Tuesday, June 7, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for June 3

Another really busy release week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Ladyhawke
Album: Wild Things
Quick Description: Tight, well-crafted indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Ladyhawke's first two albums are interesting and great, so this was a must listen anyway.
Overall Thoughts: I'm a new convert to Ladyhake, who does a type of indie rock I really love. There's a little bit of fuzz on the edges, the melodies addictive, the whole nine yards. While Wild Things is perhaps a little more polished than it needs to be (especially compared to her earlier albums), this is an incredibly solid release with a lot going for it. As with many albums, you'll know if it's for you within the first few moments, but this is really a highlight of the week.
Recommendation: Best album of the week for sure.

Artist: The Claypool Lennon Delirium
Album: Monolith of Phobos
Quick Description: Collaboration between Les Claypool (Primus) and Sean Lennon.
Why You Should Listen: Good or bad, you know this is a collaboration worth trying.
Overall Thoughts: I know a lot of people are really into Primus. I also know Sean Lennon has taken his time to pursue whatever he wants musically, to his credit. This collaboration is strange, but the overall result is an interesting, psych-rock-ish journey that is, on a whole, fairly interesting. A lot of your enjoyment of this might be based on your patience for what's happening (and the Claypool influences are pretty obvious throughout), but I didn't go into this expecting a ton and ended up really enjoying this.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen even if it's not for everyone.

Artist: The Casket Girls
Album: The Night Machines
Quick Description: Latest album from the dark alt-poppers.
Why You Should Listen: The Casket Girls are great, and there is some really catchy stuff here.
Overall Thoughts: We're big fans of The Casket Girls here (and, really, a lot of the Graveface catalog), so this new release was high up on my list this week. While not quite to the levels of True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, holy crap is this still great. The same sort of dark, gloomy sound offset by the brighter melodies along the way is here throughout, and one of my favorite songs of the last few months is "Tears of a Clown," so absolutely check this out.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Speedy Ortiz
Album: Foiled Again
Quick Description: Quick EP of odds and sods from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Even if you're not a huge fan, the remix of "Puffer" is awesome.
Overall Thoughts: Highlighting this quickly only because of how much we love our locals, Speedy Ortiz. EPs with remixes and such can often be a bit much, but this one in particular is mandatory for the Lizzo-featuring "Puffer" remix. Don't miss out on it.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Joseph Arthur
Album: The Family
Quick Description: Latest from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You've previously enjoyed Arthur's instrumentation and songwriting capabilities.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if The Family is a concept album or not. If it is, I can see where he was going with it even if I didn't like it, but, otherwise, this really doesn't work. Arthur, best known for the essential "In the Sun," has a style that lends itself to a meandering result from time to time. I've seen him live and it was interesting to watch even if it didn't always work from an aural standpoint. Still, this is a little forgettable, which is a shame since I've been looking for a real breakthrough from him for well over a decade now. Unfortunately, this just isn't it. It's simply too plodding and dull on first listen to want to go back.
Recommendation: In a busy week, I can't recommend this one.

Artist: Minor Victories
Album: Minor Victories
Quick Description: Darkish project featuring members of Editors, Mogwai, and Slowdive.
Why You Should Listen: This is an interesting album even if it's not perfect.
Overall Thoughts: On first blush, the influences of Editors and Mogwai in particular are front and center. I don't know Slowdive, so I can't speak to those impacts, but the result of Minor Victories is a more deliberate affair that resonates with the sounds we come to know from the acts involved while also forging its own path. In a way, there's not a lot like it, but it still feels strangely familiar.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: The Strokes
Album: Future Present Past
Quick Description: The Strokes offering an EP that's supposedly a return to form?
Why You Should Listen: The Strokes used to be the saviors of rock, isn't that enough?
Overall Thoughts: I heard about this ahead of time and a lot of people were praising it as what the band was 15 years ago. I mean, in that there's heavy distortion on the vocals again, sure, it's reminiscent of their early EP and This Is It, but honestly? The songs are just okay (which is pretty much part for the course for the band for a decade running now) and the release schedule on this feels like a way to manufacture attention as opposed to letting the music speak for itself. I won't fault any band for trying to get attention however they can in the current era of streaming and unlimited choices, but I don't need to approve of what ends up being a mediocre result, either.
Recommendation: Skip this, there's much better out this week.

Artist: Xenia Rubinos
Album: Black Terry Cat
Quick Description: Modern, interesting, genre-hopping R&B(?)
Why You Should Listen: It's definitely the most ambitious release of the week.
Overall Thoughts: I had a lot of trouble putting my finger on Black Terry Cat. On one hand, it fits in really well with a lot of the current ideas behind a lot of the forward-thinking R&B that's out there, but I'm not sure we can truly call Rubinos an R&B artist at this point (and I say this with zero familiarity of her back catalog). There are absolutely people better equipped to explain this one than I am, but from a pure musical standpoint, Rubinos does a lot of interesting things with her songwriting and it's worth taking a listen if you're looking to be a little adventurous this week.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone this week, but a solid listen.

Also out this week:

* Saqqara Mastabas - Libras

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