Wednesday, May 3, 2017

First Listen Part 2: More New Releases for April 28

And the rest!

Artist: Airling
Album: Hard to Sleep, Easy to Dream
Quick Description: Light and airy poppy singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Comfortable and pleasant is the name of the game here.
Overall Thoughts: Airling was a pleasant surprise for me. Coming from Australia, this is an album that feels light and airy with some electronic instrumentation to go along with solid vocals. The result is a really pretty album that, on one hand, isn’t really breaking any ground, but is still quite a worthwhile listen on the other. While this might not blow your mind...
Recommendation: ...I absolutely recommend finding some time for it this week.

Artist: Juliana Hatfield
Album: Pussycat
Quick Description: The first major protest album of 2017.
Why You Should Listen: Juliana Hatfield is certainly expressing a point of view here, but it doesn't detract from the music.
Overall Thoughts: This is Juliana Hatfield’s anti-Trump protest record. If you’re really, really anti-Trump, you’ll find a lot of fun stuff in the lyrics here, but if you’re just looking for a solid musical experience, there’s a lot here to like as well. Even as it was put together in a much faster timetable than a traditional album might be due to the subject matter, it feels like a Juliana Hatfield record from top to bottom.
Recommendation: It works either as intended or as you might want it to be, depending on the angle you approach it.

Artist: Mew
Album: Visuals
Quick Description: Latest from the European alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Mew has been good for a while.
Overall Thoughts: Mew is an enigma to me for reasons I don’t quite understand. This new album feels almost straightforward in a way that I don’t picture Mew in my head, but I also know that they’ve experienced a lineup change and maybe that’s a reflection of the new lineup? Either way, this is a fairly standard alt-rock/indie record, and in a week with a lot going on, this doesn’t stand out.
Recommendation: Great for fans, maybe not for the rest of us.

Artist: Sylvan Esso
Album: What Now
Quick Description: Latest from the indie favorites.
Why You Should Listen: This has a lot of buzz behind it since the lead singles came out.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve been teased with music from this album for so long (“Radio” being a staple in my playlists for some time now) that the album being here almost feels like a surprise. The result? It’s fine. This isn’t earth-shattering or anything like that. It’s just a solid-but-unspectacular indie record with parts better than the whole. Take a few listens, save what you like, and move forward from there.
Recommendation: It’s too busy a week for this otherwise.

Artist: Gorillaz
Album: Humanz
Quick Description: The latest from the Damon Albarn-led supergroup.
Why You Should Listen: Even if they haven't been amazing, Gorillaz has enough goodwill stored to give this a try.
Overall Thoughts: If you weren’t paying attention to music 15 or so years ago, it’s impossible to understate how interesting and different that first Gorillaz album was. The collaboration in and of itself, the cartoon potential that went with it, the fact that the music was really excellent. Kind of a perfect storm. Thus why this new Gorillaz album feels like a disappointment. On one hand, yeah, there’s some good stuff here. Not great, but good. And it isn’t uninspired like we can say about a lot of other acts in their second decade, but considering the fact that Gorillaz never seemed to fully reach its potential, this album feels less like an achievement and more like a bit of a question mark. I wanted more than I got from it, and that’s too bad in a busy week.
Recommendation: I wanted this to be more. It's not.

Artist: Feist
Album: Pleasure
Quick Description: Leslie Feist is held up as one of the better songwriters of the last decade-plus.
Why You Should Listen: We'll always have "Mushaboom."
Overall Thoughts: We haven’t heard from Leslie Feist in some time, and this new album, frankly, leaves a lot to be desired. I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge fan, but she’s had a lot of fun singles and was always good for some interesting efforts. This doesn’t feel nearly as inspired as many of her previous efforts, and I can’t really think of much in the way of songs I want to come back to, either. I will likely give this another listen, but I was really unimpressed with the results here on a whole.
Recommendation: Honestly? Skip this.

Artist: Thurston Moore
Album: Rock N Roll Consciousness
Quick Description: Solo EP from the Sonic Youth lead.
Why You Should Listen: It's Thurston Moore. He's rock royalty.
Overall Thoughts: Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has a new solo effort here that sounds like what you’d probably expect. A solid mix of melodic and drone-ish instrumentation, this isn’t going to have your favorite song of his on it, but it if you’re missing Sonic Youth this might scratch that itch a little bit.
Recommendation: Depends on your love of Sonic Youth.

Artist: Willie Nelson
Album: God's Problem Child
Quick Description: Willie's 8 millionth album.
Why You Should Listen: It's Willie! C'mon!
Overall Thoughts: Poor Willie Nelson. On one hand, he’s continuing to put out quality material, but on the other the songs are increasingly about how his friends are dying off and you just sigh and nod along. This is not an album that will propel Willie back into the A list spotlight, but it’s Willie Nelson. He’s always worth a listen.

* The Cranberries - Something Else (a bunch of their hits reimagined acoustically. Better than you'd think, and we finally get a proper acoustic "Zombie!")
* Old Crow Medicine Show - 50 Years of Blonde on Blonde Live (Old Crow does Dylan)

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