Tuesday, April 26, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for April 22

A surprisingly slow week considering how busy the recent weeks have been.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Jason Wilber
Album: Echoes
Quick Description: Some solid singer-songwriter tunes.
Why You Should Listen: Jason Wilber has a sound that's a little unexpectedly unique.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know when this album hooked me for good, but I will say that a good cover tacked on at the end will leave a great impression overall. If you start with his take on "I Am the Cosmos" and go back from there, you might get a better understanding of Wilber's sound and approach. This is a pretty great album on a whole, and is the only thing that sounds like this that I heard this week.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth your time.

Artist: The Legendary Pink Dots
Album: Pages of Aquarius
Quick Description: Latest album by the long-standing rock band.
Why You Should Listen: They've been around for over 35 years, so they're probably worth a listen on their own...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this one is perhaps a little more weird/off than their typical offerings. This is not to say that LPD is not experimental on their own, but there's just something that doesn't quite work with this album even if I can't put my finger on it. While big fans might find a lot to offer here, I don't see myself coming back to it.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, but might be for fans only.

Artist: Guided by Voices
Album: Please Be Honest
Quick Description: Reunion(?) album from the indie rock legends.
Why You Should Listen: If you like indie rock, you're listening to Guided By Voices.
Overall Thoughts: That was a quick hiatus. GBV's 174th album is ultimately more of the same power-poppy, hook-heavy affair that we come to expect from the band/Robert Pollard. In a sense, there's not a ton to say about this as the story is less about the album and more about the band's reunion.
Recommendation: If you like GBV, you'll like this. Otherwise, there are a number of albums to start with before this one for this band.

Artist: A$AP Ferg
Album: Live Long and Prosper
Quick Description: Possible breakthrough album from one of the A$AP Mob members.
Why You Should Listen: Always an interesting listen, this is going to be one of those underrated/undernoticed rap albums of the year.
Overall Thoughts: The first thing you notice when this album comes up is the guests Ferg gets on this album from all walks. Old school rap artists, dubstep DJs, it runs the gamut. What Ferg has done with this album, though, is kind of special in that it's a pretty strong artistic leap with both a lot of chances being taken and a lot of successful risks as well. Like with A$AP Rocky, the track with Skrillex is the standout, but this whole album is really worth your time. In a year where a lot of the rap/hip-hop/R&B music discussion is being dominated by Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar, and now Beyonce, this is not an album that should get overlooked.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, and the best rap album in a while.

Artist: Lush
Album: Blind Spot
Quick Description: First release in 20 years from the shoegaze favorites.
Why You Should Listen: That this exists at all is a big deal in and of itself.
Overall Thoughts: At four songs, it's a little short, but it's a nice release nonetheless from a band I know people are excited to hear from. It's not breaking any new ground, but that's okay! I just hope we see more from them before long. As someone who has an affinity, although not love, for shoegaze stuff, this is still a pretty solid release.
Recommendation: Find time for this one.

Artist: California
Album: California
Quick Description: Some pop punk from members of Green Day, Jawbreaker, etc.
Why You Should Listen: It's a curiosity if anything.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, it's a perfectly viable pop/punkish record, not really a vanity project, but my overall feeling was that I really couldn't get into this, and it felt kind of unnecessary. If you're fans of the artists, you might get something out of it.
Recommendation: Perfectly serviceable, but not mandatory.

Artist: Plastic Flowers
Album: Heavenly
Quick Description: Lovely retro-tinged dream pop.
Why You Should Listen: If you wish your music had more 80s-style reverb...
Overall Thoughts: ...this is your album. It's a solid listen, I liked a lot of it, but it definitely wears its influences on its sleeve, and that might be a turnoff to some. For me, I absolutely loved the album and I can't wait to spend more time with it. Pairs well with the Lush EP.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, especially this week.

Artist: Paper Tiger
Album: In Other Words, Pt. 1
Quick Description: An instrumental-ish soundscape project from a member of Doomtree.
Why You Should Listen: Doomtree is awesome, and so is this.
Overall Thoughts: At four tracks, it's really a quick hit, but it's a lot of really great instrumental stuff that hits right where I was looking. It's a solid listen if you're into this sort of electronic instrumental stuff, and it doesn't have a real hip hop vibe to it if that's a turnoff. You'll know in the first few moments if this is your thing, but I thought it was really well-done.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Also out this week:

* Nicolas Godin - Contrepoint (member of Air does super experimental stuff)

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