You could call it the alt-folk answer to the 80s supergroup Traveling Wilburys. Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, M Ward and the much-in-demand producer Mike Mogis have teamed up to form a new band called (with collective tongue in cheek) Monsters of Folk (left). The quartet's self-titled debut album arrives in late September. In advance of that, their first roar has arrived. Called 'Say Please', it largely dispenses with the folk and goes for more of a mid-tempo country rock feel. They're giving it away for free at www.monstersoffolk.com – all you have to do is say please, or more accurately, type "please". Granted, the Traveling Wilburys comparison is glib, but to compound it a little, consider this: for the group, Jim James is calling himself Yim Yames, for reasons unclear. It's a pseudonym he has also used for another recent project – 'Tribute To', a six-track EP of George Harrison covers, he of Traveling Wilburys among others. It gets a physical release on 4 August, but a digital version of it can be found at www.yimyames.com.
Last year Bradford Cox released two art-rocking albums with his band, Deerhunter. He also put out an album of dreamy ambient pop under the guise of Atlas Sound. This year there has been numerous new songs and mix tapes from Cox on deerhuntertheband.blogspot.com, not to mention a new EP from Deerhunter. Now he's readying another Atlas Sound album, 'Logos', for release in October. 'Walkabout', the first track from it, premiered on the Fader this week (tinyurl.com/njwyn7). It was made with the help of Noah Lennox – aka Panda Bear and one third of Animal Collective. Bearing traces of those two ventures, it's yet more sublime, artful pop music.
Dodos find Time to die
Last year San Francisco duo The Dodos got deserved acclaim for their album 'Visiter'. Now they follow it up with 'Time To Die', their third album, again combining Meric Long's poppy vocals and brilliant guitar playing – both fingerpicking acoustic and electric guitar thrashing – with Logan Kroeber's propulsive percussion. The record gets a digital and physical releases in the next two months but in the meantime, they're streaming the whole thing at timetodie.net.
Lip service to the Embryonic stage
To these ears, the Flaming Lips haven't come close to the wide-eyed wonder of their 1999 album 'The Soft Bulletin' on subsequent releases. But they remain an interesting prospect and their forthcoming new record, 'Embryonic', is reportedly a double album with guest contributions from Karen O and MGMT. Two tracks from it have been revealed, neither featuring any of the aforementioned guests. Hear them at covertcuriosity.blogspot.com
Gem of a mixtape
Buraka Som Sistema and their brand of Kuduro – Angolan ghetto funk via Lisbon – got plenty of notice last year for their excellent debut album, 'Blood Diamond'. The record was a clattering melange of house, dancehall, deep bass, hip-hop and plenty of other discordant elements. Now they're making a return of sorts with the 'Blood Diamond' mixtape. Produced and mixed by J WOW aka DJ Lil'John, it serves as a sort of companion piece to the album, revealing influences and suggesting some new directions. They say it's how last year's album may have turned out if clearing samples wasn't an issue. It's available as a free download from their website, buraka.tv, all for the mere price of an email address.