Best new music: Viet Cong

The new album from a reunited Sleater-Kinney dominated headlines, but one of the most interesting releases last week was a debut from the post-punk band Viet Cong.

The Canadian band features two members of the now-defunct Women — frontman Matt Flegel and drummer Michael Wallace — but Viet Cong produces a different, more straightforward sound. It’s even a little darker at points. Listen to the self-titled album below.

Ty Segall is back with a live album, cool EP

Ty Segall live

The start of the year is a good one for fans of Ty Segall, the always engaging and highly prolific psych rocker.

Last week, Ty released a very cool four-song EP. The title track, Mr. Face, is the highlight — a choogling ’60s-sounding acoustic number with a big finish. The release is available as a download but there’s also a second pressing under way for the nifty physical version. Check that out here.

Next week, Ty Segall Band’s Live in San Francisco is set for release. This is a great live album that pretty well captures Ty and his touring band’s energy on stage. Songs from the excellent 2012 album Slaughterhouse dominate, making up half the album. The release is part of a series of live show recordings put out on (Thee Oh Sees frontman) John Dwyer’s Castle Face Records.

Sleater-Kinney returns strong on No Cities to Love

Sleater-Kinney Band Photo

No Cities to Love, the first album from Sleater-Kinney in a decade, is tight, powerful and really enjoyable. That says a lot given that nine of 10 reunion albums really fall flat.

The band decided to record the album before going out on tour. I’m not sure how much of a difference that made here but No Cities picks up right where the trio (Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss) left off in 2005.

“We definitely didn’t want to merely do a reunion where we came back and played a bunch of shows,” Brownstein told USA Today.

Brownstein is probably better known today as co-creator and co-star of Portlandia along with Fred Armisen. But she and Weiss were also members of the recently departed Wild Flag, another excellent yet short-lived girl group.

It’s impressive that there’s no flab on No Cities. Following a year that had strong showings from female indie artists, this album holds up well. Best tracks: Bury Our Friends, Surface Envy, No Anthems, Price Tag.

Chicago’s Meat Wave to release EP, plays local show

Meat WAve

There’s a lot to like about the Chicago three-piece Meat Wave. If you’re a fan of bands like Cloud Nothings, Meat Wave’s new EP, Brother, is worth checking out. There’s a nod to classic punk, which makes it a fun listen. The band even does a Wipers cover, Mystery, on the new release (out January 19).

Meat Wave opens for the tenacious Pup at Schubas Friday, which is part of the Tomorrow Never Knows festival. (Coincidentally, Cloud Nothings plays the same night at Metro.

Panda Bear shines on new album

Panda Bear

Since wowing us almost eight years ago with the brilliant Person Pitch, Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) established that his solo work can actually outshine his full-time band Animal Collective.

On Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, Lennox gives us a brand new set of interesting trippy songs. Naturally, longtime fans are going to gravitate to this album more quickly than newcomers. But the latest offering honestly is very accessible, especially to anyone who has a taste for psychedelic with an electronic beat.

Standout tracks: Mr. Noah, Boys Latin

Also, check out this interactive website. And check out the video for Mr. Noah below.