Wednesday, April 20, 2016

First Listen, Part Two: New Releases for April 15

Here's the rest from this week!

Artist: Clairy Browne
Album: Pool
Quick Description: Clairy Browne goes solo with a record that's surprisingly poppier than anticipated.
Why You Should Listen: Her work with Clairy Browne and the Rackettes is great.
Overall Thoughts: This is about as nontraditional a traditional modern pop record will get. On one hand, this feels like it could fit right on modern pop radio, but, on the other hand, this has a classic/edgier sensibility better delegated to the alt-pop space. You mix in songs like "F.U.B." and you get an album that feels both all over the place and kind of perfect. I honestly loved it, and I'm looking forward to more time with it, but if you're looking for something more straightforward, this might not be it.
Recommendation: A great listen, but clearly not for everyone.

Artist: The Coathangers
Album: Nosebleed Weekend
Quick Description: Some great power pop from a female trio.
Why You Should Listen: Listen to "Perfume." If you're not in love with it within 30 seconds, why are you here?
Overall Thoughts: Seriously, one of the highlights of this week for me was this album. There's a classic girl pop sensibility to the harmonies while still being a little rough around the edges. They're a punk trio with some history behind them, and, while I don't know their older stuff, longtime fans might be turned off by the polish here. It's not a punk album in the most basic sense, and that's okay, because it's still pretty great.
Recommendation: An album of the week contender.

Artist: Kevin Morby
Album: Singing Saw
Quick Description: A country/folk record with a singing saw. Really.
Why You Should Listen: Morby is an established singer-songwriter with an interesting take.
Overall Thoughts: Kevin Morby has been in a few bands I'm not familiar with, and this album sounds a lot like a 1970s folk album at times, but with some modern flairs. Plus, a singing saw, which is not something I've heard in modern music in about a decade, and certainly not seriously. This album, while a pleasant listen, doesn't do a lot to set itself apart in a busy week, but those who haven't found anything in this space worth hearing this week should try it.
Recommendation: It's good, but not worthy of being at the top of your listening pile.

Artist: East of Venus
Album: Memory Box
Quick Description: Indie "supergroup" combines powers to offer a great classic alt-rock record.
Why You Should Listen: Four established musicians bringing their influences to the table is always worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: At some points this sounds like Dire Straits, at others R.E.M., and that alone makes Memory Box worth some of your time. It's expertly crafted, and the result is an album that hit more than a few nostalgia buttons along the way. Really, if you've enjoyed any sort of rock music over the last 30 years, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen because it's going to really remind you of some great music and walk away with a few great songs along the way.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: Eskimeaux
Album: Year of the Rabbit
Quick Description: A quick-shot EP from an indie pop band.
Why You Should Listen: We didn't talk about it much last year, but O.K. was a solid album and this also has some great highlights.
Overall Thoughts: The only downside to this release is that it's only six songs. A quiet affair in many regards, songs like "WTF" and "Drunk" jump out as highlights immediately and make me want to go back to their old stuff. In a crowded week, this is worth finding some time for.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Hallelujah the Hills
Album: A Band is Something to Figure Out
Quick Description: Latest album from the Boston-based indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Hallelujah the Hills is quickly becoming a favorite at this blog, and this album is more of the quality stuff we're enjoying.
Overall Thoughts: A solid band with some interesting songs and clearly a lot of work being put into what they're doing, the new album shows a continuing amount of polish from a band that's doing some great things and aren't getting enough credit for it. I'd love for this to be their deserved breakthrough, and this should absolutely grab you from the first few notes.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a listen this week.

Artist: Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop
Album: Love Letter for Fire
Quick Description: The man behind Iron and Wine teams with another singer-songwriter for a great folk album.
Why You Should Listen: Both of these artists have solid reputations, and this team-up is high quality.
Overall Thoughts: At first blush, this feels more like an Iron and Wine album, but, as it progresses, we get the feeling of how this is truly a collaborative effort. I've been a fan of Jesca Hoop for some time, and this ends up being something that has a lot of emotional weight to it as well as having the kind of quiet musicality that Sam Beam does so well. This isn't something to be missed, so check it out.
Recommendation: Another solid listen this week.

Also out this week:

* Sunns - Hold Still

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