WEGL's Friday Picks Oct 14-21
Welcome to the first ever edition of WEGL's Friday Picks, where a few DJs and staff members select a handful of new albums that are more than worth listening to. We have modified the rules a little bit, as there have been some excellent releases from the past few weeks. Normally we will only discuss albums from the 7 days prior, but we just couldn't resist.
1) Broken Bells – INTO THE BLUE – Oct 7, 2022
Psych-pop duo Broken Bells, comprised of James Mercer of the Shins and legendary producer/songwriter Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse, are back for the first time in 8 years with a new LP. INTO THE BLUE builds on the classic sentiments and flavors of the bands past work, whilst elevating the chemistry and technical tightness between the two. Where this album lacks in edge and experimentality, it makes up for in soulful lyrics and melodies, not to mention the massive soundscapes Danger Mouse was able to create behind Mercer. This record combines elements of 60’s psych rock, 70’s glam rock, 80’s r&b, 2000’s indie, and many things in between.
Favorite tracks: “Love On The Run”; “Saturdays”; “The Chase”
- Will Lewis
2) Billy Woods – Church – Sep 30, 2022
The sky had been a flat grey all day. Walking home after class in a downpour, I decided to put on the new Billy Woods album, Church. I had been an avid fan of Woods since his release of “Hiding Places” in 2019 and 2020’s “Brass” further solidified my love for his impassioned, urgent writing style. From the first track “Paraquat” I knew Billy Woods had lost none of his fire. The sounds from this album, combined with the cold rainy environment I listened in, gave a complete headspace of claustrophobia, paranoia, and fear. In all the best ways possible. The auditory blunt force trauma from Woods’ bars hits like a SWAT battering ram over dreary, nightmarish sampled beats. Shaking anxiety, huddled paranoia, and calculated mistrust, all topics Woods is familiar with. These topics are laid out in brutal detail in his signature slam poetry-esque stream of consciousness fashion, now given a further severity with continuous themes of religion and faith. As the album progresses, Billy reaches a sense of aggression that is rare for him but entirely welcome. Hearing him run out of breath near the end of bars on “Fuchsia and Green”, lowering his voice to desperately reach the end of the hook, only adds to the already confession-like tone of the project. On “Church”, Billy Woods pushes his limits. These limits, however, still have a large sense of latent and smoldering anger that we have yet to hear fully unleashed. Billy Woods has shown us he has more to offer, and I am excited to see where he moves on from here.
- Thomas Averill
3) Bill Callahan - YTI⅃AƎЯ – Oct 14, 2022
Few artists have blended the slowcore and folk genres better than legendary indie singer-songwriter Bill Callahan. His recent release, YTI⅃AƎЯ, marks his 9th solo LP, not counting his releases under Smog. Bill’s baritone, soothing yet scratchy voice on these projects is ever present on his latest release, paired with the traditional, skeletal folk and acoustic instrumentation. YTI⅃AƎЯ, offers a little bit more than some of his past albums, however, particularly in the ambient and atmospheric side. Tracks like “Naked Souls” and “Partition” offer an element of loose psychedelia, and others have an almost baroque feel to them with backing string sections and brass interjections. This record is like Scott Walker’s Scott 4 meets Songs: Ohia. Vivid imagery, melancholy, and lyricism pertaining primarily to the natural world, and the natural parts of us. YTI⅃AƎЯ is Bill going out into the lush woods of human conflict and leaving no stone unturned, revealing the most beautiful and most despicable aspects of himself and mankind.
Favorite tracks: “Naked Souls”; “Coyotes”; “Planets”
- Will Lewis
4) Zella Day - Sunday In Heaven - Oct 14, 2022
Zella Day’s Sunday In Heaven offers a refreshing arrangement of pop tunes that is worth a listen from anyone who enjoys electronic music, or is looking for good pop outside of the monotony of mainstream radio. The standout track that should convince anyone to give the whole album a listen is “Dance For Love”. An upbeat and refreshing bop, “Dance For Love” was described as being Blondie-like when played for fellow WEGL DJs. Along with Blondie, Sunday In Heaven wears its variety of pop influences on its sleeves. The result of Zella Day’s efforts is a track list that is hardly offensive enough to poke holes in but does little to differentiate itself from its influences. For some seeking the future of pop, that may be a turn off. But for anyone that can enjoy pop hits for what they are, this will satisfy your craving for uplifting tunes, and still stands out from the majority of pop on Top 40 radio. One song that does break through and leave an impact is the title, and final, track. Sunday In Heaven is beautiful in everything from the lyricism to its production and is the perfect bow on top of a solid collection of catchy pop tunes.
Zella Day does little in the way of reinventing the wheel, but puts forth a solid, enjoyable listen that evokes the same emotion as the best pop hits that rule the airwaves.
- Cameron Kasprzak
5) They Are Gutting a Body of Water – lucky styles – Oct 17, 2022
Philly shoegaze and synth-infused noise-rock quartet with the comically long band name are likely foreign to most of our readers, but I am here to give you a new favorite group. TAGABOW is a band that performs strictly on the floor, backs to the audience, never on stage (much to my surprise the first time I saw them live). Douglas Dulgarian, front man and visionary for the group, said in an interview with MORE TO THE CORE that they do this for several reasons, mostly to be able to hear the PA better. He also cited a few classic bands such as Slint that inspired him to play live this way, while also mentioning how it turns the show into a spectacle as if the crowd are members of the band. This mentality and performance style is analogous to their music itself: loud, fun, involved, and unpredictable. This latest record is more of the same, and it keeps the listener guessing in every way possible. For one, the longest and most conceived tracks are instrumentals, almost as a big middle finger to the classic shoegaze trope of 5-minute songs with reverbed, unintelligible vocals. Not to say that Doug’s vocals are clear exactly, but they do a lot for the songs in which they are included. This is a fun, short record that puts the listener is a trance-like state, and then instantly snaps them out of it with absolutely massive, head-spinning guitar tones. Listen at full volume.
Favorite tracks: “tagabow (intro)” ; “behind the waterfall” ; “webmaster”
- Will Lewis
6) Mavi – Laughing So Hard, it Hurts – Oct 14, 2022
On Laughing So Hard, it Hurts, Mavi enters a new stage of life. While the raw, gripping struggles from his debut Let The Sun Talk have mostly been worked out, there is now a new set of problems in his life for him to tackle, albeit in a manner far more calm and collected than we have heard so far. Mavi feels at peace on this record, analyzing the issues in his life with fame and money and working them out slowly and methodically. If I could describe the sound in one word, it would be “smooth”. This is not to give the image of some overproduced sell out record, Mavi’s signature flow and lyricism has lost none of its power and realness, but if you are expecting the same fire and unfiltered passion of tracks like Self Love you will be disappointed. Alternatively, however, going into this album as simply a fan of Mavi, you will find an exploration of new sounds and styles that will have you bobbing your head up and down and marveling at how effortless he floats over every single jazz influenced beat. There are some filler tracks however, and no particular stand outs that really shock the ears. But for a second album following one of the most exciting debuts in recent memory, this project does its job and does it well. Laughing So Hard, it Hurts is a Mavi album through and through, but lacks the passion started by its predecessor and suggested by its title.
- Thomas Averill