All by his lonesome, Buttercup and Swindles stalwart Joe Reyes quietly released his latest solo effort this summer. With the exception of Buttercup singer Erik Sanden’s chorus contribution on “Unlikely,” Reyes recorded and produced all 14 songs solo. Reyes himself explains his solitary approach as “the tiny musical Hitler in me relishing each beat like a Dutch bicycle.” Only instead of genocide, Reyes’s little dictator focused on producing crisp, Elliot Smith-style pop and quirky melodies.
Key tracks: “Worry Row” “Trying to Get Used to It Now”
GIRL IN A COMA
Adventures in Coverland
Conceived as a companion piece to last year’s Trio B.C., Girl in a Coma recorded this covers album as a way to show fans where the eclectic GIAC sound comes from. It’s almost all surprising, from a rambunctious take on Patsy Cline’s “Walking After Midnight,” to stripped-down versions of ’80s classics “Transmission” (Joy Division) and “As the World Falls Down” (David Bowie). Vocals get Nina Diaz’s melodramatic spin, but the care and craft that went into reworking the arrangements is just as impressive, if more subtle.
Key tracks: “Transmission” “Si Una Vez”
THe JACKSON PARTEN CATASTROPHE
Moving in Place
In a year that saw a catastrophic oil spill, a jobless economic recovery, and Chilean miners planning their own media frenzy while trapped underground, Jackson Parten’s Moving In Place is deftly of the moment. The title track is a melancholic but celebratory surrender to a time when the best we can hope for is to keep our sanity and our heads above water. In hearing the rest of Moving, one discovers Parten’s only solution to a life gone wrong. Whether he’s the wounded balladeer on “Companion” or the romance-drunk lover boy on “Shimmer and Shine,” it’s abundantly clear that all we need in this crazy world is love. (Submitted by Adam Coronado)
Key tracks: “Companion” “Moving in Place”
On their debut album Piñata Protest forgoes fancy studio work in favor of their natural, spastic energy. At once honoring and destroying their conjunto base on opener “Polka Time,” the group catapults from party-hearty punk anthems like “Cantina” to fiery, socially conscious fare on “Campesino” and “Denied Rights.” álvaro Del Norte spits Spanglish vocals over one accordion freakout after another on the funnest folk-punk debut since Gogol Bordello’s Voi-La Intruder.
Key Tracks: “Jackeee” “No Que Si”
Big Red and Barbacoa
Named after their favorite staple at Tommy’s restaurant, Hacienda’s sophomore album is a more direct link to the young band’s San Anto soul. Their allegiance to the ’60s and ’70s still intact, the band dips their toes into regionally approved rockabilly and conjunto for a result more memorable than their breakout debut Loud is the Night. With producer Dan Auerbach (of Black Keys fame) once again at the helm, the familial quartet go for more distortion, bigger anthems, and yes, even a bit of a theme. “Big Red” is a fizzy jam, while “Barbacoa” closes out the album with slow and soulful organ.
Key tracks: “Mama’s Cookin’” “Who’s Heart Are You Breaking?”