This is my burger, give or take a topping: Bun, mayo, pickles, cheese, patty (maybe two), tomato, lettuce, bun. In that order. Add-ons can be nice — who am I to refuse banana peppers and special sauce a la In-n-Out — but ultimately detract. If you've ever watched George Motz's Burger Scholar Sessions, then you understand my commitment to Burger Essence. (I'm still working on my smashburger game, but I'm pretty good on the grill, if I do say so myself.)
Stunt burgers are trash. Lately, IG's algorithm has punished me with slovenly odes to excess. Patties stacked five and six high. Cheese and god-knows-what sauce oozing from every pocket like puss. A goddam piece of fried chicken. A full order of onion rings (OK, I actually really like an onion ring or two as condiment on occasion). Point being, stunt burgers serve nothing beyond the 'gram, and two bites in, it's a soggy mess.
Generally, I don't yuck someone else's yum, but y'all… stop with this foolishness! Let the burger shine. —Lars Gotrich
Straw Man Army, SOS (D4MT Labs Inc. / La Vida Es En Mus): With 2020's Age of Exile, I was left scratching my head: OK, this is talky post-punk by two dudes from the very-good hardcore band Kaleidoscope. So what? Then the following year's Her Majesty's Ship OST quickly shut me up: an instrumental score that revealed serious compositional depth, weirdness and anxiety. SOS marries the frayed nerves of Straw Man Army's debut with dexterous experimentation, needling underlying terrors — namely, inhumanity and the future's unknown — with jittery songs that dart eyes across dark rooms. These are dense arrangements with spare instrumentation, a post-punk trompe-l'œil accomplished through sustained chords, riffs that gloom instead of chug and a dead-eyed stare into memory's passing gaze.
Selene Saint-Aimé, POTOMITAN (Komos Jazz): Stumbled across this Paris-based jazz label and found my wallet much thinner by the end of the day. (An all-synth tribute to Don Cherry?! A Brazilian's MPB record made in exile?!) The Afro-French contrabassist and singer Selene Saint-Aimé's divergent styles and diverse instrumentation — tanbouyé masters (drummers), chamber music, straight swing, spiritual jazz — are immediately compelling as they cohere across these 11 tracks. Listening to POTOMITAN, there's a sense of ancient and present time as drummed triplets and windswept horns improvise a creation story right in front of your ears; Saint-Aimé's spindly bass and beautiful (and sometimes harrowing) vocal scatting are the root of all things.
v/a, FRÄLST! A Selection of Swedish Christian grooves 1969-1979 (Subliminal Sounds): If you know anything about my musical/cultural background, I am contractually obligated to feature a compilation of private-press Christian rock, especially one this dang delightful. It's wild to discover that there was a cross-Atlantic scene contemporaneous to America's and, like Christian rock pioneer/weirdo/genius Larry Norman, these Swedes just wanted to spread the Good Word with good fuzz. The music isn't too far out (man), but there's gospel-driven psych, revved-up vocal-group funk, flowery folk music, Godspell-inspired piano pounders — truly, gem after gem. J. Edward Keyes — a comrade in Christian rock evangelism (not evangelicals, mind you) — has a great interview with the comp's curator on Bandcamp Daily.
Jae Skeese, Authenticity Check (de Rap Winkel): There's a growing culture of rap labels (see: Fxck Rap, Daupe) that hype up absurdly limited (and spendy) drops — much like Jordans, Dunks, etc. — feeding on collector's envy and putting a price on quality. In the case of producer Big Ghost Limited, most of his products move through Netherlands' de Rap Winkel Records. This is all to say if you experience serious vinyl FOMO, look away, but then you'd be missing out on Jae. Buffalo rapper Jae Skeese has Griselda ties and co-signs (Conway The Machine features on a track with 7xvethegenius here) and similarly, the boom-bap is gritty and the rhymes are witty. If Jae's previous albums were beat-up (but bad-ass) muscle cars, Big Ghost supes up the ride to a Caddy; you can hear the freshly applied wax to these crisp beats, befitting Jae's determined gusto.
Point No Point, Bad Vibes in Mushroom Forest (Katuktu Collective / Späti Palace): As my pal Tracy says, "Broadcast as a genre," and that tracks here: Motorik rhythms and library music-indebted oddities over dreamy pop songs. But like the album title suggests, Point No Point (solo project for the Berlin-based Jana Sotzko) offers a darker twist on eclectic psychedelia. The moody-yet-ornate grooves don't so much pulse as they worm through fog — sorta like a sad Sonic Youth on a slow drip — but with doomy melodies that pop in the corners of your psyche.
Shin Otowa, わすれがたみ (Eye Vybe): Private-press Japanese psych… few phrases cause such a Pavlovian response in music nerds. I seem to recall rips of this 1974 LP appearing on MP3 blogs back in the day, so here's an official cassette reissue with the blessing (and remastering) of Les Rallizes Dénudés' Makoto Kubota, who originally recorded and played on the album. Shin Otowa's わすれがたみ could have easily slotted into the loner folk vibe of the mid-'70s, but these bluesy psych-folk songs bloom from a vibrant backing band. At times, I'm reminded of Roy Harper's existential acoustic epics, but also CSNY's bright and breezy twang, tossing in some electric guitar fuzz with mandolin and banjo.
Stream the Viking's Choice playlist via BNDCMPR. Tracklist below:
Straw Man Army, "State of the Art"
Selene Saint-Aimé, "Indigo Bay"
Siw Sjöberg, "Hallelujah"
Jae Skeese, "Double Nickel at MSG"
Point No Point, "Are You OK?"
Shin Otowa, "赤い鳥 (Red Bird)"
Andrew Tuttle, "Overnight's a Weekend"
X.Y.R., "Thirumalai Kovil Steps"
Maserati, "The Width of the Atlantic"
The Gritness Acoustronics, "I Walk"
TiRon & Ayomari, "®ADIO"
Noori & His Dorpa Band, "Al Amal"
Valentina Magaletti, "She/Her/Gone"
Doronco Gumo, "Elastic Plastic Erotic"
Phelimuncasi, "I don't feel my legs"
Naja Naja, "Dong Dong"
Warthog, "Four Walls"
Ches Smith, "Clear Major"
Amaria Hamadalher, "Tarhanine"
Black to Comm, "Tu n'es pas trop à aimer"
Muzzix, "Radiolarians 7"
High Vis, "Talk for Hours"
Clot, "Cerebral Calamity"
Wormrot, "When Talking Fails, It's Time for Violence"
Home is Where (feat. Pierce Jordan), "creationish"
ЯДОХИМИКАТ, "Доза Есть Доза"
Faxed Head, "Gore and Guts"