Grimes, Terry Adams, and Milk Lines 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge Terry Adams
  • Terry Adams

Terry Adams

Talk Thelonious


File next to: NRBQ, Professor Longhair, Joe Jackson

Though he's rightly revered now, for much of his career jazz pianist Thelonious Monk was considered the maker of some dissonant, even sloppy music. Even today his music is more difficult than, say, anything from the Bill Evans catalog. But longtime Monk acolyte Terry Adams — who also happens to be the founder/leader of NRBQ — has crafted a tribute of sorts that's at once more accessible and every bit as idiosyncratic as Monk himself. Credited as an Adams album but actually featuring the Q's current lineup, Talk Thelonious is a heartfelt tribute that feels fun, warm and intimate. The pipe organ on "Reflections" is so jarring and unexpected, one can't help but think that Monk would have approved. There's a rocking, New Orleans vibe to the songs that deservedly dusts them off for the 21st century. It rocks, it swings, and it definitely talks Thelonious. — Bill Kopp

click to enlarge Grimes
  • Grimes


Art Angels


File next to: FKA Twigs, M.I.A., Jenny Hval

Over the past few years, Claire Boucher's musical alter ego has reached the point where we're tempted to ask, "Will success spoil Grimes?" But there's no evidence of spoilage in the 14 tracks of Art Angels. Everything from the single "Flesh Without Blood" to "Kill V Maim" sounds fresh and new, and rocks with a solid beat. Grimes' high-pitched voice resembles that of Carly Rae Jepsen, which leads some to dismiss her easily. Yet the engineering within, also led by Grimes, offers elements of the type of experimentalism favored by Jenny Hval or Holly Herndon, albeit with more Top 40 awareness. Her lyrics might not dive especially deep, but there's something about how these songs' emotional content mix summer beach happiness with the sad, minor-seventh chords of approaching winter. Grimes knows precisely how to grab head and heart. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Milk Lines
  • Milk Lines

Milk Lines


In the Red Records

File next to: Skip Spence, Black Angels

Just when you think the guitar-and-drums-duo format is totally played out, along comes Montreal-based Milk Lines. Rather than slammin', unsubtle roots rock — the typical product of such duos — this pair makes music that sounds like a cross between freak-folk of the late '60s and the modern tribal psych of Black Angels. Imagine if Gram Parsons were backed by Pearls Before Swine and time-transported to the 21st century. On their debut album Ceramic, Milk Lines craft hypnotic, relatively simple melodies and deliver them with determined intensity layered with nuance. The careening "Suicide Note" takes a countrified Byrds approach and pushes ahead, full throttle. On "Purgatory," they combine atonal guitar skronk, a '60s pop melody and gentle vocal work that suggests Cowboy Junkies after a few espressos, while the lysergic "Another Breed" melds spaghetti western textures to a psychedelic drone. A duo worth watching. — Bill Kopp

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