Artist: Ellie Goulding
Quick Description: Third album by the British pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is allegedly her Big Pop Record, but it's better than that.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan since "Lights," and this album worried me a bit given some of the advance stuff on this. She's always straddled the EDM line a bit, and I was hoping that she wouldn't stray from that, and, mostly, she doesn't. She definitely brings a Big Pop Record feel to this, but it mostly just feels like an Ellie Goulding album, and one that brings the best parts of her previous work and improves on it. Well done.
Recommendation: Probably my favorite album of the week.
Artist: Darren Hayman
Quick Description: Solo album from the former Hefner frontman, his second this year.
Why You Should Listen: Darren Hayman should be required listening for anyone at this stage.
Overall Thoughts: So this is being billed as Hayman's first true "solo" record, but he's been solo for a while now and this is just the first that he's done all the instrumentation for. The result is a sometimes stark, very folky affair that is good, but not great. If you're looking for recent Hayman solo work, Chants for Socialists is more interesting, but this is still a quality record from an artist who hasn't put out anything bad yet.
Recommendation: Should be in your rotation this week.
Artist: Sara Bareilles
Album: What's Inside: Songs From Waitress
Quick Description: In which pop-pianist Sara Bareilles goes Broadway.
Why You Should Listen: The quick description sounds intriguing.
Overall Thoughts: So I minored in theatre in college, so I'm always intrigued by this sort of thing. It's hard to hear songs from musicals out of context, but Bareilles makes it pretty easy here. This is an interesting listen, and one I'm glad I checked out even if the context is sometimes lacking. If you like piano pop and musicals, take a gander.
Recommendation: A good listen!
Album: Art Angels
Quick Description: Latest album by the pop anti-star.
Why You Should Listen: You like interesting pop music; the aesthetic of Grimes is as interesting as the music for you.
Overall Thoughts: Grimes is probably the bearer of the most interested and buzzed-about album of the week. It's not an easy listen, but it's not a difficult one, either - it's just different. And even when she goes full-on pop (like with "Kill V. Maim"), it's not at all feeling like a mainstream song. Very strange, but that's what makes Grimes so appealing.
Recommendation: A must listen, was close to being album of the week for me.
Artist: Made of Oak
Quick Description: Atmospheric EP from a Sylvan Esso side project.
Why You Should Listen: It's a short EP with an interesting sound.
Overall Thoughts: This won't be for everyone, and what's interesting is how it feels sort of like what Sylvan Esso is good at, but with a heavier, darker tone. I can't describe it much in any other way, but I really enjoyed this.
Recommendation: Worth a slot in your rotation this week.
Album: Throw Your Body On The Gears And Stop The Machine With Your Blood
Quick Description: New album from Noun, a(nother!) side project from the Screaming Females lead.
Why You Should Listen: Anything Marissa Paternoster is gold.
Overall Thoughts: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and it doesn't. Everything Paternoster has done up to this point has been gold, and this is no different. Some dark punk here that is a nice change from the Screaming Females stuff, and, overall, this is just a great, quick listen overall.
Recommendation: Highly recommended.
Artist: New Manners
Album: Give Me Your Bones
Quick Description: A quick hit of straightforward indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Sometimes you just need a pleasant palate cleanser.
Overall Thoughts: This isn't going to end up on any best-of lists, but as a tight indie rock EP, this is certainly worth some time. I just wish it wasn't in such a good week overall.
Recommendation: Try to find some time for this.
Artist: Kate Boy
Quick Description: Debut album from the electro artists.
Why You Should Listen: You wanted the Grimes to be more edgy.
Overall Thoughts: This was a Discover Weekly thing for me a while back, and I anticipated this album for a while. It's mostly good, often great, and the biggest flaw is also its greatest strength - with nothing to set it apart, it somewhat sits alone in what it's trying to do, and you just keep waiting for that extra oomph to push it forward. It's one I hope to keep in my rotation for a while, but this might not be for everyone.
Recommendation: In a crowded week, it's not essential, but still a good listen.
Artist: Billy Gibbons and the BFGs
Quick Description: First solo album from the lead singer of ZZ Top. Yup.
Why You Should Listen: I mean, ZZ Top has earned your time.
Overall Thoughts: What's interesting about this album isn't so much that it's from the lead singer of ZZ Top, or that it's a really well-done slice of classic rock, but just that it exists at all. It's a good listen, although it's probably not going to knock your socks off at all, but I don't think we need to pretend that this is essential listening, either. It fills a nice little niche, but perhaps that's it.
Recommendation: Maybe a fans only affair in a week like this.
Quick Description: A solo album from a Canadian artist with a long resume.
Why You Should Listen: There's not really enough quiet (for the most part) singer-songwritery stuff out this week.
Overall Thoughts: Another album that might get lost in the shuffle when it shouldn't, this (with one exception toward the end) is a quiet affair that is really pretty and contemplative, but might not offer much in the way of anything new compared to other albums like it. If this week is too poppy and electronic for your liking, give this a spin, but it might just disappear into the noise.
Recommendation: A solid listen, but not essential.
Artist: Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder
Album: Indie 500
Quick Description: Collaborative album from the hip-hop legend and well-regarded producer.
Why You Should Listen: Talib Kweli is basically a must-listen.
Overall Thoughts: I've spoken about how I like old style rap music a lot here, and this has that feel while keeping a modern flair to it. Like always, those with a better perspective on hip hop that existed prior to, say, 2007, might have different feelings on this, but Indie 500 scratched an itch for me.
Recommendation: A good listen!
Artist: Philosophical Zombie
Album: Loneliness is Blue and Not Blue
Quick Description: Introspective independent rock music.
Why You Should Listen: It's a sort of lo-fi project that has a tendency to grab you and make you pay attention.
Overall Thoughts: Since this was recorded in the Boston area, I suppose this is "local," but the information about this release is scant. What I can say is that it's brash at times, difficult at others, and is surely the weirdest release of the week. We love most things Vanyaland here, so this is at least worth a look.
Recommendation: A solid, if different, listen.