Sturgill Simpson, Sound & Fury (Elektra) – Kentucky songwriter Sturgill Simpson
is known as the man who brought psychedelia to Nashville, but his fourth album drops all pretenses of country to offer a feedback-drenched noisefest suggesting Jimi Hendrix jamming with Harry Pussy. Make no mistake, there are real riff-driven melodies within, as in “Mercury in Retrograde,” but the 10 songs proceed with no silent pauses in between. It’s not accurate to say Simpson is redefining country music; rather, he is inventing a new style still in the process of being born.
Vivian Girls, Memory (Polyvinyl Records) – There are those who consider the Brooklyn trio to be a revival of the riot grrrl movement, and the band’s lo-fi, gauzy aesthetic can be compared to the late-1970s women’s art-punk movement. It’s good to know Vivian Girls have kept their sound gritty and unpolished, but the mushy mix of their reunion album reminds us that new women’s bands like Camp Cope and Dream Wife plumb this same well of punk sadness with more clarity and finesse.
Solid Bronze, The Fruit Basket (Schnitzel Records) – The psychedelic and soul elements created by this Trenton, New Jersey, ensemble fuse ideally, and even if there’s a hint of too much Autotune on occasion, guest Morphine saxophonist Dana Colley brings tracks to the edge of free jazz, before the percussion takes it right back to deep funk.