The best music of September 2011

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the best music of september 2011

For some countries summer vacation is an unknown concept, but here in America, “Back to School” epitomizes our culture's curriculum; it is a mandate, a cultural touchstone, and a commercialized commodity. Releasing your record in August means it's a beach record; releasing it in October mean it's supposed to be a gift for someone for Christmas. But “Back to School”, and therefore September, have a different connotation: book learnin'. You could learn the names of Brooklyn's devout obscurists from the document The Noise From Ridgewood. Or, perhaps, we are being shown what Das Racist has learned about showbiz in “Michael Jackson”. Expand your knowledge-base with the best releases of September.

Best album

The Noise From Ridgewood – A Benefit Compilation For The Silent Barn
The much loved DIY music and arts Ridgewood institution Silent Barn continues to rebound strongly from being shut down by authorities and later getting robbed and vandalized in July. Along with meeting their $40k Kickstarter goal, friends continue to throw their efforts into the ring while the former inhabitants begin their search for a new location. The Noise From Ridgewood is more than an excellent compilation put together by Obsolete Units, it's a massive tome of 43 artists currently contributing experimental shenanigans to the American underground as we speak, and like the LA Free Music Societies and No New Yorks of the past, in twenty years it'll serve as a most-excellent document of what the hell was going on right about now, right where we are.

The best music of September 2011

Amen Dunes, Through Donkey Jaw (Sacred Bones)
The tale of Damon McMahon’s cultural journey from the Catskills to China and back again is one of self-discovery; the sort of dreamy tale woven from the fabric of Americana. Though it sounds corny, it’s the same identity crisis that has lent itself to McMahon’s Amen Dunes persona. It continues to boil over throughout the upcoming Through Donkey Jaw. The album hums with dark confessionals and mumbled pop overtures; the amount of genre bleeding

Qwazaar & Batsauce, Bat Meets Blaine (Galapagos 4)
Batsauce is a Berlin-based producer, but the textures he lays out keep Qwazaar deeply rooted in his Southside stomping grounds. It places Qwa in the heart of a lineage that aligns him with Lead Belly as much as Slick Rick.

Mr. Muthafukin eXquire, Lost In Translation (Mishka)
Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire has been the talk of the town all summer. One low budget video of a song written over a Necro beat catapulted him into the limelight, high enough in the ranks to receive endorsements from Mishka and Complex. Let's hope Mr. MFN eXquire did not curse his career by paying homage to Craig Mack's classic posse cut video for the “Flava In Ya Ear” Remix on his own “The Last Huzzah” Remix.

Wooden Shjips, West (Thrill Jockey)
Acid. Greasers. Ghost towns. All of these things come to mind as you listen through the whirling, fuzzy folds of Wooden Shjips’ latest release, West. Leaning heavily on visions of the American West for inspiration, their latest release could be a soundtrack to a modern-day acid western. If the distorted sludge of The Stooges met with the organ-powered repetition of ? and the Mysterians’ “96 Tears” for a desert acid trip, West would have been born of this unholy union.

Das Racist's video for “Michael Jackson”
The gang got a taste of the sweet life with El-P, Chairlift's Patrick Wimberly, and Diplo on Relax (among others). And if the expectation for Das Racist's single to be funnier let you down, the video for “Michael Jackson” is in for the bottom of the ninth to earn the save. Das Racist being kidnapped by a King of Pop cult and proceeding to re-imagine the “Black and White” video is the golden treatment.

HTRK, Work (work, work) (Ghostly International)
Out of the tragedy of losing their bassist Sean Stewart, Jonnine Standish and Nigel Yang have taken their craft deeper into subterranean tunnels, “Synthetik” atmospheres and a strange cathartic beauty pulled out of grief.

Flower Orgy, Flower Orgy (Firetalk)
The self-titled cassette is seven tracks of fried folk that carry a keen sense of the crescendo that builds towards freak outs in the chapel and the kind of dejection that leaves you wistfully kicking dust down the metaphorical county road (see the Alex Bleeker cover “Don't Look Down”).

Chubby Wolf, Turkey Decoy (Digitalis)
Chubby Wolf was the moniker of Dani Baquet-Long, a talented musician who died tragically at 27. She's left a legacy of ambient recordings that are still fresh to the world, so you and I can enjoy discovering her work posthumously.

Dead Gaze, “It's Not Real” 10-inch
There's something eerily familiar about Dead Gaze's “It's Not Real” that we can't quite place. It is as though the radio dial caught a muffled pop-transmission from a late 90s Top 40 station. The summers are sticky in Mississippi, but Dead Gaze are a Gulf breeze, assuming such wind currents exist. We are just theorizing and romanticising, since we live elsewhere.

Prince Rama's Karaoke sesions
Trust Now is out today (October), but the karaoke sessions that the sisters orchestrated in anticipation of their album's release are worthy of our stamp of approval for both the sense of humor they affirm in the duo, and the bounty of weirdness which they've created.

Heat Wave, I'm Fuckin You Tonight mixture (Deep Tapes)
The intro to I'm Fuckin You Tonight portends doing the dirty with a pretty weird sense of humor, maybe involving the kind of kinky girl you don't bring home to mom, but who's a Brainfeeder discography completist. Soon though, the new mixtape from LA-based Sun Araw-touring Alex Gray is immersed in water and similarly submerged beats and we're witness to the kind of late night trax that any fan of opiated beats and bird song field recordings can get behind, so as to better have sex with the whole mix at once.

Shimmering Stars, Violent Hearts (Hardly Art)
It's not hard to like Shimmering Stars. The Vancouver trio is one of those rare pop bands that can get their instruments precisely placed on that twinge muscle deep inside the human heart, and they do it with murder fantasies in the walls: “Walking down the street / I wanna kill everyone I see… In my heart, is a violence.”

ATM's “Always On Time From Now On / Try Harder W/ Brain” 7-inch
The lead-off track for the solo project of Ted McGrath (Antimagic) is a sludgy little number that shows off a sultry crooner side to Mr. McGrath; while there's obvious parallels to his work with the perennially great scuzz/punk duo Antimagic, this work as ATM trades in some of the atonal aggression for a methadone drip of sleaze and spot-on vocal harmonies.

Gianni Giublena Rosacroce, La piramide di sangue
A mesmerizing milieu of mid-eastern/gypsy folk inspired instrumentals performed by the Stefano Isaia with the help of Dedalo666 (a moniker, not a band), on clarinet, cans, drums and percussions, piano and acoustic guitars.

Kid Creole & the Coconuts, I Wake Up Screaming (Strut)
As Kid Creole, August Darnell continues to create music that sounds like nothing else around him. At the same time, he is able to pick up influences from the undercurrents of today's disco permutations and incorporate them into his compositions. I Wake Up Screaming is not a repackaging of his earlier work, but a present-day statement that stands as a welcome addition to the Kid’s discography.

Mikal Cronin, Mikal Cronin (Trouble in Mind)
Mikal Cronin is going through some thangs, but luckily he's got his bro Ty Segall to help him make sense of the Orange County malaise and post-college distress. The two first collaborated on the Reverse Shark Attack 12″ (Kill Shaman), but this time Ty is behind the boards while Mikal pours his moon-born heart into a solo record.