Tuesday, April 25, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for April 21

A busy week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Charly Bliss
Album: Guppy
Quick Description: Much-anticipated debut album.
Why You Should Listen: You love that late-1990s indie alt-rock sound.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been obsessed with “Ruby” since it came out, so Guppy has been on my “most anticipated” list for quite some time now. My expectations for a debut album like this were probably higher than they should have been, but the reality? This is a really, really great record. I sent it over to Ken almost immediately, and he asked if they were a Letters to Cleo cover band which is a pretty appropriate comparison on a whole – the sort of female-led alternative rock of the 1990s is alive in Charly Bliss, and I’m very excited to spend more time with this one. Not a bad song on the album...
Recommendation: ...and it’s absolutely one of the best releases of the year so far.

Artist: Emily Bell
Album: Kali
Quick Description: Austin-area singer-songwriter's new EP.
Why You Should Listen: You like an air of anthemic mystery around your rock music.
Overall Thoughts: Emily Bell put out a solo album back in 2013 that I feel like I was very aware of, yet I cannot find any record of in my collection at all. Maybe it was on Spotify once upon a time? I don’t know. Either way, she has a new EP out with a band, and this is a familiar-yet-unique sound that really piqued my interest during its short runtime. It’s got an alt-pop quality, but with some instrumentation that pulls it a little out of the mainstream lane in an interesting way.
Recommendation: I definitely recommend this one, and hope to hear more soon.

Artist: The Suitcase Junket
Album: Pile Driver
Quick Description: Off-center folk from a New England native.
Why You Should Listen: You've probably already seen him/them at a festival.
Overall Thoughts: The Suitcase Junket is well-known among festival-goers in the New England area, and the new album continues with the sort of heavier roots-influenced sound that got people interested to start. This is a solid listen, albeit perhaps a little on the long side, but if you’re a fan or are looking for some different roots options this week, this is not a bad listen to bring up.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Angaleena Presley
Album: Wrangled
Quick Description: Solid mainstream country music.
Why You Should Listen: You like Pistol Annies or radio-friendly production.
Overall Thoughts: I admittedly skipped this one to start until Ken sent it over. Pistol Annies have not really been my thing, the album cover seems on the nose, and so on. The good news here is that this is actually a pretty solid country album. Mainstream without feeling like pop country, it has some moments I caught myself singing in my head later, which is always a good sign. If Lillie Mae, a favorite from last week, is more your speed, this might not work for you, but this definitely did the trick for me on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: The Raveonettes
Album: 2016 Atomized
Quick Description: Compilation of their singles series.
Why You Should Listen: This is the best they've done in a decade.
Overall Thoughts: The Raveonettes have been around for a pretty long time now, and this surprise release might be their best in some time. They started out as an indie rock band with a bit of a hook (their early releases were all in one key, harkening back to a sort of noir/surf rock mix), and they slowly abandoned the classic 50s/60s pastiche in favor of a more traditional rock sound. This new album… it would be a mistake to call it a return to their early form, but there’s a definite familiarity here that I personally feel has been lacking in their more recent work. I haven’t wanted to go back to a Raveonettes album since Lust Lust Lust almost a decade ago, and I really look forward to spending more time with this one.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: The Black Angels
Album: Death Song
Quick Description: Latest from the Austin-based psych-rock group.
Why You Should Listen: They are almost guaranteed to surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: Black Angels put out an album a few years back that surprised me. Not as dark as the band’s name would suggest, yet still fairly different in its approach. While I don’t have a ton to say about this new album, I will say that the band surprised me again with a solid, listenable record that I definitely enjoyed and will spend some time with. With more straightforward rock music kind of underrepresented as of late, this might be a breath of fresh air if you have the interest.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Artist: The Relationship
Album: Clara Obscura
Quick Description: Throwback Weezer side project.
Why You Should Listen: Any of those four words above interest you?
Overall Thoughts: The Relationship is a side project from Weezer guitarist Brian Bell. If early Rivers Cuomo songwriting was solidly evocative of the sort of pop structures of a prior time, The Relationship takes that fully to the next level, finding a way to sound modern enough while also feeling like it’s an album ripped from a different time altogether and transplanted into the current day. It has a very authentic feel, but might carry some baggage given Weezer’s more recent output. I won’t say to avoid this, because I actually really enjoyed this album, but depending on your overall feelings about Weezer, it might shade your perception.
Recommendation: Solid but weighed down by the expectations.

