Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for August 2, 2022: PACKS, Flo Milli, Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for August 2, 2022: PACKS, Flo Milli, Neil Young & Crazy Horse
It's a new month, and as we ease our way into the hazy heft of summer's golden hour, we're fiending for new music to soundtrack the sombre, humid nights and euphoric, sun-soaked moments of the season's final hurrah. It's a little too early for back to school just yet, but we have another alphabet of Exclaim!'s Staff Picks for your reading list — ranging from the A's to Gen Z's hottest rapper. 

As always, check out our album reviews section to discover even more new music.

The A's
(Psychic Hotline)

Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso) and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (Daughter of Swords) swap the well-trodden a cappella synergy of Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man for dual vocals on debut album Fruit as the A's (see what they did there?). Co-produced by Meath's bandmate Nick Sanborn, the album finds the A's revisiting Shelley DuVall, the DeZurik Sisters and folk traditionals alongside a handful of original tunes for a sound that's naturally sweet. While the absence of Mountain Man co-conspirator Molly Sarlé is felt, it's worthwhile to get a couple of these gals singing together again as we wait for the family to reunite. 
Allie Gregory

Don't Trip
(Forward Music Group / Black Buffalo Records)

Halifax musician Lance Sampson, along with his community of collaborators, dives headlong into funk with a joyous party album inspired by his romantic relationship with his wife Julia Hutt — who, incidentally, contributed backing vocals to (and directed the video for) "Lunch." Read Exclaim!'s recent interview with Aquakultre.
Alex Hudson

The Deslondes
Ways & Means
(New West Records)

After 2017's surf-inflected Hurry Home, the Deslondes have reunited following a series of solo efforts for Ways & Means. The five-piece Americana group welcome the rhythmic arrivals of flute and saxophone, filtering their signature timeless haze through the eyes of co-producer Andrija Tokic. The result is a worn-in feeling of kinship, dipping the listener into the value and necessity of home, family and solid ground. It's about the commitment of it all — and as Riley Downing sings on record opener "Good to Go," "I guess I'm all in / I always have been."
Kayla Higgins

Kali Malone 
Living Torch
(Portraits GRM) 

Kali Malone is best known for her patient and magisterial pipe organ compositions, but on the luminous Living Torch, the Stockholm-based artist finds new avenues of expression in brass, woodwind and vintage synthesizer. The results are equally meditative, but more tactile; burnished metal sliding against delicate cane and buzzing swarms of synthetic sound. The two-part record's highlight is in the ominous vortex of its second half, where a single, plucked guitar string guides Malone's slowly-crumbling walls of sound to an entirely darker dimension.
Kaelen Bell

Flo Milli
You Still Here, Ho?

My initial resistance to listening to — and writing about — Flo Milli comes from a sense of imposter syndrome about having next-level pussy. (Devastatingly humble of me, I know.) Thankfully, the Alabama rapper schools even the most reluctant students in the time-honoured art of sexual prowess braggadocio with plenty of '00s nostalgia on You Still Here, Ho?, the follow-up to her 2020 mixtape Ho, why is you here?. Milli rewards sticking around by softening her head-bitch-in-charge, barbed-wire bars at the end of the collection on standout R&B-inspired exposé "Tilted Halo."
Megan LaPierre

(Royal Mountain)

If you loved the stripped-down acoustic tracks from PACKS's jangle-rockin' debut LP Take the Cake, you're in luck: WOAH features little more than Madeline Link's voice and acoustic guitar, quick sketches that pair the intimacy of Jessica Pratt with Daniel Johnston's ragtag spirit. Link's raw honesty makes every simple observation feel like a revelation, like the breathtaking last phrase of "heaved": "Pleeeeease don't hurt me again."
Matt Bobkin

Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Shelved since its recording at the titular San Francisco studio back in 2001, Toast is another tasty archival treat for the most devoted fans of Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Over seven tracks — some of which would remain only in live sets, or be rerecorded for other albums — Young and his right-hand band plate up buttery grooves like those of "Quit," "How Ya Doin'?" and "Boom Boom Boom," without cutting off the rock 'n' roll crust of "Timberline" and "Standing in the Way of Love." Extra flavour comes courtesy of rich vocal harmony, a trumpet and a gong.
Calum Slingerland

Theo Vandenhoff
"Alles Ist Besser"
(Safe Sounds)

If saxophone solos keep popping up in '80s-inspired synthpop, we'll be better for it. "Alles Is Besser" swallows you in Theo Vandenhoff's embellished contradictions, with the lead synth hook shining over the track's darker elements. His striking baritenor vocals surprise, yet make perfect sense within his ode to the history of the European underground. As Vandenhoff toys with singing in German on the choruses, he reminds you not to bottle up your feelings — even if it makes for some great dance floor catharsis. 
Sydney Brasil