Tuesday, September 29, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for September 25

A pretty stacked new release week this week.

Album of the Week:

Album: Every Open Eye
Quick Description: Sophomore effort by one of the most buzzed-about bands going right now.
Why You Should Listen: You found their version of synth-heavy indie rock appealing during their first album; you like staying on top of the trends.
Overall Thoughts: In a way, CHVRCHES couldn't win with this album. The anticipation was huge, the mythology behind things ever-growing. Somehow, some way, Every Open Eye improves upon the sound we all fell for while still feeling familiar and fresh. No sophomore slump here, and definitely the best releases of the week.
Recommendation: A must listen for all.

Artist: The Dead Weather
Album: Dodge and Burn
Quick Description: Latest outing from the Jack White rock side project.
Why You Should Listen: You've missed the heavy grit of The Dead Weather; you're totally into anything Jack White does.
Overall Thoughts: I loved loved loved the debut album from The Dead Weather, and had some trouble with their second album. I think this is definitely a return to form of sorts for this group, and while there isn't a song that jumps out and grabs me on first listen, there is a lot here to like and I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with it.
Recommendation: A definite recommendation for this week.

Artist: Silversun Pickups
Album: Better Nature
Quick Description: Latest album from the well-known alt-rock
Why You Should Listen: You wish the Smashing Pumpkins just put out an album of their less inspired stuff.
Overall Thoughts: This is a disappointing album, and I say that having gone in with very low expectations. This is a band that was doing something interestingly derivative for their first couple albums, and now just come across as a shell of themselves. This is just not interesting and, ultimately, not worth your time.
Recommendation: Skip it.

Artist: Disclosure
Album: Caracal
Quick Description: Second album by the DJ duo.
Why You Should Listen: The first album did the trick for you; electronic DJ music is your thing.
Overall Thoughts: It's difficult to separate Disclosure from the rest of the EDM scene, and, while one can argue that they have a lot to do with its current popularity, the reality is that this album not only fails to break any new ground, but doesn't feel even a little unique for them. Settle had a ton going for it, this one feels more like it is going through the motions.
Recommendation: If you're into the genre, it's worth a listen, but be wary.

Artist: Julia Holter
Album: Have You In My Wilderness
Quick Description: Latest album from the off-center singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Challenging singer-songwriter music is your thing.
Overall Thoughts: Holter is known for being a little more difficult, and what stands out with Wilderness is how straightforward it is at times. This is not to call it mainstream by any means, but it loves the reverb, loves the musicality, and it just works. It's tough to describe, so give it a listen.
Recommendation: Worth a shot, you're likely to find something to love.

Artist: Big Grams
Album: Big Grams
Quick Description: Collaborative EP between Big Boi of Outkast and Phantogram.
Why You Should Listen: Look at who is collaborating on this! That should be enough to at least give a listen.
Overall Thoughts: In a sense, this is critic-proof. Even if this was terrible, the idea behind it is enough to give it some time. The good news? While not great, it's still pretty good and has some solid moments. Some will like this more than others, but it's worth it if only for the curiosity piece it may end up being in the long run.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Peaches
Album: Rub
Quick Description: First album in years from the electroclash favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Peaches is an automatic listen at this point.
Overall Thoughts: So, Peaches. If you've been into the offbeat music of the last 15 years or so, things like The Teaches of Peaches are one of those things you just know. It feels like it's been a while since we heard from her, and the new album is classic Peaches in some ways, and, honestly, kind of stale in others. I liked this, I wanted to love it.
Recommendation: Definitely add it to the rotation this week, but it might just make you want to go back to her older stuff.

Artist: Sexwitch
Album: Sexwitch
Quick Description: A side project of sorts featuring Bat for Lashes, Dan Carey, and others.
Why You Should Listen: Bat for Lashes is the impetus behind this, and she's always worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: This is a strange album, but it's kind of meant to be a strange album. It's some sort of collection of one-offs and songwriting ideas that are sometimes fully formed and sometimes don't feel like it. Ultimately a fans-only affair, I think.
Recommendation: Be wary. I like Bat for Lashes and didn't love this.

Artist: Level & Tyson
Album: Gruesome Twosome
Quick Description: Are we ready for retro-indie rock that sounds like it's from the early 2000s? If so, here you go.
Why You Should Listen: You're ready for that hit of nostalgia and appreciate good indie pop.
Overall Thoughts: Level & Tyson would be my favorite band if it were 2003. That's the best way to describe this - it's got a lot of the indie rock feel of the early 2000s, especially early Beulah in some places, and the album just works. Maybe my second favorite album of the week, it's just a winner across the board and I hope it has some staying poiwer.
Recommendation: Highly recommended.

Artist: Jill Andrews
Album: The War Inside
Quick Description: Latest album from the singer-songwriter who has slowly been building a following over the years.
Why You Should Listen: Female singer songwriters are your thing; you appreciate a well-crafted pop-folk song.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to categorize Jill Andrews these days, as she's moving away a bit from the more rootsy stuff, but people will find this very reminiscent of some favorites here (especially like Amanda Shires in some regards). I think Andrews might be poised for a breakthrough, so I do recommend checking this one out.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Artist: Ricked Wicky
Album: King Heavy Metal
Quick Description: Another weird project from Guided by Voices's Robert Pollard.
Why You Should Listen: You already know the answer, and it's based on how much Robert Pollard you can tolerate.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if this will win him any new fans, but you probably know for sure whether you like the insane level of output Pollard offers.
Recommendation: Fans only on this one.

Artist: New Order
Album: Music Complete
Quick Description: Tenth album from the 1980s synth rock band.
Why You Should Listen: You like New Order; you're not done with nostalgia-type acts.
Overall Thoughts: Ken wasn't hot on this but I found a lot to like here. There's nothing here that's going to scream "return to form" or have the impact of their early, post-Joy Division work, but in terms of albums from longtime acts, this is actually pretty solid. In a strong new release week, this might get overlooked, but if you have the time, add it to your rotation.
Recommendation: I liked this a lot and definitely recommend.

Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: 1989
Quick Description: Ryan Adams doing Taylor Swift's latest.
Why You Should Listen: It's a cool gimmick that works.
Overall Thoughts: Ryan Adams, as prolific as ever, was once rumored to have done the entirety of the Strokes album This is It as a blues album. This is basically a Ryan Adams reimagining of Taylor Swift, and, while I only know a couple of the singles, this could pass as a credible Ryan Adams album if we wanted it to. That's how good this is, and your enjoyment of this will either come from who is covering it or who it covers. If this concept makes you glance sideways at the whole thing, skip it, but otherwise...
Recommendation: Definitely a strange, weird, worthwhile listen.

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