Wednesday, August 24, 2016

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for August 19

Here's the rest for this week!

Artist: Lydia Loveless
Album: Real
Quick Description: Fourth album from a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Lydia Loveless is a must listen around these parts.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be the one to say it - this doesn't do much for me. Both Ken and I loved her last album, Somewhere Else, but for me, this is a continuing trend against a more polished and less rootsy sound that isn't what I'm looking for from Loveless (or, really, anyone else). It's shocking in its sterility, especially from an artist who wasn't afraid to push the envelope content-wise. I asked Ken what he thought, and it sounds like he likes it more than I but isn't fond of the pop skew either, so it's a definite "meh" from these parts. Too bad, too.
Recommendation: Not essential, but might be in your wheelhouse.

Artist: The Minus Five
Album: Of Monkees and Men
Quick Description: Scott McCaughey's love letter to the original boy band.
Why You Should Listen: You have an affinity for either The Minus Five or The Monkees.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say I have much of a love for The Monkees outside of watching reruns of the show on TV as a kid, but I'll give anything Minus Five a shot. When they try to ape The Monkees directly, the album is pretty great. The more experimental tributes (such as the 10 minute long song about Michael Nesmith) don't always hit right, though, and this results in an uneven adventure on a whole. I won't say "don't bother" with this on any part, but this needs to be taken in the context intended.
Recommendation: Might be a fans-only affair.

Artist: Ages and Ages
Album: Something to Ruin
Quick Description: Electronic-tinged indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is some nice, polished indie music.
Overall Thoughts: I first learned of Ages and Ages from a solid Christmas album that came out a few years back. This album is solid, but doesn't do anything especially new or different. It might be too indie for mainstream audiences, and too polished for indie ones, but this hits a weird sweet spot for me nonetheless. You'll know what you'll think within the first few tracks, but if you love solid harmonies you should bump this up your list.
Recommendation: Might not be for everyone, but worth a listen.

Artist: Ed Harcourt
Album: Furnaces
Quick Description: Latest from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Ed Harcourt has seemingly been around forever and is a consistently solid songwriter.
Overall Thoughts: This was pretty close to being my album of the week. The songwriting is just so solid and everything so tight that it's hard not to love what is going on in Furnaces. I can't say enough good things, so just listen to it. If "Loup Garou" doesn't grab you, I don't know what else to say to you.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Slow Club
Album: One Day All of This Won't Matter Any More
Quick Description: Fourth album from the British rock duo.
Why You Should Listen: A softer affair where the band's name matches the sound, this is just a great listen.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say Slow Club has ever truly grabbed me, but this album might be the one to do the trick. A deliberate affair with a lot of strong songwriting and instrumentation, I think I fell for this almost immediately. While songs like "In Waves" stand out immediately, this is almost a grower in its presentation, so give it a shot.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Artist: Big Eyes
Album: Stake My Claim
Quick Description: Melodically abrasive punk rock.
Why You Should Listen: It's the loudest entry this week, and a short quick hit at that.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if this is outright punk, but I'll just run with it. It's loud, it's right up in your face, and it's a very enjoyable and fast romp. Songs like the title track and "When You Were 25" set a great melodic tone, and it's just a solid album from top to bottom.
Recommendation: A good listen this week.

Artist: Lutheran Heat
Album: Louder From the Other Side
Quick Description: More punkish stuff for this week.
Why You Should Listen: More traditionally punk, a little more on the abrasive side.
Overall Thoughts: Lutheran Heat is definitely doing something right, but the biggest problem they might be facing is setting themselves apart. Especially in a week where we have an album from Big Eyes, Lutheran Heat ultimately suffers from not allowing itself to stand apart. It's a good listen, but in a crowded week...
Recommendation: A good listen, but not a priority.

Artist: Lisa Hannigan
Album: At Swim
Quick Description: Third album from the former Damien Rice collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: This is her best solo work to date.
Overall Thoughts: I'm hoping that this is the album that unties Hannigan from Rice for good, because I haven't loved her solo work up to this point but this album just absolutely nails it. The positives from this album are the ways that Hannigan flirts with different genres (a more traditional singer-songwriter song in "Funeral Suit" is in the same album as a more experimental piece like "Barton"), and there's a melancholy feel to this album that brings it all full circle. If Thalia Zedek was #1 this week, and Ed Harcourt was 1A, this might be 1B. Just a superior album in a lot of ways.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Also out this week:

* Crystal Castles - Amnesty (I) (weird electronic sounds)

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