Dennis Wilson was the only Beach Boy who surfed, and his 1977 solo album, Pacific Ocean Blue, is one of the most elemental-sounding rock albums ever made, its great crashing drums approximating the buffeting power of the ocean. The rock songs boast the meanest grooves this side of T. Rex or Led Zeppelin (“Dreamer” gives “When the Levee Breaks” a run for its money), and the ballads are nearly as beautiful as his brother Brian’s. Even the obligatory corny shuffle number (“What’s Wrong”) sounds badass. Listen to it next time you’re on a stormy pier.
Dan Bejar goes full Dan Bejar on Destroyer’s new album, Labyrinthitis, which leans into the crypticism that’s made his band hipster catnip, yet ends up being his most accessible album in 11 years. “June” might be the best thing he’s ever written (“You’ve got to look at it from all angles, says the cubist judge from cubist jail!”) As always, Bejar comes across as the smartest, drunkest guy at the party, watching young lovers with the bemused eye of someone who’s been there before and knows that all there is on the other side is disappointment.
Multi-instrumentalist and Portland resident Brian Jackson boasts a co-credit on one of the great protest-soul albums of all time: Winter in America, with the late singer, poet and proto-rapper Gil Scott-Heron. Now comes his first solo album in 20 years, This Is Brian Jackson, which drops May 27 and looks like the kind of easygoing, eccentric stuff that’s second nature to low-key legends. Singles “All Talk” and “Path to Macondo/Those Kind of Blues” are consummately professional and deeply eccentric. Think later Prince, but with way more taste.
Ramallah, Palestine, is the source of some of the most forward-thinking instrumental hip-hop right now, miles away from the complacent “chill beats” that the genre has succumbed to stateside. Julmud’s Tuqoos balances industrial abrasion with dragging curtains of atmosphere, but the scene’s best offering so far might be Kamil Manqus, an unsettling collection of glitch-trap dirges by Muqata’a. Check out Boiler Room’s short documentary Palestine Underground for a survey of this rising scene.