Tuesday, February 7, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for February 3

A slightly slower release week, so I'm adding one I missed at the end:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Alex Dezen
Album: Alex Dezen II
Quick Description: Second solo album from the Damnwells singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: It's super polished and never quite explodes...
Overall Thoughts: ...but I can't say a lot new about this except that I enjoyed this album a lot more than the first effort. There's no "A Little Less Like Hell" here, but it's a much more even effort and I can appreciate that. This might be a little divisive, and especially for Damnwells fans (and no, I still haven't listened to their work), but this has a bit of an adult alternative flavor that pleases me. I'm into it.
Recommendation: My favorite of the week.

Artist: Syd
Album: Fin
Quick Description: Some modern hip-hop/R&B.
Why You Should Listen: In an era with a lot of experimentation in this genre, Syd works well.
Overall Thoughts: Syd isn't a name you might know off the top, but as a DJ for Odd Future, you know what you're getting into to a point. While this is lacking in the sort of super-memorable songs that we get from others in this space, the positives in this album are in the consistency and in the influences she clearly draws from. It's an album that has a lot going on, and more layers than I expected on First Listen. I'll be diving back in on this shortly for more, as it's absolutely the most interesting listen of the week.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Surfer Blood
Album: Snowdonia
Quick Description: Latest album from one of the better indie rock bands out there.
Why You Should Listen: Because Surfer Blood should be much more famous than they are.
Overall Thoughts: I was only really exposed to Surfer Blood in the last few years. This new album is so good, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why more people weren't into this and why they aren't a much more famous band than they are. This album is a pretty tight collection of songs on a whole, and if you haven't gotten on board yet, maybe this is the time to do it? It's great indie rock, plain and simple.
Recommendation: A favorite from this week, almost my album of the week.

Artist: Elbow
Album: Little Fictions
Quick Description: A new Elbow record that sounds like an Elbow record.
Why You Should Listen: Elbow is consistently good even though they've always existed in that second tier of British imports.
Overall Thoughts: I always liked Elbow back when Coldplay et al were hitting it big, and I've kept up with them even when the American attention tapered off. Little Fictions is noteworthy in that it feels like an Elbow record from start to finish, with some soaring instrumentation and the distinct vocals. Overall, a great listen, but if you haven't liked Elbow up to now, this might not change your mind.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Porcelain Raft
Album: Microclimate
Quick Description: Light, airy, indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: A soft quality to it that's lacking from a lot of releases these days.
Overall Thoughts: It's somewhat amusing that this album came out the same week as Elbow's, as it has some very Elbow-esque tendencies on a whole. A solid listen for sure, but the more ethereal stuff might throw off other listeners. For me, it was a good but not great listen, but one that deserves a slot in a slow week.
Recommendation: Good listen, not for everyone.

Out recently:

Artist: Ninet Tayeb
Album: Paper Parachute
Quick Description: Israeli rock with some heavier moments.
Why You Should Listen: The sound is pretty unique even while it doesn't break any new ground.
Overall Thoughts: Her song "Superstar," with a fairly basic anthemic chorus and some some traditional Hebrew themes throughout, was a Discover Weekly find for me that I really loved. The album is finally out and it's pretty solid - while the slower tracks don't always work, when Tayeb brings the rock to the table it's a wonderful, catchy good time.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen as something a little different.

Also out this week:

* Less Than Jake - Sound the Alarm (a nice nostalgia trip, definitely enjoyed it)
* Moon Duo - Occult Architecture Volume 1
* Ron Gallo - Heavy Meta

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