Genre Reports \

SPIN Overlooked Albums Report: Hop Along Gives Us Palpitations, Mount Eerie Elevates the Mundane

Plus: James McMurtry, Blanck Mass, MoBo the Great, Eskimeaux, Boosie Badazz, Malportado Kids and Hot Chip

We devour music at such a feverish pace that, more and more, great collections of songs fall through the cracks. In the case of the past six weeks, we uncovered such missed gems as Sacred Bones’ idea of body music and Phil Elverum’s take on Mark Kozelek’s confessional style. Meanwhile, a drill rapper holds her own, a folk-rock conscientious objector ages gracefully, and a Southern legend emerges triumphantly from a murder trial and the media circus surrounding. Here’s what SPIN caught up on this month.

Hop Along

Hop Along, Painted Shut (Saddle Creek)
Central bulbs in the now-blinding chandelier of Philly indie-punk, Hop Along’s thrilling sophomore effort plays out like sonic arrhythmia — it seems impossible that Frances Quinlan could successfully quaver through such a variety of highs and lows without being sent into cardiac arrest. She proves her survivor status over and over throughout, introducing Painted Shut with the casual kookiness of Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison on slow builder “The Knock” and rasping up the octaves on the sweetly seesawing “Waitress.” And yet she rarely overwhelms her bandmates: Drummer (and brother) Mark Quinlan deserves accolades for his perennially discombobulated rhythms, just as the rest of the band should take a bow for astutely playing around them. — RACHEL BRODSKY

mount eerie

Mount Eerie, Sauna (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
For Mount Eerie’s latest LP, principal driving force Phil Elverum made a deliberately literal collection of existential folk-rock, sort of like Calvin (sans Hobbes) re-imagining the recent output of Mark Kozelek. To wit, Sauna opens with the hissing and crackling of a steam room, and things get Benji-er from there. Elverum recounts the experience of walking home from a bookstore (“Pumpkin”) and making a cup of coffee (“Turmoil”), but then like a Chaucerian eagle, he’ll suddenly soar upward on the wings of booming drums and corpse-painted guitar parts to grasp, Adam-like, at life’s grand truths. — COLIN JOYCE

hot chip

Hot Chip, Why Make Sense? (Saddle Creek)
The title of the first single off of Hot Chip’s sixth LP encapsulates everything appealing about the quirky U.K. danceniks: “White Wine and Fried Chicken,” a combination of the high and lowbrow, whether boxed and artisanal or expensive and from Popeye’s. Yet Why Make Sense? smooths out Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard’s longstanding, ever-evolving musical partnership and collective existential quandaries into an album as polished as Larry Levan’s disco ball, and their most cohesive as well. Though the title track might be their most aggressively slippy and psychedelic to date, the easy-lounging guitar licks and walking bass line on “Easy to Get” fry on the same summer rooftop as the triangles and wah-wah synths on “Love Is the Future.” Together, eventually, they all start to make sense. — HARLEY BROWN

Malportado Kids

Malportado Kids, Total Cultura (Dead Labour)
The Public Image Ltd. to Downtown Boys’ Sex Pistols, Malportado Kids finds both outfits’ frontwoman, Vicky Rotten (name that people actually call her: Victoria Ruiz), in a looser, dubbier, and clubbier mode than in her day gig. Total Cultura is eight songs and just 21 minutes of riotous, sax-saturated post-funk, with Ruiz megaphoning the group’s anti-imperialist (and mostly Spanish-language) rhetoric over muscle-flexing reggaeton beats. The lone outlier is the duo’s closing cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” which even outdoes the Boys’ excellent “Dancing in the Dark” rework in its smoked-out dreaminess. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

james mcmurty
James McMurtry, Complicated Game (Complicated Game)
This 53-year-old minor folk vet’s drawl doesn’t obscure his flow, making it all the easier to follow his tales in real-time, inhabiting a husband cleaning his deer rifle or the bent-backed Deaver who watched as “Uncle Sam took away the neighbors’ land.” Raggedly insisting “we turned into our parents well before we were out of our teens,” the Bernie Sanders favorite gets his Buck 65 on in the quasi-hip-hop “How’m I Gonna Find You Now” and agrees to a shaky open relationship while he’s away on “She Loves Me.” “I always keep it real” he promises. “She’ll vote him off the island / The minute I return,” he prays. — DAN WEISS

blanck mass

Blanck Mass, Dumb Flesh (Sacred Bones)
The electronic side project of Fuck Buttons co-founder Benjamin John Power, Blanck Mass brings the wriggling post-apocalypse to the dance floor. Dumb Flesh is populated with the same sort of slow-building circular droners that made FB’s Street Horrsing and Tarot Sport so transfixing, but they’re given a TVT industrial sheen and electroclash-like malevolence that really sells the physical decay implied by the title. Maybe not what they originally had in mind when they used to call it “Electronic body music,” but a stunning reinterpretation nonetheless. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER

boosie

Boosie Badazz, Touch Down 2 Cause Hell (Neon Gold / Atlantic / Because)
The tumbling twinkle and bluesy Rich Homie Quan hook of “Like a Man” encapsulates the duality of Lil Boosie, a.k.a. Boosie Badazz, who humbly sighs, “Never say a word when it’s time to do for family” just a few breaths over from “I want to f—k your daughter.” A family-first businessman who beat murder charges, Boosie actually takes us to the places that hardened him: the childhood where “Mama didn’t have no help growing up” and the jail term that taught him “This ain’t livin’, tryin’to kiss your kids through a f—kin’ glass window.” Expecting perfection from a rasping human Claymore is a nightmare, unearthing the car-ready “Drop Top Music” (“Shout-out to my ego!”) and the churchy backdrop of “All I Know” (along with other scattered baubles and bangers over 72 minutes) is a pleasant surprise. — DAN WEISS

mobo

MoBo the Great, F—k the Public EP (self-released)
A few years ago, MoBo the Great was called up onstage at a Jay Z concert to spit a verse alongside the most successful rapper of all time. Now she’s making her own name with one of Chicago’s sharpest tongues, sharing the spotlight with other notables like Katie Got Bandz, who appears on MoBo’s dynamic, flexible new mini, Fk the Public. Though she’s calling it an EP, the 21-year-old sprawls out across 11 tracks that maximize her dusky, world-worn rhyming with Surf-size production. The blitzing “Everything” features BJ the Chicago Kid and skids in clever little figure eights on icy keyboards and a rat-a-tat drumline, while crisp, cleaner “Great Prod” sands down drill’s roughest edges in a way that doesn’t sanitize its roughed-up heart. — BRENNAN CARLEY

eskimeaux

Eskimeaux, O.K. (Double Double Whammy)
Nearly a half decade after she started work on her Eskimeaux project, Gabby Smith is O.K. Her first studio LP, which bears that bit of self-affirmation as a title, turns her bitter laments bombastic with the help of guitar parts that shimmer like snow flurries amidst ecclesiastical gang vocals courtesy her pals in the grandeur-minded Epoch collective. Atop the instrumental tempest, Smith deals with the intimate, familiar subjects of her own romantic insecurities and existential tumult. The Brooklyn-based songwriter possesses a rare gift to turn her stresses into molehills at the foot of her mountainous compositions. — COLIN JOYCE