Tuesday, November 21, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for November 17

We're getting toward the end of the year and, with Thanksgiving, new releases are slowing down.

Artist: GFOTY
Quick Description: Bizarre anti-pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a necessary listen even if you end up not liking it.
Overall Thoughts: GTOFY put out an EP last year that intrigued me, and this is closer to a full length than anything else, and it's just weird. There are snippets of covers, strange songs and structures, and yet it's utterly compelling. This is definitely an artistic effort, and it might turn off more people than it turns on, but this is one that I'll be diving back in on. There's just too much going on to ignore.
Recommendation: Probably the most divisive release of the quarter.

Artist: Pete International Airport
Album: Safer With the Wolves...
Quick Description: Dandy Warhols side project with some interesting droney rock.
Why You Should Listen: We haven't had some good Dandys stuff in a while.
Overall Thoughts: Pete International Airport has been hit-or-miss with me, and this album generally reflects that. Sometimes a good listen, sometimes a little frustrating, that's kind of par for the course. As a fan, I'm fine with it, but the other album is probably a better introduction.
Recommendation: Not for everyone.

Artist: Charlotte Gainsbourg
Album: Rest
Quick Description: Latest from the musician/actress.
Why You Should Listen: Has a bit of a theatrical flair...
Overall Thoughts: ...but feels like a Charlotte Gainsbourg record, and that's probably all that matters. Some French language stuff, some poppy stuff, some interesting experiments. It's a good album, but might not work for everyone who wants something more accessible.
Recommendation: Give it a shot this week.

Artist: Tove Lo
Album: Blue Lips
Quick Description: Second half of the Lady Wood dualogy.
Why You Should Listen: Tove Lo is pulling her hardest Madonna play yet.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard not to hear this and think that it's Lady Wood castoffs, but there are enough solid pop songs here to make the effort. I liked a lot of what was happening here, but I really wanted something a little more substantial after the high-profile pop releases this year. This doesn't quite get there.
Recommendation: Good, not great.

Artist: Mavis Staples
Album: If All I Was Was Black
Quick Description: Latest collaboration with Jeff Tweedy.
Why You Should Listen: Politically tinged, and a little difficult to listen to.
Overall Thoughts: Mavis Staples isn't necessarily known for having a dark demeanor, but she definitely wants you to know she has some opinions, and she shares them in bulk on this latest album. A reflection of many opinions going around in the Trump era, there are a lot of ways to take this album outside of the obvious. From a purely musical standpoint, this isn't their best collaboration, but I also think it's not meant to be the sort of effort that showcases Staples's voice as much as her message.
Recommendation: A successful album even if it's not a pleasant listen.

Artist: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
Album: Soul of a Woman
Quick Description: The finale for the late Jones.
Why You Should Listen: Sharon Jones was a great singer with great crossover cred.
Overall Thoughts: What struck me in listening to this is that the group finished it up on their terms. On first listen, this doesn't sound like a farewell and Sharon Jones doesn't sound like she's leaving us. This isn't Blackstar. There's a triumphant something to this that is bittersweet in that we lost Sharon Jones too soon, but this is as good a goodbye as any.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

EPs of note:

* Fujiya & Miyagi - Different Blades From the Same Pair of Scissors
* Electric Wizard - Wizard Bloody Wizard

Also out:

* Morrissey - Low in High School (not good at all)
* Bee Bee Sea - Sonic Boomerang
* Barenaked Ladies - Fake Nudes
* Talib Kweli - Radio Silence
* Paloma Faith - The Architect

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