Dirty Projectors - Bitte Orca
Though it has yet to be officially released, the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors' follow-up to 2007's Rise Above (which covered 11 of the 15 tracks from Black Flag's 1981 album Damaged), Bitte Orca was leaked a few months back and has since generated a whole lot of buzz. The album's first single, "Stillness is the Move," has been stupifying bloggers and press types with it's impressive scope and its jawdropping vocals (courtesy of Amber Coffman, who curiously conjures Mariah Carey's breathy falsetto). David Longstreth's new endeavor is addictive and engaging. Bitte Orca's off-kilter composition, along with the ethereal vocal delivery of Coffman and the range of Longstreth's croon (which shines through on the rollicking, de-centered "Cannibal Resource," making it a remarkable anti-opener) make for a richly textured listening experience that doesn't let up. The Dirty Projectors will be opening for TV on the Radio later this month. Last time I saw TVOTR, Grizzly Bear opened, and, well, we all know how things ended up for them.
St. Vincent - Actor
After waffling a bit, I finally got my hands on the newly released LP by St.Vincent (aka Annie Clark), which comes two years after the surprisingly complex Marry Me, an album I never wholeheartedly embraced. About halfway through my first listen, it's clearly a step up, while charting noticeably darker territory. Clark is also known for her contributions to recordings by Sufjan Stevens and the Polyphonic Spree, but she's more compositionally interesting than both artists combined. I'm looking forward to repeated listens.
Akron/Family - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free
Before this album is unfairly bypassed because of a short-sighted review on Pitchfork, it should be said that Akron/Family's latest (their first since becoming a trio), perfectly captures the frenetic quality of seeing them live. And this is a good thing, at least for all those who dug the split they released with Angels of Light back in 2005. Obviously, they're never going to put out another album as graceful and captivating as their self-titled debut, but Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free is features some of their most powerful folk jams (the ecstatic, proggy "They Will Appear") and some of their most intimate love songs ("River"). So, dear folk-rock lovers, please give it a taste before you toss it off as another Meek Warrior.