Tuesday, May 17, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for May 13

A pretty solid week this week:

Co-Albums of the Week:

Artist: Kaia Kater
Album: Nine Pin
Quick Description: Latest album from the Canadian folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Kaia Kater has been good so far, but this is a big step forward.
Overall Thoughts: I liked her previous album, Sorrow Bound, and I did end up continuing to spend time with it and enjoyed it. Nine Pin, as a comparison, feels like a significant step forward both in terms of songwriting and in sound. The album really grabbed me from the start and it's the rare album that, once I finished it, I just wanted to fire it up again immediately. If you like folk music in any form, this is a must-listen, but I'll go as far as to say this might be one of my favorites in this space since Leyla McCalla's a couple years ago. Just absolutely brilliant.
Recommendation: A must listen for everyone.

Artist: Adia Victoria
Album: Beyond the Bloodhounds
Quick Description: Blog favorite finally has an album out.
Why You Should Listen: This has no business being as good as it is.
Overall Thoughts: We've highlighted a little bit of Adia Victoria's work before, but Ken and I were texting back and forth on Friday about how ridiculous this album is. From songs we already knew like "Sea of Sand" and "Dead Eyes" to new-to-me songs like "Out of Love," the music on this is second to none even if there's deeper stuff to mine within the songs themselves. Adia Victoria's music refuses to fit into any specific box, which is why I must like it so much, but whether you're into the more indie/alt-rock stuff or want something more R&B flavored, you're going to find something to enjoy here.
Recommendation: A great album from a name you're going to know at some point.

And the rest of the week...

Artist: 3OH!3
Album: Night Sports
Quick Description: Fifth album from the brotastic alt-rap/electro act.
Why You Should Listen: At this point, whether you want to listen to this or not has nothing to do with me.
Overall Thoughts: So I liked Want, and I really liked a lot of their debut, but 3OH!3 has been a little mixed for me since they hit it big with "Don't Trust Me" nearly a decade ago. Night Sports is interesting because the first half of the album actually feels somewhat mature and interesting, and then they come at us with a song called "My Dick." So, needless to say, your perspective on this album is going to be based more on your perspective of this act. I think this is the best album they've put out since Want, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to change your mind.
Recommendation: You already know whether you want to hear this or not.

Artist: Modern Baseball
Album: Holy Ghost
Quick Description: Latest album from the indie rock band.
Why You Should Listen: If you're seeking out the stereotypical indie experience, this is it.
Overall Thoughts: Modern Baseball works for me because it's exactly what I expect from an indie rock band right now. Fast-paced album (under 30 minutes) with some interesting sounds even while it remains fairly straightforward. I think it's ultimately difficult to dislike this even while it might not have a ton of stuff to love within its runtime, either. It's a solid listen, but it's not a mindblower.
Recommendation: Should get some of your time.

Artist: Colleen Green
Album: Colleen Green
Quick Description: A quick, stripped down, self-titled EP from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Colleen Green is great, and this is a bit of a nod back to her more lo-fi roots.
Overall Thoughts: While it feels strange to say that Colleen Green's last album felt a little polished, this EP is definitely a return to an older sound, and reminded me very quickly how much I liked her early work as well. This has a solid DIY punkish quality to it that's going to appeal to a lot of readers here, and, at 20 minutes, even if one song doesn't quite do it, the next will. A solid, fast listen.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a spin.

Artist: David Bazan
Album: Blanco
Quick Description: A collection of songs from the ex-Pedro the Lion singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Bazan is good, and this is the only way to get these songs without a record player.
Overall Thoughts: This isn't a cohesive album and isn't meant to be, instead being a collection of some monthly singles Bazan issued, but for what it is, it's a good collection of folkish indie rock songs that fill a good spot. If you've never been into his work, this is unlikely to be what changes that, but if you're a fan or have come off the bandwagon a bit, this might be worth your time.
Recommendation: Give it a shot if it seems interesting.

Artist: Jessy Lanza
Album: Oh No
Quick Description: Electronic music from a Junior Boys collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else quite like it this week.
Overall Thoughts: In a week without a lot of electronic stuff, and with some fairly impressive albums out recently (both that we've covered and that we haven't), Jessy Lanza does stand out. On one hand, it has a traditional electronic feel to it, but something about it still feels weird and different. I missed her first album, so I don't know how it compares at this point, but as a fan of electronic/dance music, this certainly worked for me.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you like the genre.

Artist: Vudu Sister
Album: Mortis Nervosa
Quick Description: Old-style folk storytelling with local interest.
Why You Should Listen: In a way, this feels like folk music from 50 years ago with a touch of modern darkness.
Overall Thoughts: This didn't always work for me, truth be told. An act from Providence, RI, with a lot of collaborative influences from acts we've covered here before, I wasn't sure of the point right away. For a lot of the same reasons Mark Kozalek doesn't always do it for me, so did this, but then you hear a song like "The Wendigo" and it all seems to make sense. Ken called it "If Placebo made a folk album," and there's definitely something to that sonically. Overall, an interesting listen this week.
Recommendation: Absolutely the most distinct and different listen of the week.

Artist: Gordi
Album: Clever Disguise
Quick Description: Debut EP from a 22-year old singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: This is a new voice that we might be hearing a lot more about in the future.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand, the sort of dreamy singer-songwritery stuff isn't especially new. Why is Gordi a little more compelling? Perhaps it's because she's so young, perhaps because the songs are simply solid, maybe it's the overall aesthetic. Overall, though, this is a great introduction and I look forward to hearing more from her.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Those Pretty Wrongs
Album: Those Pretty Wrongs
Quick Description: Collaboration between Luther Russell of The Freewheelers and Big Star's Jody Stephens.
Why You Should Listen: The pedigree alone is worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: This sounds like an old 1960s rock record, and that's great. A definite Big Star/Byrds feel in a lot of places, it feels like an album out of time a bit. This might not be for everyone as a result, but I certainly thought it was an interesting one.
Recommendation: If the description is interesting for you, this might work.

Artist: Michaela Anne
Album: Bright Lights and the Fame
Quick Description: Rootsy, classic-sounding country/Americana.
Why You Should Listen: It's some straightforward classic Americana.
Overall Thoughts: I think what's most surprising about Bright Lights and the Fame is how straightforward it is. A solid album that does exactly what you'd expect, the only chance it's taking is that it doesn't really take chances in an era where so many country-tinged acts are branching out. Kudos to Michaela Anne for channeling her inner Emmylou in that regard, but it results in an album that feels vaguely anachronistic in the wake of other similar acts. It might leave you a little cold, but that's not a reason to not give it a shot.
Recommendation: A good album, as different in its sameness as it may be.

Artist: Twin Peaks
Album: Down in Heaven
Quick Description: Modern psych-folk/rock.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else like it this week, although a little wilder than what one might expect from this.
Overall Thoughts: This is not an album I have a ton to say about, except that we've seen a fair number of these acts come about recently and Twin Peaks has a slightly more raw and wild sound than the others. You'll know from the opening track whether this will work for you, but it deserved to be highlighted this week.
Recommendation: Not mandatory.

Also out this week:

* Oddisee - The Odd Tape
* A. Sinclair - Get Out of the City

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