Artist: Common Holly
Album: Playing House
Quick Description: Surprising alt-rockish debut.
Why You Should Listen: You're fully and completely enjoying this
Overall Thoughts: Album of the week for me and it wasn’t really close. I thought this would be a gentle folky thing from the limited pieces I heard, but it turns out this has a lot of interesting musical wrinkles throughout. Sometimes it’s alt-rock, sometimes it’s some interesting indie pop, but it always kept me on my toes in the best possible way. The album had me saying wow within the first track, and I was hooked by the third. This one is a late surprise entry in the best albums race, and worth your time.
Recommendation: You need to hear this
Artist: Dr. Quandary
Album: Jukebox Buddha
Quick Description: Solid, old-style electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: You grew up in the midst of the electronica explosion.
Overall Thoughts: This felt like a strange little nostalgia hit for me. I was alerted to this because a favorite twitterer and podcaster, Timescanner/Richard Penner, is featured on the first track, but this album in and of itself feels like one of those late 90s genre-bending electronic efforts that I generally love. Has a hint of found audio, an interesting narrative structure on occasion, and is ultimately likely the most interesting release of the week.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.
Album: Scream Above the Sounds
Quick Description: Uber-popular British act with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: There are a lot of solid songs here.
Overall Thoughts: Stereophonics probably deserve a lot more attention for their contribution to the whole Britpop thing, and their new album is a good reminder of how a band that’s been around for a while can still feel their age while also remaining relevant. There’s a lot to unpack here on a whole, but the lead single “All of the Night” is a reminder about how solid songwriting can trump a lot of other issues in a variety of ways.
Recommendation: This is a solid listen from an act that has a well-earned reputation.
Album: The Ordinary Man
Quick Description: A well-regarded producer back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: One of the more interesting listens this week.
Overall Thoughts: The hip-hop producer is back with another album, and this continues to work as a solid listen overall. I don’t have a whole lot to say about this album in particular except that there’s enough interesting stuff here where fans should definitely be taking a look.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.
Artist: Fever Ray
Quick Description: First album in years from the enigmatic singer.
Why You Should Listen: Fever Ray is always interesting.
Overall Thoughts: I was just thinking of Fever Ray about a month ago, as we haven’t heard from The Knife in ages and the last Fever Ray album was years ago. Suddenly we got a surprisingly accessible single and a new album that isn’t as weird as I would have expected. This is good – it feels a little more restrained than previous efforts, however, which might be a drawback for some longtime fans.
Recommendation: A good listen on a whole.
Artist: Adam and the Flood
Album: Move Toward Life
Quick Description: Local indie rap-folk(?)
Why You Should Listen: This is a pretty good mashup of genres.
Overall Thoughts: A localish act, the best way I can describe them is if Cage the Elephant doubled down on what “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” offered. Sort of a weird roots-hop hybrid, it often works and is sometimes a little out there, but if you’re looking for something a little different...
Recommendation: ...this is worth hearing.
Artist: Julien Baker
Album: Turn Out the Lights
Quick Description: New album from a buzzworthy voice.
Why You Should Listen: This was very close to my album of the week.
Overall Thoughts: This is the sort of folky stuff we love here. Julien Baker has an interesting voice and good instrumentation, but what comes across as unassuming at first blush slowly reveals itself to be a lot more by the time I got to the end of it. This is probably the album I am most looking forward to spending more time with soon, and you might find a lot to love here if the sort of Julia Jacklin/Erin McKeown-type stuff works for you.
Recommendation: One of the week's best.
Artist: Daniele Luppi
Quick Description: Collaborative stuff with an indie bent.
Why You Should Listen: This is one of the stranger listens this week.
Overall Thoughts: This was a confusing listen if only because it’s trying to be a few things at once and it ends up being a rather muddled affair. There are a lot of features by acts we love but something in here just isn’t clicking for me. This is worth a listen because of its mere existence, but I can’t promise you’ll love what you hear here.
Recommendation: Be wary.
Artist: The Wailin' Jennys
Quick Description: Gorgeous old-style roots music.
Why You Should Listen: You know deep down you're looking for that O Brother magic again.
Overall Thoughts: Bringing this up on Spotify, you see a group of country-fied women, and I was looking forward to a rockin’, rootsy time. Instead, I got some super soulful roots music, much of it a capella, with beautiful harmonies and lovely voices. This won me over really fast, and it’s going to defy your expectations, I’m sure.
Recommendation: Listen, you'll love it.
Artist: The Ghost of Paul Revere
Quick Description: Rootsy country folk.
Why You Should Listen: You're loving this genre.
Overall Thoughts: On the other hand, this is a record that has some really interesting things happening, but I feel like we’re in the midst of a real glut of folksy, country-style male singer songwriters who aren’t doing a lot to stand out. The Ghost of Paul Revere is fine, but I feel like I’ve heard this a dozen times this year and that’s just not enough to cut it in busy weeks like this.
Recommendation: This is fine, just inessential.
Artist: Henry Jamison
Album: The Wilds
Quick Description: Latest from the country-folk act.
Why You Should Listen: Jamison is a favorite here for a reason.
Overall Thoughts: Henry Jamison is a favorite of Ken’s as of late, and the voice that comes to mind here is a lot of early Elvis Perkins, where you have the whole folk thing going but you’re adding a little something extra on top of it. This is a pretty sweet album, and a great example of trying to find some way to break through when there are dozens doing the same thing.
Recommendation: Worth your time.
Artist: Petra Glynt
Album: This Trip
Quick Description: Strange, off-center indie music.
Why You Should Listen: You wish TuneYards were more accessible but still artsy.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say I have a ton of input on this one. This is a super interesting listen that was really reminiscent of TuneYards in many regards, but is much more mainstream-sounding. I liked this enough, and I think it needs some time to really figure out where I sit on this, but this is absolutely the challenge listen of the week for many.
Recommendation: Be wary, but you might love it.
EPs of note:
* MO - When I Was Young
* SHEL - Undercover
* The Infamous Stringdusters - Undercover, Vol. 2
* Helena Hauff - Have You Been There, Have You Seen It
Other albums out this week:
* Weezer - Pacific Daydream (sigh)
* Sol Heilo - Skinhorse Playground/
* Da Flyy Hooligan - S.C.U.M.
* Powerman 5000 - New Wave
* Bootsy Collins - Worldwide Funk
* Dub Pistols - Crazy Diamonds