be Your Own Pet. Despite lead singer Jemina Pearl’s claim that the band is older and wiser now, the song Becky has all the hallmarks of a golden youth: slumber parties, friendship bracelets, name calling, and waiting with knives after class. Kid stuff. Most of the songs feature similar themes of adorably ferocious teenage angst and dreams of revenge against classmates. The music on this, their sophomore release, is only slightly less jagged than their debut, featuring ragingly punky interpretations of ’50s and ’60s teen pop. The song The Kelly Affair [download] recounts the plot of what some (only my friend James, really) have called the best movie of all time, Russ Meyer’s Roger Ebert-penned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Be Your Own Pet’s Z-Man was Thurston Moore, who signed the band while the founding members were still in high school. Let’s pray things turn out better for them than they did for the Carrie Nations.
Destroyer, Foam Hands (download)
Unapologetically Canadian and infamous indie collaborator (with such groups as the New Pornographers, Frog Eyes, Swan Lake, Bonaparte, etc.) Dan Bejar has rejoined ranks as helmsman of his own off-kilter glam/blues sensation, Destroyer. As far as anticipation goes, their soon-to-be-released eighth album, Trouble in Dreams (March 18), is way up there for a large portion of hipster folk, and for good reason. Bejar’s music and lyricsquirky, flirting with preciousness, but always coming to a pointhave only improved over the years. When asked in a 2006 CBC interview to describe his songwriting process, he quipped: I don’t know, something just comes into my head, and I usually will either try and remember it or write it down. Such refinement! Anyway, I really like the new album, especially tracks Foam Hands and My Favorite Year [download], both of which feel more confident, spacious and better considered than previous Destroyer songs. On the latter, Bejar sings: You’re saying the whole point of everything’s the moving on, and I can’t help but feel somewhat opposed to this. My shit had been torched by fascists, or in some small way we’re all traitors to our own kind. I think I’m feeling it.
Adam Green, Festival Song (download)
Speaking of preciousness, the on hiatus anti-folk group the Moldy Peaches has been making several promotional appearances recently in the service of that song of theirs from the soundtrack to that begrudgingly admittedly cute piece of hyper-twee fantasy that never should have received Oscar nominations Juno. Well, suspiciously enough, co-founder Adam Green has a new solo album out this month called Sixes & Sevens (March 18). I was curious to know if it has the same irksomely pretentious anti-folk vibe that I’ve come to expect from his work. Turns out it doesn’t. Though the album is uneven, some of which courts the idiosyncratic lyrical peregrinations and minimal instrumentation of the Peaches, the better part of it is spent searching through decades of pre-established genres for a voice of its own. The experiment proves an engaging trek, weaving a course through rock and roll’s distant past on Festival Song or the Leonard Cohen-ish, down tempo Getting Led [download], complete with female back-up vocals and minor-key quavering. So, it turns out that, officially, I got nothing against Adam Green. Diablo Cody, however
Sun Kil Moon, Moorestown (download)
Former Red House Painter Mark Kozelek’s follow-up group Sun Kil Moon proceeded in his favored style of writing wistful, perspective-laden lyrics and gently affecting melodies. Their new album, April, hits stores on April Fool’s Day, or so I genuinely hope. It would be one hell of a tease to not release a whole album of songs like Moorestown, which relates a fuzzily remembered life narrative, sung from a place of sensitive resolve that’s little removed, performed by reverb-y, polyphonic notes panning across the channels. It is beautiful, if you’re into that world-weary, sentimental singer-songwriter kind of thing. And if you are, then you’ll be happy to know that, according to Sun Kil Moon’s web site, Will Oldham and Ben Gibbard, also quite gifted in the sad bastard variety of songcraft, perform guest vocals on the album.