Quick Description: Debut album from a new favorite duo here.
Why You Should Listen: You wish First Aid Kit was more musically adventurous.
Overall Thoughts: Easily my favorite of this week, and it doesn’t even come close. Sort of a more complex First Aid Kit, there’s gorgeous harmonies to go along with interesting songwriting and a haunted sort of feel. I was continually surprised by this throughout my listen, and I simply can’t wait until I get another opportunity to dive back in.
Recommendation: This is my favorite album of the week, and it should be yours, too.
Artist: Deer Tick
Album: Vol. 1/Vol. 2
Quick Description: Two releases from the somewhat twangy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: There's enough good here to give some time to it.
Overall Thoughts: Deer Tick is officially in “we’re releasing a double album” territory with an acoustic and electric set. Honestly, the acoustic is much more interesting with much better songwriting than the electric, but Deer Tick is very good at what they do and there’s enough good here in both releases to make the time investment worth it. “Card House” in particular feels like a song straight out of another era to the point where I was convinced it was a cover, and may be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
Recommendation: Regardless, give this a shot.
Artist: The Huntress and Holder of Hands
Quick Description: Gorgeous, haunting post-Brown Bird project.
Why You Should Listen: It's Brown Bird associated, which should be enough.
Overall Thoughts: We loved Brown Bird here, just like everyone else who got a chance to listen to them, and this album from MorganEve Swain's new project is just wonderful. It is unique in and of itself, much like Brown Bird was, but doesn’t occupy the same space, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s an interesting, wonderful record that I think has a lot of layers left to uncover on future listens.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, nearly my favorite of this week.
Artist: Open Mike Eagle
Album: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Quick Description: Rap music with some great backing music.
Why You Should Listen: You want something a little different in your rap music.
Overall Thoughts: The rap offering for the week, I don’t have a ton to say about this one. On one hand, his rapping is fine, with some pretty solid lines here and there but nothing that blew my mind. On the other, though, what he opts to sample throughout is some of the more interesting stuff I’ve heard in hip-hop/rap lately, and it makes it more than just a standard rap album as a result.
Recommendation: A listen that’s worth giving a shot, for sure.
Artist: The Lone Bellow
Album: Walk Into a Storm
Quick Description: Latest from the radio-friendly rootsy act.
Why You Should Listen: The Lone Bellow are probably at their best here.
Overall Thoughts: The Lone Bellow is near the top of the heap these days when it comes to pop Americana, and with good reason. The musicianship is solid, the songwriting tight, and the total package is really accessible. For us around here, it’s almost too perfectly constructed, but that’s also a weird criticism in a genre that often relies on sharp musicality. So the polish may be too much for some, but if it’s not, you’re in for a real treat on this one.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.
Artist: Prophets of Rage
Album: Prophets of Rage
Quick Description: A full-length from the Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy crossover event.
Why You Should Listen: You're really, really angry about Trump and the only way you can express it is by listening to mediocre protest music.
Overall Thoughts: Considering how unfortunate their EP was last year and how generally terrible modern protest music is, I had extremely low standards for this. The good news is that the album cleared said standards with ease, and this is a pretty okay record. I mean, if you really liked Rage or Chuck D, there’s plenty of both that works here, but this also isn’t groundbreaking like either act was in their prime. It is what it is, and that’s fine – just temper your expectations and you should be fine.
Quick Description: Debut solo album from a Vampire Weekend alum.
Why You Should Listen: Vampire Weekend is/was a good enough band where this should at least pique your interest.
Overall Thoughts: The proper solo debut of the former Vampire Weekend multinstrumentalist, it borrows from basically every influence he has gathered up over a lifetime and is bundled into a chaotic album that is absolutely going to speak to a number of listeners. Whether or not this is going to work for you may be a different story on a whole – as for me, this didn’t feel cohesive enough to match up with its ambition, and it’s not something I’m terribly excited about, but a lot of people are raving about it so I may be a minority here.
Recommendation: Your mileage ultimately may vary.
Artist: Black Kids
Quick Description: Second album from a band I assumed we had all completely forgotten.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was a buzzworthy event.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if people remember how crazy the whole thing with Black Kids was back in 2008 with "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You." They were doing Hefner covers at concerts, and then just... disappeared. And then all of the sudden songs started popping up and we have a new album. It's weird and feels a little out of sync, but if you can move outside of the context of where they came from and how they went away, this is actually a fairly solid record. I love "Obligatory Drugs," there are a lot of other fun songs here...
Recommendation: ...give this a shot. Really.
EPs of note:
* Antibalas - Where the Gods are in Peace
* Michael Nau - The Load EP
Also out this week:
* Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Vietnam War score
* The Texas Gentlemen - TX Jelly