We've only just hit the halfway point of 2013, but I'm pretty damn sure that when this year comes to an end, The Relatives' The Electric Word will be sitting atop my top 10 list. The latest disc by this Texas gospel group is a thing of divine beauty, from the opening hand-clapper "Things Are Changing" to the hard-driving, psychedelic soul of "Let Your Light Shine" to the mind-melting "Bad Trip" to the get-yourself-right anthem "Revelations." If you love "Cloud Nine"-era Temptations, this disc is an absolute must listen.
City Paper contributor Stratton Lawrence turned me on to this next one, and the best part is, it's a freebie: Orgone's Fuzzed Up. Imagine if the Black Keys mainlined Booker T and the MGs "Green Onions" and then composed the soundtrack to the Gone with the Wind of porn flicks — this is exactly what you'd get. Que this baby up and you cannot be defeated — not by ninjas, not by dinosaurs, not by ninja dinosaurs. You are the baddest motherfucker that has ever lived.
And last but not least, there's Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's Love Has Come for You. I tell you, I'm still kicking myself for missing this show. Hell, I'd pull a full-on Rain Man head-palm if I thought it would do any damn good, but it won't. While Martin is getting most of the love for Love Has Come for You — golly gee, did you know he played the banjo? — it's Brickell that truly shines here. Her voice is all quirky-sweet and Southern slow as ever, and her storytelling is top notch, especially on the title track and "Sarah Jane and the Iron Mountain." The latter will have you saying "baby" all day long.
I was not expecting a lot out of Ghostface Killah's latest, Twelve Reasons to Die, but boy oh boy, was I ever wrong. While this rap opera is far from a masterpiece, it tells a far tighter story than your typical rock opera — I still don't understand what happens with Ziggy Stardust or American Idiot. Even better, Twelve Reasons features some of the best instrumentation I've heard on a hip-hop disc in a while (The Coup's latest was pretty good, and Big Boi had some moments on his new one). This is the grindhouse soundtrack that haunts Quentin Tarantino's dreams.
Oh, and just because, here's another killer track from The Relatives: