Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for September 8

Artist: Ted Leo
Album: The Hanged Man
Quick Description: Latest from the indie punk.
Why You Should Listen: At his worst, he's still worth a shot.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t have a ton to say about Ted Leo, who is definitely in the “old punk” stage of his career, and this record feels more like a concept record that dabbles in prog than what launched him into the indie stratosphere however many years ago. As someone who is a marginal fan of his on a whole, this didn’t do much for me, but your mileage may vary. Personally, I can’t recommend in a week as busy as this one.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Deerhoof
Album: Mountain Moves
Quick Description: New album from the artsy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: You're up for a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: Deerhoof is not Deer Tick. This is what I realized about 1 minute into this album, which is a complex and (mostly) difficult record that defies expectations on every turn and is among the weirder recent releases. There’s one song, the name of which I cannot currently recall, that definitely feels like the mainstream attempt, but the rest of this is complex and fascinating in a really compelling way, and I know that it will turn off a lot of listeners, but it didn’t turn me off.
Recommendation: If you’re up for the challenge, you should absolutely give this a shot.

Artist: Anna of the North
Album: Lovers
Quick Description: Debut full-length from the indie artist.
Why You Should Listen: If you're looking for a retro-type affair...
Overall Thoughts: I know this isn’t my first exposure to Anna of the North, but the way this album revealed itself to me certainly felt like it. One of my favorite albums from a few years ago was the debut from HAERTS, a layered and synthy affair. Anna and the North’s latest is definitely along those lines, and it attacks the concept with a much lighter touch. The result here is one that ends up being a really pleasant listen, even if it doesn’t take that leap into something really life-changing on first listen. Definitely one to look out for this week, and definitely one I’m looking forward to spending more time with.
Recommendation: Really loved this one.

Artist: Zola Jesus
Album: Okovi
Quick Description: The actual new Zola Jesus album.
Why You Should Listen: Same reasons as a few weeks back.
Overall Thoughts: In the corrections department, I erroneously thought that a release I found for 2017 was the new Zola Jesus and reviewed it as such, but it was actually a rerelease of an older album. So here is the real new Zola Jesus record, and… well, a lot of my thoughts remain the same. She’s doing a dark, complex pop thing that harkens back to PJ Harvey in some ways, and I really enjoy it. There are some chances taken on this that I appreciate as well, and the end result is that Zola Jesus continues to challenge herself and her listeners with each new release. I hope this ends up being a breakthrough of sorts for her.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Susanne Sundfør
Album: Music for People in Trouble
Quick Description: Return to form for the acclaimed singer.
Why You Should Listen: She always deserves some of your time.
Overall Thoughts: The Nordic folky has dabbled successfully in electronic music (including a turn in one of my favorite Royksopp songs last year), and this album is more of a return to form for her. There’s still some out-there sonic concepts floating to the surface, but Sundfør is ultimately allowing the music to speak for itself here, and it’s truly great.
Recommendation: One of the best listens of the week.

Artist: Alvvays
Album: Antisocialites
Quick Description: Indie darlings with a sophomore effort.
Why You Should Listen: Alvvays is, well, alvvays fun. Right?
Overall Thoughts: Alvvays splashed onto the indie scene a few years back with the absolutely amazing “Marry Me, Archie,” and this has been a fairly long-awaited follow-up, What do we get here? Another dose of reverb-heavy indie pop with perhaps some sharper and more pointed songwriting. Overall, I don’t sense a sophomore slump here at all, and if you were a fan of their debut, you’ll probably like this, too.
Recommendation: A solid listen on a whole.

Artist: SOAR
Album: dark / gold
Quick Description: Moar 90s rawk!!!!11
Why You Should Listen: Moar 90s rawk!!!!11
Overall Thoughts: SOAR is one we missed from a few weeks back, and fits in wonderfully with the 1990s-era aesthetic that seemingly everyone is taking part in. On first listen, this is a great record that tries to set itself apart. Does it always succeed? I don’t know, but I plan on going back to this a few times to find out.
Recommendation: A good listen if you have the time.

Artist: Charlie Parr
Album: Dog
Quick Description: New one from a folky favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: He's just too good, guys.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve enjoyed Charlie Parr here so far, and this latest release is of similar quality. It's your folky effort of the week and that's great. I don't have a ton to say about it, it feels dirty and gritty and... right.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Also out this week:

* Tori Amos - Native Invader
* The National - Sleep Well Beast

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