All the Stars That Never Were
Linda Smith (JTS)
Smith’s lo-fi tapes were a highlight of late-1980s/early-1990s indie rock, so this cassette (yes, cassette!) compilation is a welcome return to form. Smith, who works as a security guard at The Baltimore Museum of Art, writes stately and sturdy melodies and frames them with delicate instrumentation that underscores their inherent grace. An angular rhythmic sense nudges some of these tunes toward art-y garage rock, but overall, Smith crafts a dream-pop universe that’s more down-home than far out.
Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa (Thrill Jockey)
As a member of Ponytail, a band that started as a MICA class project, Wong played spastically knotty guitar within that group’s caterwauling ruckus. Since the band’s demise four years ago, Wong has released a series of free-flowing and loopy minimalist records that sound like an ecstatic Steve Reich. Here, he teams with Minekawa, a Japanese composer and vocalist, who shares his love of gleeful experimentation. “Ancient Aluminum Forest” might evoke Ponytail, but the other nine tunes find Wong pushing ever deeper into the realm of serious play.