XRAY DJs Select Their Favorite Records From Spring 2019

Every Friday, it happens again. And sometimes, not just on Fridays. Since July 10, 2015, Friday has been the global release date for new music. But certain artists — I’m looking at the Kendricks and Beyoncés — are liable to drop new tunes whenever they feel like it, making it even more difficult to keep up with that new new. Singles and albums can fall through the cracks, and only months later do we realize that and wonder how we missed these latest quintessential tracks. It may be difficult to catch up — let alone keep up — but your favorite tastemakers at XRAY.fm are here to offer you a few of their favorite releases from Spring 2019.

DJ Klyph 

WELCOME TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD Saturdays, 8:00pm– 10:00pm

Mic Capes Cold Blooded, Vol. 1 (Self Released)

Cold Blooded showcases Mic’s progression as an artist. A blend of conscious lyricism, punchlines, and straight-ahead rapping, this project is a great example of what Portland hip-hop looks like. 

Little Zimz Grey Area (Age 101/AWAL)

Zimz can rap…period! The production on the project floats her vocals like vanilla ice cream on a glass of cold root beer.

Pete Rock Return of the SP1200 (Tru Soul)

A Pete Rock instrumental project is always so much more than a beat tape. To hear these tracks straight off of the classic SP1200 takes me back to the golden era of hip-hop, yet still feels fresh for 2019.

Freaky Outty 

THE FILET Mondays, 3:00pm–4:00pm

Megan Thee Stallion Fever (300 Entertainment)

Thee absolute go-to hype record of the summer. Every aspect of Megan Thee Stallion’s music demands your complete attention, sounding entirely fresh while paying tribute to 90s southern rap tradition. 

 Ari Lennox Shea Butter Baby (Dreamville)

Perfectly paced r&b album full of dreamy hooks that stay lodged in your brain. “New Apartment” is an ode to all the joys of personal space, fitting for a great album to listen to for a lazy hang by yourself.

Simi Omo Charlie Champagne Vol. 1 (X3M)

Nigerian singer/songwriter Simi’s hypnotically gorgeous voice shines across this record, from soulful ballads to bubbling dance tunes. Standout single “Ayo” (‘joy’ in Yoruba) beautifully blends juju with modern Afropop.

Aaron & Cheyenne 

REVERSE COUPLE-SKATE Saturdays, 8:00am–9:00am

Sachiko Kanenobu Misora (Light in the Attic)

A deluxe reissue of Japanese folk singer-songwriter Sachiko Kanenobu’s groundbreaking 1972 solo album (produced by Haruomi Hosono).

Jeanette Spain’s Silky-Voiced Songstress 1967-1983 (Ace)

A retrospective of Spanish singer-songwriter Jeanette’s delicate folk-pop ballads, compiled by WFMU DJ Sheila B, and featuring insightful liner notes by fellow WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields.

Sounds of Liberation Unreleased (Dogtown)

A long-lost 1973 recording session by a renowned Philly spiritual jazz collective, beautifully remastered. 

Bobby Oroza This Love (Big Crown)

Oroza’s feature-length debut, showcasing sweet soul ballads and tinged with classic lowrider sounds. A new release that sounds like it could have been recorded around the same time as the reissues above—and that’s a good thing.

The Grand Yoni

 THE IMPACT! SOUND Sundays, 9:00am–10:00am

The Aggrolites Reggae Now! (Pirates Press)

The first studio album from the Aggrolites since 2001’s Rugged Road, Reggae Now! is the distilled aggro sound. The Aggrolites have been championing modern boss reggae since 2003 and this album brings that heavy, heavy sound to you. This album is easily one of their best and strongest offerings to date. It hits hard out of the gate and never lets up. Whether it’s aggro anthems like Pound For Pound or Frightnrs style rocksteady with tunes like Say or Do, this album is for you.