Artist: Charming Disaster
Album: Cautionary Tales
Quick Description: Odd-ish indie folk.
Why You Should Listen: This will be a very intriguing listen for you.
Overall Thoughts: This is a very interesting album. On first listen, it made me think of groups like The Staves or even The Civil Wars in some regards, but there’s a bit of a theatrical flair to the album that creates a bit of dissonance that didn’t 100% work for me. There’s absolutely an audience for this sort of thing that I’m often part of, and I can see myself coming back to this album on occasion, but when we have a lot of bands pulling off this sort of thing in a more substantial way, this might be one to pass on if your plate is already full.
Recommendation: Be wary, but you might love this.

Artist: Sophie Villy
Album: Planet A
Quick Description: Eastern European singer-songwriter goodness.
Why You Should Listen: A solid surprise this week.
Overall Thoughts: I really liked this album, to the point where if Charly Bliss wasn’t dominating my senses this might have been my album of the week. I love female singer-songwriters as is, and I love when the songwriting takes some turns that aren’t really expected. This is extremely melodic while also being a little weird and different, and I love nearly every moment. You owe it to yourself to give this one a shot, as it’s definitely unlike anything else out this week, or recently in general.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Imelda May
Album: Life Love Flesh Blood
Quick Description: Latest from the Irish singer.
Why You Should Listen: A mainstream move from an established artist.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Imelda May for some time, and this album is another solid effort from the singer-songwriter. This feels like a bit more of a mainstream play than my perception has generally allowed up to now, but that shouldn’t take away from this solid listen on a whole. A well-done album from someone who has put in some great work in recent years.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Tara Jane O'Neil
Album: Tara Jane O'Neil
Quick Description: Latest album from the longtime artist.
Why You Should Listen: Tara Jane O'Neil has been making great music for a long time.
Overall Thoughts: Tara Jane O’Neil makes some pleasant, folk-style music. It has an older, beautiful flair to it and feels like it comes from a different era. This latest album is still a very high-quality release, but runs the risk of being really overlooked and unnecessarily so. She’s been doing this for so long that this deserves some of your time, and you might find something you love in this gem in the rough.
Recommendation: A really great listen this week.

Artist: Ray Davies
Album: Americana
Quick Description: Kinks lead singer gives a tribute to American roots music.
Why You Should Listen: The Kinks lead singer is giving a tribute to American roots music.
Overall Thoughts: Ray Davies is best known as the lead of The Kinks, and this is an album of tribute to American roots music. As a site that loves this stuff, I unfortunately hear this more as a playing at authenticity instead. It’s extremely uneven and the parts that do work are far, far overshadowed by the parts that don’t. In a week with a lot of better stuff out there, you can probably skip guilt-free unless you’re a big fan.
Recommendation: Pass on this.

Artist: Robyn Hitchcock
Album: Robyn Hitchcock
Quick Description: The latest from the British legend.
Why You Should Listen: It's Robyn Hitchcock. What else do you need?
Overall Thoughts: It’s interesting that this came out the same week as a Ray Davies solo record, as many would argue that Hitchcock’s best days are behind him as well. I don’t necessarily know if I agree. This album is a really great listen, with some truly wonderful songs throughout – lead track “I Want to Tell You About What I Want” is one of the better songs Hitchcock has released in years – and it was a bit of a breath of fresh air from a legendary musician. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks.
Recommendation: As good as he's ever been.

Artist: Texas
Album: Jump On Board
Quick Description: Longtime British act offers their latest since their comeback.
Why You Should Listen: They always deserve a listen.
Overall Thoughts: Texas is another band that I feel like I should love more than I do. They’ve been around forever, do a solid job of providing some mainstream, radio-friendly music that straddles a few genres, but it never fully connects. I liked this album, don’t get me wrong, but like their older stuff, I wanted to love it and it never quite makes that threshold. Good for a pleasant, inoffensive listen, but not at all a requirement this week.
Recommendation: This is fine, but inessential.

Artist: Jenny and the Gents
Album: Jenny and the Gents
Quick Description: A fun listen from a polished act.
Why You Should Listen: This is definitely different than anything else out this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over and it’s a fun, sometimes strange, listen. It definitely has a raw indie quality to the production, but what’s interesting about it is how catchy so much of it is and how that sort of DIY quality it puts forward in the sound makes it that much more endearing. I’m finding, as I sit on the wrong side of 30, how much more I appreciate good production, and this album is bucking that trend for me a bit where good songwriting trumps all.
Recommendation: A good listen, but it won’t work for everyone.

Also out this week:

* Incubus - 8 (this exists)
* Amy Shark - Night Thinker

No comments:

Post a Comment