Author: Kia McGinnis

TelePathiQ
Dark Room EP
She Says Records
Street: 04.21
TelePathiQ = DJ Shadow + Phantogram

In just three songs, TelePathiQ packs enough intensity for a full-length album. Booming drums are silhouetted by classical riffs of piano and paired with female vocals. The result is a composition that is both dark and light—the shadowy texture of the techno beats is complemented by the cool, creepy vocals. “Dark Room” has a dramatic, strobe-light effect as the intro song, while “My Misdemeanor” leaves a softer, more illustrious image. “Breaks My Heart” adds gloomy, introspective lyricism, stating, “I have a delicate soul.” Dark Room is a satisfying length with layers of beats that make it a compelling work of electronic music. –Kia McGinnis

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Rich Quick
Sad Songz
Ben Frank Recordings
Street: 08.20
Rich Quick = Grieves + Micky Avalon
This white boy from New Jersey lays down upbeat, borderline hip-pop with groovy samples. Quick has charisma in his musicianship, offering an approachability that is at his advantage. In his video for “Travelin’ Man,” he raps about his love life, and comes across as a cool, kinda nerdy, real-life dude. Quick was obsessed with writing raps as a kid, which has translated well to his career—his words aren’t complicated or ensnaring, just easy to hear and relate to. Throughout the EP, the snare drum and bass lines create a solid backbone for everything else, but are good enough that they could stand alone. “Nice Guy” has a mellow reggae beat that works out and adds some variation, while “Walk On By” kills it with ’70s-sounding keys and guest flows from Jakk Frost and Chuck Treece. Most of the tracks on Sad Songz are spot-on enough to become hits if Quick gains some speed in the scene. –Kia McGinnis
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Sen Wisher – Glow

Sen Wisher – Glow

Sen Wisher
Glow

Self-Released
Street: 05.09
Sen Wisher = James Blake + Youth Lagoon

This is an aptly titled album, as it exudes a soft, phosphorescent quality. In the first breath, it establishes a slightly hypnotic texture that reminds me of Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower.” Though there are only four tracks on Glow, it leaves a resounding feeling as it ventures through and then releases the listener from musical tension. Wisher uses ghostly vocals and a variety of synth instruments, such as a drum machine and Casio, to elicit this build. Glow heavily comprises electronic sounds, but isn’t overwhelmingly techno-sounding—rather, it translates as a symphonic pop album. As noted on Sen Wisher’s Bandcamp (senwisher.bandcamp.com), Glow is the first of two albums, both of which are worth keeping on your radar. –Kia McGinnis

El mató a un policía motorizado
La Dinastia Scorpio
Nacional Records
Street: 07.29
El mató a un policía

motorizado = Built To Spill + Pixies

If you don’t typically listen to music in Spanish, don’t fret—this music transcends language barriers. La Dinastía Scorpio is the first American release for these creative indie-rockers, who have toured festivals in the U.S., including Lollapalooza and SXSW. With synth keyboards like The Strokes and engaging melodies like Minus the Bear, this album has a strong balance of both acoustic and garage rock elements. “Más o menos bien” has a distinct twinkling, resonating sound, while “Noche negra” is a layered electric lullaby. El mató’s music is bright and has an eager, youthful tone that’s entirely endearing. There’s a touch of wistfulness that makes it ideal as an end of summer album. –Kia McGinnis

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Widowspeak
The Swamps EP
Captured Tracks
Street: 10.29
Widowspeak = Mazzy Star + Dark Dark Dark + Cat Power
It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that The Swamps’ release date is just a few days before Halloween. Spiderwebbed banjo layered with Molly Hamilton’s blustery, beautiful vocals and crisp, distant guitar riffs make this a quintessential fall release. Their self-titled first album was almost tangibly ’90s, but The Swamps feels more ’70s folk—woodsy and cinematic, like Neil Young or Fleetwood Mac. “Calico” trickles an intimate nostalgia, with slow, intuitive bass and lyrics that speak of an overgrown house and articles of worn clothing. “Brass Bed” is melodic and rosy, but asks, “Baby, can we play dead laying in our brass bed?” It’s those touches of ghostliness and romanticism that make Widowspeak such an eerie treat—listen to the EP in full on their Bandcamp. –Kia McGinnis

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Umbels – Self-Titled

Umbels
Self-Titled

Self-Released
Street: 05.01
Umbels = Incubus’ “Aqueous Transmission” + Modest Mouse’s “Lounge”

This isn’t quite surf rock, folk rock or garage rock—it falls somewhere among all three. Using vaguely tropical sounds (including what sounds like a kazoo) and pleasant guitar strumming, Umbels’ debut album is relaxed and slightly muted. The vocals are fairly quiet and seem to intentionally juxtapose bursts of louder, more vibrant guitar and bass riffs, though, overall, the pace of the tracks is low-key and takes its time. “All In It Now” has a beach-y bass line that is paired well with subtle rock vocals, making it the most striking track of the album. “Howdy Do-Birdz” goes in a more country direction with a swinging upbeat, and is another success. –Kia McGinnis

Angel Olsen – My Woman – Jagjuguwar Records

Angel Olsen
My Woman

Jagjuguwar Records
Street: 09.02
Angel Olsen = Patsy Cline + Stevie Nicks

In her self-directed teaser video “Intern,” it’s impossible to look away from Olsen’s probing eye contact, silvery bobbed wig and 1980s call center headset.  As she wails, “Falling in love / And I swear it’s the last time,” the desperate glamour reaches an almost unbearable peak before cutting out to a fuzzy television screen. In the comments, one astute observer writes, “If Laura Palmer were real and making music, this is what I imagine it would be like.” Indeed, there is a strange, morbid and engrossing aesthetic that makes the scene something straight out of a Lynch film. The intentional dramatics, both visual and musical, set the tone for My Woman and are a far cry from the wistful “I wish I had the voice for everything” off her 2014 Burn Your Fire For No Witness.

