While many of its individual songs—”El Paso,” “Big Iron,” “Cool Water”—are standards, Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs is one of the most consistently mind-blowing records to drop during the album-unfriendly ‘50s. Robbins had a wonderfully impassive voice, perfect for holding himself at a remove from the tales of terror. It’s worth noting the way he described (or didn’t describe) the gunfight on “Big Iron,” or the mounting stakes on “The Master’s Call” and how they coincide with an impending sense of apocalyptic doom.
Remember how alluring all those water temples and fake forests looked in the video games you played as a kid? Ever wish you could enter them and immerse yourself in that uncanny, low-poly world? Soshi Takeda’s Floating Mountains comes close to that kind of transportive experience. He uses vintage hardware to replicate the gorgeous, watery and strangely remote aesthetic of games like Myst—and the ‘90s moment when Japanese house producers like Soichi Terada were making some of their best work for games like Ape Escape.
If you’ve ever pulled a Game Boy Advance cartridge out midgame so you could vibe to that horrific marching-insect noise, Strategy’s Chaotic Era is for you. This is one of local producer Paul Dickow’s most inhospitable releases, burying pop melodies deep in corrosion and distortion. But its roughness only makes the fragments of beauty buried within feel that more precious. There’s even a track that sounds a little like a disco anthem, albeit swamped in static. Say the title with me: “The Earth’s Ecstasy as the Last Fascist Is Erased.”
English singer-songwriter Richard Youngs enjoys an enviable stature as one of those cult weirdos who could release a few albums a year forever and still enjoy a steady living and fan base. His music isn’t for everyone, and on his most acclaimed album, 1999′s Sapphie, he ruminates endlessly on a few guitar chords while singing—not exactly on key. But the atmosphere generated by his faintly distorted, hornlike voice and those slow, ragalike patterns are enough to bring a chill to a sympathetic listener’s bones.