Wednesday, August 26, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 21 August

Artist: Old 97's
Album: Twelfth
Quick Description: Latest album from the alt-rock band. Can you guess which number?
Why You Should Listen: Old 97's remain one of the more consistent bands out there.
Overall Thoughts: Be real: have they put out a bad album? They have a lot of good albums, and maybe not every one is memorable, but it is such a pleasant surprise every time we get an album anyway, and the band is so consistent in songwriting and quality that it's difficult to think of a band that does what they do better for so long. This is unlikely to be anyone's favorite Old 97's album, but...
Recommendation:'s likely to be one of your favorites this week.

Artist: Alex the Astronaut
Album: The Theory of Absolutely Nothing
Quick Description: Debut album from an Australian singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: It's bright, gorgeous singer-songwriter stuff.
Overall Thoughts: This came out nowhere for me. I hadn't heard of Alex the Astronaut, but the name caught my eye and the album cover was great, so why not? Turns out this was the best thing I heard this week. A lot of fun stuff here from a fresh new voice on the scene and with plenty to love from start to finish. Absolutely the album I'm most excited to get back to this week.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Girl Friday
Album: Androgynous Mary
Quick Description: Debut album from the alt-rock group.
Why You Should Listen: This has a sense of urgency lacking from a lot of recent rock music.
Overall Thoughts: I've been into Girl Friday since hearing some of their first songs hit Spotify, but each advance single from this album got me more and more interested in this album. The end result, on first listen, is a brooding effort that has plenty to unpack. It feels very much of the moment (and not just because we're all collectively in isolation), and it's an album that should have some legs. Great for those looking for a little edge.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Bully
Quick Description: New album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Less a return to form and more a destruction of said form.
Overall Thoughts: I loved Bully's poppier alt-rock-tinged debut, and had some struggles with the follow-up effort. SUGAREGG, however, is loud and brash and really takes no prisoners in its approach. It's a super interesting listen not only when considered as part of the whole catalog, but also in terms of such a surprisingly aggressive effort in and of itself. I loved it, and you might too.
Recommendation: Definitely something you should give a shot.

Artist: The Front Bottoms
Album: In Sickness and In Flames
Quick Description: Some fun power pop from a New Jersey band.
Why You Should Listen: This is far from first effort, but's probably their most cohesive.
Overall Thoughts: The Front Bottoms have been at this for a while, and their brand of poppy, melodic rock music was good but a dime a dozen. Something about this new album, though, brings it all together in a way that should be a breakthrough for the act if there's any justice in the world. There's a lot of fun stuff here and this is an album that had me grooving during its entire run time. Don't miss out on this.
Recommendation: An awesome listen.

Artist: Maya Hawke
Album: Blush
Quick Description: Famous actress does music, and does it well.
Why You Should Listen: It's a great album, not only because it's a famous person doing it.
Overall Thoughts: Yes, you know her from Stranger Things and you know her parents (Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman), but her music is a type of folk effort that makes you pay a little more attention. She's clearly a talented performer and songwriter on top of her acting chops, and I can only hope I would have found this had I not known who she was before.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Of note:

* Dent May - Late Checkout (Dent May continues to be pretty consistent on a whole.)
* Siv Jakobsen - A Temporary Soothing (One of the prettier albums of recent memory.)
* I LIKE TRAINS - KOMPROMAT (This is a pretty wild album.)
* No Joy - Motherhood (A solid listen.)
* The Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public (I don't see this working for everyone, but it's a fascinating effort.)
* Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
* Emma Jane - Bars and Ballrooms
* L.A. Witch - Play With Fire
* Matmos - The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
* Erasure - The Neon
* Cut Copy - Freeze, Melt
* Devon Kay and The Solutions - Limited Joy
* Naked Giants - The Shadow

Seven Song Albums:

* Mamie Minch - Slow Burn


* Future Teens - Sensitive Sessions (Yes, there's a cover of Smash Mouth's "All Star" here, and yes, it's good.)
* Troye Sivan - In a Dream
* Kate Bollinger - A Word Becomes a Sound
* Guster - Zeno Mountain EP
* Perlee - Half Seen Figure
* Chong the Nomad - A Long Walk
* Rachel Angel - Highway Songs
* 0171 - Change Nothing
* Snow Patrol and the Saturday Songwriters - The Fireside Sessions
* sophie meiers - you and me again
* Surfer Blood - Hardboiled

Also out:

* Chuck Prophet - The Land That Time Forgot
* Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 2
* Guided by Voices - Mirrored Aztec
* The Mavericks - En Espanol
* Kero One - Chillhop and Jazzy Beats
* Ransom Pier - New York, NY 2/16/20 (Live)
* Jerry Joseph - The Beautiful Madness

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