Tuesday, September 15, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for September 11 - Part One

This is a very busy new release week, so we'll be splitting this one into two posts. Part two will be out tomorrow!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Gary Clark Jr
Album: The Story of Sonny Boy Slim
Quick Description: Second album by blues rocker.
Why You Should Listen: Because you like good things that impress you musically. Because you like music. Because you're a human being.
Overall Thoughts: Man, this album. I can't wait to spend more time with it because it's just so well done. I liked his first album a lot, but this one, for me, is even better. A few standout tracks, nothing that falls apart, and it doesn't feel long even at 53 minutes. Just a stellar album, and a must listen this week.
Recommendation: Album of the week by far, will deserve end of year consideration.

Artist: Ben Folds
Album: So There
Quick Description: A Ben Folds solo album with added orchestration.
Why You Should Listen: Ben Folds is always doing something interesting, and this is no different.
Overall Thoughts: Even when he fails, he's still worth listening to, so So There is an interesting listen in the context that it's better than it looks on paper, but not quite as good as you feel it could be at any specific time. Clearly a labor of love and a significant effort/undertaking, but I'm not sure this is something a lot of Folds's fans would necessarily go back to.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen, but it might not be for you.

Artist: Micachu and The Shapes
Album: Good Sad Happy Bad
Quick Description: A fractured art pop album from a project more recently known for film scores.
Why You Should Listen: You like a challenge; prior Micachu efforts have been worth your while.
Overall Thoughts: This is absolutely a challenging listen, but also might not be very good, if we're being blunt. I didn't really enjoy this, it's probably a bit too off the beaten path for me in this specific genre.
Recommendation: You'll know within moments if it's for you, but most should probably be wary.

Artist: Hollywood Vampires
Album: Hollywood Vampires
Quick Description: Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp collaborate on a tribute to 1960s/70s rock music.
Why You Should Listen: The Darkness is a serious band for you; you still listen to Alice Cooper.
Overall Thoughts: I'm going to be honest here. I can't take this seriously at all, no matter how much I can appreciate the history behind the Hollywood Vampires and what this revival/tribute means. A collection of rock covers, the tongue just isn't in cheek enough for me to enjoy it as camp, and the effort just not really good enough to take as truly sincere.
Recommendation: If the description makes you curious, you'll like this. If you're sideeyeing the whole thing, move along.

Artist: Duran Duran
Album: Paper Gods
Quick Description: Latest album from the 80s rock superstars.
Why You Should Listen: You still think Duran Duran has it; you're trying to find out if Duran Duran still has it.
Overall Thoughts: It's too easy to grade what are essentially legacy acts on a scale. Duran Duran arguably hasn't been relevant since the mid-1990s, and some might argue that it was even earlier than that. Astronaut, their last effort, was lacking, and this is definitely an improvement. There's no "Rio" to be found, but there might be a "Union of the Snake" in here somewhere. Overall, a good listen that might have improved with a less crowded week.
Recommendation: Worth a listen at some point.

Artist: Beirut
Album: No No No
Quick Description: Latest album from the indie pop favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Beirut is a band that's been worth attention for a while, and this is sort of a return to form.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't realize how much I missed the Beirut that sounded more like this until I heard this album. It's stark and stripped down and perhaps isn't as jaunty as my memory remembers Beirut, but it's still a pretty well-done album even if it's on the short end.
Recommendation: A good listen this week, and worth your time.

Artist: Jewel
Album: Picking Up the Pieces
Quick Description: Latest album by folk crossover superstar Jewel.
Why You Should Listen: You really shouldn't. No, I'm warning you.
Overall Thoughts: I don't even dislike Jewel. Everyone liked Pieces of You, but I even found her weird pop star phase to be fun and "These Hands" is not a terrible song. Yeah, the country thing was misguided but whatever. This? This is dull. This is really uninspired, and I can honestly say that it's one of the few albums I have ever outright given up on midway through. It's not good.
Recommendation: Don't do it.

Also out this week, part one:

* Phil Cook - Southland Mission

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