Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for October 21

A lot of new releases this week, so we're off to the races! I can't decide on an album of the week because there are SO many different albums out this week and they all fit a different niche.

As I started a new job and haven't quite figured out the whole "balance writing about the new releases" thing, I'll give some highlights this week. Hoping to stay on a better schedule soon!

Albums I Liked a Lot!:

Artist: The Dean Ween Group
Album: The Deaner Album
Quick Description: Dean Ween has a new project...
Why You Should Listen: ...and it's a lot like Ween.
Overall Thoughts: Ween is admittedly an acquired taste. I get that they're not for everyone, but man, when they're on? They're on. In 2016, when I'm on the wrong side of 35? It's not amusing the same way "The AIDS Song" made me giggle in my early 20s, but something needs to be said about the fun juvenile songs that are peppered throughout this record. I spent a good amount of time with a smile on my face while listening to this, and I suppose there's something to be said about that. Yeah, it's not going to win a Grammy or be on many year-end lists, but sometimes stupid fun has its value.
Recommendation: Only for fans of Ween, really.

Artist: Kero Kero Bonito
Album: Bonito Generation
Quick Description: J-Pop meets electro-rap?
Why You Should Listen: The only reason to not listen to this is because you hate fun. And you don't want to be the guy who hates fun, right?
Overall Thoughts: This is a second, more polished album by the British trio, and it's just a lot of joy in one little album. "Graduation" is great if you're not sure what to expect, but the result here is just an album that's just a lot of fun. There's not much else to say about it. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I dare you to listen to this and not be smiling most of the way through.
Recommendation: A fun listen that's not for everyone.

Artist: Joan as Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis
Album: Let It Be You
Quick Description: Acclaimed indie artist does an interesting collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: Joan as Police Woman is always an interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: This sounds like a Joan as Police Woman album, but somehow doesn't (probably due to Davis, who I have no knowledge of). The album itself is typically manic and strange, but also has its accessible qualities, which I guess I could say about most of her work. So what am I saying? I don't even know, except that this is worth the listen.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Letters to Cleo
Album: Back to Nebraska
Quick Description: Reunion EP of new material from the local favorites.
Why You Should Listen: You're an aging hipster like the rest of us here.
Overall Thoughts: We'd be lax if we didn't talk about this, right? There are some reunions that work and some that don't, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear how well this worked. Ken is a much bigger fan of the band than I am, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear Letters to Cleo with an updated sound while not losing what it is that makes them enjoyable. I'm hoping that this EP is the first in what might be more music from the band now, but this is both a welcome return and a great introduction to the group.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: William Hut
Album: Hafnir Games
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the singer/songwriter of Poor Rich Ones.
Why You Should Listen: This is maybe the most PRO album Hut has done solo.
Overall Thoughts: I won't say William Hut's solo efforts have been poor, because, truth be told, I might like them more than most of his work with Poor Rich Ones at this point. The more folkish elements of his work, though, are put aside for a more modern flair here, and that's not a bad thing albeit a little different. On first listen, it's quite jarring, but then you get songs like "Memorial" that make it all okay. Hut's never really caught on in America, and I don't necessarily expect this album to change that, but he really deserves more attention than he's getting here.
Recommendation: Absolutely give this a shot.

Other albums worth a listen this week:

* Weyes Blood - A Front Row Seat to Earth
* Streets of Larado - Wild
* Crocodiles - Dreamless
* American Football - American Football

These Albums Might Be Worth a Look:

Artist: Jimmy Eat World
Album: Integrity Blues
Quick Description: Alt-rock act gives a surprising new album.
Why You Should Listen: It's not going to be what you think.
Overall Thoughts: You know "The Middle," a slice of emo-tinged alt-rock from the early 2000s. Chances are you don't know anything else from them. So I was wondering what the new album would sound like, and it's a welcome surprise. Jimmy Eat World are doing some alt-rock at a very deliberate pace, and while there isn't a song on here that's going to jump out and grab you, there are songs like "It Matters" that might just stick with you anyway. Ken said he was bored by this, so your mileage may vary, but...
Recommendation: ..this scratched the right itch for me, and I recommend it.

Artist: Ohio Knife
Album: Scalp or Be Scalped
Quick Description: Good old fashioned rock and roll.
Why You Should Listen: This feels really authentic and real.
Overall Thoughts: About 30 seconds in, I was frantically googling this band to figure out who these guys were and why they sounded so familiar. But we don't know them from other bands (as far as I can tell) and their familiar brand of rock music might not be killer for everyone, but I was shocked at how much this stuck with me. I fear it might be a little too on the nose in some regards and for some listeners, but it deserves a shot.
Recommendation: I dug this, but your mileage may vary.

Also worth a glance:

* Mr Little Jeans - F E V E R S
* Ben Lee - Freedom, Love and the Recuperation of the Human Mind
* The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love
* Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
* Saint Motel - saintmotelevision

Do Yourself a Favor and Don't Bother:

Artist: Lady Gaga
Album: Joanne
Quick Description: Latest album from the pop star.
Why You Should Listen: Lady Gaga is one of the most important pop stars in the world...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this still feels like another miss. On one hand, this is absolutely better than the wildly uneven, mostly disappointing Artpop. And, really, Lady Gaga is at her best when she's being a little strange and out there, and, while I'm not clamoring for the return of the meat dress, this feels a little too tidy. And it's got awkward sexual notes, and it's... I dunno. It just doesn't work right. We know what Gaga is capable of and this feels less like the pop album we know she can crank out and more like another passion project.
Recommendation: Skip this one in a week with so many other good things.

Also out this week:

* Planes Mistaken for Stars - Prey

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