Album: When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired
Quick Description: Haunting independent rock.
Why You Should Listen: An album that is just going to stick with you from the start and make you wonder when you can listen again.
Overall Thoughts: With so much good music this week, it's hard to point to just one thing that stands out, but we have two. Ken said this is already an album of the year candidate for him, and he's not wrong in the assessment. This album demanded my attention almost immediately, and it's the perfect mix of accessible and complicated that I tend to look for in my indie rock these days. I can't say enough about this album, so just listen to it already.
Recommendation: One of the best releases of the year.
Artist: School of Seven Bells
Quick Description: Final album by the popular indie duo.
Why You Should Listen: They are one of the better bands out there taken from us too soon.
Overall Thoughts: One half of this duo passed away from lymphoma a few years ago and this is the final piece from their collaboration. It's a beautiful album, as all School of Seven Bells albums are, but there is the sense of longing and loss to go along with the beauty. Much like the final Brown Bird release, it's difficult to hear this without the context of the loss, but this was very close to being one of the top albums of the week as well, so this also deserves your time.
Recommendation: A gorgeous finale and a high recommendation.
Album: Anvil is Anvil
Quick Description: Latest album from the Canadian metal act.
Why You Should Listen: It's Anvil.
Overall Thoughts: If you don't know Anvil, stop reading this and find the documentary about them, which is a perfect blend of This is Spinal Tap meets Some Kind of Monster. Then, come back to this album and wonder how a band like this even exists. They are what they are, and I find this to be a fun album that I don't think I need to listen to again.
Recommendation: Worth a listen because it's Anvil. Beyond that...
Artist: Charli XCX
Album: Vroom Vroom
Quick Description: Experimental EP from the pop songwriter/producer.
Why You Should Listen: Charli XCX is one of the most important pop artists out there right now...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this feels like a miss. It's an experiment in some of the more underground electronic stuff, and this feels very raw and hard. I'm not a fan, but this is more my personal taste for her than anything else. Those who are more in tune with the cutting-edge electronic music of the moment might find more to like here, but if you're looking for another "Boom Clap," look elsewhere.
Recommendation: Not recommended, but might be your thing.
Artist: Lily & Madeleine
Album: Keep It Together
Quick Description: Third album in as many years by the indie folk duo.
Why You Should Listen: Everything they do is beautiful, beautiful gold.
Overall Thoughts: This album feels more like a pop singer-songwriter turn, so the polish on this is a little brighter, but we still get the same high-quality harmonies and songwriting we've come to expect from this extremely prolific duo. While nothing jumps out at me on first listen like other albums have, this is still just too pretty to pass up.
Recommendation: A gorgeous album that should find some room on your list.
Album: 99 Cents
Quick Description: Latest album by the pop songstress.
Why You Should Listen: Looking for more accessible pop this week.
Overall Thoughts: Santigold is maybe best known for her modest hit "L.E.S. Artistes," and this album is... well, it's different. It's not weird like Grimes, it's not cutting edge like Charli XCX, it just exists in this weird blend that fits in everywhere and nowhere. I need more time with it, for sure, but this one is a strange one without a place in a very busy new release week.
Recommendation: For pop fans only, and even then...
Artist: Bonnie Raitt
Album: Dig In Deep
Quick Description: Latest album by the legendary guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: Bonnie Raitt, 'nuff said.
Overall Thoughts: Bonnie Raitt is 66 and she's still got it. That's pretty much all you need to know about this album that rocks a little harder than you'd expect, has a fun cover of INXS's "Need You Tonight," and is just a good listen overall. This won't blow your socks off, but in terms of a quality album that's out there in a solid way, this is worth a listen.
Recommendation: A solid release this week.
Artist: Sarah Neufeld
Album: The Ridge
Quick Description: Second album from the Arcade Fire violinist.
Why You Should Listen: This isn't your typical violin album.
Overall Thoughts: Just by virtue of being in Arcade Fire alone, you should know that this is going to be a strange album. It's not an easy listen, but it's by far the most different one of the week and one I definitely enjoyed more as a curiosity than a true musical achievement. On a whole, it's not like anything else out lately, and that's a plus but also a warning.
Recommendation: A good listen, but might not be for everyone.
Artist: The Haymarket Squares
Album: Light It Up
Quick Description: Bluegrass...punk?
Why You Should Listen: If you wish your bluegrass was more political with a dose of, say, Gogol Bordello?
Overall Thoughts: This is a strange album. I don't mind political music, and this is very on the nose, but I'm not sure what it is about it that doesn't quite work. This is one of those albums that has an interesting perspective and might be better musically as things progress, but talk about a strange one overall. Still, those who like humorous political takes in their music might find more to like here than I did, so just know that it might more be me than you.
Recommendation: Some caveats, but might be your speed.
Also out this week, part one:
* Willie Nelson - Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin (does what it says on the tin)
* The 1975 - I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it