The Paperhead: Chew
What do this week’s artists have in common? Well, not quite head, shoulders, knees and toes, but close enough. Here are five body-part bands with excellent new music to check out. We’ll start at the top, of course, with The Paperhead. The Nashville trio has a headful of scattered thoughts on their fourth studio album, Chew, out on the Trouble In Mind label, bouncing around from one influence to the next, so they manage to cover twangy psych, country and even bits of jazz and beyond. Luckily, they pull it off in admirable fashion, each track working on its own and quite together as a whole … must have a good head on their shoulders.
Brokeback: Illinois River Valley Blues
Moving on down the torso, we’ve got Brokeback, the side-project of sorts from Chicago post-rock titans Tortoise member Douglas McCombs. Working with a band that features the excellent James Elkington on guitar, McCombs paints lovely, impressionist landscapes. On Illinois River Valley Blues, Brokeback locks into a sense of place, touching on the areas along the Illinois River where McCombs grew up. The band dabs familiar hues of jazz, country and rock to evoke emotions and locations. Recommended for any fan of instrumental music.
Hand Habits: Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void)
Out toward the extremities, there is Hand Habits, the performing name of Meg Duffy. After backing in several bands, including Kevin Morby’s and Mega Bog, Wildly Idle (Humble Before The Void) is her debut album, with a recorded-in-bedroom feel, produced by Morby and out on the Woodsist label. It is a hushed arrival of a debut, a beautiful whisper of indie-folk, asking you to trust her, lean in and savor. Enjoy.
Continuing the theme, it’s a no-brainer to include the newest album from New York band, Kneebody. Starting with a downtown jazz foundation and then working their way out to gobble up elements of rock and hip-hop in a unique fusion music that’s both intense and danceable. Their newest is Anti-Hero and is popping with the constantly shifting rhythms of Nate Wood’s drumming, horns and keyboards alternating between dreamy and aggressive. If you’re into jazz music that’s beyond jazz music, you should definitely take a knee here.
The Necks: Unfold
Finally, a bonus pick that fits the bill, the newest from The Necks. To call the four tracks on Unfold “songs” would seem to sell them short. “Spiritual journey” would be a better description. The Australian trio is celebrating their 30th anniversary, but the music here is as fresh and new as anything else being made. They may look like a jazz trio, but this is a singular thing, slowly moving sonic landscapes that pull you through their wormhole into undiscovered country. The Necks reward patience, but it’s worth the time. If you are not yet hip to these guys, please be my guest.