Frail Body
“A Brief Memoriam”

When an album runs on a short runtime, we might be more critical on all the ideas crammed into a smaller package. “A Brief Memoriam,” by skramz outfit Frail Body, defines the emotional brevity of the current wave of skramz/emoviolence bands in a solid 20 minutes. When I hear the final two minutes of “Traditions in Verses,” all I hear is anguish and passion, two feelings that rarely mingle. In fact, that’s what makes “A Brief Memoriam” so lasting; nothing more needs to be said about the human condition. It is one anxious, continuous funeral.

Sometimes, an album comes along that speaks to the intricacies of human love without any lack of economy. Julia Jacklin’s sophomore effort, “Crushing,” is a warm record, full of summer, full of struggle. In spite of its warm indie rock/pop tonality, “Crushing” is Jacklin at her most fragile, personal, and reflective. She would fit well with the themes of St. Elmo’s Fire, searching for the meaning of love without sex glaring at her. Jacklin’s voice is smooth, wavering, as if it’s about to shatter from so much emotional burden. I hope she doesn’t shatter, because “Crushing” makes me want to give her a hug and offer her peppermint tea.

Minimalist music often acts as my riposte to the technical bombastics of metal, jazz, or drum ‘n’ bass music. If a record can make me feel waves of emotions with the delicacy of textural veneer, then it succeeds in its brilliance as much as any music with vocals can. Barcelona based composer Bruno Sanfilippo evokes such bittersweet tones on “Pianette,” a minimalist piano-strings record that is nothing short of lovely. Every note and passage is specifically placed to create a dreamscape, something purely fantastical when put all together.

Admittedly, I could hear a jazz album and immediately find it enjoyable. However, when I hear a jazz record as unhinged and spastic as Hakushi Hasegawa’s “Air Ni Ni,” I welcome all brands of weirdness into the genre. A sweet salvo of electronic drum ‘n’ bass, pop, and jazz all thrown into a blender make for a record in which I had no idea what I would experience next. But that’s just it. I should expect nothing less than innovative, vivacious, and colorful from Hasegawa and team. This is one of the best pop—no, jazz—no, psychedelic—no, you know what, just forget it. This record doesn’t need classification other than great.

Elizabeth Colour Wheel may be one of the most inventive bands I’ve heard in a while. To that end, “Nocebo”—and the band in general—seems impossible to place. It might be the most fair to call their debut record a cabaret of noise rock with the aggression of doom metal and the enrapturing smokiness of shoegaze. Vocalist Lane Shi sounds like she’s having a nervous breakdown, but that’s what makes “Nocebo” so captivating: its emotional barrage isn’t for the faint of heart, and you’ll feel haunted after just one song.