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California Sounds: Melvins, Kadhja Bonet and Delroy Edwards are full of brilliant surprises

Kadhja Bonet
(Sinziana Velicescu)

Delroy Edwards, “Rio Grande” (L.A. Club Resource). The producer who makes otherworldly, anachronistic tracks as Delroy Edwards works with the intention of a visual artist.

Filled with the kind of hiss that suggests these 22 instrumental house tracks were recorded onto a low-bias cassette and exported onto streaming services via vintage modem, Edwards’ second proper album is a self-described ode to the American West that, as conveyed in release notes, “sounds like Devo reverse-engineering Ennio Morricone.”

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Rather than harnessing 2018 technology, which he could easily do, Edwards on “Rio Grande” limits himself to a few choice machines. The artist — who outside the studio is Brandon Perlman, the son of actor Ron Perlman — works with rudimentary gear that requires ingenuity to master.

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He then renders moot their so-called limitations by building structurally sound, dance-inducing rhythms. Anybody can make booming beats, he seems to argue with each new track, but it takes imagination to create an immediately identifiable style.

Kadhja Bonet, “Delphine” (OBE/Fat Possum). Written, performed and produced entirely by the artist, the second single from Bonet’s forthcoming album is a lush, seductive experimental soul track featuring the L.A.-based multi-instrumentalist harmonizing with herself as a minimal, funk-inspired beat tiptoes behind her.

Taken from “Childqueen,” “Delphine” is part of what feels like a kind of psychedelic song cycle. She plays everything on all 10 string-laden songs, which were recorded during European studio sessions across two years.

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Bonet even designed the cover. A joint release between Grammy-nominated artist Anderson .Paak’s OBE imprint and the respected Mississippi label Fat Possum, the album comes out June 8.

Melvins, “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (Ipecac). Taken from their just-issued new album, “Pinkus Abortion Technician,” this version of the Beatles’ breakout hit stomps with the fury of a loser who has a pretty good idea that the hand he wants to hold is going to brush it away, Melania-style. The song heaves, shifting tempos while distorted metallic guitars down-tuned to Black Sabbath’s frequency and two bassists wrestle for control.

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Two bassists? Yes. For the first time in its three-plus decades as America’s most consistently great punk and/or metal band, Melvins have expanded to dueling bassists Steven McDonald (Redd Kross, Off!) and Jeff Pinkus (Butthole Surfers). The logic, as explained by founder Buzz Osborne, is pretty sound: They’d never done it before. “We’ve had two drummers and two guitar players, so it makes total sense to now have two bass players,” he said.

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But let’s get back to that Beatles cover: Yes, on first listen, it makes for an entertaining surprise. Listen again at full volume, though, and hear a quartet of expert musicians celebrating a melody, harmony and rhythm that helped define a generation. The band twists the standard time signature and adds quick metal-esque bridges to reshape the structure, in the process revealing the brilliance of the original.


UPDATES:

April 30, 8:00 a.m. This article was updated to embed music by the three artists.


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