Thursday, April 16, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for April 14

Much better than last week, for sure, but the gap between the good and not so good is very vast this week.

Ava Luna - Infinite House: I shouldn't really trash this week's release slate and then come around with Ava Luna first, as the album is actually pretty decent if not a little/lot difficult. It reminds me as a good extension of their previous stuff, but it's still not entirely for me, if you get my gist. Worth a listen this week, though, you'll know very quickly if it's your cup of tea.

Kym Warner - Everything That Brought Me Here: One of the best releases of the week is the debut album by Greencards member Kym Warner, basically an instrumental bluegrass affair that is simply beautiful from start to finish. Balances the stark and the full sounds completely, and is just a really pretty record that is surprising to me in how high-quality it ended up being, especially as I tend to trend a little negative on instrumental stuff overall. It's not a classical or newgrass-style thing like recent Chris Thile efforts, but that shouldn't stop you from giving this one a spin. Just excellent.

Spirit Family Reunion - Hands Together: Release of the week, and early favorite for the year so far, is the new release from Spirit Family Reunion. I fell in love with them seeing their opening slot for David Wax Museum back in 2011, and they were definitely a more gritty and less together band then. This new album shows a significant increase in ability and maturity that is impressive from start to finish. Much like David Wax Museum, no one else sounds quite like them, whether they're doing folk standards or their own sort of rootsy folk interpretations of original songs. Simply an essential album for anyone who enjoys a lot of what we recommend on this blog, no question. Make some time for this one, and see them live if they're in your neighborhood. You won't be disappointed.

Calexico - Edge of the Sun: I first learned of Calexico around the time they opened for Wilco on one of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tours. I've always enjoyed their output, and this album is no difference, a great mix of Spanish/Mexican-influenced folk rock that just works for me on a lot of levels. This feels like it might have more of an edge to it than others on first listen, but still pretty solid. Give this one a shot.

Kathryn Calder - Kathryn Calder: Kathryn Calder's claim to fame is her work with the New Pornographers, and this is her third solo album. I don't know why I struggle to connect with her solo work, but this album in particular is a very quiet affair that just doesn't work for me in any way. Might just be for fans of hers or for real hardcore New Pornos fans.

Local H - Hey, Killer: I'll come right out and say it - if the Spirit Family Reunion album hadn't come out this week, this would be a runaway favorite album for me, and it wouldn't even be close. A rock solid, heavy, grungy affair that feels new and fresh even when scratching that familiar itch from the mid-1990s. I don't even know how they came out with an album this solid, it's just that good. Is there anything as catchy as "Bound to the Floor?" No, but that's not the point, either. Just listen to it, it's great.

The Wombats - Glitterbug: Like everyone else, The Wombats hit my radar with the great "Let's Dance to Joy Division." The new album is a significant shift for them soundwise, feeling more like a mainstream act than ever before and it's just not a great fit for them. I hate constantly bemoaning bands that radically change their sound, but as you get to the end of this album and begin hearing songs that sound more like classic Wombats, you start to get the idea as to exactly why this doesn't work as a complete album. Give it a spin, you might like it, but you're probably more than likely to wish it was something else.

Also out this week:

* Beth Hart - Better Than Home

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