Tuesday, May 30, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for May 26

A slow week with the Memorial Day holiday.

Artist: Swet Shop Boys
Album: Sufi La
Quick Description: EP from the former Das Racist folks.
Why You Should Listen: A significant improvement from their debut.
Overall Thoughts: Given that everyone liked Das Racist, the spinoff of their dissolution was a welcome event. But the first Swet Shop Boys album, for me at least, lacked the necessary staying power to really hold up over numerous listens. We get a quick EP from them this week, and I think this is the release we were hoping for – it has some great beats, some fun lyrics, and felt like the total package. I don’t know whether this is a preamble to new music or castoffs from the last album, but this has me exctited for the group all over again.
Recommendation: Worth your time this week.

Artist: Justin Townes Earle
Album: Kids in the Street
Quick Description: Latest from the independent country troubadour.
Why You Should Listen: JTE typically has well-crafted songs...
Overall Thoughts: ...and this is no different. A favorite of Ken's in particular, this album is the latest in a line of albums that are just solid listens even if it lacks that one significant punchy song that can really raise it to the next level. Still, in terms of the folky country space, there are few as good as Earle at what he does.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Eivør
Album: Slør
Quick Description: Icelandic pop.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy all things Icelandic music-wise.
Overall Thoughts: No, she's not Bjork, but she's definitely in that mold. A more mainstream voice, a more melodic approach, and the result is a darkish affair from an area that seems to produce a lot of great musicians. I don't have a ton to say except that I really enjoyed this one, and it would be worth hearing even in a busy week.
Recommendation: A great release this week.

Artist: Swarming Branch
Album: Surreal Number
Quick Description: Interesting, psych-tinged indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is the most unique release I've heard in a while.
Overall Thoughts: Swarming Branch defies pretty much every expectation I had. The good in that is where the album stands out, as it's a little strange and borrows from so much. The bad, really, is that it feels pretty uneven and doesn't always work. But considering all the parts together, this is an inventive, ambitious project with a lot going for it, and I will spend a lot more time with it.
Recommendation: Better than a curiosity, worth a listen.

Artist: Hazel English
Album: Just Give In/Never Going Home
Quick Description: A dual EP from an female indie voice.
Why You Should Listen: Fits in with a lot of the more adventurous voices.
Overall Thoughts: I sense a lot of Crutchfield in this voice, and that's not a bad thing - I liked more than I disliked here, and I feel like there's a lot of experimentation here to go along with the sharp songwriting and overall quality of this. It's a great sign of things to come, in my opinion, so get in early on this.
Recommendation: One of the better releases of the week.

Also out this week:

* James Vincent McMorrow - True Care (honestly? Kind of middling.)
* The Charlatans - Different Days (not good)
* Mabel - Bedroom

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