Inna De Yard Inna De Yard (Chapter Two/Wargram Music)

Acoustic reggae is usually something I avoid. But this sophomore album from Inna De Yard is absolutely amazing. Featuring heavyweight reggae greats like Kiddus I, Ken Boothe, and Judy Mowatt, this album is packed with soulful, deep roots reggae. It also features songs with some of the new generation of roots singers like Jah9. This album will set your soul on fire and make you sway. This album is everything great about roots music and you owe it to yourself to give it a spin.

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry & Friends People Funny Boy (Trojan Records)

Trojan has been slowly mining its vaults and releasing limited 7″ box sets. This one faithfully reproduces the first ten singles produced by Lee Perry for the label. Some are anthems that you’ve heard a million times like Val Bennet’s amazing cover of Spanish Harlem or the Inspirations’ Tighten Up but a few of these were new to me. That is to say, this is a great artifact and document to show the versatility and range of Lee Perry’s productions during 1968. From time proven anthems to deep cuts, this has something for everyone.

DJ Scili 

THE SOUND OF PICTURES Wednesdays, 4:00am–5:00am

Eleni Mandel Wake Up Again (Yep Roc)

This record made my list not only because of Eleni’s wonderful voice, but the backing band does a great job of giving personality to the lyrics and stands up very well musically. The content of the music is a meditation on Eleni’s  time teaching songwriting at a women’s prison. She became embedded in the world of regret, redemption, crime and punishment through the prisoners’ life stories. Her reflections on the psychology of human behavior give voice to the buried thoughts that underlie the subject.

David Arnold Good Omens OST (Silva Screen Records)

This music came as a surprise to me because of it’s unique and varied song-form score. It is neither a traditional score nor songs. This BBC comic fable finds a middle ground that connects the two in a thoughtful and individual manner utilizing traditional and electronic instruments. Arnold has created a contemporary soundworld for heaven and hell.

Travi Dee 

JAM THE CONTROLS (Sunset)

 ALLEYES MANIFEST James Wavey Roses (Self-Released)

ALLEYES MANIFEST’s calls his new record a “love song album.”  With mixtape-for-a-crush grooves with lyrics like “don’t worry bout a thing darlin,  the night’s young, we’re grown….wrote this song to help time carry on,” you hear that love-song trip. The production is all Carnaby Street artyfacts colliding with Sam Cooke sentiments and krautrock motorik meditation.  It has a personal DIY thread that reminds me of native tongues in spirit but this is no throwback. This is now music. Much like ALLEYES MANIFEST’s last album JAMES WAVEY ONTOÑO, these lyrics and rhythms will be bouncing around my head for months.

Gauche A People’s History of Gauche (Merge)

Get Away With Gauche was one of my favorite post-punk records to come out in recent years.  With their new album they really just give the people more of what they want. ESG breaks, Lora Logic turn arounds, Lucrate Milk edges and those Tom Tom Club type bass lines that never get old.  You know how Genius of Love was sampled by everyone from Grandmaster Flash to Mariah Carey? Yeah, this record could kick off a whole ‘nother summer jam genre. To be real, there are lots of (post)punk bands doing a great job getting the gang of 4 throwback rhythms right but most lyrics these days seem to be cribbed from the same Dead Kennedy’s madlibs book (Reagan bad, wait errr I mean TRUMP bad)  or odes to cold white boredom. Gauche saying “ALEX JONES I HATE YOU TOO, FUCK YOU” goes a long way for my ears.

Ryan Stively 

RADIO BANDOLERO Saturdays, 11:00am–12:00pm

VA Sad About The Times (Anthology Records)

Amazing collection of under-the-radar 70’s FM hits. Jangly, mid-tempo 70s pop jammers galore

Haruomi Hosono Hochono House (Victor Ent.)

Japanese Troubadour and musical chameleon Haruomi Hosono re-imagines his 1973 solo release Hosono House some 46 years after its initial release. Frontman of the rootsy folk group Happy End and longtime member of electronic pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra, Hosono perfectly distills all the various styles he’s explored in his long and prolific career with this new version of an old classic.

