Fucked Up, Glass Boys
The typical punk band is a short-lived, frenzied affair, with an endgame of exhaustion, self-destruction or cashing out. What should we make of Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up, then, who have run through more than decade of shouty singalongs, moody long-form songs and concept albums? The latest LP is perhaps their most daunting, a puzzle that deconstructs the genre into its distinct parts—ringing guitar riffs, powerhouse drums and an overdriven growl. With obscure lyrics that will have you looking for a dictionary (see “gastromancy”), it’s not an immediate pleasure by any means, but a candidate for a summer-long project, alongside doorstop novels and TV binges. Add it to the reading list. (Out now.)
Essential track: “Sun Glass”
Gabriel Kahane, The Ambassador
Composer-pianist-songwriter Kahane already recorded one perfect scathing/loving send up of Los Angeles, 2011’s “LA”. For this album he decided to take on the City of Angels in depth, pegging each song to a specific location, down to the street address. Behind a piano and a range of embellishments, the tangled melody lines and hyperliterate lyrics evoke freeway expanse, lonely vistas and a sordid history.
Essential track: “Bradbury (304 Broadway)”
White Lung, Deep Fantasy
Guitarist Kenneth William, noodly and unhinged, holds nothing back on the Vancouver punks’ second LP. Singer Mish Way’s vocals are similarly fierce, direct and indicting. If your idea of summer fun is unvarnished attitude, hyperactive guitars and breakneck drumming, this disc pairs well with other seasonal accoutrements: grilled red meat, driving over the speed limit and the shark attack scenes from “Jaws.” (Out June 17)
Essential track: “Face Down”
Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits
The Fresh & Onlys have Bay Area psychedelia in their DNA, and sitting down with their echoey, twangy guitar-pop tunes is akin to drifting toward a softly inviting sleep. Nestle into the textured, droney feather bed of “Bells of Paonia”, or sway with “Animal of One,” a more straightforward rock tune that hooks you with an entrancing backbeat and gossamer melodies. (Out June 10)
Essential track: “Animal of One”
Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal
The Brooklyn band enters into its third record as the recently crowned poet laureate of brainy, verbose indie rock (blessed by the gods NPR, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and others for their excellent 2012 LP “Light Up Gold”). They don’t disappoint here, piling up more talk-sung poetry, jerky rhythms, and charmingly off-kilter transitions. It’s the sort of smart, fun, exhilarating package that makes you excited people are still making music with guitars.
Essential track: “Sunbathing Animal”