ADAM ARCURAGI “Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It ...”
Georgia-born, Philadelphia-based songwriter Adam Arcuragi calls his ramshackle folk-rock “death gospel” and makes no attempt to disguise his seriousness of purpose on his third full-length album. “Like A Fire ...” shares a name with Arcuragi’s favorite Cy Twombly painting, the beautiful red blot that is part of the late artist’s Iliad-inspired series of paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and one of its songs, “Riverrun,” takes its title from the first word of James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake. Sometimes Arcuragi’s throaty vocals and impassioned strumming can be rough going, but for the most part, the spirited and spiritually minded, highly articulate racket he kicks up with his band the Lupine Chorale Society is effective at both stirring the blood and stimulating the mind.
CLOUD NOTHINGS “Attack on Memory”
“Attack on Memory” is a literal title two ways. After a decade of lofty chamber prog and ‘80s E-Z listening, Dylan Baldi is restless to make indie rock again, and after two squishier garage-pop efforts, he’s as poised to rewrite history as anyone else in the game. No one loves guitars with less garbage than Steve Albini, whom Baldi handcuffs to these songs to stay the course. It works, hilariously, like Wild Flag: coming together so easily because rock’s not dead, just absent. For eight songs in 33 minutes it shoots out of Cloud Nothings, bridging the forgotten gnarls of Polvo and Unwound with the neglected pop-snot of Tokyo Police Club and Let’s Wrestle. “I need time to stay useless,” Baldi pleads with all his throat.
OF MONTREAL “Paralytic Stalks”
It’s easy to admire Kevin Barnes’ unfettered imagination and creativity. But he doesn’t always make it easy to love his albums, and “Paralytic Stalks” makes few concessions to accessibility. This time out, Barnes is more interested in concocting a continuous prog-psych suite than in structuring conventional songs. In OM terms, it’s dark and difficult like “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?” rather than cheery and fun like “Satanic Panic in the Attic” or “False Priest.”
Although his live band is duly celebrated for its maximalist extravagance, Barnes records mostly alone, this time with a handful of studio musicians. Almost every song is dense with multitracked vocals, orchestral strings, and woodwinds with abrupt twists and leaps and diversions into dissonance. It’s an angry album, bitter about the human propensity for violence and spiteful about failed relationships. It’s impressive, but it’s more often alienating than alluring.