Each week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Josh Modell, editor-in-chief of The A.V. Club.
Yeasayer, Odd Blood
You picked a great time to ask me about "right now" — the first quarter of 2010 is ripe with amazing music, including the second album by shaggy Brooklynites Yeasayer. There was nothing to indicate on their first album, the also-awesome All Hour Cymbals, that an '80s-fetishizing synth-pop band was underneath the modern-hippie maneuvers. But here it is, the answer to the question nobody was asking: what if Erasure sprung from the freak-folk scene? "Ambling Alp" is one of the best songs of the year.
Retribution Gospel Choir, 2
The last person you might've expected to make a raw rock record in 2010 was Alan Sparhawk, singer-guitarist of the generally slow, sad Minnesota band Low. But Sparhawk exorcises his demons with a fierceness in this side project, a power trio that takes that term very seriously. Retribution Gospel Choir keeps it simple — guitar, bass, drums, vocals — ripping through half an hour like men on a mission. And live, it's even better.
R. Kelly, Untitled
Since this is Nerve, can I admit my fondness for the bizarre sexiness of mad genius R. Kelly's music? There are a half-dozen unstoppable hits on his latest full-length, including "Pregnant" and "Number One," but they're all dwarfed by "Echo," which basically consists of Kelly telling a woman exactly how he's going to sex her. There are hooks enough for three songs, including "sex in the morning / sex all day" and the bit where Kelly yodels. Yes, he yodels. If you've been ignoring him all these years, it's time to get familiar.
Clem Snide, The Meat Of Life
Clem Snide have struggled in semi-obscurity since the early '90s, cycling through various incarnations and sounds on record since 1998's masterful You Were A Diamond. At the center of every lineup has been the incredible songwriting and lyricism of Eef Barzelay, who writes classics so casually he makes it seem easy. His band's seventh album, which comes out February 23, adds several to the canon, including the gentle, terrific "Please" and "Walmart Parking Lot."
The Wedding Present, Bizarro
The Wedding Present — a British band once referred to as something like "every Smiths fan's second-favorite band" — released their second album, Bizarro, twenty years ago, and it still sounds every bit as fresh now. Mastermind David Gedge writes lyrics about failing relationships better than just about anyone, and the band that backed him in 1989 could strum like nobody else. Acknowledging the past, The Wedding Present will perform the album in its entirety on a U.S. tour in April. It won't generate as much excitement as the Pixies performing Doolittle, but to some people it's just as important.