Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for October 18

This was a ridiculously full week for new releases, along with some really anticipated stuff and some real surprises. Let's dive right in:

Album of the Week:

Artist: YACHT
Album: I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler
Quick Description: Latest album by the indie-synth act, first featuring Claire Evans being the sole lead singer.
Why You Should Listen: You feel like you've been missing out on fun music in your life.
Overall Thoughts: There's definitely some attitude featured on this album, no doubt, but this is just an album that felt really fun on first listen. A number of standout songs across the board and an album I've wanted to jump back on board with as soon as I can. If you heard "Plastic Soul" from last year, you know the direction this is going, and this isn't really an unexpected listen from them. Easily the best thing I've heard this week, and absolutely one that I expect to see at the end of the year on some lists.
Recommendation: One of the best albums released recently, so give it a listen.

Artist: David Wax Museum
Album: Guesthouse
Quick Description: Latest album from the blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: It's David Wax Museum. If you're still reading this blog after we've spent so much time with this band, I'm sure you know you want to hear this.
Overall Thoughts: Ken wrote about this one to cap off our David Wax Museum week and I think I agree 100% with him. This is not a typical DWM album, but it is a complicated and interesting change for the band with a lot of great things happening in the background. I can't wait to spend more time with it, but my only hesitation from a review standpoint is how different it is from the Mexican-style folk music we've come to expect.
Recommendation: A great album, but definitely a tonal shift. Worth hearing.

Artist: Alela Diane and Ryan Francesconi
Album: Cold Moon
Quick Description: A collaborative folk effort from two established musicians.
Why You Should Listen: Stark folk is your thing.
Overall Thoughts: I can't really describe this beyond it feeling like a stark folk record that feels really arresting when you hear it. There's some beautiful stuff going on here, and it's ultimately one of those quieter albums that need to be heard.
Recommendation: Another album definitely worth listening to.

Artist: Chris Walla
Album: Tape Loops
Quick Description: An instrumental EP from the former Death Cab for Cutie guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Walla's solo work; you don't mind some experimental stuff.
Overall Thoughts: This wasn't for me, but it's also something that absolutely does what it says on the tin. It's instrumental music that may or may not hit the mark for you, so I don't know what else to say about it.
Recommendation: You'll know quickly if this works for you. Not one I'd explicitly recommend in a busy week.

Artist: Supersuckers
Album: Holding the Bag
Quick Description: Latest album by the iconic band.
Why You Should Listen: It's the Supersuckers!
Overall Thoughts: Listen, I know they're not for everyone. But their version of country, complete with featured guests Hayes Carll and Lydia Loveless on this go 'round, is something that's just an enjoyable time. This isn't going to change your world at all, but it is a fun album if you have some time this week.
Recommendation: A good listen if you have the time. The Supersuckers are always a fun time.

Artist: Annie
Album: Endless Vacation
Quick Description: The latest EP from the European dance artist.
Why You Should Listen: Annie is typically a good time, and she typically comes up with some interesting music.
Overall Thoughts: The interesting thing about Annie is that I wouldn't call her on the cutting edge of dance music, but she's not on the fringes, either. This EP is noteworthy, for me, because of the lack of true standout tracks, but, as a whole, it's a pretty good listen.
Recommendation: Worth hearing, it's a short and quick hit.

Artist: Maritime
Album: Magnetic Bodies/Map of Bones
Quick Description: Indie rock from former members of The Promise Ring.
Why You Should Listen: Some straightforward rock music is always good; you like the associated bands.
Overall Thoughts: This one is good, with a lot of solid songs even if there's not a ton of standouts. The flaw in this album is not that it's bad or not good enough, but that it's easily forgotten in a crowded week. You should definitely make time for this in your rotation, though, and especially if you like The Promise Ring - this is some well-crafted rock music this week.
Recommendation: Recommended, but not at the top of the list.

Artist: The Casket Girls
Album: The Piano Album
Quick Description: An album of piano versions of many recent Casket Girls songs.
Why You Should Listen: You're a big fan of The Casket Girls and/or alternate versions of songs.
Overall Thoughts: As a fan, this was fun for me. If you have no context for the songs, though, this just sounds like some sparse piano songs and you'll be wondering why this exists at all. If you're hearing about The Casket Girls for the first time today, look up True Love Kills the Fairytale first.
Recommendation: A fans-only affair.

