Arts & Culture

Music Reviews: December 2014

The latest releases from Horse Lords and Half Japanese.

Hidden Cities
Horse Lords (NNA Tapes)

This local quartet weds an angular, careening sense of experimentation to elastic polyrhythms, often with ecstatic results. Their instrumental tunes coil tightly and release powerfully, like some dreamy No Wave/Fela mash-up that quivers as much as it shakes. It’s an approach that’s especially effective on “Outer East” and “Macaw,” tunes that unfold over the course of 10-plus minutes and allow the group to fully exploit its probing dynamism, a quality that makes Horse Lords one of the city’s most exciting bands.

Half Japanese (Joyful Noise)

It’s hard to believe this is the first new Half Japanese record in 13 years. Produced by Deerhoof’s John Dieterich, it finds the local, lo-fi legends (cited as influences by the likes of Kurt Cobain and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck) sounding more buoyant and accessible than ever. Jad Fair’s preternaturally optimistic lyrics and singsong delivery reign supreme, but Dieterich’s crisp production also underscores the potent playing of guitarist John Sluggett and bassist Jason Willett (co-owner of Hampden’s The True Vine Record Shop). Overjoyed is a welcome return.