Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
Give the People What They Want/Daptone Records
Give the People What They Want is an apt title because this 11-piece outfit knows its audience through and through. Once again, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings deliver the goods by skillfully combining ’60s-era Motown, soul with the verve of ’70s-era funk, and R&B to perfection. Jones is at her sassiest on numbers like “Retreat!” singing lines like “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned/I’ll make you wish that you’d never, ever been born,” and on the old school rocker “People Don’t Get What They Deserve,” you feel the same electricity that ran through the Tina and Ike Turner classic “Proud Mary.” The album is heavy on relationship themes—“Get Up and Get Out” has Jones embarrassed that she has let a no-good ex back into her life, while “Making Up and Breaking Up” highlights a similar turbulence. The album’s best moment comes on “Now I See” when Jones’ powerhouse vocals are augmented by roiling drums that signify thunder in an angry take down of an old friend. It gives you chills, and so will this record.
Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks
Wig Out at Jagbags/Matador Records
Wig Out at Jagbags is a random mess, but given the title of the record that’s no surprise. The focus is simply on each song as its own entity, rather than trying to bring it all together in a cohesive sound or narrative thread. In that sense, the album is brilliantly executed. “Planetary Motion” rides on classic rock sensibility reminiscent of “American Woman,” while “Lariat” is a jangly pop number featuring clever wordplay and a shout-out to the ’80s as the best musical decade. “J Smoov” mashes R&B, modern rock, ’70s-era pop, and a trumpet solo together like it’s the most natural thing in the world, and then Malkmus goes primal with his vocals on the sinister rock track, “Scattergories.” Wig Out suceeds in its devil may care, dance-like-nobody’s-watching sensibility, and with song titles like “Cinnamon and Lesbians,” it’s clear that Malkmus & the Jicks are going for a messy band of joy.
Damn, but this is a sexy record. Amped with ambient, down-tempo, acid jazz, trip-hop, hip-hop, rock, and psychedelic tracks, not to mention the echoing, ethereal vocals of Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, it is impossible not to be drawn in to the dark, otherworldly beauty of this record. The album has an alternately intimate yet wholly abstract feel to it. Tracks like “Love is to Die” and “Feeling Alright” dish out commentaries on the power of love, and the psychedelic hip-hop of “CC” takes it a step further in lyrics such as, “I’ve been holding out for this one/Holding out for love/You’ve got me/So sick/Spinning/Dizzy.” The cut-and-paste lyrical framework of tracks like “Disco//very” hints at a meandering stream of consciousness, while the closer, “Son,” features an almost warlike drum beat and a gradual fade as though to suggest the titular character is walking into the unknown future.