Tuesday, May 15, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for May 11

A slightly calmer week.

Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Album: Kiss Yr Frenemies
Quick Description: Alt-indie debut from a buzzworthy act.
Why You Should Listen: You wish your indie music was a lot more fun than it has been lately.
Overall Thoughts: This is one of my most anticipated releases of the spring, having been addicted to “(You’re Better) Than Ever” since I first heard it. The album is a fun, raucous debut with plenty of alt-rock notes to go with an indie, almost DIY sensibility. The band isn’t breaking any new ground, but it’s good to hear a band come into the conversation seemingly fully formed. And they have maybe the best band name I’ve ever heard, so there’s that, too.
Recommendation: My favorite this week.

Artist: Aiden Moffat and RM Hubbert
Album: Here Lies the Body
Quick Description: An artsy collaboration from some Scottish music icons.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Arab Strap or contemplative folkish stuff?
Overall Thoughts: This is a collaboration between Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and another Scottish musician, and it is interesting that it comes out the same week as a Mark Kozalek record, ad there are enough similarities to turn me off, but hardcore fans of either act will likely find something to enjoy.
Recommendation: Not for me, but it might be for you.

Artist: Marian Hill
Album: Unusual
Quick Description: Danceable third album by an established act.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album that isn't afraid to stretch the boundaries of its genres.
Overall Thoughts: This duo is one that’s been on my radar for a bit, and this album has a bit of a mix of radio-friendly electronic/R&B stuff combined with a lot of thoughtful and challenging choices. This won’t be for everyone, and even all of this is not especially for me, but there are some really bold moments here that deserve your attention.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week.

Artist: Luke Winslow-King
Album: Blue Mesa
Quick Description: Rootsy singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Luke Winslow-King has been solid so far.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed Luke Winslow-King’s previous album, and this feels a little more energetic and fun in a lot of ways. As with many albums in this genre lately, it’s not doing anything new, but there’s an unforced ease and comfort with this record that sets it apart.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: The Lied To's
Album: The Lesser of Two Evils
Quick Description: Solid roots duo with a familiar yet unique approach.
Why You Should Listen: The energy and enthusiasm behind this shines through.
Overall Thoughts: An interesting rootsy record in the vein of Brown Bird, Shovels and Rope, and the like. A little on the inconsistent side at times, but then you hear songs like “Windtalker” and you realize that there’s something special here. This is something longtime readers here will probably love, and it’s one of the better releases of the week.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Jess Williamson
Album: Cosmic Wink
Quick Description: Gritty, compelling country folk.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to command your attention from the first few notes.
Overall Thoughts: Music that feels like it belongs in a dark, smoky bar. A total and complete mood piece that just grabbed me from the start and wouldn’t let go. Williamson has a haunting voice with instrumentation that matches the tone and quality perfectly.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: The Sea and Cake
Album: Any Day
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock legends (of a sort).
Why You Should Listen: I suppose the Sea and Cake are important enough to always give a shot.
Overall Thoughts: I remember when The Sea and Cake were the big indie act that was who indie kids who were “in the know” paid attention to. They never really grabbed me as a band, and this works more of a time capsule of a band from another time than something new and vibrant.
Recommendation: Not really worth it unless you're a big fan.

Other releases of note:

* Simian Mobile Disco - Murmurations (It’s great when it picks up, but fails in getting off the ground a good amount of the time.)
* Wajatta - Casual High Technology (Ken sent this over as Reggie Watts is apparently involved with this. It’s weird and different, but basically an electronic record with some interesting beats and choices.)
* Las Rosas - Shadow By Your Side (A solid indie rock record with hints of a lot of things I love. A good listen overall.)
* Ament - Heaven/Hell (Another Pearl Jam side project, this is frankly just okay, with a couple moments that shine a little brighter.)
* La Luz - Floating Features
* Beach House - 7


* Sarah Louise - Deeper Woods
* Andre Costello and the Cool Minors - Resident Frequencies
* The Ballroom Thieves - Paper Crown

Also out this week:

* Dog Chocolate - Moody Balloon Baby
* Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino (wow this is not good)
* Mark Kozalek - Mark Kozalek

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