Deerhoof, Ariel Pink, Flying Lotus challenge fans to like them.

And the award for weirdo music of the year goes to …

In all honesty, the latest albums from Ariel Pink (out this week), Deerhoof and Flying Lotus are downright mainstream, especially compared with the many fringe, experimental and countless other art projects competing for the off-kilter crown. But that doesn’t mean these three aren’t continuing to challenge their listeners.

Ariel Pink’s Pom Pom is an album full of pop brilliance but it also slips into moments of overly cute songs (a la They Might Be Giants). I don’t think I can love a song that begins Jell-O, Jell-O, Jell-O, Yeah unless it’s sung by Shonen Knife I know there’s a lot of love out there for Ariel Pink (and he makes awesome music) but I find too much of Pom Pom distracting to be truly enjoyable.

Likewise, another solo artist, Flying Lotus, creates a beautiful genre-bending soundscape on You’re Dead. The album is deeply rooted in jazz but there’s so much else going on. It’s a near perfect album — that is until we get to near the end of the record. Descent Into Madness and other eccentricities probably can be forgiven considering the overall strength of the material. However, I find irritating distractions taking away from an otherwise solid piece of work.

The indie vets of Deerhoof, on the other hand, are used to making albums that madden their listeners. (The band dates back to the 1990s.) But at the core of the this group’s latest, La Isla Bonita, is a highly entertaining rock-pop record. The single, Exit Only, is a hard-rock blast. In some ways, La Isla Bonita seems far more “normal” than much of Deerhoof’s catalog over the past 17 years. There’s a consistency to this album and the band doesn’t stray into the overly cute or obnoxious throw-away tracks simply because it can.

So in a contest between these three highly original musical forces, my pick for best new release goes to: Deerhoof.


Ty Segall Band to release live album

Ty Segall records a lot of albums both alone and with friends. The 2012 album Slaughterhouse is one that he recorded as Ty Segall Band because it featured his solid touring musicians. You can hear these guys on the new album Live in San Francisco, which is set for a late January release.

The album is part of a live series put out on John Dwyer’s (Thee Oh Sees) Castle Face Records. Listen to one of the tracks, What’s Inside Your Heart, below.