Thursday, May 21, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for May 19

Let's jump right in.

Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?: Everyone, at this point, knows "Ready for the Floor." The electronic group is back with a new album that remains out of touch both with the song that made them big and current electronic trends, but this one is still a pretty solid record with a lot of interesting and sometimes complicated parts. I really enjoyed this one in a way I didn't like their previous effort, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with this album.

The Milk Carton Kids - Monterey: I really should love The Milk Carton Kids, and the previous efforts are ones I've liked, but hardly loved. Monterey may have finally changed that or me, as this is a strong, understated folk album with a lot going for it. I really enjoyed listening to the whole thing, and then the final track, "Poison Tree," came on and I was hooked for good. It's just a really solid listen from start to finish, and absolutely worth your time this week.

Madeson Ward and the Mama Bear - Skeleton Crew: I didn't know anything about this duo before listening to the album, and my first thought was that it reminded me a lot of The Handsome Family or a similar folk group with unexpected vocals. I liked this, but I think the tone and the overall musical qualities may not be for everyone. It's definitely an album I'm going to be listening to more.

Faith No More - Sol Invictus: Faith No More hasn't released any music in a very long time, and Sol Invictus is, ultimately, an affair that fans of the band (or hardcore Mike Patton fans) will enjoy but one I can't really recommend beyond that. In a year where we've had a lot of reunions and returns, this one falls flat on a few levels for me.

Holly Herndon - Platform: My pick for album of the week is one I didn't expect. I didn't know of Holly Herndon before this week, but her glitchy, chopped-up take on electronic music is really appealing to me, and the complexity of the compositions here are something to be impressed with. A song like "Chorus" both has the melodic chops to maybe provide a good idea as to what we're looking at while still maintaining the challenging weirdness that's front and center here. I love this album, and it's one I'm rushing to get another listen on, as it's unlike anything I've heard of late. I recommend everyone give this a shot, but I know it's not for everyone.

Barna Howard - Quite a Feelin': Easily the throwback folky album of the week, Barna Howard's album works well as a very straightforward album that didn't grab me in any specific way on first listen, but still left me looking to hear more. In a crowded week, it's difficult to stand out, but this is worth a listen.

Holly Miranda - Holly Miranda: I was a big fan of Holly Miranda's 2010 effort, The Magician's Private Library. It was a strange mix of styles and ideas that pushed the envelope in a few places and got me excited about what's to come. Her self-titled follow-up doesn't feel as new or fresh, but it is still challenging and difficult in its own way. She's had an interesting last five years, and it does come across on first listen, and is one of the better releases as a result. Definitely worth your time.

Total Babes - Heyday: Total Babes are back with a new quick hit of an album, and it's exactly that - a quick hit that comes and goes very quickly, and is a fun indie punk album as a result. I enjoyed this quite a bit, and you'll know within moments whether it fits what you're looking for.

Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect: The new Brandon Flowers (lead singer of The Killers) is the type of solo album from a frontman that you love to hate. It's an excuse to dabble in a bunch of genres where little of it makes sense and it just gets you kind of angry/antsy. Unless you're a Killers fan, skip this.

Bhi Bhiman - Rhythm and Reason: Bhiman has excelled in being a bit chameleonlike in his ability to swap out genres and tone in his songs with this latest album, which sounded different than what I expected and yet something entirely enjoyable. It's political without being preachy, the songs are catchy without being simplistic or pandering. It's really a solid listen, and should absolutely be part of your rotation this week.

Kopecky - Drug for the Modern Age: Kopecky, formerly The Kopecky Family Band, have a new album that really brings the radio-friendly rock music to the forefront. I hear a lot of Bleachers in this in a way, a lot of old OK Go, and if that sort of thing appeals to you, you'll find a lot to like. In many ways, this album is a breath of fresh air, but it might be too polished for others. Worth a listen.

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