Tuesday, November 3, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for October 30

This is a real feast or famine week, let me tell you.

Album of the Week

Artist: Laura Stevenson
Album: Cocksure
Quick Description: Fourth album from a favorite here at the blog.
Why You Should Listen: Just outright saying it, this is one of the best indie rock singer-songwriter albums of the year.
Overall Thoughts: This shouldn't be happening. Laura Stevenson's first album was okay. Second album solid with two incredible songs. Her third album was great from start to finish, and there was no way, I thought, that Cocksure could get even better. Yet it does. The lead singles ("Torch Song" in particular) were solid, but the album as a cohesive whole ends up being truly outstanding. In the last few albums I feel like she's found her footing, and the album title is just as much a truism as it is a double-entendre.
Recommendation: Album of the week, will certainly feature on my end of year list.

Artist: Gems
Album: Kill the One You Love
Quick Description: Debut album from the electronically-tinged indie group.
Why You Should Listen: You've enjoyed some of the similar stuff I've posted; you like a retro feel to your songwriting structure.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of bands try to do the 1980s thing by playing it straight. A lot of the songs on this album feel like they have the sort of melodic structure we've come to expect from 80s music, but with a definite modern theme. Bass-heavy electronics, some glitchy stuff. "Soak" and "w/o u" really won me over the moment I heard them, and the whole album is a really solid listen that I look forward to spending more time with.
Recommendation: Definitely should be near the top of your list this week.

Artist: British Sea Power
Album: Sea of Brass
Quick Description: Latest album by the British art rock group.
Why You Should Listen: British Sea Power isn't always great, but they are always interesting.
Overall Thoughts: I've enjoyed British Sea Power on and off since their debut. A band I never saw live, I've found their albums to be interesting and different. Sea of Brass has a very cinematic scope and thus mostly works for what it is as a cohesive whole, even if it may be a little overlong. Do you like film scores? Shoot this to the top of your list, for sure.
Recommendation: A good listen, but not for all.

Artist: Beach Slang
Album: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
Quick Description: Buzzworthy debut indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You want to be on the cutting edge of what the kids are listening to.
Overall Thoughts: Honestly, I would have skipped this if it weren't for every blog I read for music raving about this. Overall? It's okay. Nothing special, perhaps a little more lo-fi than I'm into these days. I would have loved this 12 years ago, but today? It's just okay.
Recommendation: Give it a shot, but be wary.

Artist: Seth MacFarlane
Album: No One Ever Tells You
Quick Description: Latest album of standards and standards-style singing from the Family Guy guy.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Frank Sinatra was still alive.
Overall Thoughts: I guess when you have Family Guy money, it all works out where you can indulge in passion projects and everyone's okay with it. I slag on this a bit (mostly because I live in a world of books where celebrities think they can moonlight and it just doesn't work), but MacFarlane does have the voice for this. It works really well, the songs are pleasant and it's a good enough thing to throw on in the background of your dinner party and have a bit of a conversation starter. Another solid surprise overall.
Recommendation: A good listen as long as you can move past the novelty.

Artist: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Album: So Familiar
Quick Description: Follow-up to their well-regarded album from a couple years ago.
Why You Should Listen: Steve Martin is an auto-listen anyway, and their first album was so good that this needs to be heard too.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, listen. You've already made up your mind on this. Either you know this will be just as good as their first effort, or you didn't like their first try and you're wrong and failing as a human being. It's that simple.
Recommendation: If this isn't the album of the week, it's a definite #2. A must hear.

Artist: G Love and Special Sauce
Album: Love Saves the Day
Quick Description: Tenth album from the blues rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: G. Love and Special Sauce should be automatic...
Overall Thoughts: ...but not generally for me, actually. I've never really gotten into them even though I have a friend who really liked them. This is a good album, but it's nothing that will blow your mind and probably isn't a good introduction to the band on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you're into it.

Artist: Car Seat Headrest
Album: Teens of Style
Quick Description: Debut release from a new artist on Matador.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy lo-fi indie rock that borrows from a variety of sources.
Overall Thoughts: This is a compilation of old re-recorded songs, which may explain why I felt like this felt disjointed and exhausting. I am more interested to see what comes next, but this really won't be for everyone.
Recommendation: If you have the time.

Artist: El Vy
Album: Return to the Moon
Quick Description: Debut album from a side project of The National and Menomena.
Why You Should Listen: If you like these two bands and enjoy well-crafted rock music...
Overall Thoughts: I'm not a huge National guy, and Menomena are all well and good but have never truly grabbed me outside of their live show. This, however, is a rock-solid album with a lot going for it. The songs are memorable at times, the music really enjoyable. This was a great palate cleanser for me after a few listens this week, so it's worth your time.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Artist: Consuela's Revenge
Album: Mercy
Quick Description: A debut mishmah of roots-ish genres from a Providence-area band.
Why You Should Listen: They have one of the more interesting sounds of the new music of the moment.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over, and I was skeptical based on the name alone. The female lead, however, has a very familiar-sounding voice, and the band is sort of like a weird cross between David Wax Museum and Black Prairie that works surprisingly well. The first song really grabbed me and I stuck with it the whole way through, and I look forward to hearing more.
Recommendation: Definitely should make your cut this week.

Artist: The Neighbourhood
Album: Wiped Out!
Quick Description: Second album from the buzzed-about rock band.
Why You Should Listen: I... I don't know.
Overall Thoughts: Here's the thing. This band has a couple good songs (one is on this album, "R.I.P. 2 My Youth," and the other is "Sweater Weather" from their debut), but on a whole, I don't know who they're trying to appeal to. Too dark for traditional alt-rock, too weird for pop. And I'm not even sure any of it works. Maybe someone can explain it to me.
Recommendation: Skip it this week.

Artist: Puscifer
Album: Money Shot
Quick Description: Latest album from the Tool frontman's side-project.
Why You Should Listen: It's the closest thing to a new Tool album we're going to get for a while, it appears.
Overall Thoughts: For a long time, I took part in a Tool discussion list that really went in deep for a lot of philosophy stuff, a lot of musical discussion, and so on. I remember when Puscifer actually became a thing, and it was juvenile and weird and I think I wrote it off. I don't know if this will bring me back into the fold a bit, but this actually feels like a good album with a lot going for it as opposed to, well, whatever it started out as. I'm not saying this is for everyone at all, but if you, up to this point, are missing Tool and/or want to try something different, you should take a flier on this.
Recommendation: Worth a look. I enjoyed it!

Also out this week:

* We Love Disney

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