They Might Be Giants, I Like Fun (Idlewild Recordings) –
They Might Be Giants, I Like Fun
Since the Brooklyn duo of John Flansburgh and John Linnell already covered modern technology in 2013’s Nanobots
, it was anyone’s guess how TMBG would address post-2016 realities. I Like Fun
does not take an easy anti-Trump shot, but instead covers a variety of gruesome and morbid topics with bouncy, even salsa-influenced happy rhythms, making the new album the most radical and memorable since their epic 1990 album Flood
First Aid Kit, Ruins (Columbia) –
As they enter their late 20s, the Swedish sister folk duo of Klara and Johanna Soderberg take on a more somber approach with Ruins
, one suggestive of duos like Smoke Fairies and Azure Ray. A few attempted forays into country music are the only tracks that don’t really work here — not because they sound inauthentic, but because their efforts are better spent in a darker folk-rock vein.
Ty Segall, Freedom’s Goblin (Drag City) –
Ty Segall, Freedom’s Goblin
San Francisco’s Ty Segall has released so much music, as a solo artist and with such bands as Fuzz and Sic Alps, that he can exhaust listeners in the manner of Ryan Adams or Robert Pollard. But the 100-minute, 19-track Freedom’s Goblin
is a worthy distillation of the Segall canon. The strong horn section sometimes evokes 1970s jazz-rock, but the strongest tracks are the punky “Meaning,” with lead singing from Ty’s wife Denee Segall, and “The Main Pretender,” featuring Lora Logic-style saxophone.