Album reviews: Green-House, Myke Towers, Ben Krakauer, and Doja Cat

Album reviews: Green-House, Myke Towers, Ben Krakauer, and Doja Cat


Six Songs for Invisible Gardens (Leaving)

Beginning an album with pooling water sounds is a risky venture. But at the start of the instrumental Invisible Gardens, Green-House combines those liquidy murmurs with some malletophone, and for nearly 30 minutes, casts a spell that’s all the more remarkable for the attendant new age clichés (yes there are also birds, many birds). Likewise, the musical fabric, made up of tasteful, timeless ambient tropes, is superficially, uh, superficial. But this wallpaper is moving, man! Celestial tones bloom and withdraw through layers of plinking and pulsing synthesizers and marimbas and such, while vocalistic melodies reflect Green-House’s crunchy manifesto: Invisible Gardens isn’t designed as background, but as “communication with both plant life and the people who care for them.” Believe it. And believe it is lovely. [8.2]

Myke Towers

Easy Money Baby
(One World)

I don’t have much of a yardstick for Puerto Rican hip-hop/reggaeton, but I dug this from the start, even before the Manu Chao sample on “Tú.” Even before the mischief on “Si Se Da,” as Towers and guest Farruko slip in and out of ironic Anglo accents while repping their orgs. Even before backtracking and listening to Towers’ feature on Bad Bunny’s infectious “Estamos Arriba” from last summer. The beats are there, and Towers charms as bad boy or family man—that’s him with his days-old newborn on the cover—and even though its 55 minutes are a lot to take at once, Easy Money Baby kinda sounds like summer came early. [7.7]

Ben Krakauer

Heart Lake (Ben Krakauer)

Former Charlottesville resident
Ben Krakauer is now a banjo prof
at Warren Wilson and, banjo jokes aside (but let’s be real, all you have to say is “banjo”), Heart Lake is a beautiful, rewarding piece of not-bluegrass chamber music, featuring the ol’ five-string. Skip to “Weller” and you’ll hear a classic train song, but the train takes
performatively whimsical detours—it deserves an animated video, as does the deconstructed Scruggs-
esque workout “Groundhog Speed” (a play on Earl’s “Ground Speed”). The compositions are inventive
and the playing is top-notch, as on the gleaming, roving solos by Krakauer and fiddler Duncan
Wickel on the title track. While
“The Prism” is moodier than you might expect if you ever saw Krakauer play the legendary Charlottesville venue, fans of “new acoustic” music will smile at the mirthful, Grisman-esque “Poodles,” and then get misty at the wistful, tender “Ruqiyyah and Andrew’s Waltz.” Catch Krakauer and his band at The Front Porch on February 15. [8.1]

Doja Cat

Hot Pink (RCA)

Doja Cat’s viral, slinky R&B hit “Mooo!” was so pointlessly, hilariously awesome it was no shock that her debut full-length Amala didn’t match up. Hot Pink showcases a more confident, distinct, and versatile Doja. The coy “Won’t Bite” sounds like a profane Victorian-era children’s song, while “Bottom Bitch” is a nuanced friend anthem riding a slowed-down Blink-182 sample. Meantime, “Say So” and the Gucci Mane-abetted “Like That” are pure dance floor catnip. The back end of Hot Pink turns perplexingly somber before finishing with “Juicy,” an ode to tush featuring Tyga. Hot Pink is strong enough to rid Doja Cat of the “meme star” label, and we’re better for it, too. [7.8]

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