Tuesday, March 8, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for March 4

Another crazy busy week, so another two parter for you all.

Co-Album of the Week:

Artist: Nada Surf
Album: You Know Who You Are
Quick Description: Latest album from the veteran rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Nada Surf has been perpetually underrated for decades now.
Overall Thoughts: You might still only know them via "Popular," which is fine. The issue with that is you've missed out on a ton of great music, including their really amazing album from about a decade ago, The Weight is a Gift. This album? It's absolutely their best since then, maybe even better musically, and just one of the most solid recent listens in a while. In an era where power pop isn't really getting its due, it's interesting to listen to this and really hear a band that's basically mastered what they do. From top to bottom, this is a superlative album and I can't wait to spend more time with it. It's so good, guys. So good.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: The Coral
Album: Distance Inbetween
Quick Description: Latest album by the enigmatic British indie rock group.
Why You Should Listen: The Coral is a different band than what they once were, but they still do interesting stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if you'd call their early work indie sea shanties, but there definitely felt like a nautical attitude to their early album, which included "Skeleton Key" and the amazing "Dreaming of You." Their more recent output, latest album included, only has brief flashes of what made me fall in love with the band to start, but is still an interesting listen. I feel like this is too easy to overlook in a busy week, though, and there's nothing that dives out at me to outright recommend it as a listen as a result. I still hope this band comes back to doing something amazing someday, though.
Recommendation: Not worth your time this week.

Artist: The Violent Femmes
Album: We Can Do Anything
Quick Description: First album in 15 years by beloved rock act.
Why You Should Listen: You're a huge, huge Violent Femmes fan. Like, huge.
Overall Thoughts: This might be the worst thing I've heard in a long time, and that's no lie. This might be a fans-only affair, as it's not-funny funny and it feels old and dated. Nothing redeeming I could find in it means that we should just move along.
Recommendation: A terrible, unfortunate incident.

Artist: The Struts
Album: Everyone Wants The Struts
Quick Description: Straightforward British rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You like your rock with a lot of polish and swagger.
Overall Thoughts: I mentioned their EP at some point last year, and the full album is out now and it's also pretty solid. It's straightforward, radio-friendly rock music that I kind of hate that I liked as much as I did. This isn't going to blow your mind, but think about if The Darkness was a serious act, or if The Strokes were just starting out now, and this might be what you're looking for.
Recommendation: I hate to love this, but I love this.

Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Mittens
Quick Description: A quick hit of Frank Turner for your ear-holes.
Why You Should Listen: It's Frank Turner.
Overall Thoughts: We love Frank Turner here, and that's why I'm highlighting what's basically an EP/maxi-single featuring a radio-ready mix of "Mittens" with some other songs. It's better than what it sounds like it is, to be honest, and might be the type of thing to send your friends who aren't quite on the Frank Turner bandwagon yet.
Recommendation: A fun listen, quick and easy.

Artist: Sean Lennon
Album: Ava's Possessions
Quick Description: A film score/soundtrack effort.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Sean Lennon or of film scores in general.
Overall Thoughts: Far from a traditional album, this definitely fits the mold of film scores, for certain. It has moments, but, overall, there's not much here for anyone but the biggest Sean Lennon fans or film fans in general.
Recommendation: Not recommended on a whole.

Artist: Loretta Lynn
Album: Full Circle
Quick Description: New album from the country music legend.
Why You Should Listen: Loretta Lynn should be an automatic.
Overall Thoughts: This is not as raw and rugged as Van Lear Rose, her effort with Jack White nearly a decade ago, but it is a pretty solid legacy album by one of country's greatest. It's not changing the world by any stretch, but this is an album that's worth hearing from a voice that we may not get to hear again. I love me some Loretta Lynn, so give this a listen.
Recommendation: A quality album overall.

Artist: La Sera
Album: Music for Listening to Music To
Quick Description: Ryan Adams-produced fourth album from the ex-Vivian Girls project.
Why You Should Listen: La Sera and Ryan Adams are both usually great...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this did not benefit from the collaboration. Gone is the forceful immediacy that leads way to a more Adams-esque quiet, tentative styling that might work if La Sera had not established itself as something else up to this point. I hate the wasted potential on what is possibly a solid album, and I need to spend more time with it, but, in a week with so much good music, being just okay isn't enough. A rare misstep from all parties.
Recommendation: Might be worth a listen, but it's far from mandatory.

Also out this week:

* Ninja Sex Party - Under the Covers (a really, really faithful cover album)
* Kendrick Lamar - Untitled/Unmastered (Track 8 is gold, but Kendrick isn't really for me)
* Robert Pollard - Of Course You Are (Consistently Robert Pollard throughout)
* Big Ups - Before a Million Universes

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