Wednesday, August 30, 2017

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases from August 25

And here's the rest!

Artist: The Sweetback Sisters
Album: King of Killing Time
Quick Description:
Why You Should Listen:
Overall Thoughts: The Sweetback Sisters are probably going to be compared to The Secret Sisters a lot, even though their genres are not mixed in quite the same way. At the core, the idea is similar with an act giving great tribute to a sound of the past, and The Sweetback Sisters dutifully deliver. I have no issues with this album at all except that it feels somewhat light as opposed to truly having a lot of gravity. And there’s nothing wrong with light on a whole, which is probably why I enjoyed this the way I did. I’ll keep coming back to it, for sure.
Recommendation: A fun listen this week.

Artist: Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real
Album: Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real
Quick Description: Pure, unadulterated country rock.
Why You Should Listen: You like Jason Isbell and the like.
Overall Thoughts: Lukas Nelson was sent over by Ken, and I must say – this is a great listen. He’s definitely channeling the new classic country in a way that, truly? Works for me a lot better than the Sturgill Simpson types. This is serious, contemplative, and musically sound, and I was shocked as to how much I really enjoyed this. I find that I compare this a lot to Jason Isbell in my head, but this has a level of grit and grime to it that Isbell lost long ago. Overall, this was almost my album of the week in what is a busy one.
Recommendation: I can’t wait to spend more time with this and see where it goes.

Artist: Lily Hiatt
Album: Trinity Lane
Quick Description: John Hiatt's daughter gives some gritty country goodness.
Why You Should Listen: The pedigree is worth it even if the music wasn't, and the music is worth it.
Overall Thoughts: Daughter of John Hiatt, this album follows along the same lines as your Kathleen Edwards, Elizabeth Cook, Lydia Loveless-style country girl with some attitude thing. Of course, I love it. It’s pretty solid from beginning to end, balancing the country and her own personality with the massive shadow of her father’s legacy looming above it.
Recommendation: This is one of the better listens of the week, IMO.

Artist: Widowspeak
Album: Expect the Best
Quick Description: Off-center indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is a complex listen that deserve your time.
Overall Thoughts: Widowspeak toes the line between weird and wonderful on this record. Sometimes they’re a traditional indie band, sometimes they’re throwing you a curveball. The mystery on first listen really drew me in, and I’m not sure how well it will hold up on repeat, but I’m perfectly ready to find out. Definitely worth a listen if you’re into the sort of indie rock that’s been prevalent around these parts as of late.
Recommendation: Add this to your rotation.

Artist: Iron & Wine
Album: Beast Epic
Quick Description: Iron & Wine is back to basics in a sense.
Why You Should Listen: This feels classic yet still modern.
Overall Thoughts: After what felt like a few albums out in the wilderness with some experiments in their sound, Sam Beam and company have seemed to officially found their groove. This album isn’t soft and quiet like the early stuff, but isn’t assaultive like some of the later, either. It’s a pleasant, folky record, slotting right in with your Fleet Foxes types. Will we ever get the early stuff again? Probably not, but this isn’t a bad effort, either.
Recommendation: Worth the listen.

Artist: The War on Drugs
Album: A Deeper Understanding
Quick Description: Mainstream favorite is back with another album.
Why You Should Listen: You loved their Don Henley-style approach.
Overall Thoughts: The War on Drugs reminds me a lot of those 80s rock bands that danced along the lines of prog without actually diving in – your Genesis to a certain extent, your Mike and the Mechanics. The songs here on their second album are extremely good and really well-crafted, but my issue with this band? Everything feels like a chore. I appreciate what is being done here, but goodness is it an exhausting endeavor, and the progressively longer run times of many of these songs begs for an editor or a producer willing to say no. I get that this band scratches a very specific itch for their audience, and they may be one of the more genuinely talented acts out there at present, but I can’t help but continue to wonder what they would be if they would be they had some restraint.
Recommendation: Not for me, but might be for you.

Artist: Queens of the Stone Age
Album: Villians
Quick Description: Alt-rock heroes back with a strange album.
Why You Should Listen: QotSA are generally worth a listen even when it doesn't work.
Overall Thoughts: Speaking of embracing prog rock, here are Queens of the Stone age, a band with membership old enough to be people’s dads trying hard not to slip into dad rock and mostly becoming a weird prog metal hybrid. I’ve always been hot and cold on this band, and this album is no different – the album itself is fine, I guess, but I don’t understand the trajectory or who it is meant to appeal to. This new album feels stark and experimental in ways that just don’t work for me.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Birds
Album: Everything All At Once
Quick Description: Great, energetic indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You want something happier than a lot of the sad stuff out this week.
Overall Thoughts: Birds is a localish act doing something fun. My listen had me convinced that Miles Kurosky, formerly of Beulah, had a new band. It’s not, though, and that’s fine – what we get is a solid, poppy, psych-adjacent approach to indie rock that harkens back to the best Elephant Six stuff of a couple decades ago. This was probably the most fun listen of the week for me, and I’m hoping this band gets more attention, as this is a record that could really take off.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Also out this week:

* My Bubba and Elsa Hakansson - Sing Swedish Songs
* Thee Oh Sees - Orc
* Dan Zanes and Friends - Lead Belly, Baby!

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