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19 Oct

Listen: LCD Soundsystem back with more cowbell, and Carly

Carly Rae Jepsen performs at Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 7, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jack Plunkett / Associated Press

The Chronicle’s guide to notable recent music.


Carly Rae Jepsen, “The Loneliest Time” (Interscope)

Make no mistake: Carly Rae Jepsen is a bona fide pop star.

Sure, the Canadian’s first brush with fame put her vulnerable to being labeled a one-hit wonder, but Jepsen has since proved that the viral success of her 2012 hit “Call Me Possibly” was no accident. Over the following decade, she’s released two critically acclaimed albums (2015’s “Emotion” and 2019’s “Dedicated”) and established herself as a serious draw on the touring circuit.

Together with her sixth studio album, Jepsen continues an evolution that’s seen her graduate from bubblegum pop to a more electronic, synth-anchored sound. “The Loneliest Time” can also be bolstered by a stacked list of collaborators. Lead single “Western Wind” — a rhythm-rich, blissful ode to California in spring —  features former Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij as producer and co-writer, while the title track finds Jepsen paired with Rufus Wainwright for a dynamic disco love duet.

Recorded over the pandemic, Jepsen’s recent album feels destined to bring people back together for her upcoming tour, which incorporates a stop at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre on Friday, Oct. 21.

M.I.A., “Mata” (Island)

Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. has teased her sixth album, “Mata,” for months now. Reportedly held up waiting for guest verses from Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj, the artist accountable for the 2007 smash-hit “Paper Planes” is clearly anxious to get her follow-up to 2016’s “Aim” out into the world.

In May, M.I.A. teamed with co-producers Rex Kudo and T-Minus to drop slow-burn lead single “The One.” By August, The Chronicle sampled follow-up “Popular,” noting that the Boaz van de Beatz and Diplo co-produced track’s “exotic thump and gun-cocking effects solid an ominous shadow over lyrics that appear celebratory.” Last month, the pair were joined by “Beep,” a brief, bass-driven affirmation to claiming your personal space and being heard. “Yeah, I’m tryna come through, beep-beep,” she states with authority.

Despite the bangers on the 13-track album, buzz round her recent work could also be overshadowed by controversy. In a series of tweets posted just two days before “Mata” dropped on Oct. 14, M.I.A. drew parallels between misinformation in regards to the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to the decision within the defamation lawsuit against Infowars host Alex Jones, prompting fans to instantly call for the rapper to take a social media break.


LCD Soundsystem, “Recent Body Rhumba” (Columbia/DFA)

Fresh off an eight-night residency split across San Francisco’s Warfield and Oakland’s Fox Theater in August, LCD Soundsystem is back with its first recent song in five years.

What got the infamously on-again, off-again band back within the studio again following its 2017 Grammy-winning album “American Dream”? The prospect to look as a part of the soundtrack for director Noah Baumbach’s upcoming adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel “White Noise,” after all.

“Recent Body Rhumba” is a jittery dance track that finds singer James Murphy lamenting, “I would like a recent lover, I would like a recent body,” over electronic whirls and a healthy dose of cowbell. In typical LCD Soundsystem fashion, the track runs nearly eight minutes, culminating in a frenetic crescendo.


Spacemoth, “No Past No Future” (Wax Nine)

Oakland singer-songwriter, producer and studio engineer Maryam Qudus has passed through quite a metamorphosis since being a sound engineer for local hot spots like Women’s Audio Mission and the now-defunct Tiny Telephone recording studios.

Under the moniker Spacemoth, Qudus conjures astral soundscapes on her debut album, “No Past No Future.” Aided by her past work as an engineer for like-minded Bay Area acts like Toro y Moi and Tune-Yards, Qudus proves herself to be their peer with tracks just like the dazed yet dazzling “UFObird.”

Whirring with strange sounds and soothing melodies, Spacemoth’s journey toward the highlight appears one destined not to finish in flames. See for yourself when Spacemoth opens in support of Spellling on Oct. 31, on the Independent in San Francisco.

Matt Jaffe, “White Roses within the Snow” (self-released)

You might not hear Talking Heads while you hearken to San Francisco’s Matt Jaffe, however it was keyboardist Jerry Harrison who discovered the singer-songwriter when Jaffe was just 16. Together, they collaborated on the young Jaffe’s first album, 2018’s “Blast Off,” which was subsequently followed by 4 more. Now 27, Jaffe is readying for the discharge of his sixth studio album, “White Roses within the Snow.”

Out Dec. 9, an in depth tease of the record has yielded six advance tracks. The most recent, premiering Oct. 28, is piano ballad “Slow Apocalypse.” Singing over a sparse arrangement, Jaffe warns of a light-weight that’s “fading fast” before wallops of bass hammer home bleak visions of worse days yet to return. They’re contrasted by ethereal harmonies and a surge of guitar, which makes “Slow Apocalypse” equal parts beauty and dread.

Jaffe is scheduled to look at quite a few venues across the Bay Area in early November, along with his first show set for Nov. 3 at Sausalito’s No Name Bar before heading to San Francisco for 3 hometown shows. See www.mattjaffee.com for details.

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