May was a good month for Bay Area jam-outs with releases from Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees, and a great month for the instrumental half of the hip hop equation, with some of the walk-off best albums of the year in Guilty Simpson's OJ Simpson and Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma.
Heavy music also came out swinging with the bad-ass aplomb of Twin Stump's Seed Bed, Child Abuse's Cut and Run, and Rangda's all-star nuclear bomb of a psych record False Flag. On the same page, Male Bonding pretty much emerged from their debut LP Nothing Hurts with near-universal acclaim. Saw that one coming.
Guilty Simpson, OJ Simpson (Stones Throw)
We say: OJ Simpson is possibly one of the most gangster names for a rap duo since Smif-n-Wessun. We've been hitting the repeat button for this one nonstop. Stand-out hands-down best album of the month.
Best Releases of May 2010
Effi Briest, Rhizomes (Sacred Bones)
We say: Channeling ESG's low end underneath glittery double-delay guitar and vocals that recall The Slits' sharp angles, all suddenly descending into murky atmospherics, conjuring something like Public Images Limited's dark brew with a fog that's entirely of their own making.
Rangda, False Flag (Drag City)
We say: Big boner classic rock that plumbs the orgasmic depths of primal guitar freak outs, traces of early heavy metal, heaps of psych rock. And Santana.
Junk Science, A Miraculous Kind of Machine
We say: Bajae One of Junk Science could be this generation's El-p with his start-up label Modern Shark.
Ty Segall, Melted (Goner)
We say: Polish it up a bit and Ty Segall sounds like a young Paul McCartney – no joke, listen to “My Sunshine” or “Sad Fuzz” and try to tell me otherwise.
Friendo, Cold Toads (St. Ives)
We say: Call this lovely slow-burner another fruit fallen from the season of summery Baeleric music, or just call it pretty and supple, that works too.
Sparkling Wide Pressure, Facing the Nothing World (Stunned)
We say: Meandering tracks that conjure up aquamarine-tinted slow motion footage of whales trundling forward on their migratory paths, sending out quavering dispatches to their ocean-locked mammalian brethren.
Male Bonding, Nothing Hurts (Sub Pop)
We say: Hirsute, grunge-y tropicalia storm on our unsuspecting asses.
Tobacco, Maniac Meat (Anticon)
We say: I just want to screw in strobe lights and lick cocaine off a desert eagle to this shit.
Robedoor, Burners (Important)
We say: The best representative of outer limits psych drone still indebted to a pulse, with a back bone that twists and curls like calcified reams of smoke.
Thee Oh Sees, Warm Slime (In the Red)
We say: Can this steady stream of Thee Oh Sees records continue for the remainder of my humdrum days?
James Ferraro, Feed Me (Olde English Spelling Bee)
We say: It will inspire a followup Justin Bieber/Soulja Boy collaboration, Ariel Pink will broker an Israeli/Palestinian peace plan, and the demons of Hell TV will rise up and file copyright suits.
Indian Jewelry, Totaled (We Are Free)
We say: I'm finally ready to admit that it's my own pessimistic nature that keeps me from admitting that this is the work of more than just les Enfant terribles from below the Mason-Dixon line; it's some of the best shit out there.
Twin Stumps, Seedbed (Fan Death)
We say: This is the sound of sludgy hardcore that's recorded so deeply into the red that it buzzes like destroyed saw-toothed destructo-styled synthesizers.
Woods, At Echo Lake (Woodsist)
We say: Between running a label and being lead guitarist in a nationally touring band, Earl is probably sustaining, but he could totally license “Suffering Season” to a Nasonex commercial.
Child Abuse, Cut and Run (Lovepump United)
We say: Many of their more overt prior frills seem to have been lessened in favor of purer selections in bracingly dissonant chords and striking tempo changes, while Calzonetti's voice, once occupied by a series of plainly death-metal-influenced shrieks and gibberings, seemed more restrained and better integrated.
Flying Lotus, Cosmogramma (Warp)
We say: A panoramic work that connects the free jazz of a previous generation with the forward motion soundscapes of the next.
Speak!, Beautiful Sounds for Interesting People with Fantastic Taste
We say: Speak! might not look the typical rapper part, but people said the same thing about Lushlife, then properly shut their mouths when he opened his.
Future Islands, In Evening Air (Thrill Jockey)
We say: Gee, Yeasayer wishes they were this awesome.
Beach Fossils, Beach Fossils (Captured Tracks)
We say: Of all the Beach bands, it's hard not to put the Fossils near the top of the heap.
Open Mike Eagle, Unapologetic Art Rap
We say: It's admirable that OME's flow manages to be so casual and smooth given the stresses of his graveyard shift rap life.
High Places, High Places vs. Mankind
We say: Maybe it’s because I’m high on the films of Hiroshi Teshigahara as I write this, but I keep thinking about the Japanese art of ikebana flower arrangement as I listen to this record.
Puffy Areolas, In the Army 1981
We say: Psych rock but with vicious energy, and, uh, lots of jokes.
Theophilus London, I Want You mixtape
We Say: Grown man's meditation inspired by Marvin Gaye's self-imposed exile and his controversial performance at the 1983 NBA All-Star game.