Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for August 7

Looks like we might be exiting the summer doldrums.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Langhorne Slim and the Law
Album: The Spirit Moves
Quick Description: Latest album from the folk revivalist.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy upbeat folk music with a retro feel.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not sure I'm willing to call this Langhorne Slim's best album yet, but it might be in the discussion. "Strangers" in particular is a bit of a barnburner and the whole album feels cohesive and modern while retaining that sort of retro touch. Langhorne Slim doesn't get enough credit for what he's doing, and this should be a mandatory listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely the best listen of the week, highly recommended.

Artist: HEALTH
Album: Death Magic
Quick Description: First album in close to 6 years from the noise rock group.
Why You Should Listen: Noise rock is your thing; You like music that tries to push boundaries but doesn't really do it.
Overall Thoughts: This album will be thrown out there are weird and jarring and too far off the beaten path, and that's not entirely wrong. It's not an easy album but it's decidedly more mainstream than their past work and it's a nice jolt of often-melodic noise rock that might end up being your thing if you're feeling like a change.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but worth a listen for the adventurous types.

Artist: Agent Fresco
Album: Destrier
Quick Description: Icelandic rock effort that is equal parts interesting and attention-grabbing.
Why You Should Listen: You like your rock music a little off-kilter but don't mind a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: This was close to my album of the week. I find this album hard to describe, as it's sometimes rock and sometimes lighter and I too often feel Icelandic music attaches a Sigur Ros/Bjork connotation to the whole thing that doesn't apply here. I look forward to spending more time with this album anyway, but this is one that needs more than one listen to fully grasp.
Recommendation: Give it a spin, you'll know pretty quickly if it's for you.

Artist: La Luz
Album: Weirdo Shrine
Quick Description: Retro-styled rock with solid harmonies and female vocals.
Why You Should Listen: You like a lot of the retro acts out there but wish the production values and songwriting was better.
Overall Thoughts: This was a nice, pleasant surprise for me. I loved most of this album, and it's one that's catchy and fun without feeling dated or derivative. It's a tough line to walk, but La Luz does it really well.
Recommendation: A fun listen that's worth your time.

Artist: The Mynabirds
Album: Lovers Know
Quick Description: Highly-anticipated third album from the indie pop project.
Why You Should Listen: You loved "Generals" along with everyone else on the planet; you like a bit of edge to your indie pop.
Overall Thoughts: "Generals" was such a good song (and the album it came from so solid) that it's not fair to expect Lovers Know to reach those heights, but it comes pretty close from time to time. My only negative for this album is how it feels a little longer than it needs to be, but the overall result is a solid record that may get overlooked given what else came out this week.
Recommendation: A good fun record that deserves a listen.

Artist: Ultimate Painting
Album: Green Lanes
Quick Description: A summery indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You've worn yourself out on the latest Real Estate album.
Overall Thoughts: This is a fun album but ultimately one that was instantly forgettable. I know I liked it, but I can't remember much about it, and, in a packed week like this one, that's a death knell.
Recommendation: If you still have time, give this a listen, but don't prioritize it.

Artist: Lindi Ortega
Album: Faded Gloryville
Quick Description: More rootsy folk-rock from the Canadian singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: The words "rootsy folk-rock" pique your interest.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be honest: while this album is good, it's a shame it's not better, especially given the continued roots revival and with the attention given to singers like Lera Lynn as of late. Little Red Boots was a high point in that Ortega appears to be mellowing out a bit, and that's not always what I'm looking for from her work.
Recommendation: Give it a listen if this week's offerings aren't generally your style, but be wary.

Artist: Chelsea Wolfe
Album: Abyss
Quick Description: Latest album of goth folk/rock from the acclaimed singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You've loved her previous efforts; you're an emo kid who hates the whole emo thing; you like dark, brooding complicated songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: I realized midway through listening to this that Chelsea Wolfe gives me the same feelings I had when I discovered PJ Harvey about 15 years ago. The songwriting is a little different, the brooding tone and such have a lot wider appeal than you'd think, and, again, in a different week this might have been my favorite. Really solid listen, and easily her best so far.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but it's absolutely one of the better releases of the week.

Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Positive Songs for Negative People
Quick Description: Newest album fro the folk punk favorite here at the blog.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of his previous work; you've looked for a place to dive in and haven't found it yet.
Overall Thoughts: Ken's been trying to get me into Frank Turner for a while. This is an album I really, really liked - "Get Better" hit me right away and I loved it, and the rest of the album is also pretty solid. It actually reminds me quite a bit of The Hold Steady in a few ways, with the sort of immediacy that we got from the earlier albums.
Recommendation: Find time for this. Even if you don't like the whole thing, there will certainly be parts you'll enjoy.

Also out this week:

* The Prodigy - The Night is My Friend EP

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