“Never Be Mine” is a quick, slightly twangy follow-up to the sentiment of “Intern,” with Olsen lamenting, “Heaven hits me when I see your face / I go blind every time.” We hear her work through her unrequited love mentally, though she doesn’t spend much time woefully wallowing. In “Shut Up Kiss Me,” she launches into hard line statements and demands for attention. Her signature vocals shine through a subtle lo-fi effect, shrouded by snappy drums and a halo of electric guitar riffs.  It’s reminiscent of her popular track “Hi-Five,” in that it immediately establishes a no bullshit message. In the video, we see Olsen in an ultra-glam golden jumpsuit, not taking no for an answer as she loops a roller-skating rink. This version of Olsen is brazen and bewitching, and it feels well-deserved, like watching a close friend triumph after a devastating breakup.

Olsen creates a power ballad of sorts in “Not Gonna Kill You” with heavy guitar and vocals that build to pronounce, at the top of her vocal range, “Can’t help feeling the way that I do.” At the summit of the song, it’s difficult to make out her words, but it hardly matters, as one instinctually seems to understand: heartbreak is universal. In a bitterly optimistic outro, Olsen strums furiously and sings, “I’ll let the light shine in.” It’s both a release of tension and a release of her thoughts, as if she is physically freeing her resentment by opening the window curtains.

My Woman begins to cool off with “Those Were The Days,” in which Olsen (who normally favors guitar) takes to the piano keys and uses swirly, echoing reverbs on her voice that make for a nostalgic capsule of a track.  The remainder of the album is slower paced and more intimate, as if Olsen is seated at a piano right in front of you. Early fans of Olsen will appreciate the grippingly cinematic vocals, though there is a decidedly new direction in these tracks.

Olsen blurs the lines between love and loss, light and dark, but there’s no question that she isn’t out to be anyone’s fool. Confident in her conviction through the very last words of the album, she sings, “I’ll be the thing that lives in the dream / When it’s gone.” By choosing My Woman as the title of the album, Olsen seems to say, that above all else, she is indeed a woman all her own.

Kia McGinnis

Andy Vigilante
Situation Comedy
Self-Released
Street: 05.24
Andy Vigilante = Bo Burnham + Astronautalis

This album kicks off with “The Pilot,” which is entirely samples of TV show theme songs from The Simpsons, Drake & Josh, The Office, etc. The majority of the tracks that follow have a sound-clip based infrastructure with a slower, jazzy cadence and wise lyrics. “The Unusual Suspects” (feat. Kaptain jacK) manages to layer “Clair De Lune” with clips from Seinfeld while “Ate Oh Won” (feat. Chuck Noland, Burnell Washburn and NegroDamus) gives a shout-out to SLC: “This is the place / Peace to Brigham Young / I’m gonna live and die in the Wasatch Front.” Vigilante has a keen, energetic flow that cleverly connects the plethora of samples together. In addition, his perception about the racial stigmas involved with hip-hop are on point: “Regardless of my passion and talent, the first thing that’s brought up is that I’m white.” –Kia McGinnis

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Wordsmith
The Blue Collar Recital
NU Revolution
Street: 09.17
Wordsmith = Common + Atmosphere
This is perhaps the first hip hop concept album I’ve ever heard—each song is supposed to represent a moment in the day in the life a blue-collar American worker, from “It’s 5am Smell The Roses,” to “Traffic Jammin.” Rapping about working hard for not enough pay (“Living Life Check to Check”) and hustlin’ through an unfair world (“When Your Faith is Tested”), the relatability through lyrics is the foundation of The Blue Collar Recital. Wordsmith’s optimistic, moral music is a refreshing change from the sex/drugs/power anthems we have come to expect from the hip hop industry. His flow is clean with simple drumbeats and keys, looped with soulful samples that bump the tracks to an almost gospel status. The “day in a life” approach makes The Blue Collar Recital personal and powerful without being over the top. –Kia McGinnis
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Widowspeak

Widowspeak
All Yours

Captured Tracks
Street: 09.04
Widowspeak = Mazzy Star + Fleetwood Mac

All Yours is Widowspeak’s third full-length album, and listening to it is like opening a handwritten letter from a dear friend. This is a rare band in that each release is just as sweet and memorable as the last, yet still manages to incorporate growth and new sounds. All Yours takes a fresh, sunny tone as opposed to the dusty, somber textures of their previous release, The Swamps. With extra-pleasant buzzing guitar and velvety vocals, the album has a quintessential ’70s folk-rock feel. “Girls” is an ideal conglomeration of cowboy-esque drums/electric guitar, an almost shoegaze vocal arrangement and a rock outro that makes you want to clap along. The title track is satisfying and sweeping with lyrics that reflect simply on the past—“I was once all yours, too.” From first song to last, Widowspeak have truly outdone themselves this time. 
–Kia McGinnis