Utne Reader Music Sampler May 2011

By Staff
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This sampler is no longer available. Find the latest free, independently released music here.

The Dead Kenny Gs
True to their name, the Dead Kenny Gs play decidedly unsmooth jazz that pokes, prods, and challenges as it entertains on Operation Long Leash (Royal Potato Family).

“Devil’s Playground” by the Dead Kenny Gs 

Secret Cities

Jump in a time travel machine, set the dial back 50 years, head to the beach, and turn on your AM radio. You’d hear sunny-smooth pop and endearing, harmony-laden ballads. When you get back to the present time, you’ll find a nostalgic sound in the Midwestern lo-fi charm of Secret Cities, whose feel-good Strange Hearts is out on Western Vinyl.

“The Park” by Secret Cities 


Implodes’ thoroughly fuzzed-out new album, Black Earth, channels shadow energy and stokes smoldering embers. It’s like Joy Division, but with distortion. Out on Kranky.

“Marker” by Implodes 

Susana Baca

Singer Susan Baca is best known for her Afro-Peruvian music. On her new album Afrodiaspora (Luaka Bop) she casts a broader net, exploring the many ways African music has morphed on its way around the world.

“Bendiceme” by Susana Baca 

Eliza Gilkyson

Eliza Gilkyson is no starry-eyed folkie: Her lyrics often deal with serious themes including religion and politics. But rather than wallowing in misery, she uses her music to point the way to a better place on Roses at the End of Time on Red House Records.

“Looking for a Place” by Eliza Gilkyson 

Greg Brown

Greg Brown delivers darkly tinted folk and blues on an album, Freak Flag (May 10, Yep Roc), that further cements his reputation as a great American songwriter. Life, death, love and other big topics loom large in Brown’s rumbling ruminations.

“Freak Flag” by Greg Brown 

Shabazz Palaces

There’s a weird streak flowing through avant-garde hip-hop collective Shabazz Palaces. Sub-bass beats undergird sci-fi synth washes, boutique instrumentation, and playful rhymes. Black Up, the group’s debut album, is out May 31 (Sub Pop).

“an echo from the hosts that profess infinitum” by Shabazz Palaces 

Food Pyramid

Threads of krautrock, psychedelia, bedroom electronica, and improv jazz weave together to form the Food Pyramid’s sonic tapestry. “Eulogy for Lee Marvin / Another Round on the Outer Rings” comes off of III, the band’s third release for cassette tape label Moon Glyph.

“Eulogy for Lee Marvin / Another Round on the Outer Rings” by Food Pyramid 


Dividing her time between experimental filmmaking and ambient guitar composition, Brooklynite Sarah Lipstate captures dynamic sound in interminable stillness. Her dronescapes evoke scenes of never-setting suns, or traffic jams without drivers. Glacial Glow is due out May 30 on Weird Forest and Saffron Recordings.

“Blue” by Noveller 


If you had checked in with Horseback a year ago, they’d still be riffing on their unique style of progressive, quirky death metal. But the band’s forthcoming release, The Gorgon Tongue, will throw you for a loop. Lush guitar melodies and fragile vocals inch toward cathartic crescendos, showing off Horseback’s breadth. Pick it up on May 10 (Relapse).

“Blood Fountain” by Horseback 

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