Tuesday, February 2, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for January 29

One of the sites I use to find out new releases said this was a slow week. Not from my perspective.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Miranda Lee Richards
Album: Echoes of the Dreamtime
Quick Description: Roots-tinged album from a Brian Jonestown Massacre collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: It's the most gorgeous album of the week, and nothing else comes close.
Overall Thoughts: I hadn't known the name until I saw it turn up with BJM in the releases this week, and wow is this an awesome album. I was intrigued through the first song, but "Tokyo's Dancing" is that perfect mix of sort of indie-folk accessibility that I tend to be drawn to. While the album feels a little longer than it needs to simply because of the lengths of the songs, it doesn't take away from how great this is for a listen.
Recommendation: Best of the week, absolutely needs to be part of this week's rotation.

Artist: Sierra Hull
Album: Weighted MindM
Quick Description: Latest entry from the bluegrass virtuoso.
Why You Should Listen: You want more Chris Thile in your life but can't get it.
Overall Thoughts: For as much as we talk aobut Chris Thile's mandolin playing, holy crap is Sierra Hull good. Come for the great mandolin playing, stay for some better songwriting than we've gotten from her so far. She's only 24, and if we're starting to see it all come together now... Honestly, this was close to being album of the week, and could realistically be co-album, it's that good.
Recommendation: Highly recommended. Modern bluegrass at its finest.

Artist: St. Lucia
Album: Matter
Quick Description: Sophomore album from the throwback band.
Why You Should Listen: You liked the first album and also like Duran Duran.
Overall Thoughts: If St. Lucia's first album was a Peter Gabriel-esque throwback, the first impression I get from this is a Duran Duran vibe. The pseduo-African vibe is diminished a bit for a more American mainstream vibe, and, while it works, it stops being the revelation In the Night was. Good album, but not great.
Recommendation: Not a must listen, but still worth a shot.

Artist: Wet
Album: Don't You
Quick Description: Anticipated debut album from Boston band.
Why You Should Listen: The buzz alone makes it worth the time, but it's still an interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: Wet does the sort of slow, downbeat, synth-heavy stuff that's been all the rage lately, but they seem to do it a little better than what I've heard in the last year or so. For me, once I got to "Weak" I knew this album was for me, but this might just be a little too slow and deliberate for some.
Recommendation: Recommended if you're into it.

Artist: Nevermen
Album: Nevermen
Quick Description: Project featuring Mike Patton and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio.
Why You Should Listen: Anything Mike Patton does deserves a listen...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this wasn't very good. It reminds me of a weird indie-rap thing that would never get traction if it didn't have well-known/well-respected names attached to it. Mike Patton's output can be hit-or-miss, and this was a miss for me where it might be a hit for superfans.
Recommendation: Be wary, but this might be review-proof anyway.

Artist: Bloc Party
Album: Hymns
Quick Description: Latest album from the well-regarded indie rock band.
Why You Should Listen: I'm not sure this is true that you should listen.
Overall Thoughts: Bloc Party was awesome for a time, but the movement into dance and electronics has really taken away from what their appeal is. Ken found this to be very boring, and while I liked it more than him, the simple fact remains that too many other bands are doing it better. Nothing jumps out from this album, and I can't really recommend it at all.
Recommendation: In a busy week, this is easy to skip.

Artist: Sia
Album: This is Acting
Quick Description: Latest album by pop singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: If you like pop music, you like a Sia song whether you know you do or not.
Overall Thoughts: Put out there as an album of songs rejected by other artists like Rihanna and Adele, this album's enjoyment will come from how much you like what Sia produces. As someone who has come to enjoy a lot of pop music, I can't say Sia is someone I adore, so this fell flat in many regards for me, but there are highlights and portions to like on a whole.
Recommendation: Be wary, but this might be worth your time.

Artist: Benji Hughes
Album: Songs in the Key of Animals
Quick Description: Somewhat incomprehensible album by a songwriter involved in many projects.
Why You Should Listen: Man, I don't know.
Overall Thoughts: This is the weirdest one of the week. And I like weird, but I struggled a lot with this one. There's some good songwriting here that's paired off with strange intros and an aesthetic that didn't hit for me, so this is a pass.
Recommendation: Only as a curiosity unless you have a reason to listen otherwise.

Artist: Anya Marina
Album: Paper Plane
Quick Description: Latest album from the independent singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Anya Marina has a unique voice and is always good for a few great songs.
Overall Thoughts: This was a pretty anticipated album for me, having fallen in love with 2011's Felony Flats as well as her 2009 song "Vertigo," so I went in with high expectations. They're widely met, to be fair, but this does seem like a step back from Felony Flats as opposed to the sort of hope I had for a mainstream breakout. Still, with some gems on here and the potential to be a grower, I'm glad this is out there and I look forward to spending some time with it.
Recommendation: Not a top listen for the week, but worth some time.

Artist: Walter Martin
Album: Arts and Leisure
Quick Description: Solo album from a former member of The Walkmen.
Why You Should Listen: In some circles, The Walkmen association alone puts this on the radar.
Overall Thoughts: For me? I wasn't ever a huge Walkmen guy even though they did some interesting stuff with indie rock. Thus, how straightforward this album ends up being is almost a shock to the system in and of itself. Nothing dives out at me as especially compelling, and, even in a slower week, I find it difficult to care.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Aubrie Sellers
Album: New City Blues
Quick Description: "Post-country" stuff that readers here might love.
Why You Should Listen: It's a modern country album that stands on its own.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this a lot before learning of the pedigree Sellers comes from, as her father is a renowned country songwriter and her mother Lee Ann Womack. I can quibble with how polished it feels compared to the aesthetic she's attempting to hit, but that's more nitpicking on what's a great, rootsy album that I hope gets more attention as the year progresses.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen this week.

Artist: MONEY
Album: Suicide Songs
Quick Description: Second album from the British act.
Why You Should Listen: You're feeling a little despondent.
Overall Thoughts: This is a bit of a heavy listen, and I think I expected something a little different than the darkness within. It's for sure a downer, the title isn't sarcastic, but it does have plenty of value as well. In a busy week, the heavier, darker material might not do it for you, but if you're looking for something completely different than this week's offerings, it's worth a shot.
Recommendation: Caveat-filled maybe.

Also out this week:

* Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By
* Massive Attack - Ritual Spirit

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