Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for November 13

An unlucky day for some, but not for those interested in some solid music from this week:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Boots
Album: Aquaria
Quick Description: Debut album from the acclaimed R&B producer.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing like this has been released in some time; his resume requires at least a look.
Overall Thoughts: Boots has done production most notably on songs for Beyonce, Run the Jewels, and FKA Twigs, and this is definitely more Twigs than Beyonce. It's a really weird, interesting release, equal part rap, hip-hop, and electronica that results in an album that's less about the hooks and more about the overall atmosphere. A very modern record, and one that I really enjoyed.
Recommendation: Best release of the week.

Artist: The Wainwright Sisters
Album: Songs in the Dark
Quick Description: First full-length collaboration between Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche.
Why You Should Listen: Anything with a Wainwright attached to it is probably a good bet at this point.
Overall Thoughts: The first thing I noticed was how quiet this album is. While the Wainwright Sisters come from a folk background for sure, Martha's activity in particular has been closer to her brother's work than her father's, and this might have shaded my overall feelings on the matter. This is a very good album, though, with some seriously strong songwriting and lyricism, and that alone should be enough to give this a go, never mind their pedigree.
Recommendation: A solid folk listen for this week.

Artist: Rocket From the Tombs
Album: Black Record
Quick Description: Latest album from the seminal punk act.
Why You Should Listen: You already know if you want to listen to this.
Overall Thoughts: I had never knowingly heard Rocket From the Tombs before. This album, to be blunt, sounds like old people making punk music, and that... didn't do much for me. It's not bad, but I can't imagine looking this up again unless I was really, really into the band.
Recommendation: Listener beware.

Artist: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album: Mini Album Thingy Wingy
Quick Description: Latest thingy wingy from the Dandy Warhols-adjacent band.
Why You Should Listen: If you like BJM, this is going to be weird and different. If you do not, this might be up your alley because of how weird and different it is.
Overall Thoughts: Overall, this is a strange listen, with a lot of interesting choices that, on first listen, I'm not entirely sure worked for me. I'm a fan on a whole, so this is generally a good listen for me, but I understand why this band is divisive and this album isn't going to change that.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Frankie Cosmos
Album: Fit Me In
Quick Description: Synth-happy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: A fun, different appetizer to her upcoming album.
Overall Thoughts: This one is both hard to describe and easy to describe. It's definitely an interesting listen for its less-than-eight-minute runtime, with some catchy aspects while still being a little off-center. Such a short listen makes it hard to judge on its merits, but I enjoyed this.
Recommendation: Worth some time in your rotation. You have eight minutes to do it.

Artist: A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Album: Planning Weed Like It's Acid/Life is Loss
Quick Description: New album from the dream pop act.
Why You Should Listen: A Sunny Day in Glasgow too often has some interesting, maddening stuff going on.
Overall Thoughts: Last year's album felt challenging, but this new album has a lot of positives going for it, along with some truly catchy songs. At a short runtime, it's also not a huge investment, so this should probably be something worth hearing. They're a different band, for sure.
Recommendation: Definitely recommended for this week.

Artist: Gavage
Album: Gavage
Quick Description: Debut album from the Providence punk act.
Why You Should Listen: You like your punk with some ska sounds involved; you want to listen to the Rocket From the Tombs album and can't get through it.
Overall Thoughts: I surprisingly enjoyed this. It's rough around the edges, but punk music should be that way. Also, the introduction of a saxophone is a nice little touch as well, making this a pretty fun party punk record on a whole. Not much else to say.
Recommendation: Listen to this! It's a lot of fun!

Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: Garden of Delete
Quick Description: Glitchy electronic music that feels both modern and retro.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else like it this week; you wish there was more weird electronic stuff with chiptune elements out there.
Overall Thoughts: Man, this is a strange record, but really great regardless. Sometimes it feels like a videogame boss fight, other times it feels like a glitchy Aphex Twin homage. No matter what, this is something I didn't expect and certainly didn't expect to love. Very close to an album of the week for me, it's that different and fresh-sounding.
Recommendation: This won't be for everyone, but wow is this good.

Artist: Alessia Cara
Album: Know-It-All
Quick Description: Much-anticipated debut R&B album.
Why You Should Listen: "Here" is a legitimately great track, so hearing more along those lines is always a good thing.
Overall Thoughts: The good news is that Know-It-All builds on the greatness that is "Here." The bad news is that the album ends up sounding very samey by the time you hit the end, which is a bit of a challenge. There's a nice singer-songwriter angle to Cara's brand of R&B that's worth exploring, for sure, and this album ends up being good, but not great. Still, a ton of potential is here.
Recommendation: Perhaps worth a listen this week if anything about this piques your interest.

Artist: Anna Von Hausswolff
Album: The Miraculous
Quick Description: Third dark folk album from this singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Chelsea Wolfe wasn't so loud/Marisa Nadler wasn't so quiet.
Overall Thoughts: I really loved this album, it's got a nice dark tone to it with some heavier parts mixed in. This won't be for everyone, but Von Hausswolff's attempt on this album is something that's deserving some attention overall. If you're into Chelsea Wolfe or even some of the brooding stuff Nadler has done over the years, this is absolutely for you.
Recommendation: Should get some time in your rotation this week.

Also out this week:

* Kurt Cobain - Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (really a fans-only affair)
* Panda Bear - Crossroads EP
* Squeeze - Cradle to the Grave

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