Last Tuesday saw two prominent album releases on the Minnesota music front: Lizzo’s Lazerbeak-produced solo debut “Lizzobangers,” and Marijuana Deathsquads’ fourth or fifth or 15th or so record, “Oh My Sexy Lord” (it’s been hard to track all of MDS’ output). This Tuesday sees two more big ones, starting with the band now on tour with the Deathsquads and using the same drummers.
POLIÇA, “Shulamith” (Mom + Pop Records)
When the Justin Vernon-accompanied single “Tiff” kicked off the hype behind this sophomore album way back in April, you knew the record was going to get plenty of attention from indie bloggers and NPR affiliates. However, you didn’t know if it was actually going to go anywhere new. “Tiff” felt like a rehash of the rhythmically booming, vocally billowy soundscape Poliça had already laid out and covered pretty thoroughly on its 2012 debut, “Give You the Ghost.”
Fortunately, the rest of “Shulamith” – named after recently deceased Canadian feminist and “Dialect of Sex” author Shulamith Firestone -- is pretty damn adventurous and experimental. Among the freshest tracks is the kick-off song (and second single) “Chain My Name,” with its polished synth sparkle and disco-punk groove. From there, the album weaves from what sounds like post-apocalyptic R&B make-out music (“Smug,” an example of where all the XX comparisons come from) to soulful, laid-back electronic dance music (“Trippin’”) to freaky, teeth-rattling throb-rock territory, (“Very Cruel,” the album’s most intense and mesmerizing track).
There were parts of the “Give You the Ghost” record where the lack of guitars at times actually felt like a missing ingredient, but not here. Meanwhile, the two-drummer rhythmic mold that took shape during the making of that first album feels fully formed on “Shulamith,” especially in the schizo-rhythmic “Vegas” and hypnotic and cocky-sounding “Torre,” the latter of which shows producer Ryan Olson's heavy sonic imprint.
Singer Channy Leaneagh opens up more, too. Her lyrics -- which were more deeply personal and buried on the first album – are sometimes more audible here, and occasionally evoke the album’s namesake theorist (“Torre” sample lines: “Who is the harlot? I am / Who is the diamond? I am / Who is the lion? I am”). As important as what she’s saying, though, there’s a wilder, freer and less robotic-sounding emotional value on this record. Even as her band has enlarged and sharpened its silvery sound, Leaneagh hasn’t lost her raw, ex-folkie singer/songwriter edge.
DOSH, “Milk Money” (Graveface Records)
While he’s back to banging the drums with the Cloak Ox (duties he also fulfills in Andrew Bird’s band), Martin Dosh is as far out from behind the kit as he’s ever been on ”Milk Money,” his latest in a string of impressive solo albums built on ambient synthesizers, warm organs and jittery tape loops. Case in point: The album’s 25-minute epic closing track, “Legos (For Terry)” -- which was written for his performance with Wilco drummer Glenn Kotchke at the Walker Art Center in February -- doesn’t actually feature the use of drum sticks until 14 minutes in. And even then it’s just to tap a high-hat cymbal. The opening track, “We Are the Worst,” is only built around a simplistic electronic drum beat, with mad whirs of organ, guitar drone and ethereal vocals laid over it. And the disc’s most drum-oriented track, “20 Year,” is rhythmically diced-up and subtly wicked.
ALSO OUT TODAY
"Actual Wolf," the eponymous full-length debut by Eric Pollard and his '70s-ish country-haze-rock band, produced by Low frontman (and Pollard's Retribution Gospel Choir bandmate) Alan Sparhawk.