It’s impossible for anyone to keep up with all the new releases. Great records fly under the radar too often. Maybe they’ve been poorly promoted, or the artists have little name recognition. Whatever the reason, this dynamic often favors artists who have face value, but lack substance. Meghan Trainor owes her career to it.
Some of these records seem full of potential to cross over into mainstream renown, others are strictly for the underground. Part of our jobs as DJs on non-commercial radio is to champion these under-appreciated artists and the records they make. I’m finding such records on a regular basis. Here are five I want to talk about from the last year.
HEALTH: Death Magic
HEALTH’s new album has more appeal than it has an audience for at the moment. In other words, it’s ahead of its time. HEALTH is a noise band from LA, and their new sound is equal parts pop, industrial, and noise. It’s a good look for them. People split on whether they like how it’s mixed. It’s a raw sound, and it puts the vocals right up front. Uncomfortable for pop and noise audiences alike. Hopefully this band will keep making records.
BTW this album has a web site: http://www.youwillloveeachother.com/
If indie disco is your jam and you haven’t heard this record yet, give a listen right quick. Moullinex’s sound is like a hybrid of Tame Impala, RAC, and Neil Young. The album presents a good range of styles, but mostly it’s a dance record. The psychedelic qualities give it a rawness that’s rare in the nu-disco genre. Luis Clara Gomez might not quite have Neil Young’s pipes, but he sings from the heart and writes great hooks.
Etienne de Crécy: Super Discount 3
This is a flawless record. It came out near the end of 2014, but still nobody online has reviewed it. I guess it has a fair number of plays on Spotify, but it deserves wider attention. It’s easily as good as Daft Punk’s LP from last year. IMO it’s the best record out of France since then (although the new St. Germain record is getting slept on, too). Etienne de Crécy is among France’s early house music makers, from the old school of “French touch.” He’s switched to a more mid-tempo style of electro-pop, and it suits him. There’s a solid line-up of guest features including standouts from De La Soul, Kilo Kish and Alex Metric. Check out the racy video for the single, “You.” (Video is NSFW.)
That’s the single, but this one’s been in my head all day:
Auscultation: L’étreinte Imaginaire
Auscultation is Joel Shanahan, and I think his new record is the best piece of lo-fi electronic music this year. The record’s on the 1080p label, which is the best label among probably too many in that niche.
L’étreinte is a big step up from this his self-titled LP from last year, which was good in its own right. It ranges in tempos and styles, from UK post-dubstep, to bedroom disco, to ambient, and ties them all together with sonically with filtery, mildly-distorted production.
Its strengths lie in the steady focus on melody, harmony and progression of each track. To get into it, you mostly just have to be willing to move away from pop structures and hooks into a more tracky, groove-oriented mode. Put it on and be zen.
Here, try click on this ugly Spotify link and listen: https://play.spotify.com/album/1E5qllAtZJmSI94vHGMdGn
James Ferraro: Skid Row
James Ferraro is the dude of dudes. Google image search him. This record is too new to be called underappreciated, and it hasn’t been rated by the critics, yet, so we can’t really call it underrated, either. Anyway, it’s the sleaziest thing I’ve heard all year. It’s great. Lots of people will hate it, just like they hated Far Side Virtual. It’s not their fault; that record went right over most people’s heads.
Ferraro is an unsung genius of our time. He’s made another great record, and you should hear it. A YouTube clip doesn’t quite do the album justice, but just for good measure: