Tuesday, August 22, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for August 18

A slowish week with some real gems.

Album of the Week

Artist: Rainer Maria
Album: S/T
Quick Description: Comeback album from the indie rock darlings.
Why You Should Listen: Because Rainer Maria rules, that's why.
Overall Thoughts: I got into Rainer Maria VERY late. They had already broken up by the time I discovered them, most likely in a post-Reputation haze, and they've played a few comeback shows but the new album was a long time coming. It's here now, though, and it's basically exactly what I wanted. No, there's no "Ears Ring" here, but this sounds like a band that's known for an out-of-style genre that's back together for another run. It's just simply a must-listen, and the best of the week. A very welcome return.
Recommendation: This is so good, guys.

Artist: The Two Tens
Album: On Repeat
Quick Description: Garage-style power pop.
Why You Should Listen: You always wondered what the love child of The Hives and The White Stripes would sound like.
Overall Thoughts: Some interesting power pop with a little bit of a punk bent to it, this duo has some great chops and gives a more melodic White Stripes feel to an album that doesn’t always hit the mark, but when it does nail it (like with “Not Alright”), it sounds like it’s straight out of the early-aughts garage revival. This will appeal to plenty of people here even if it didn’t quite work for me.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: The Yawpers
Album: Boy in a Well
Quick Description: Risky folk rock.
Why You Should Listen: You don't mind when roots music takes chances.
Overall Thoughts: A somewhat schizophrenic effort that has a foundation in the rootsy genres, with songs like “Mon Dieu” having a neat rockabilly feel while others more folky, but this album combines a very low-fi feel with a little too much going on, and the result is, unfortunately, a very uneven record that ultimately didn’t work for me. I like it when bands take chances and try to shake it up...
Recommendation: ...sometimes, though, it just doesn’t succeed.

Artist: Kacy and Clayton
Album: The Siren's Song
Quick Description: Purist roots music.
Why You Should Listen: You wanted something more traditional.
Overall Thoughts: Another rootsy effort this week, this one feels a little more traditional and a little better as a result even while it wears its influences on its sleeves. This is a solid listen on a whole, and one of the better ones this week.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Amanda X
Album: Giant
Quick Description: Alt-rock revival record of the week.
Why You Should Listen: Amanda X feels really pure and solid.
Overall Thoughts: In the continuing revival of the sort of grungy 1990s alternative music, Amanda X is somewhat channeling the lo-fi corner with this album. I spent a lot of time wishing it was louder, if I’m being honest, but there are so many good songs here that I can ultimately forgive what I feel are some production errors. In a way, this album is almost what I wanted Mitski to be with Puberty II last year.
Recommendation: One of my favorite listens of the week, and you owe it to yourself to give this a listen. Just turn it up a bit.

Artist: King Gizzard the Lizard Wizard and Mild High Club
Album: Sketches of Brunswick East
Quick Description: Prolific indie rockers with yet another release.
Why You Should Listen: You're along for the ride, right?
Overall Thoughts: The band is intent on pushing out five albums in a twelve month period, and here’s the latest even though I’m still not recovered from their prog rock experiment a few weeks back. This album here is more along the psych folk lines, and is a lot more pleasant and much less aggressive. Your enjoyment may continue to rely on how much you enjoy this overall schtick, but kudos to them for mixing it up in a time where an ambitious project like this could end up with a lot of repetitive stuff.
Recommendation: Worth your time, again.

Artist: Allison Moorer and Shelby Lynne
Album: Not Dark Yet
Quick Description: Surprisingly great collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: Actually, it shouldn't be surprising that this is great at all.
Overall Thoughts: Two (in my mind) underrated country artists come together in a collaboration that feels right within moments of its start. It feels fun yet serious, gritty while still professional. I have no complaints at all and can’t wait to go back, even if it’s to put their country folk take on Nirvana’s “Lithium” on repeat.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: A$AP Ferg
Album: Still Striving
Quick Description: Latest A$AP Mob release.
Why You Should Listen: You're into all things A$AP.
Overall Thoughts: As a fan of the A$AP Mob, I guess I’ll come out and say that I think the A$AP thing might be worn out for me. Either that or I just really prefer Rocky’s stuff. I didn’t love Ferg’s first record, and this one was absolutely better but just didn’t grab me at all.
Recommendation: Unfortunate, but there we are.

Artist: Dent May
Album: Across the Multiverse
Quick Description: Latest from the summery indie uke star.
Why You Should Listen: Dent May is a genre all his own.
Overall Thoughts: Dent May made a name for himself somewhat with his ukulele stuff long before ukuleles became trendy and cool. His tone has shifted to more of an indie poolside vibe now, and it works for him but also doesn’t quite make for an exciting listen. I’m a fan overall, but this album feels like more of a background thing than something I can see myself loving and enjoying. In a short week, it’s worth your time, but you might not love it the way you want to.
Recommendation: Try it, you might like it.

Artist: Grizzly Bear
Album: Painted Ruins
Quick Description: Indie chamber rock.
Why You Should Listen: Grizzly Bear has done enough solid stuff to give this a look.
Overall Thoughts: Grizzly Bear continues to do their own thing, and do it well. I’ll be honest – I thought “Two Weeks” was brilliant, but that’s ultimately where it ended for me. I haven’t loved much else of what they’ve done, and this album feels like more of the same from them. Ultimately, if you like Grizzly Bear, you’ll probably like this.
Recommendation: For the rest of us, there are other options.

EPs of note:

* Scarborough - Welcome to the Monkey House (EP from Joe Scarborough of MSNBC fame - this is surprisingly competent)
* Lilith - Apology Plant (full album now pls thx)
* The Mynabirds - Be Here Now Part II
* Alice Glass - Alice Glass

Also out this week:

* Everything Everything - A Fever Dream
* Coasts - This Life Vol. 1
* KMFDM - Hell Yeah

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