Tuesday, October 13, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for October 9

A slower release week than we've been used to. Still some gems, though:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Duncan Sheik
Album: Legerdemain
Quick Description: Latest album by the singer/songwriter/Broadway hero.
Why You Should Listen: This is his first album of original, non-theatrical music in close to a decade, and he's come a long way since "Barely Breathing."
Overall Thoughts: Duncan Sheik has been one of my favorites for a while. I think the fact that I love theater as well as folkish music doesn't hurt, but Duncan Sheik always ends up surprising me. The latest album actually dabbles in some electronic instrumentation a bit, but still retains a lot of the songwriting beauty that we've come to expect from Sheik. This album won't get the love it deserves, and that's a shame, because this is a really strong release and arguably some of his best work since Phantom Moon in this space.
Recommendation: An overwhelmingly positive recommendation.

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: Florasongs
Quick Description: A five song EP companion to their wonderful album from earlier this year.
Why You Should Listen: You're a Decemberists completist; you're really really excited for more from their most recent album.
Overall Thoughts: The EP dessert from the Decemberists is quickly becoming a typical affair, and that's more than okay. I loved What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, but I do understand that it's a little divisive and this EP will not do much to change those opinions. I wouldn't call anything here essential, but I wouldn't call this a fans-only release, either.
Recommendation: If you haven't listened to their album yet, do that first.

Artist: Glenn Mercer
Album: Incidental Hum
Quick Description: Instrumental album from the lead of The Feelies.
Why You Should Listen: The idea of instrumental experiments from the lead of The Feeliies is appealing.
Overall Thoughts: This is not anything I'd call essential, and I could argue this isn't anything I'd even recommend. It's not bad, but it's hardly anything special and I don't see myself going back.
Recommendation: Only if you're really into The Feelies, and even then...

Artist: Dilly Dally
Album: Sore
Quick Description: Debut punkish indie album.
Why You Should Listen: You like Bully but wish it was a little grittier.
Overall Thoughts: This hits a lot of my favorite things I look out for. The female singer, the immediacy, and so on. It's a fun album, arguably the second best thing released this week, and it reminds me a lot of Chumped in many ways. Just a great, straightforward rock album with some interesting layers.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: The Zombies
Album: Still Got That Hunger
Quick Description: The latest post-reunion album from the classic rock act.
Why You Should Listen: You really shouldn't.
Overall Thoughts: This is not good. I can't stress enough that this seems to just be a really terrible mistake on all accounts, and you're best off not bothering. It barely sounds like them, and the overall feeling is uninspired. It will sully your memory of this great band.
Recommendation: Don't do it.

Artist: H2O
Album: Use Your Voice
Quick Description: Classic punk music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something of the more traditional punk variety.
Overall Thoughts: When I think of stereotypical punk music, this is it. A 22 minute quick hit with a message, you'll know if it's your thing within moments, and it'll be done just as quick.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Protomartyr
Album: The Agent Intellect
Quick Description: Post-punk goodies!
Why You Should Listen: You like recent post-punk offerings, you want a more complex palate cleanser from H2O.
Overall Thoughts: In a week with a lot of interesting offerings, Protomartyr kind of fell through the cracks for me. It's good but not great, it's not terrible but not wonderful either. There's a good deal to like here, for sure, but you may not be into this unless you're looking for some good rock music in comparison to what's out this week.
Recommendation: Listener beware, but this is a good week to add it to your rotation.

Artist: Bob Forrest
Album: Survival Songs
Quick Description: Solo album from the songwriter and member of Thelonious Monster, among others.
Why You Should Listen: You like strongly confessional folk music.
Overall Thoughts: Without knowing anything about Bob Forrest, listening to this album makes it really clear he's been through some stuff. One could argue that the album, as a result, is a little too on-the-nose with its storytelling, but that's also a very Kozalek way of approaching things, and I think that's the best comparison one can make for this album. This won't be for everyone, and you'll know quickly by the presentation if you're the audience, but you might really get something out of this if it's your bag.
Recommendation: Recommended with some significant caveats.

Artist: Saintsenica
Album: Such Things
Quick Description: A follow-up to their Dark Arc breakthrough.
Why You Should Listen: More complex rock music with some strong hooks.
Overall Thoughts: Saintseneca consistently defies description for me in part because I expect them to be darker and stranger than they are. The result is an album that leaves me surprisingly off-balance for a rock record, but still wanting more. This is an exceptionally poor description even for me, but this is an album that really needs to be heard more than anything.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, especially with this week.

Artist: Rudimental
Album: We the Generation
Quick Description: Second, highly-anticipated album from the British drum and bass group.
Why You Should Listen: You like their first album; the mashup of popular singers and dance music is working for you.
Overall Thoughts: I loved a lot of what Rudimental was doing, and so I looked forward to this one quite a bit. Honestly? This is a bit of a disappointment. Not a lot in the way of memorable songs, the collaborations you'd expect to be awesome end up being a little underwhelming, and the result is something fairly inessential.
Recommendation: Honestly? Skip it.

Artist: Last Good Tooth
Album: And All Things On the Scales
Quick Description: Off-center, compelling folk music.
Why You Should Listen: You miss Brown Bird (and there is a relationship here); nothing this week is striking you as terribly different.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over to me, and it's definitely accessible indie folk while still being something a little different. It's tough to describe - there's some Brown Bird, some Americana, some interesting stuff here that I just know I need to spend more time with. That's often the sign of a good listen right there.
Recommendation: Worth a shot this week for sure, might be something you'll go back to as well.

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