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Posted at 12:36 PM ET, 08/11/2011

What you should be listening to: Powder Mill, La Big Vic, Gucci Mane and Future, Jurgen Muller

Missouri quartet Powder Mill make grizzled Southern rock that you need to hear. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)
It’s the question most frequently asked of a music journalist: “What should I be listening to?” This new semi-regular column aims to answer just that.

Powder Mill, “Money, Marbles and Chalk”/“Live In Carter County” — One of the best rock albums of 2010 came creeping out of the Ozarks stinking of meth and misery. Powder Mill, a grizzled Missouri quartet, felt like Southern rock’s answer to Dead Moon: a band of outsider survivalists who understood greatness and sounded like they had lived hard pursuing it.

Especially frontman Jesse Charles Hammock II. Over the 13 tracks of “Money, Marbles and Chalk,” he moans, groans and growls about his pharmaceutical diet, huffing paint thinner, coping with PTSD and a getting nailed with a DWI. Sometimes the only thing propping him up is guitarist Jeff Chapman, who solos like he’s mapped the Slash genome.

A year later, Powder Mill’s new live album, “Live in Carter County,” finds the band basking in a hometown roar that should only grow louder and more widespread.

La Big Vic, “Actually” — Underwater Peoples, the smart indie rock label that was founded in Washington D.C. and specialized in music from New Jersey, has since relocated to the Garden State and recently issued this spacey debut from La Big Vic, a trio that includes a retired Japanese boy band singer, an apprentice to Pink Floyd’s old sound tech and, naturally, a music blogger.

Together, they visit Kraftwerk’s android dreamscapes, a Stereolab scrapbooking party and eventually dart off into a great, new agey unknown.

Gucci Mane and Future, “Free Bricks” — While Kanye West and Jay-Z played musical chairs around the throne earlier this week, Gucci Mane continued his reign as the King of Hip-Hop Bizarro World. On Tuesday, he dropped a commercial collaboration album with Waka Flocka Flame called “Ferrari Boyz,” but had just released this totally free (and far superior) mixtape only days earlier.

That doesn’t make much sense, but neither does the sound of Gucci rapping alongside Future, the summer’s most ubiquitous Auto-tuned rapbot made famous by his rhymes on the YC hit “Racks.” Here, Future is mere sonic wallpaper and completely absent from the the mixtape’s finest cut, “Go For It.” Of course, Gucci buries it at the very end of the tracklist. Stay weird, sir.

Jurgen Muller, “Science of the Sea” — This album arrives wrapped up in a big fish tale: In the late ’70s, Jurgen Muller, a German oceanography student allegedly decided to compose scores for underwater nature documentaries. He collected an arsenal of analog keyboards, shacked up on a houseboat, made some very lovely atmospheric synthesizer music, pressed it up on 100 vinyl platters for his buddies and then vanished into history. Decades later, his tunes are re-discovered and re-released to a generation of young music fans who read Altered Zones and love Steve Zissou. Dubious creation myth, enchanting music. Who wouldn’t want to take credit for an album this gorgeous?

By  |  12:36 PM ET, 08/11/2011

Tags:  Powder Mill, Jurgen Muller, Gucci Mane, Future, La Big Vic

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