Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for August 14

A very interesting week. This will be quicker than normal, though.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Rayland Baxter
Album: Imaginary Man
Quick Description: Well-crafted Americana/folk music.
Why You Should Listen: When Ken praised two of the songs on this album, he wasn't kidding - the rest of the album is just as good.
Overall Thoughts: Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this album. Whether it's an album of the year candidate remains to be seen, but it's a pretty perfect piece of work and I've listened to a lot of folk music this year.
Recommendation: If you listen to one album this week, make it this one.

Artist: FKA Twigs
Album: M3LL155X
Quick Description: New EP by strange off-center artist FKA Twigs
Why You Should Listen: You liked her previous album; you enjoy challenging music.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, it's an FKA Twigs EP, so you know what you're getting. It's weird and different and it deserves a lot of time, but this is true of everything she releases.
Recommendation: Demands a listen anyway, but a good quick EP regardless.

Artist: Grace Potter
Album: Midnight
Quick Description: First proper solo album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Grace Potter or mainstream pop-rock in general.
Overall Thoughts: I really liked "Ah Mary" from a few years back and I confess to not having kept up with Grace Potter since then. Her first solo album has a definite possible starmaking quality to it that will appeal to a pretty wide audience that, ultimately, won't include me. Heavily polished and pretty straightforward.
Recommendation: It's probably not for you if you read this blog, but it's not bad for what it is. Proceed with caution.

Artist: All Walls
Album: All Walls
Quick Description: Quick hit indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You have nostalgia for 15 years ago, you want something complete and short.
Overall Thoughts: This album is something I enjoyed as I listened. The first song felt sort of like early Beulah, the rest more standard indie rock, but at 26 minutes it's still worth your time.
Recommendation: Worth a listen as a pretty solid album.

Artist: Gangrene
Album: You Disgust Me
Quick Description: A collaboration that includes iconic producer The Alchemist.
Why You Should Listen: You appreciate good hip-hop and don't mind a reliance on interesting samples.
Overall Thoughts: This is good, but not great. It's better than a lot of the rap/hip-hop features as of late, but some might be turned off by how this is produced. The Alchemist in particular has been deep in with Eminem's label and I haven't listened to him in years, so I can't say much else about it in terms of how it compares.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you're into this genre.

Artist: Palehound
Album: Dry Food
Quick Description: Boston-area indie rock in the vein of Speedy Ortiz, but more straightforward.
Why You Should Listen: The indie rock revivalists are your jam; female lead singers are something you look out for.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I've heard this band before, but it might just be that they have a super-familiar feel to them. It's a great record in any regard, so I'm really in favor of it.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, so give it a spin.

Artist: Various
Album: Wondaland Presents: The Eephus
Quick Description: A quick EP of Wondaland Records acts.
Why You Should Listen: Janelle Monae is awesome and you want to see if her labelmates are, too.
Overall Thoughts: It's an EP meant to showcase some new artists, so treating this as a cohesive whole is probably an error. I found some new things I liked here, though.
Recommendation: Definitely should listen and take what you like from it.

Artist: Flesh World
Album: The Wild Animals In My Life
Quick Description: Modern punk with a bit of other genres mixed in.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern punk but wish it was more interesting.
Overall Thoughts: Songwriting feels good but this wasn't entirely my cup of tea on first listen. It's an interesting piece of work in any regard.
Recommendation: Worth it for a try, you may love it.

Artist: The Waifs
Album: Beautiful You
Quick Description: A pleasant, mainstream folk record.
Why You Should Listen: You want a good, unchallenging folk record; you like things a lot more straightforward.
Overall Thoughts: I almost wish this album didn't come out at the same time as Rayland Baxter's, because the differences are fairly stark here. The Waifs, however, have been around for years and the polish and experience shines through. It's a good record, for sure, but nothing stands out that doesn't feel like it might be trying a little too hard.
Recommendation: Definitely listen to it, but it's not the first thing you should pick up.

Also out this week:

* Sweet Baboo - The Boombox Ballads

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