Chosen Music: Fol Chen, Psychic Ills, Scissor Sisters

fol chen Fol Chen, Part II: The New December (Asthmatic Kitty)

Just a year after their warmly-received debut Part I: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made, Cali party-starters Fol Chen have returned with Part II: The New December, a spazzy blend of percussive electro-pop, cheeky lyrics, tight samples and sugary vocals. It’s also a quintessential album of the summer.

Fol Chen is a prototypical product the indie world’s obsession with combining top 40 pop sensibilities with experimental eccentricity, but what distinguishes them is just how damn fun they manage to make it. The six-piece band finds its strongest points in the up-tempo party jams. Songs like “C/U” and “They Came to Me” are synth-pop gold, whereas breathy, acoustic freak-outs like “The Holes” just end up sounding like bad Animal Collective. By far the runaway hit, “In Ruins,” is a perfect drunken night out on the town. A heavy electro beat and a killer refrain, “Walking down the street tonight/Everything’s in ruins/You look good by siren light/Baby whatcha doin?” should qualify it for a permanent spot in any summer mix.

The New December drops on July 8. Check out their Myspace for comments, tour dates and songs.

catoptric Psychic Ills, Catoptric (The Social Registry)

If you’re not into toying with your brain chemistry, then you’re not going to like the Psychic Ills. Their new EP Catoptric (recorded around the same time as the 2009 LP Mirror Eye) plunges you into 26 minutes of drug-soaked, electronic madness — pretty diverse madness at that. The 11-minute “Outvocation” is an ideal soundtrack to a murderous rampage, whereas the gentle bongo drumming and unintelligible chanting on “Transmute” is like a Zen journey to ecstasy-land. Whatever your drug of choice, you’re sure to find plenty of enhancing moments on Catoptric. Unless you’re a serial killer; then you give a listen stone cold sober.

Catoptric was released on June 22.

scissor sisters Scissor Sisters Night Work (Polydor)

The album art really says it all for the Scissor Sisters’ third LP Night Work, out June 29 in the U.S. “The harder you get/The harder I sweat,” sings lead vocal Jake Shears on “Harder You Get,” a surefire summer dance anthem. With Night Work, the glam-rock outfit has officially risen into a category of music only a few bands have managed to penetrate: full-scale gay arena rock. Following in the footsteps of David Bowie and Queen, the Sisters are taking their glitter, buns of steel, slammin’ beats and falsetto vocals to new highs. There’s simply not a dull moment in all 12 tracks of Night Work. With raunchy titles ranging from “Skin Tight” to “Sex and Violence” to “Skin This Cat,” each song is a nugget of clubby, sparkly bliss.

Night Work drops on June 29. Check out the band’s Myspace for all things Scissor Sisters.

What do you think?

About The Author

Liza Burkin

Liza Burkin is a journalism major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She enjoys frolicking around music festivals, the wise words of Hunter S. Thompson and a good bagel and schmear.

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