Tuesday, December 27, 2016

First Listen-ish: New Releases for December 23

A slow release week with the holiday, but two major releases combined with a couple I missed this year makes this worth doing.

Artist: Run the Jewels
Album: Run the Jewels 3
Quick Description: The latest from the popular rap group.
Why You Should Listen: RTJ isn't everyone's cup of tea, but El-P knows how to put a beat together and this might be my favorite of theirs yet.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say everything RTJ has done has connected, but there's something about this album that was hitting me right in that sweet spot. Maybe it was the Christmas miracle of its surprise release or just that songs like "Legend Has It" are killing it so well, but the result here is an album that just seems to work. It'd be a highlight even in a busy week. And it's a free download, much like their prior stuff, so if you want one of your own, here's a spot to look.
Recommendation: Mandatory listen.

Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: Not the Actual Events
Quick Description: New EP, first new release in three years from the industrial legends.
Why You Should Listen: It's Nine Inch Nails. Do we really need to explain?
Overall Thoughts: What might be the most notable about this under-the-wire EP is that Atticus Ross, Reznor's collaborator as of late for film scores, is now apparently a full-fledged member of NIN. This is the first release with his involvement, and I don't frankly know if I can tell the difference, but this is classic NIN regardless, with the second track being an early standout. I look forward to spending more time with this, and Reznor says we're getting more in 2017, so this is a good appetizer.
Recommendation: Solid, especially for fans.

A couple we missed:

Artist: Steady Holiday
Album: Under the Influence
Quick Description: Dreamy indie rock/pop.
Why You Should Listen: You like the sort of ethereal airy stuff, but with a little more drive.
Overall Thoughts: I've been addicted to "Superstar" for a while, and realized I never checked in on the album proper. It came out in June, so I clearly missed the boat, and this ends up being a solid listen with a lot of good highlights. "Superstar" is still the standout track, but the whole thing has a quality that can't be ignored. Even in a busy week, I'd recommend, but there's not a lot like it that I heard this year, so it's worth a listen.
Recommendation: A solid release this year.

Artist: D.A.R.K.
Album: Science Agrees
Quick Description: Collaboration involving Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries and Andy Rourke of The Smiths.
Why You Should Listen: If the musical pedigree isn't enough, the songs might be.
Overall Thoughts: Considering the amount of buzz I saw when "Loosen the Noose" hit the interwebs, I'm shocked that I didn't notice this album coming out. The whole thing in and of itself is a little underwhelming if only because the pre-album chatter was so high. The album is fine, and would be worth a look in most weeks. I just wonder if it could have been better overall. This is less a bad album and more of a missed opportunity to be something great instead of good.
Recommendation: Obviously we're catching up so it's worth a listen, but temper the expectations.


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