Tuesday, July 25, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for July 21

I feel like this was a slow release week, and yet I wanted to listen to most of what came out.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Nicole Atkins
Album: Goodnight, Rhonda Lee
Quick Description: Pitch-perfect classic country-pop.
Why You Should Listen: Nicole Atkins is always solid, and this is her best yet.
Overall Thoughts: Nicole Atkins is always great, and she goes full retro-country with a pitch-perfect love letter to singers of old. It’s such a fun and refreshing listen with a lot of really great songs on it, and is easily my favorite listen of the week.
Recommendation: Just give this a shot. You won't regret it.

Artist: Dizzee Rascal
Album: Raskit
Quick Description: UK grime rapper's latest.
Why You Should Listen: I've never really listened before, and if I'm this glad I did...
Overall Thoughts: I missed the boat on Dizzee Rascall, so I don’t know how this compares with his albums from his popular prime, but if this is anything close to his best, wow. Fans of Run the Jewels will love what’s here, it feels like a good blend between older rap and more modern stuff, and just the tone and quality are top-notch. Just a great listen, and I think this week I’ll be looking up some of his other albums.
Recommendation: Solid rap music.

Artist: Dead Man Winter
Album: Furnace
Quick Description: Electric folk rock?
Why You Should Listen: You wish your folk music had some edge?
Overall Thoughts: The best description I can give this album is that this is basically what I’ve always wanted Fleet Foxes to be. This is folk rock, but they know how to turn it up/down more when needed and the result is a pretty great listen from top to bottom that doesn’t break much in the way of new ground but still feels fresh and different. It’s a difficult path to navigate, but I’m looking forward to spending more time on the journey with this band. And as I researched the stuff for this post, it turns out that it's the Trampled by Turtles lead singer's "electric" band, so it all makes sense.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Katie Ellen
Album: Cowgirl Blues
Quick Description: Debut album from members of Chumped.
Why You Should Listen: Chumped was great, and this is a good time for a band like this.
Overall Thoughts: A band sprung from the ashes of Chumped, a band we absolutely loved and hated that they went away too soon, this feels like a poppier, more mainstream version of what Chumped was doing and feels like the correct evolution for everyone involved. It’s a good time for a sound like theirs, and I’m glad to see this continuing.
Recommendation: Loved this, and you should, too.

Artist: Super Best Friends Club
Album: Loveblows
Quick Description: A weird, wonderful indie pop rock album.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably unlike anything you've heard lately.
Overall Thoughts: The best way I can describe this album is if The Hidden Cameras were trying to get on the radio. Overall, this is meant to be a compliment, as this is a solid album that’s on the weird side of the aisle without being inaccessible, and the result is a listen that I feel has some layers I missed on first listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth your time.

Artist: Goldfinger
Album: The Knife
Quick Description: Classic punk act with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: If you know Goldfinger, you already know you wanna.
Overall Thoughts: Goldfinger has been around seemingly forever, and while they were never my cup of tea during my ska/punk phase in high school, this album is a bit of a throwback and actually a lot of goofy fun. It’s as eyerolly as some punk can get, and knowing how old these guys are it’s maybe a little hard to take seriously, but so what?
Recommendation: Music should be fun and this is a fun record.

Artist: Cornelius
Album: Mellow Waves
Quick Description: A weird and wonderful record.
Why You Should Listen: You like more challenging stuff overall.
Overall Thoughts: Cornelius is our strange listen of the week, with a lot of ethereal instrumentation to go along with challenging songwriting and soundscapes. It’s not weird in an inaccessible way, but it could be a little much for those who enjoy straightforward things. For me, though, I look for less straightforward stuff in this space, so it feels pretty mainstream (in context) to my ears. On a whole, though, this is one of the better listens this week from an act I’ll be looking for more from.
Recommendation: Great listen this week.

Artist: Tyler, The Creator
Album: Flower Boy
Quick Description: New album from the odd Future rapper.
Why You Should Listen: Tyler is divisive, but that's a reason to check it out.
Overall Thoughts: I've never actually liked any Tyler before, and this album is... well, it's something. I feel like it might be more accessible than his other stuff? I don't know, but I also never know what to expect. So with this in mind, and knowing that the Dizzee Rascal album is so good...
Recommendation: ...you can probably pass on this.

Artist: Lana Del Rey
Album: Lust for Life
Quick Description: Latest from the indie-but-not-really singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is the album people are going to be talking about for the next couple weeks.
Overall Thoughts: Lana Del Rey is effectively trolling us at this point. She knows it, we know it, and we eat it up anyway. I like her aesthetic, even if I don't love all her songs, but she's not trying to mess with the product (for the most part). It's pointless to review this, in any case - either you like her or you don't, and this album won't change that.
Recommendation: Just listen to it.

Artist: The Hayman/Kupa Band
Album: The Hayman/Kupa Band
Quick Description: British supergroup of sorts gives a solid debut album.
Why You Should Listen: Darren Hayman leads this one up, so you know to expect some good songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: Darren Hayman of Hefner and Emma Kupa of Standard Fare head the Hayman/Kupa band, who provide a folky, sometimes twee little record that finally got a United States release. This is maybe the most peppy I can recall hearing Hayman in some time, and the album is honestly mixed at best - some numbers are great, others are a little wanting, but I find that even with the Hefner records I love, so that's no surprise. Overall, though, this is a nice little slice of British indie you should give some time.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

EPs of note:

* Nine Inch Nails - Add Violence (some of Reznor's best work in a while)
* Holy Fuck - Bird Brains (this is awesome)
* King James and the Special Men - Act Like You Know

Also out this week:

* Foster the People - Sacred Hearts Club (what even is this)
* A L L I E - Nightshade
* Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Barefoot in the Head (really only worth it if you're really into Black Crowes)

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