Wednesday, March 1, 2017

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for February 24

And onto the second round!

Artist: Sarah Bethe Nelson
Album: Oh, Evolution
Quick Description: New album from a buzzworthy singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Her first album was great.
Overall Thoughts: I loved Sarah Bethe Nelson’s last album, a fuzzy indie affair with some solid songwriting and some solid depth. Her new album does what we always want from a second album in that it expands on the sound and style we loved on the first album without abandoning what worked. And there is some zagging on this record, to be sure, but it all works and might be a better cohesive unit than her debut on first listen. I’m looking forward to spending more time with this one.
Recommendation: Highly recommended this week.

Artist: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Album: The Tourist
Quick Description: Indie act with their latest.
Why You Should Listen: This is a band that's always had a solid track record.
Overall Thoughts: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah pioneered the truly independent nature of “independent” music a decade-plus ago with the release of their first album. They continue to be a somewhat strange band with a sound that’s often emulated but never quite duplicated, and while I feel like there have been some diversionary paths CYHSY has taken over the years, this album feels more in line with what got them “famous” to start. A return to form? Too soon to say on first listen, but it was a definite surprise.
Recommendation: Probably worth a listen.

Artist: The Feelies
Album: In Between
Quick Description: Latest from the rock mainstays.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan, and they have a legacy of sorts.
Overall Thoughts: The Feelies are a band that comes with a fair amount of history at this stage, and it’s difficult to listen to them without taking that along for the ride. The new album is one that basically sounds as I’d expect. For fans of the band, that might be a good thing. For a listener like me with a lot of other things to hear? There’s nothing here that makes it stand out and requires you to take notice.
Recommendation: Good for fans, not a priority otherwise.

Artist: Rhiannon Giddens
Album: Freedom Highway
Quick Description: Latest from the talented singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Rhiannon Giddens is an essential act at present.
Overall Thoughts: We love Rhiannon Giddens here, and Freedom Highway continues to impress with a nice mix of genres and concepts throughout the album that’s combined with some solid musicianship. The most impressive song is still the finale of the album, but I felt like this was, on a whole, a quieter and perhaps more introspective affair than what I’ve gotten used to from Giddens. Overall? Great listen.
Recommendation: Might not work for everyone, but a great listen nonetheless.

Artist: No Joy
Album: Creep
Quick Description: Fuzzy, melodic indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Band with a lot of potential.
Overall Thoughts: A Discover Weekly find that I wanted to highlight if only because it’s a unique EP with some interesting soundscapes going on. While the EP never reaches the heights that “Hellhole” does, the whole thing is worth a listen on a whole and No Joy might be a band to keep an eye on.
Recommendation: A good quick listen.

Artist: Scott H. Biram
Album: The Bad Testament
Quick Description: Solid old-style country folk.
Why You Should Listen: This feels extremely classic.
Overall Thoughts: I don't have a ton to say about this, but if you contrast this with Mount Royal from yesterday, you'll get both sides of a lovely coin. Biram carries a great authenticity with his music on this album, and if you like a lot of what we feature here...
Recommendation:'ll love this.

Artist: Xiu Xiu
Album: Forget
Quick Description: Latest from the popular indie group.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan and/or want a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know a lot of Xiu Xiu, but I will say that this album feels a lot weirder than I thought it would. I don’t know what I expected from it, but as someone who has a high tolerance for strange and difficult music, this completely failed to connect with me on a whole.
Recommendation: In a busy week, skip this one.

Also out this week:

* Crystal Fairy - Crystal Fairy

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