Tuesday, June 27, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for June 23

Album of the Week:

Artist: Meklit
Album: When the People Move, the Music Moves Too
Quick Description: Soul/R&B with some great musicality.
Why You Should Listen: It's unlike anything else you've heard lately.
Overall Thoughts: This just came out of nowhere. I’ve never heard of Meklit before today, but I think we’ve found a new favorite here. I think my best comparison to this, to start, might be Janelle Monae if she spent more time with non-electronic instruments and less time singing about robots, but that doesn’t do this justice. There’s such a high level of musicality to Meklit’s take on R&B, to the styles being explored, that it’s just impossible to ignore. On first listen, it was almost exhausting (in a good way) trying to keep up with everything happening, and all I’ve wanted to do since diving in last week is jump back in. Even if this doesn’t end up being one of my favorite albums of the year, it’s absolutely my favorite this week and absolutely one of the best experiences from a musicality standpoint I’ve heard in some time.
Recommendation: Don't miss this one.

Artist: Bedouine
Album: Beoduine
Quick Description: A surprisingly wonderful folk record.
Why You Should Listen: You like older folk songs and miss that style.
Overall Thoughts: This wasn’t on my initial list of things to listen to this week, but then another site (Stereogum, maybe?) listed this as their album of the week and compared it to Nick Drake. Okay, I hear you. While this isn’t my favorite listen this week, or the best one, it’s pretty close – this is the closest thing to classic folk music I’ve heard in a long time, and seriously has some awesome moments. If “One of These Days” doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if Bedouine will become a big star, whether in folk circles or overall, but she’s deserving of it and…
Recommendation: …this is deserving of your time.

Artist: Yonder Mountain String Band
Album: Love. Ain't Love
Quick Description: Latest from the bluegrass royalty.
Why You Should Listen: It's traditional roots music at its best.
Overall Thoughts: This is a band I was aware of before I was aware of the music they did, if that makes any sense. So there is a classic, legacy feel to this latest album that persists throughout and keeps it from being truly great, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some solid moments, most notably “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Overall, a pleasant listen that won’t blow your mind.
Recommendation: Solid, but not great.

Artist: Guerilla Toss
Album: GT Ultra
Quick Description: Aggressive electro-punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's not like anything else you'll hear this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this over to me, and I was frankly a little apprehensive to start. Then the album kicked in and I was still a little taken aback, but there’s something very catchy and endearing about this punk-style approach to a more electronic endeavor. I don’t quite know what to make of it except that I know I really like it, and that’s ultimately what matters. I know this might be an acquired taste, but if you’re willing to give this a chance, you might just fall in love with it.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a shot.

Artist: The No Ones
Album: Sun Station
Quick Description: Alt-rock supergroup of sorts with an EP.
Why You Should Listen: The people involved alone make it worthwhile.
Overall Thoughts: It’s probably weird to refer to things Peter Buck does as a side project when all he has is side projects now, but this is a supergroup of sorts that includes him, Scott McCaughey, and more, and it’s…well, it’s okay. It’s very jangly, has a lo-fi feel to it, and, at only four tracks, either hints at things to come or is just a one-off that exists in its own way.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: The Deslondes
Album: Hurry Home
Quick Description: Traditional roots rock.
Why You Should Listen: They are an authentic, fun act that sound well beyond their years.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the first Deslondes album, and this new album does what you want a sophomore effort to do – it expands on their sound in a solid way without losing what made you love it to begin with. We have a great listen here on a whole, and some songs that could hit my rotation as much as a few songs on their debut did.
Recommendation: For a rootsy affair this week, you can’t do any better.

Artist: Verite
Album: Somewhere In Between
Quick Description: Indie pop on the fringes.
Why You Should Listen: This might cure that taste Lorde left in your mouth.
Overall Thoughts: Verite has been playing around on the indie side of pop for a little while now, and this latest listen doesn’t achieve the heights I would have liked for a proper breakthrough, but is still a solid listen on a whole. Honestly, it’s better than the pop stuff from last week, and that slots it kind of in the middle of recent releases. Not great, but not terrible. If you’re looking for something to scratch that itch this week, give it a shot.
Recommendation: Good for pop fans.

Artist: Algiers
Album: The Underside of Power
Quick Description: Bombastic mainstream rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're really looking for something large and mainstream.
Overall Thoughts: Algeirs is going big and bold on this album, and honestly? It feels like it’s all too much. I get what the attempt is here, but the result is a very loud-sounding, almost muddy listen that doesn’t really work for me. This might make some waves on the radio, but I can’t imagine liking this much if you’re really into the stuff we feature here.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Album: Murder of the Universe
Quick Description: Prog rock insanity.
Why You Should Listen: Either this is really solid and reverential, or it's a really involved spoof. Either way, it's worth it.
Overall Thoughts: Their third album in the last year or so, this is quite simply a straightforward prog rock record in all its glory, complete with fantasy literature elements and over-the-top narration and lyrics. It’s absurd, and that’s what makes it work. At this point, anything this group comes out with is worth a listen – even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, you have to reward the ambition and appreciate the attempt. They might be the closest thing to classic Flaming Lips we have right now.
Recommendation: You have to try this.

Also out this week:

* Lydia Lunch and Cypress Grove - Under the Covers: A very interesting covers record. Parts are better than the whole.
* Crash Ensemble - Ghosts: Very solid modern classical music. Not for everyone, but might be worth a listen.
* TOPS - Sugar at the Gate: It doesn’t fit into any of the existing molds, which is both a benefit and a drawback.
* Mutual Benefit - Skip a Sinking Stone
* Unkle - The Road, Part 1: This is probably better than I’m giving it credit for, but I can’t stop wishing they would go back to the Psyence Fiction stuff.
* Jeff Tweedy - Together at Last: Tweedy goes acoustic. I’ve been cold on Wilco for a while, but this acoustic take on Wilco tracks is a fun listen on a whole.
* Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Telephone: Very solid modern classical music. Not for everyone, but might be worth a listen.

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