Artist: Sarah Shook and the Disarmers
Quick Description: Rootsy rock.
Why You Should Listen: You like the sound of Lydia Loveless with a little more grit.
Overall Thoughts: When I started listening to this album, a rootsy barnburner of a record, I was curious as to how long I might be able to tolerate Sarah Shook’s vocal warble. By the end, I was wondering why I cared at all to start, as the value of this album is in the entire package – Shook’s unique vocal presentation, the excellent musicianship, and the killer songwriting. When the only negative thing anyone can say about an album is “the vocals might have to grow on you” in a genre that’s dominated by often-obnoxious twang, you know it’s something you need to spend some real time with. I truly loved this album in a way I didn’t expect.
Recommendation: An easy choice for album of the week.
Artist: R. Ring
Album: Ignite the Rest
Quick Description: New alt-rock project featuring Kelley Deal.
Why You Should Listen: Come for the pedigree, stay for some great songs.
Overall Thoughts: I nearly skipped this over and Ken reminded me that it existed, so I will say that this album is uneven on a whole but the good parts are very good. When this album is locked and loaded, there’s a great alt-rock throwback to it that’s among the best I’ve heard as of late. When it’s not on, things are good but not nearly as perfect. This means that an album that is quite good never gets close to great, but there should be some songs in here that ultimately grab you. I’m looking forward to getting back to more of this, regardless.
Recommendation: Uneven but solid.
Quick Description: Retro rock from a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: You always wondered what J Mascis's doppelganger might sound like.
Overall Thoughts: Ken’s been raving about Fuzzystar for a while now, and while I’ve listened to a few of the songs he’s shared, this was my first real long-term exposure to him. I liked this album a lot, but part of the appeal here is in part the fact that the influences are not just worn on the sleeve here, but baked into the final product. If you had told me this was a Dinosaur Jr-related project, I would probably believe you without hesitation. If that early 1990s alt-rock thing is what works for you, you need to seek this out. For someone like me who barely missed that era, I still got a lot out of it as well, so there’s something here for everyone.
Recommendation: Will be a very fun listen for a lot of people.
Artist: A Victim of Society
Quick Description: More psych rock for your ears.
Why You Should Listen: This sort of thing might be the Next Big Thing.
Overall Thoughts: Last week we reviewed The Black Angels, a psych rock band with some interesting edge to them. A Victim of Society has a similar approach, and the result is an album that you can’t judge solely by cover/name. I’ll need to spend more time with it, but this is definitely a record and a band that’s worth your attention.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.
Album: sad for you
Quick Description: New indie pop hotness.
Why You Should Listen: This is a name you might hear more about.
Overall Thoughts: A short EP from an indie pop artist who has been showing up on my weekly Spotify playlists repeatedly, this is an EP that shows a lot of potential with some really solid songwriting, and I don’t have much more to say about it beyond that – here’s hoping the first album is as big and awesome as it looks like it could be.
Recommendation: Worth a listen for pop fans.
Artist: Gianna Lauren
Album: Moving Parts
Quick Description: Off-center folk music.
Why You Should Listen: It's nice and atmospheric while not being completely predictable.
Overall Thoughts: A little bit folky, a little rough around the edges, I took a flyer on this solely because she was compared favorably to Mary Timony. I have zero regrets – this is a very good album that was truly in contention for album of the week for me due to the curveballs it throws and the really solid musicality throughout. I’d be surprised if a song like “Innkeeper” can’t grab you if you generally enjoy the stuff we highlight here. Overall, this is a superlative listen and something you should absolutely give a listen to this week.
Recommendation: One of the better releases this week.
Album: Psychic Quarry
Quick Description: Fuzzy shioegazey favorite gives us a new EP.
Why You Should Listen: It's a little more polished and maybe a little more up your alley if the first album didn't do the trick.
Overall Thoughts: Sheer hits all the right notes for us here at the blog, and this EP is a nice return for them. I loved their first album, although repeated listens exposed some of the production issues that kept it from being truly great, and this EP is a step up in both production and songwriting. I don’t know where they’re headed, but I’m happy to follow if this release is any indication.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.
Artist: Skating Polly
Album: New Trick
Quick Description: A solid band with some solid contributions on this quick hit.
Why You Should Listen: Skating Polly is good, Veruca Salt was good, so what's the loss?
Overall Thoughts: At only 3 songs, I wouldn’t normally bother with what’s basically a single. Given that Skating Polly somehow recruited Nina Gordon and Louise Post (of Veruca Salt) to give an assist here is worthy of note. Also helpful? That this is three solid songs that somehow mix the best of both worlds. I’d love to see what would happen if they all worked together on something more substantial.
Recommendation: Great listen, I wish it was longer.
Artist: Ryan Adams
Album: Prisoner B-Sides
Quick Description: Ryan Adams proves his prolificness true again.
Why You Should Listen: If you loved Prisoner, this is like a new version of the tone/style.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say much about this that I didn't say about Prisoner. This just speaks to Adams's consistency that an album of 17 b-sides that didn't make the initial album are as solid as the songs that did make the album. If you liked Prisoner, you should listen to this. If not, skip it.
Recommendation: It's typical high quality.
Also out this week:
* Trombone Shorty - Parking Lot Symphony (this is good, but not really my style)
* Foster the People - III
* Life of Agony - A Place Where There's No More Pain
Back with more tomorrow!