White Williams is a deceptive bastard. Smoke, his full-length debut, features gaudy artwork, but you probably wouldn’t want to listen to this sort of music — maybe best defined as "dance music you can't dance to" — high. (He probably recorded it high, but that's something else entirely.)
He toured with Girl Talk, but this five-note-keyboard-demo-song disco would make for one sad-ass dance party. Those glitchy synths and 8-bit soundcard loops were cutting-edge crazy shit when Bowie's Berlin trilogy premiered, but in 2007, they just make me want to play Nintendo.
Dance music you can’t dance to isn’t always a bad thing, though. Labeled a “dubstep” album, Untrue, better described as “ambient R&B with a drum machine,” would make for one awkward rave (or whatever the hell you do to dubstep music).
In fact, you’re better off not even playing this in the car unless you drive an ultra-quiet hybrid. Untrue is made for headphones, rewarding every listen with new textures and near-untraceable noises (an interview cites a sample of Vin Diesel’s car keys, for example). One of the more effective strange albums this year.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy
“Am I Demon” sounds way creepier coming from a guy who looks like a middle-age lumberjack, circa 1930. That’s one of the many lessons you learn from Ask Forgiveness. Another is: Will Oldham could cover “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” and make it sound like a Bonnie “Prince” Billy song. Every cover song on Ask Forgiveness, whether expected (Mickey Newbury, Thom Yorke, and Bjork) or bizzaro (Danzig, Frank Sinatra), would’ve fit just fine on I See a Darkness, with nothing, even R. Kelly’s “The World’s Greatest,” sounding like a college-radio novelty song. The man even manages to whistle and yodel sincerely and pull off singing “If anybody axe you who I am,” and keep a straight face. Maybe that’s the scariest part of all. •