Marissa Behringer 

PDX POP NOW Saturdays, 4:00pm–5:00pm

Fabio & Grooverider 30 Years of Rage Part 1-4 (Above Board Distribution)

I’m definitely not much of an electronic historian and I’m not going to pretend like I knew who Fabio & Grooverider were before I heard this comp. Their ‘Rage’ party in the UK was apparently a birthing ground for jungle and drum & bass, which has been making a welcomed (imo) resurgence recently. As I’ve delved into electronic music over the last few years, it’s been neat discovering music that is historically impactful — yet feels completely fresh and current to my virgin ears at the same time. 

Cate Le Bon Rewardi (Mexican Summer)

There is something about Le Bon’s offbeat style of pop and earnest lyrics that I find so charming. I’ve been looking forward to this release for awhile and it’s been heavily rotated for me since its May release. Daylight Matters ❤

Pure Michigan Pure Sounds of Michigan (NA) 

My home state of Michigan being delicately extra and dropping its own ambient album. ✨ Members of Assemble Sound in Detroit took a 12 day trip around the state and sent their gathered field recordings to a variety of artists, resulting in the tracks on this mix. John Beltran’s ‘Childhood Memories’ is gorgeous, and yes I may have teared up on my initial listen. #midwestforever

Anthony Naples Fog FM (ANS)

This album flows nicely between steamy dance tracks and more ambient moments. Every track is meticulous yet feels like a comfy lo-fi blanket. 

Albums I’m looking forward to: Karen Gwyer Man On Mountain EP (Don’t be Afraid), and Black Marble. I saw them a month or so ago at the Doug Fir and they played a lot of new stuff. Remaining hopeful for a release in the near future!

Dijon Mustard  

THE PATH IS THE DESTINATION Thursdays, 4:00pm–6:00pm 

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib Bandana (RVNG Intl.)

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs unite again for another no-nonsense, off kilter, gangster rap record that slaps. Rumored to be in the works since 2017, the samples were finally cleared and at long last here it is, Bandana. The album is comprised of instrumentals originally shopped to Kanye for possible inclusion on his Life of Pablo record. All but one, “No More Parties in L.A.,” were rejected. What’s more, Madlib ditched his usual SP-303 workflow and produced the album entirely on an iPad. Gibbs comes through sharp as ever with detailed narratives, brilliant turns of phrase and a diverse lexicon that doesn’t require a dictionary. Peppered in with enough humor to balance the grit, it’s sure to be the soundtrack to my summer.

Bill Callahan Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest (Drag City)

The casual documentarian offers an off-the-cuff daydream of a record, his first in 6 years, that chronicles the next phase in the life of the singer-songwriter. Bill’s wry tongue hasn’t gone slack, with a penchant for unique observations the long playing record feels more like catching up with an old friend. Callahan is happy and captures this new found happiness in a way that you can’t help but share in. 

The Mattson 2 Paradise (Company)

The Mattson twins return hot on the heels of last year’s interpolation of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, for their most fun record yet. A jazzy take on Pink Floyd psychedelia, Paradise finds the Mattson 2 in as close to a fully formed pop structure as they are liable to get. Catchy hooks, virtuoso playing, wrapped in a succinct 32 minute playtime that’s best experienced on repeat. This album was made for this season.

JBJ  

HELLO CRUEL WORLD Thursdays, 2:00pm–3:00pm

Aldous Harding Designer (4AD) 

Five months into the year 2019 and I had begun to worry about my ability to fall in love with an album. Enter Designer, the 3rd album from Aldous Harding. What a fantastic record.  It sounds so fresh and unusual, and at the same time so satisfying, especially Aldous Harding’s voice, which is reminiscent of Nico. The music is as well, come to think of it. If you like Nico and are in the market for a RIYL situation, you should listen to Designer. 

Bibio Ribbons (Warp) 

There’s no pinning Bibio down. He’s comfortable working in so many genres (see 2017’s ambient album Phantom Brickworks). I would describe this new album as electro-folk-dream-pop. It’s an admittedly sprawling album full of ideas (some better than others) and the gratification is not immediate, but the effects should hit within a couple of listens. Recommended if you like: Helado Negro.

