Tuesday, May 31, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for May 27

So much good music this week, guys. Another two-parter for your earholes.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Leyla McCalla
Album: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
Quick Description: Second album of folk songs from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Leyla McCalla has a distinct sound you won't hear anywhere else, and the care she puts into her compositions is unlike anyone else.
Overall Thoughts: Man, I didn't know this was coming until Ken sent it over, and it's as good as I would have expected. Her first album, Vari-Colored Songs, was inspired by the words of Langston Hughes, and this album is more inspired by her heritage. It creates a soundscape that I can't place anywhere else, and that I truly and invariably love from start to finish. The minute it was over, I wanted to just fire it up again, and the trajectory she is on just makes me wonder what could come next. As a history nerd, as a music nerd, what McCalla is doing is worthy of notice on its own, never mind with the wrinkles woven throughout.
Recommendation: Simply a must listen.

Artist: Mark Kozelek
Album: Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites
Quick Description: An album of covers by the Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Kozelek's work.
Overall Thoughts: At this point, Kozelek is becoming a bit of a divisive figure in his corner of the music community, starting needless fights and being his own version of curmudgeon. I'm typically one to try and separate the man from the art whenever possible, and Kozelek's art here remains the same here as it ever was. It's Kozelek doing songs you probably know in his distinct style, and your enjoyment of this will likely be tied to that perception. If Mark Kozelek doing "Float On" is something you want to hear, you have it. For the rest of us...
Recommendation: A fans only-affair.

Artist: Belbury Poly
Album: New Ways Out
Quick Description: British electronic act with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: It's some really intereting, different-sounding electronic stuff.
Overall Thoughts: Belbury Poly is a group/project very new to me. A friend is into vaporwave and was raving about the album, so I looked it up and found a whole lot to enjoy here. While plenty of traditional instruments exist throughout, this is really more of an electronic project that feels like it's from a different era. "Old Ways In" was my entrypoint, and it might be yours as well. I know I'll be exploring their back catalog, but if you're looking for classic-sounding (as opposed to retro or dated) electronic music, you're at the right spot.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, especially if this is a genre of interest.

Artist: Fujiya and Miyagi
Album: EP1
Quick Description: First of three EPs from the indie electro-rockers.
Why You Should Listen: It's a return to form of sorts.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan of theirs since "Collarbone," so to here songs that remind me of their start is pretty great. We should see a few more EPs from them in the coming months, but if they're anywhere as good as this is, we should be in good shape.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Holy Fuck
Album: Congrats
Quick Description: first album in a long time from the somewhat-electropunk act.
Why You Should Listen: Put their name aside and enjoy some wild, schizophrenic stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I have trouble describing this band to people. No one wants to take them seriously due to their name, their music is both inaccessible to a mainstream audience but still fits right in with a lot of the dance-punk stylings we hear, and they've not been around for a while so this ends up being a welcome change from some of the current stuff. I implore you to give this a listen, as it's as good as their preceding albums and is really different than anything else discussed here recently.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone, but I really liked this.

Artist: The Monkees
Album: Good Times
Quick Description: The Monkees do a comeback(?) album!
Why You Should Listen: Your enjoyment of this will be directly related to your level of nostalgia.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, listen. This isn't bad, it's just unnecessary. Clearly, Rhino has identified a constituency that is seeking out new music from The Monkees, but I am not part of that constituency. There's some interesting stuff here (and as it's produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, that's to be expected), to be certain, but in terms of essential music for this week, there's plenty of other music out there for you.
Recommendation: Only if you really, really need to hear this.

Artist: Kristin Kontrol
Album: X-Communicate
Quick Description: Solo effort from the Dum Dum Girls lead.
Why You Should Listen: Fan of the Dum Dum Girls or not, this will surprise you in all the right ways.
Overall Thoughts: I'm absolutely a fan of DDG, so when Ken sent this one over it was one of the first I wanted to hear. While DDG is big on reverb-laden 1980s fuzzy rock, this is a synthpop album true and true. It feels like it was pinched right from 1986 and thrown into this week's releases, and that sort of sincerity and attempt at authenticity goes a long way for me. If you're looking for the harder stuff, you won't find it here, but if the idea of a modern synth album from a great songwriter appeals, this is one of the better releases this week.
Recommendation: A great listen overall.

Artist: Megafauna
Album: Welcome Home
Quick Description: Some good, straightforward rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a lot more traditional.
Overall Thoughts: Some might call this closer to metal/hard rock, but I think that pigeonholes Welcome Home in the wrong way. Their third album, this album has shades of all sorts of modern rock and roll, and it's done fairly well overall. While I can't say there are necessarily standout tracks to be had here, there might be stuff here for those looking for the more standard rock thing will get something out of this.
Recommendation: A good album, but not for everyone.

Also out this week:

* 50 Foot Wave - Bath White

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