Artist: Alex Lahey
Album: I Love You Like a Brother
Quick Description: Debut full-length from someone who we've come to love very quickly here.
Why You Should Listen: This is the best mix of indie, alt-rock, and an older aesthetic I've heard in a while.
Overall Thoughts: Ken’s spent a lot of time raving about Lahey, and both of us had very high expectations for her debut full-length. Somehow she didn’t just meet them, she exceeded them easily. Sing-along choruses, a nice wall of sound that both hits hard and doesn’t overwhelm, an instrumental aesthetic that seems fully rooted in current times while still borrowing heavily from 80s and 90s soundscapes? There’s no flaw in this record at all, and it’s easily my favorite of the week. Unless you’re really, really anti-alt-rock, this has to get into your rotation this week, because Alex Lahey will probably end up being your favorite new musician on the block.
Recommendation: Best of the week, a best of the year candidate, and maybe your new favorite.
Artist: JD McPherson
Album: Undivided Heart and Soul
Quick Description: Latest from the rocker with a classic sound.
Why You Should Listen: His last album was great and he knows how to craft a tune.
Overall Thoughts: JD McPherson had one of my favorite songs in recent memory in “Head Over Heels.” This new album kind of leans into that song a bit, with a lot of well-structured pop rock to go along with everything. This isn’t a bad thing at all in this case, as McPherson has found a unique (to this era) sound that works for him. But if you’re looking for a little more variety, it might not be here as you might expect. This is a good listen, it’s simply surprising that it doesn’t take as many chances as one would expect.
Recommendation: Worth your time.
Artist: Ane Brun
Album: Leave Me Breathless
Quick Description: The oddest covers album of 2017.
Why You Should Listen: Ane Brun's voice is unique and has offered a number of great songs.
Overall Thoughts: A singer I’ve enjoyed for a while, this is an interesting-yet-puzzling collection of cover songs ranging from the classic to the confounding – no one is asking for a version of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” as far as I know, but if you were, there’s one here. Her voice is so unique and interesting that the takes on these songs is enough to give this a listen, but for me, this was just one of those weird curiosities rather than a really solid album.
Recommendation: Listener beware.
Artist: Best Girl Athlete
Album: Best Girl Athlete
Quick Description: Genre-hopping sophomore indie effort.
Why You Should Listen: You don't mind surprises in your indie music.
Overall Thoughts: This was an album I picked out solely due to the title of the act. Within the first song I was first impressed by the way the songs were structured, but then there was a rap break. The approach here appears to be to confound expectations whenever possible, and the result is an album that I definitely liked, but found myself questioning a lot of the choices more than really just being able to enjoy what I was hearing. This isn’t to say this is a bad album; it’s just a weird listen with a lot of strangeness seemingly baked in.
Recommendation: I’m not 100% sure it works.
Artist: Silver Torches
Album: Let It Be a Dream
Quick Description: new album from an indie folkie.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of the more quiet side of indie music.
Overall Thoughts: This album reminds me of an old band, Fuck, that hasn’t been heard from in a very long time. Quiet, kinda weird, kinda folky, very unexpected. This album is good, but almost too unassuming, and it’s an album I put on and then it ended and I could barely remember much else except the overall tone. I’ll come back to it, but in a busy week you absolutely want to be more memorable than this.
Recommendation: Not essential in a busy week.
Artist: Kele Okereke
Quick Description: Bloc Party lead singer with an introspective effort.
Why You Should Listen: This is not what you expect at all.
Overall Thoughts: If you asked me what direction a proper Kele Okereke solo album would go, I do not think chamber pop would make it anywhere in the top 30. But here we are, with a very introspective, gentle chamber pop record that would probably be a lot more enjoyable if the Bloc Party baggage wasn’t being towed behind it. Look at it on its own, however, and it’s an interesting album with a lot of positives going for it. The songwriting is great and the musicality behind it impressive. It’s just hard to shake where this is coming from given how long Okereke has been in the musical consciousness.
Recommendation: A weird listen that I didn't love, but didn't hate.
Artist: Dhani Harrison
Quick Description: George Harrison's son's first proper album.
Why You Should Listen: You're a Beatles completist, or just curious.
Overall Thoughts: George Harrison’s only son doesn’t sound like what I expected him to sound like, and that might be a positive in his corner. On the other hand, when we’ve had the “famous kids” albums in recent years, like Harper Simon or Liam Finn, they’ve offered some truly memorable moments both to strike away from their heritage and to make their own names. Harrison appears to be keeping it a little closer to the chest, and that’s fine. It just might not land for everyone as a result.
Recommendation: Not great, but not bad either.
Artist: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Album: The Kid
Quick Description: New album from the indie electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: Smith is getting significant buzz over the last year.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't get to write about it, but I loved her last mini-album. This is definitely in a more pop(ulist) direction, and it's a little off-putting on first listen, but I was hooked by the end and simply can't wait to dive back in. This is a solid listen for anyone, but especially those who like the sort of indie electro stuff I've featured here lately.
Recommendation: Should be something on your list this week.
EPs of note:
* Mirah - Sundial
* Surf Rock is Dead - We Have No Friends
* Pearl Jam - Let's Play Two
* The Darkness - Pinewood Smile