Strangled Darlings American Pageant (Self-Released)

George Veech (mandolin, vocals) and Jess Anderly (foot drums, bass, and vocals SIMULTANEOUSLY) are Strangled Darlings. If the name sounds at all familiar, they are from Portland and played here in town for 10 years or so. In 2014 they grew tired of the Liberal Bubble (as they call it), and hit the road in an RV. They continued non-stop for 3 years of touring: winters in Florida and other Southern States, summers in the Northeast, and overnights typically in Walmart parking lots (where they were able to sleep free of charge). They pour their experiences and takeaways into this new album, American Pageant.  Musically the album is full of incredible grooves a la Ani DiFranco’s late 90s New Orleans albums. The lyrics aren’t too far from Ani’s political musings either, although less earnest and more wry and cheeky. Topics covered include: The Oxycontin epidemic, Harvey Weinstein, and homelessness.

Shawn Swagerty  

BIG CITY RADIO SHOW Mondays, 8:00pm–9:00pm 

Most of my favorite records from Q2 2019 were from Portland bands.

Conditioner Disco Group CDGLP (Maternal Voice)

There seem to be roving herds of young energetic and creative types in town and on occasion some of them coalesce to perform and record as Conditioner Disco Group. I can’t remember when I saw that band first perform. Maybe it was at Post 134 with Hurry Up. Regardless, I enjoy their approach, and their album “CDGLP” on Maternal Voice is a fave of Q2. People frown at me when I allude to a neo-No Wave thing that’s happening here right now, but I don’t give a shit. That’s how it appears to me, and that’s how I’ll characterize, for easy reference, what some of the fantastic bands in town right now are up to. Very pleasing, spiky, bent stuff, reminiscent of the spirit of a finer time.

Sea Moss Bidet Dreaming (Crash Symbols)

Sea Moss is a different beast, altogether. Noa No and Zac Dag make strange gadgets out of electronic circuits, some of which are hooked to Zac’s well-hammered drum kit, and some of which are encased in Noa’s fancy little decorative boxes that have buttons and switches sticking out of them. Together, Noa and Zac create very oddly shaped, intricate, loud compositions and make the sound just blast, as Noa holds a transducer microphone to her throat, rendering her alternately hectoring and plaintive vocalizations gloriously muddled and incomprehensible. I went to Post 134 (again) for their record release event, just such a jammer of a show with all the youngun’s dancing up a storm, and after the penultimate song, my date announced, “I’m going home. I am at the point of maximum bliss, right now.” The record is a genuine, noisy treat.

I’m a little late with these next two, that both came out in February, but I would be remiss if I did not mention Deathlist’s LP “A Canyon” (XRAY), a deep and wide aural experience that’s moving in unexpected ways. Very rich record, and I just think Jenny Logan is a brilliant songwriter and instrumentalist. Deathlist sounded better than ever when they opened for Team Dresch at Mississippi Studios on June 15. Jenny’s guitar was just hittin’ it special.

Also, Collate’s single “Communication” b/w “Selective Memory” (Market Square Records) keeps me happy in frenetic bursts. More of that neo-No Wave stuff (sorry, everybody) that I was talking about.

As far as what’s coming up in the near future that I’m excited about, Dave Fulton from Møtrik, just a brilliant band, has a solo synth thing coming out. Very seventies electronic.

Erin Jane Laroue, who is a one-of-a-kind artist and person, has a solo album “Chalant” coming out. Mostly her voice and piano, both of which she deploys to great effect. Her record release show is July 27 at Lovecraft, which is appropriate. I have enjoyed her work both with Jamais, Jamais and as a solo performer, so yeah,

I’m looking forward to this record which she recorded here in town at Pinebox.

A lot of other stuff: I hear rumors of a new Deathlist LP in August. I think Lithics might have a 12” coming out that was previously only on cassette, so I will want that. Dress Forms cassette? It’s going to be a great summer for music. I saw so many great shows during the Spring that I am really looking forward to the summer.