Ragana – B.N.F. (self released)
Two ladies from Washington that bring some serious fucking heaviness. Not sure if there’s a scene over there where this type of insanity is the norm and I just haven’t heard it yet, but All’s Lost is impossible to peg. They’re doing something totally original and it’s the fucking best. Some sort of black sludgy screamo garage that just melts my heart. Sweet hooks & melodies run through a fuzz filter, blistering screams, massive riffs next to atmospheric tremolo, blast beats forgone for everything but, depressing lyrics and a permeating darkness to knock it out of the park. Not really weird on a song by song basis but put together this is a wholly twisted beast. Best of all it’s cheap as shit. Digital is PWYW, tapes or CDs a mere $5, and they have some killer shirts for the same amount. I fuckin love these guys. Now just gimme some vinyl.
Boy Without God – Of Cowboys & Other Beautiful Men (self released)
The sort of sound that’s not usually my bag (saxophones, song-oriented, God-y) but when it’s powerful & memorable enough that one or two years later I’m able to recognize a song I only heard once, I would be a jackass if I didn’t pay attention. A brilliantly smooth blend of new Americana, old blues, soul, new wave clean garage rock, doo-wop, jazz, and anything else he’s inspired by. Poetic lyrics sung in the most passionate deep baritone that sounds maybe a little like the dude from Crash Test Dummies, except not annoying and totally sincere. I’d say his voice is what hooks you in the beginning but it’s probably just the most noticeably unique aspect. Songs break in cathartic crescendos with angry guitar destruction & dissonant horn skronking or blissful howling & lush dreams. Lonely acoustic guitars, deft electric Neil Young sounds, flushed out strings & brass, mourning heartbreak, uplifting youthful love, straight up the catchiest fucking tunes. Endlessly listenable and hands down one of the greatest records this year.
Easily Gabriel’s most well thought out and complete sounding record I’ve heard. It’s obvious this is what he’s wanted to sound like. More people are involved on this record, both in terms of instruments & vocals (including the addition of some fantastic boy/girl harmonies) and in terms of production & mastering. The physical disc is printed by Repeat Press, the same dude who did that slick as hell High Aura’d album.