Newspaper article International New York Times

Shedding Their Skins and Making New Sounds

Newspaper article International New York Times

Shedding Their Skins and Making New Sounds

Article excerpt

New albums and mixtapes from Laurel Halo, Young Dolph, Ian Isiah, Upset and the Internet.

Few electronic musicians are pivoting as hard or as frequently as Laurel Halo. In early shows, this classically trained musician was almost a shadow, her music and her presence fully obscure. But while there are vestiges of that self on her often spectacular new album, "Chance of Rain," especially on the brief piano pieces that serve as bookends, it is otherwise a huge leap away from her hermetic and distant early EPs and also from her 2012 debut album, "Quarantine," which showcased her woozy, odd-angled singing. For the first time, her productions are immediate and forceful, like on the utterly insistent "Thrax," full of wobbly bass; the pulverizing "Oneiroi"; the hymnlike industrial noise of "Melt"; and most striking, "Ainnome," which has the throb of late 1990s house and techno -- and also its sweat.

For years, Ali Koehler has been a journeywoman drummer for bands - - Vivian Girls, Best Coast -- which don't ask much of the job. It's a good recipe for anonymity, or a feeling of alienation from one's work. But Ms. Koehler has been storing her feelings up. This much is clear from "She's Gone," the debut album from Upset, the new band in which she leaves the drums behind and steps out in front. On this bright, economical and often biting album, she's an adept singer, and an even more adept lyricist. Her cheery tone belies the fact that she's painting herself as an aggrieved outsider on these songs, which channel snotty mid-1980s rock and early 2000s pop-punk. (Patty Schemel, late of Hole, does the drumming.) Mostly, Ms. Koehler is singing about bitter rivalries and resentments, taking on the role of someone long unjustly minimized, saying all the things she hasn't ever been given the chance to.

There's unlikely to be a lusher, more soothing R&B release this year than "Feel Good," the second album by the Internet, the partnership of Syd the Kyd and Matt Martians. It's pure exhale, this album, which is far closer in spirit to Erykah Badu's psychedelic phase and the neo-soul of the late 1990s, but with more lust, than to almost anything of the current moment. …

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