It’s a Myth (Merge)
Sneaks is 19-year-old Eva Moolchan. She’s from Washington, D.C., but don’t look for political rage or go-go on It’s a Myth. It’s sinewy, minimal pop you can dance to, albeit briefly—there are 10 songs in 19 minutes. And Moolchan doesn’t sound too bothered about anything—she sounds like ESG doing warm-up exercises. She sounds like M.I.A. waking up from a nap. She sounds blasé and maybe sometimes too cool for school, but she sounds cool.
It’s a Myth has three main ingredients: Moolchan’s drony intonations, drum machine and bass. None of them get that busy, and when a synth layers in on the penultimate “With a Cherry on Top,” it sounds positively ornate. It also sounds kinda grating, as does the closer, “Future.” Is this a 19-minute album with 15 minutes of inspiration? Maybe—anyway, there seem to be zero minutes of perspiration. Is songcraft not on the table, or is this artful artlessness? In any case, the 15 minutes are digable. Why should a song as monotonous as the one-chord “Look Like That” be so swinging and catchy? Because it is, so there.
All Them Witches
Sleeping Through the War (New West)
Nashville stoner rockers All Them Witches formed in 2012 and have built a fan base through steady touring ever since. I saw a fantastic show in Charlottesville—guitar tones were dialed in for maximum sonic drenching, and many horns were thrown. Sleeping Through the War sounds like a solid attempt to bring the live show to record; there are pounding grooves along with a prodigious amount of riffing. But the guitars often create a textureless wall while the drums jump out needlessly. Charles Michael Parks Jr.’s guttural voice also stands out, sounding apt and grungy while spouting hobgoblin blather like “I know the puppeteer’s face / I know the shining light calling me back to alabaster / But I lost sight of the mountain.” An exception is the concluding “Internet” and the refrain “If I can’t live here / Guess I’ll go live on the Internet,” which is amusing at first but gets repeated over and over. Luckily, dank solos come to the rescue, including stellar harmonica, courtesy of Mickey Raphael from Willie Nelson’s band. Could be the natural habitat for All Them Witches and these songs is the sweltering stage.
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives
Way Out West (Superlatone)
With Way Out West, country superstar Marty Stuart may not have made the country album of the year, but he’s probably made the guitar album of the year. The proceedings begin inauspiciously, with Native American ritual music projected onto a spacy background in “Desert Prayer–Part I.” But the Chet-Atkins-meets-Dick-Dale instrumental “Mojave” sets things right, and the album does not falter.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of country here—from the dusty Bakersfield twang of “Lost on the Desert” to the slide showcase of “El Fantasma Del Toro” to the electrified bluegrass of “Air Mail Special.” But Stuart and the Superlatives add the Byrdsy rock of “Time Don’t Wait,” the Link Wray tribute “Quicksand” and the heady psychedelia of the title track. It’s all fantastic. Mike Campbell, of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, deserves props for his dry and crispy, unobtrusive production—which really just means that the players are terrific, especially “second” guitarist Kenny Vaughan—he and Stuart’s interplay is divine. Way Out West is as majestic and sweeping as the land that inspired it. Let’s get lost. —Nick Rubin