Tuesday, June 22, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 18 June

Artist: Kings of Convenience
Album: Peace or Love
Quick Thoughts: Kings of Convenience doesn't release music very often, but when they do? Yowza. It's been twelve years since Declaration of Dependence, and the duo is as dependable as ever. This album is pretty great from top to bottom, and it feels like they haven't missed a step in the last decade. A welcome return.
Songs of Note: "Rocky Trail," "Catholic Country," "Washing Machine"

Artist: The Catenary Wires
Album: Birling Gap
Quick Thoughts: Amelia Fletcher, when not a member of Parliament (yes really), is an indie twee legend of sorts, with The Catenary Wires being her latest project. This new album is just expert indie pop from beginning to end, and as someone who enjoyed plenty of Tender Trap, Heavenly, and so on, this was just a lovely listen across the board.
Songs of Note: "Face on the Rail Line," "Always On My Mind," "Mirrorball"

Artist: Amythyst Kiah
Album: Wary + Strange
Quick Thoughts: Ken sent this one over and I realized partway through that I recognized her voice from the recent Moby album. She has such a great, memorable voice, and this is some gorgeous roots music with meaning and purpose. She's acutely aware of her place in roots music right now, and isn't afraid to face it head-on, and we all benefit as a result. This is a mandatory listen this week, and one of the truly great roots efforts of 2021 thus far.
Songs of Note: "Black Myself," "Sleeping Queen"

Artist: Pretty Sick
Album: Come Down
Quick Thoughts: There are moments in Come Down that feel like they're channeling 1990s-era Hole. It's grungry and loud and abrasive throughout, and I'll be damned if I wasn't waiting to get back to this the moment it was through. Pretty Sick is pretty slick, and I'm here for it.
Songs of Note: "She," "Dumb," "Bet My Blood"

Artist: K.C. Jones
Album: Queen of the In Between
Quick Thoughts: I hate that this came out this week, because this is another great classic-sounding roots record with a little bit of an edge. It's distinct and it's wonderful, but I was mostly impressed by how much I liked nearly every song I was listening to. Even in a busy week, you should make time for this, but it's absolutely worth your time for one of the more interesting listens this week.
Songs of Note: "I've Got Time," "Queen of the In Between," "Stop on the Way"

Artist: Rebecca Black
Album: Rebecca Black Was Here
Quick Thoughts: Put aside "Friday" for the moment, and consider this album on its own merits. While it's tricky to divorce the beginning from now, this is an album that, somehow and some way, effectively bridges the gap between 100 gecs-style hyperpop and your Carly Rae Jepsens. It's a real achievement, and the album is worth the listen even beyond your curiosity surrounding what seat she should take. Don't skip this.
Songs of Note: "NGL," "Girlfriend"

Artist: We Are the Union
Album: Ordinary Life
Quick Thoughts: Apparently there is a current ska revival and no one let me know. Thus, this release from a few weeks back is late, but I did want to highlight it anyway. While ska has never shied away from tough social commentary, this one is very in-the-moment and benefits from that sort of perspective. While ska sounds a lot like what it did when we were in high school and college, if we're entering another golden age, I'll welcome it as long as We Are the Union is leading the charge.
Songs of Note: "Morbid Obsessions," "Broken Brain," "Wasted," "Big River

Artist: Marc Collin and Chrysta Bell
Album: Strange as Angels
Quick Thoughts: I've basically been obsessed with Chrysta Bell ever since her turn on Twin Peaks: The Return, and her music continues to surprise me. This album, a collaboration with Nouvelle Vague's Marc Collin, is like a smoky jazz club having a Robert Smith night. It's as good as you want it to be, and it's absolutely worth listening to. Put it on in the background when you have people over and blow some minds.
Songs of Note: "A Forest," "The Walk," "Just Like Heaven"

Of note:

* Francis Lung - Miracle (Surprised me many times.)
* Blurry the Explorer - Blurry the Explorer (Understated, but excellent, experimental music.)
* Delta Spirit - What (Else) Is There
* Beni-Hana - The Masking Tape
* Amy Helm - What the Flood Leaves Behind
* Tom West - I'm Livin'
* Merzbow - Triwave Pagoda
* Eloise - Somewhere In-Between
* Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real - A Few Stars Apart


* Griff - One Foot in Front of the Other (Don't sleep on "Black Hole")
* Hayley Mary - The Drip
* The Lounge Society - Silk for the Starving
* Deap Vally - American Cockroach
* Tom Morello and The Bloody Beetroots - The Catastrophists EP
* The Endorphins - The Anomic Aphasia EP
* Mandrake Handshake - Shake the Hand That Feeds You
* Kid Gulliver - Gimme Some Go!
* Blood Red Shoes - Ø
* Country Westerns - Country Westerns EP

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* This Is the Kit - Off Off Oddities
* Muse - Origin of Symmetry (XX Anniversary RemiXX)
* Dawes - Live at Hotel Cafe, 2/12/08
* Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Back the Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011 - 2021)

Also out:

* H.E.R. - Back of My Mind

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