I Shall Wear a Crown collects the definitive works of Pastor T.L. Barrett, best-known as the sampled voice screaming on Kanye’s “Father Stretch My Hands.” He’s also the creator of some of the ‘70s’ most musically progressive and melodically dazzling Christian music. Even if “Turn On With Jesus” reminds us that this guy was, yes, a youth pastor, these recordings are still living proof that many of the most interesting musical ideas in pop and rock can be found in God’s domain rather than the devil’s.
Michigan rapper Danny Brown’s Bruiser Brigade label is in the midst of a hot streak thanks to its boss signing other rappers with voices as weird as his. ZelooperZ comes off as an excited understudy on Van Gogh’s Left Ear, vibing terrifically with Brown on “Bash Bandicoon.” Meanwhile, Bruiser Wolf’s Dope Game Stupid presents a Midwestern answer to E-40, his owlish voice ideal for punchlines until he drops truths so brutal you wonder why you were laughing in the first place.
A name like Foamboy suggests softness, inefficacy, the quality of being a punching bag—a neat contrast with the muscular post-disco that the duo has been pursuing since changing its name from Chromatic Colors. Sober Daydream sets Katy Ohsiek’s sangfroid against a jazzy, hard-hitting backdrop from producer Wil Bakula and a boatload of local players. Imagine the grungiest and most elegant bits of the ‘80s combined—as much synthwave as sophisti-pop, as much Sade as Schwarzenegger.
The iffy concept means it’s understandable if you don’t even want to press play on The Legendary Marvin Pontiac: Greatest Hits. No-wave boho John Lurie releasing blues music under the pseudonym of a Malian-Jewish institutionalized patient? But said boho is talented enough—and the music far enough from blues—that the concept seems like a gag at the expense of concepts. And there’s no mistaking Lurie’s voice: the stentorian sound of a man who’s seen it all but whose eyes still widen with wonder.