Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for October 14

An interesting release week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Kingsley Flood
Album: Another Other
Quick Description: New album from the local favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Kingsley Flood has near-mastered the indie rock landscape...
Overall Thoughts: ...and if there's any justice, this will be their breakthrough. The band has a collection of songs, some of which we've heard on other EPs, that just flow together really well and show some consistent songwriting chops and, perhaps more importantly, a more robust and consistent sound that hasn't been there for them up to this point. No, there's no "Set Me Off" here, but that's okay - the whole album is a pretty solid achievement and a surprise even for me, who is a genuine fan of this band and who was anticipating a new full length. You owe it to yourself to hop on the bandwagon now before they blow up and become huge.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: Swet Shop Boys
Album: Cashmere
Quick Description: Politically-charged rap from a group including Heems of Das Racist.
Why You Should Listen: Even putting the politics aside, there is some great musicianship and rapping here.
Overall Thoughts: Like many, I came to Das Racist because of their more humorous efforts, and Swet Shop Boys, while definitely being more serious in a lot of ways, still has the humor in place. Overall, it creates an album that is good but uneven. "T5" is great, "Zayn Malik" is great, but other songs don't hit the same tones. With that said, Das Racist had a similar issue with their releases, so there's that as well. Overall, a good listen and the best rap-related album out this week...
Recommendation: ...but this might not work for everyone.

Artist: Mike Doughty
Album: The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns
Quick Description: Latest album from the former Soul Coughing lead.
Why You Should Listen: Mike Doughty always has interesting releases.
Overall Thoughts: This is a good album, and maybe the most straightforward of his solo releases in a while. Lead single "I Can't Believe I Found You In That Town" sets a good tone for the album, and the rest of it continues along those same lines. Do I have a complaint? Maybe that I'm so used to Doughty trying on different sounds and ideas that this feels almost too standard in comparison? I'm truly not sure, but this album definitely connects on a musical level.
Recommendation: A highlight of the week.

Artist: Lisa Mitchell
Album: Warriors
Quick Description: Latest album from the Australian pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: Fairly straightforward singer-songwriter pop always deserves a listen.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to look at this without also looking at JoJo's return album (which we discuss tomorrow). This, especially in comparison, feels vibrant and fresh, without a lot of the dark undertones that a lot of pop music trends toward lately. Lead single "The Boys" gives a good idea as to what's going on with this album, and the result is a pleasant listen that, overall, might lack that standout track that would make it something great, but ends up still being a good album that deserves some attention.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Jeff Rosenstock
Album: Worry
Quick Description: Some grunge-tinged indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Not quite a throwback but not quite modern, it's the most interesting straightforward release this week.
Overall Thoughts: I only snagged this because his former bandmate, Laura Stevenson (a favorite around these parts), had tweeted about it on Friday. The first song, sort of a weird piano track, didn't pique my interest. The following songs, though, were a very fun listen. Sometimes grungy, sometimes straight rock, and always lyrically interesting, there is a ton to love here. This was nearly my album of the week, but I resist only because I really think this is an album that needs to simmer a little and have some time spent with it. I might end up loving it more and more by the time I get to spend some time with it.
Recommendation: Absolutely a must-listen this week.

Artist: Fvnerals
Album: Wounds
Quick Description: Dark shoegazy rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You need something a little heavier to balance this week out.
Overall Thoughts: I loved this, but of course I did. It's dark and heavy (I think I saw one reference to this group as "doomgaze" which is appropriate), and the overall result here is an album that needs to be taken as a whole. The whole, of course, being a pretty interesting and different adventure. If you like Chelsea Wolfe, this might be up your alley.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone, but I know I liked it.

Artist: Courtney Granger
Album: Beneath Still Waters
Quick Description: Well-structured Americana.
Why You Should Listen: Probably the best musicianship of all the releases this week.
Overall Thoughts: It's sometimes hard to slot an artist like Granger into a certain genre box, because this is both so much more than just basic roots music. Has a classic country feel, but it's so well-structured and enjoyable that you hate to pigeonhole it. If you've missed having some good new Americana in your rotation, absolutely give this one a shot.
Recommendation: A great album this week.

Also out this week:

* Kings of Leon - Walls
* Sleaford Mods - TCR (just like their older stuff if you're into that)

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