Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First Listen and More Catch-Up

We actually had a new release this week!

Kid Cudi - Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven: Kid Cudi is interesting. He had some really great rap stuff, but got bored with/irritated with rap music and has been exploring rock music. This is sort of an "indie/alt rock" attempt from him, and... it doesn't work. I can't sugarcoat it, but this is really more a labor of love than anything else. If you're into his post-rap stuff, this might be something of value to you, but, for me? This really didn't do the trick and I couldn't even get through it. Avoid this.

Cage the Elephant - Tell Me I'm Pretty: I haven't kept up with Cage the Elephant, although "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked" was a great song back whenever that came out. At some point they became a full-on bluesish rock band, and I didn't see that one coming. So in terms of meeting expectations, this is pretty interesting, but in terms of something I might want to revisit, that I'm not so sure. It's very easy to get lost in the shuffle, especially in the end of year time.

Holychild - The Shape of Brat Pop to Come: Holychild was one of those Spotify "Discover Weekly" picks for the song "Running Behind," which had some interesting rhythms and percussion elements. The rest of the album is similarly interesting even if it doesn't succeed 100% of the time, and in a world where there's a lot of subversion of classic pop tropes, this is absolutely worth a listen.

These Wild Plains - These Wild Plains: This was an album Ken sent over to me and it's a perfectly well-done piece of music that will be of interest to anyone who likes a lot of what we highlight here. It's an album that sounds the way you'd expect a band named These Wild Plains (and, judging by the cover, looks like they do), and while there's a danger in that sort of stereotyping, they're clearly wearing their influences and style up front. Worth your time.

Susanne Sundfør - Ten Love Songs: I first came to enjoy Suzanne Sundfør with her 2013 release The Silicon Veil, and this album is certainly more conceptual in practice, but with some seriously awesome songs interspersed. While "Memorial" is a bit of a 10 minute miss, the songs that surround it are some of the better ones of the year and came very close to making my end of year lists. This is one I wish I found in February, and I hope you find now.

MS MR - How Does It Feel: Within 2 seconds of the opening track, you can tell that MS MR is going straight Euro-pop. This pleases me, as more groups should do this. Of course, if the darker angles of what MS MR offered on their first album (which kind of got unfairly lost in the CHVRCHES shuffle) is what appealed to you, this play might not quite work for you. The flaw perhaps is that it exists in a world with Tove Lo and Tove Stryke and even CHVRCHES, and thus isn't the first thing anyone's going to grab. Still, don't let this one get away from you. It's worth your time.

Melanie Martinez - Cry Baby: A friend of both Ken and I was raving about this album so I had to check it out, given my recent addiction to pop music on a whole. This one is definitely more confessional in tone (in a more brutal way than, say, your Tay Tay) and it doesn't always work, but when it does, man, it does. I'm not going to call this a top pick, but it's absolutely one that's worth a listen if you're so inclined.

End of Love - Ghosts on the Radio: This is a supergroup in the largest sense of the word, with members of Sonic Youth and Wilco and Big Star and whoever else involved to put together an album that sounds like it was recovered from a dusty attic having been squirreled away forty years ago. I don't know if it's the production or the vocals or the energy level or what, but this album just failed to connect for me in spite of my love for a lot of what's happening. I don't know what it needs to be better, but this just missed the mark for me.

Lizzo - Big Grrl Small World: This one was a surprise. Lizzo has a lot of people who are behind her, but Lizzo largely stands on her own. I don't know enough female rappers, but Lizzo has a voice and lyrical style that just works for me. It's defiant and angry, fun and sexy, and it just works. You figure out VERY early on why Prince tapped her for his project last year. This is probably a mandatory listen, and is arguably one of the best rap albums of the year.

Also worth highlighting:

* The Struts - Have You Heard
* Eskimeaux - O.K.
* San Fermin - Jackrabbit
* Sam Dew and Dave Sitek - Damn Sue (try "Air," one of the better recent songs out there)
* Wise Old Moon - Don't Take Off
* The Greeting Committee - It's Not All That Bad
* Swiss Lips - Swiss Lips
* Robyn and La Bagatelle Magique - Love is Free

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