NOW we're back in the swing of things!
Album of the Week:
Album: Adore Life
Quick Description: The much anticipated sophomore album from the Mercury-nominated indie rock band.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was incredible.
Overall Thoughts: While it lacks the sort of immediacy that their debut had, Adore Life is still a very strong, very loud record in many regards. While a first listen doesn't result in any standout tracks, the cohesive whole easily makes it the best thing released in this two week period, and it might have some staying power to boot. A very strong follow-up. No sophomore slump here.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week. And go back and listen to their debut again, too.
Artist: Eleanor Friedberger
Album: New View
Quick Description: Third solo album from the Fiery Furnaces co-lead.
Why You Should Listen: You like the Fiery Furnaces or you don't like the Fiery Furnaces because they're too weird.
Overall Thoughts: Let me explain. I haven't consciously kept up with Eleanor Friedberger's solo output for a variety of reasons, but much of it being that The Fiery Furnaces, while often good, were also often too conceptual for me. So to hear this album and experience how extremely straightforward it is was a pleasant shock to the system - "He Didn't Mention His Mother" is one of the best songs I've heard in 2016 so far, in particular, and the whole thing comes across as a great, albeit sometimes different, indie folk album. It makes me want to look back at her older output as well.
Recommendation: Don't sleep on this one, a quality listen this week.
Artist: The I Don't Cares
Album: Wild Stab
Quick Description: The debut album from the Juliana Hatfield/Paul Westerberg collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of either of the artists involved.
Overall Thoughts: Honestly? This album sounds exactly like what one would expect from a Westerberg/Hatfield collaboration. It has the sort of strange meandering qualities that I associate with Paul Westerberg, and is definitely more melodic and such from Hatfield. Your enjoyment of this album is going to absolutely be based on whether this description means anything to you, as I can imagine those who don't like Westerberg in particular might be turned off by this.
Recommendation: I liked it, though. Give it a shot.
Artist: The Cactus Blossoms
Album: You're Dreaming
Quick Description: Debut label-released album by the throwback roots act.
Why You Should Listen: You wish The Everly Brothers were still alive and making music.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of bands do the sort of throwback thing that The Cactus Blossoms are doing, but few excel at it the way The Cactus Blossoms are. This is just classic country at its core, and I'm sure you could fool a few people if you put it on in the middle of some Everlys along the way. Just a solid listen across the board. Might be a little too on the nose for you, but you'll know within moments whether that's true.
Recommendation: I think it's worth a listen. Easily the most fun I had listening to anything the last few weeks.
Artist: Aoife O'Donovan
Album: In the Magic Hour
Quick Description: Latest album from the New England bluegrass/roots artist.
Why You Should Listen: O'Donovan's projects are quickly becoming a must-listen.
Overall Thoughts: Following her touring/working with people like Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, this latest album definitely feels more advanced musically (unsurprising given her work with Crooked Still) and also a little more introspective. While this means nothing outright jumps out at me on first listen, O'Donovan's voice is still arresting and the structure behind the sounds kept lingering with me hours after listening. Probably a mandatory listen for most readers here.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a slot in your rotation this week.
Artist: Promise and the Monster
Album: Feed the Fire
Quick Description: Dreamy indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little different this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over to me, and I had no prior knowledge of this artist/group at all. It's really pretty solid although it's definitely a little different than most of what's been out the last few weeks. If there's a complaint, it might feel a little too light and samey to some, but I'm glad I heard this and it's something I'll be looking into for a back catalog listen as well at some point.
Recommendation: If you have some time, give this one a listen.
Album: Skilled Mechanics
Quick Description: Latest effort from the pioneering trip-hop artist.
Why You Should Listen: Tricky is a legend in his genre.
Overall Thoughts: This is apparently a collaborative project and he has a lot more front-and-center vocals here than what I'm used to, but this isn't Angels With Dirty Faces, either. It's a little more subdued, it's more accessible in some ways and not quite what I expected in others. This isn't bad at all, and it's probably worth a listen based on Tricky's legacy alone.
Recommendation: Be a little cautious, it's far from mandatory.
Artist: Anderson .Paak
Quick Description: Second album by the hip-hop jazz artist.
Why You Should Listen: There is no lack of hip-hop artists trying to branch out a bit into other genres to mix it up, and this is one of the more interesting efforts.
Overall Thoughts: This sort of mixing doesn't always work. For Anderson .Paak, this is definitely more subdued than, say, the Wu Tang jazz collaborations we've seen recently. I didn't love this, honestly, and it just felt a little too light on the stuff I was hoping to hear. It's not necessarily bad, but it just wasn't for me.
Recommendation: Be wary.
Artist: Brooke Waggoner
Quick Description: Latest album from the Jack White collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: Brooke Waggoner has traditionally done some interesting folk-style music over the years.
Overall Thoughts: Most people, if they know Waggoner at all, know her from Jack White's band during his solo stuff. The downside to having two weeks of music here is that this will certainly be overlooked in favor of some more interesting releases, as this was a January 15 release and January 22 ended up being fairly stacked. Still, if you want to play it a little safer, this is actually a pretty solid album on a whole even if the parts don't jump out.
Recommendation: If you have the bandwidth this week (or coming up), give this a shot.
Artist: Eliza Hardy Jones
Album: Because Become
Quick Description: Solo album from the longtime Philadephia musician.
Why You Should Listen: More dreamy folk/rock music!
Overall Thoughts: The production on this album is ultimately the driver, as it has a very airy quality to go along with the melodic songwriting. I was turned onto this due to the song "Criminal," and that does have a representative quality to it overall. The album definitely works as a highlight for me, and it's something I'll be spending some more time with in the coming weeks.
Recommendation: Worth your time if you have an opening, one of the better releases of the last few weeks.
Album: Not to Disappear
Quick Description: A new album that dabbles more in a post-rock style.
Why You Should Listen: Easily the most different thing released this week.
Overall Thoughts: If you like interesting song structures and instrumentation while still being accessible, this might be for you. This was close to my album of the week because it's so interesting and unique in a sense while still feeling familiar. You'll know by the end of the opening song as to whether this is something you'll love or not, so I highly recommend giving a shot.
Recommendation: One of the best releases of the week.
Album: Aura Obelisk
Quick Description: Blog favorite back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Looking for something a little noisier than what we've highlighted this week.
Overall Thoughts: Octagrape is a band we've discussed before, and this full-length is, well, loud and long. It's art-rock at its finest, I guess, but I'll be honest and say that this, at an hour plus length, is a bit much for me. This is not easy listening and might only have a niche audience at the end of the day.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, for sure.
Also out this week:
* The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum
* Charles Lloyd & the Marvels - I Long to See You
* Megadeth - Dystopia
* Half Japanese - Perfect
* Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
* Tortoise - The Catastrophist
* The Temperance Movement - White Bear