(Triple Door) Sixto Rodriguez should've been at least as big as Leonard Cohen and Phil Ochs, if not quite in the same stratosphere of pop-culture prominence as Bob Dylan—or even Donovan. Coming up in late-'60s Detroit when that city was at its zenith of dominance in soul, rock, and funk, this Mexican-American street poet should've been swept up in the record industry's Motor City mania. He even had Motown rhythm-section ringers and session guitarist Dennis Coffey playing on and producing his debut LP, the 1970 cult classic Cold Fact.
(Comet) Brooklyn-based producer/musician Rusty Santos has earned low-key kudos as a behind-the-boards savant for Animal Collective, Panda Bear, and White Magic. As excellent as those artists are, they don't quite delve into the real weirdness like Santos does in his current trio, the Present. The group's debut full-length, World I See, explodes traditional song form into a miasmic mosaic of tones and textures, resulting in a bizarre new form of ambient unrock that makes Black Dice's beatless passages sound new agey (and I'm the Dice's number-one fan). On first listen, the new The Way We Are is another surreptitious reality-eraser on the lofty level of Biota, Vas Deferens Organization, and early Deuter. This record will fuck your mind so it stays fucked for a long time. Mental contraceptives are powerless. DAVE SEGAL
(Neumos) Cursive's latest album, Mama, I'm Swollen, is not their greatest work—most would say that's the bitter breakup opus Domestica, though I'm partial to the reflexive brooding (bordering on dark comedy) of the Burst and Bloom EP and The Ugly Organ. Still, Swollen contains some classic Cursive moments, with Tim Kasher shredding his throat and his soul in equal measure, and his band backing him with perfectly bombastic arrangements of distortion, rhythm, and brass. Best of these is "I Couldn't Love You," whose subtle double entendre—I couldn't love you enough; I couldn't keep on loving you—Kasher belts out over a rousing chorus of brightly harmonious organ, brass, guitars, and big, volatile drum rolls. Live, Cursive swerve from uncomfortably quiet to painfully loud with aplomb, their already dramatic songs delivered with such exaggerated force that it seems like the band might just tear themselves apart. ERIC GRANDY