Artist: !!!
Album: As If
Quick Description: Latest album from the dance rock group.
Why You Should Listen: Some rock music with some groove to it is your jam.
Overall Thoughts: At this point, if you're not listening to !!!, I don't know why. This needs more listens to see if there are standouts like "When the Water's Cold" or "Pardon My Freedom," but, for now? Another solid effort from a favorite of mine.
Recommendation: Definitely find some time for this.

Artist: Dead Ghosts
Album: Love and Death and All the Rest
Quick Description: Authentic-sounding retro psych-rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is possibly the best authentic-sounding band like this I've heard.
Overall Thoughts: This may not be your genre, and that's fine, but if you are, you need to hear this. It feels like it's straight from the 1970s, complete with the guitar sounds and production values. It's rare to get something like this, so it's almost worth a listen based on that alone.
Recommendation: Might not be for you, but this requires a listen just to hear how well done this is.

Artist: Nikki Hill
Album: Heavy Hearts Hard Fists
Quick Description: Roots-based singer-songwriter music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that thing to replace the Kathleen Edwards-shaped hole in your heart; she's similar to singers like Lydia Loveless.
Overall Thoughts: Honestly? I should love this, and the songwriting is great. What doesn't work is that Hill's voice doesn't feel up to the material, and the production values feel cheap and muddied (which may contribute to the former). This album felt more like a letdown than anything, and it's too bad because it's an album I was ready and willing to love.
Recommendation: Be wary. You might really enjoy this, but it might not work for you.

Artist: The Innocence Mission
Album: Hello I Feel the Same
Quick Description: Ninth(!) album from the alt/indie group.
Why You Should Listen: You love quieter bands like Hem.
Overall Thoughts: How is a band this good, making an album this pretty on their ninth album and I've never heard of them until now? This was a close runner up for album of the week, and for good reason - it hits all the right tonal ideas while being musically interesting along the way. Really reminds me of early Hem in particular.
Recommendation: Absolutely make time for this album this week. One of the best releases of the week.

Artist: Beach House
Album: Thank Your Lucky Stars
Quick Description: The follow-up to August's Depression Cherry.
Why You Should Listen: Your sad-sack indie rock needs a pick me up.
Overall Thoughts: It's impossible to discuss this album without looking back at Depression Cherry, which largely did what it said on the tin. This one feels more like Beach House to me, and it definitely feels more optimistic on first listen, which might be more of what you're looking for. It's early to say how much better or worse this might be, though, or if we should even take the two albums as a cohesive unit or not.
Recommendation: Worth a listen in the crowded week.

Artist: The Oh Hellos
Album: Dear Wormwood
Quick Description: Pretty folk/roots-based music.
Why You Should Listen: You like your more folky music with a bit of interesting instrumentation with it; you really enjoy pretty music.
Overall Thoughts: I liked their debut album, and Dear Wormwood is absolutely more of the same, and that's a good thing. I keep wanting to use the term "pretty," which seems trite and meaningless but it's really, really true. Just a gorgeous album all the way through, and one I'm looking forward to revisiting.
Recommendation: Absolutely give this a listen.

Artist: Keep Shelly in Athens
Album: Now I'm Ready
Quick Description: Electronic-based rock music from Europe.
Why You Should Listen: It's the only album like it this week; it's some of the better electronic-based music released recently (YACHT aside).
Overall Thoughts: This was a pleasant surprise for me, as it sounded unlike anything else I heard this week and also has some interesting sounds going with it. The final song on the album in particular tries some interesting things on a whole, and the result is a fast-paced album that scratched a few itches for me.
Recommendation: Give this one a listen if you have the time.

Artist: Ugly Kid Joe
Album: Uglier Than They Used Ta Be
Quick Description: The reunion effort of the alt-rock band from the 1980s/90s.
Why You Should Listen: You're someone with nostalgia for Ugly Kid Joe.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not going to crap all over this, as it's not for me, but it almost certainly hits a nostalgia point for a lot of people given the successful PledgeMusic campaign and otherwise successful reunion. It's just like what you'd expect from a grunge album from 25 years ago, though, so there's that, but this just wasn't doing it for me.
Recommendation: Good for a nostalgia trip, or maybe more.

Also out this week:

* Alex Bleeker and The Freaks - Country Agenda
* Neon Indian - Vega Intl. Night School
* Coil - Backwards
* Lyle Lovett and His Large Band - Waltzing Fool
* Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs - Coulda Woulda Shoulda

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