Tuesday, October 3, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for September 29

A busy week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Anna Tivel
Album: Small Believer
Quick Description: Latest from a favorite folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Anna Tivel is crazy consistent.
Overall Thoughts: Ken has raved about Anna Tivel before, and I’ve been jumping back and forth on her back catalog since he turned me onto her. The new album? It’s predictably great. There’s a reason we’re a big fan of hers here, and while she’s not trying to reinvent the wheel with her brand of folk music, there’s something to be said about nearly perfecting it. This is a solid listen for this week, and definitely worth your time.
Recommendation: My favorite of the week.

Artist: Keep Shelly in Athens
Album: Philokalia
Quick Description: Weird, yet accessible, electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: Keep Shelly in Athens has been under the radar too long.
Overall Thoughts: I missed the release last year, but the release from a few years ago was of interest to me. This new album is a little less indie electronic and instead leans in more on the 1980s soundscapes. In some ways, the tone reminds me of Kitty’s album from last month, but in most others it feels more like it was just completely extracted from the mid-1980s. This is still a little weird on a whole, but not impenetrable and I think most who would be interested in this would enjoy it.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: Worriers
Album:Survival Pop
Quick Description: Power pop goodness.
Why You Should Listen: You don't realize how much you want an album like this until you hear it.
Overall Thoughts: All hail power pop! This album scratches an itch I haven’t been able to address in some time. Worriers put together a great, amped-up album filled with some hooky songs and just enough aggression to keep things interesting. One of my top recommendations this week, for sure, this is absolutely a listen that you’ll appreciate.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Ben Frost
Album: The Centre Cannot Hold
Quick Description: [ethereal whooshing]
Why You Should Listen: You like atmosphere more than melody.
Overall Thoughts: This is not going to be for everyone, as a basic point, but if you’re looking for challenging, atmospheric electronic music, you’ve come to the right place. As someone seeking Twin Peaks-y media, the feel and tone of this record is absolutely clicking for me, but this is probably a niche listen for most.
Recommendation: Not for everyone even if it worked for me.

Artist: Loney, Dear
Album: Loney, Dear/
Quick Description: Latest from the European indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: They deserve some goodwill from their debut.
Overall Thoughts: I was first turned onto Loney Dear a decade or so ago. I want to say they opened for Of Montreal? Regardless, they had an album that was pretty solid and buzzworthy, but nothing since then has quite reached those heights. The latest album still isn’t there, if I’m being frank, but there are moments like “Little Jacket” that give a taste of what this act is truly capable of. In a somewhat busy week, I cannot fully recommend this...
Recommendation: ...but it might be worth some time to find the parts you’ll enjoy.

Artist: J. Roddy Walston and The Business
Album: Destroyers of the Soft Life
Quick Description: Surprisingly great indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This act walks the right balance between pop rock and indie craziness.
Overall Thoughts: I didn’t know the first thing about this act or album when Ken sent it over, but given a lot of the roots rock/retro rock acts coming through with similar name conventions, what I didn’t expect was a sort of indie rock with some punk overtones similar to Jeff Rosenstock. This is a record I definitely liked, and I could see myself loving it with future listens, but this is one of those albums that defied my expectations repeatedly, and I don’t feel like that happens enough these days.
Recommendation: You need to give this a shot.

Artist: Robin Shultz
Album: Uncovered
Quick Description: Club-ready dance music.
Why You Should Listen: You just want to mindlessly groove.
Overall Thoughts: I was absolutely addicted to a remix of “Sugar” from a few years back, so I figured I’d put this on my radar. Honestly? This feels pretty rote and uninspired on a whole, and is kind of the sort of stereotypical club music that doesn’t really go anywhere or do anything. There’s a place for this, just not in your rotation or in mine.
Recommendation: Skip this.

Artist: Jessica Lea Mayfield
Album: Sorry is Gone
Quick Description: Latest from the country-adjacent chameleon.
Why You Should Listen: Jessica Lea Mayfield is one of those essential voices in music currently.
Overall Thoughts: Jessica Lea Mayfield started out as a rising alt-country star and went alt-rock on us a couple albums back. While the albums have been really good, I also haven’t felt like she has exactly found her footing in the transition. This new album is maybe the first time I’ve felt like it’s all truly clicked – her country influences still shine through, but not at the expense of a more traditional rock sound couched in a lot of reverb and interesting instrumentation. She has a very unique sound all her own, and this is a really solid listen this week.
Recommendation: Highly recommended.

Artist: Four Tet
Album: New Energy
Quick Description: Latest from the indie electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: Four Tet keeps it unpredictable.
Overall Thoughts: Four Tet has always been an interesting electronic act, and this new album is no different. No one sounds quite like Four Tet these days, which is what makes this album both interesting and frustrating in that it never really hits a significant stride while remaining a good listen on a whole. I confess to being a little befuddled about the whole thing, and that’s fine, but that also might mean it won’t work for you.
Recommendation: Don’t spend too much time with it if it’s not working for you.

Artist: Torres
Album: Three Futures
Quick Description: Indie singer-songwriter gets it even more together.
Why You Should Listen: Torres has been making interesting indie stuff for a few years now.
Overall Thoughts: Torres is another favorite around these parts, and her latest album feels a little more weighty than her previous affairs. This is not a negative criticism – where I always felt her sound was all over the place in the past, there’s a more cohesive feel to this album that makes the whole thing a little better as a full album. Still, I found myself enjoying parts of this a lot more than the whole, which is my default with Torres, and with that in mind this is probably some of the best stuff she’s put out thus far.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth some of your time this week.

Artist: Wolf Alice
Album: Visions of a Life
Quick Description: New album from the alt-rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was SO GOOD.
Overall Thoughts: I loved loved loved Wolf Alice’s debut album after love love loving their early EPs. The album dropped around the same time as Bully’s album, and I was decidedly Into It, perhaps more than a lot of stuff that year. This was absolutely highly anticipated for me, and I would say that the end result of the first listen of this album is where I was on my first listen of the debut – I need more time. There are not solid winners from the start like “My Love is Cool,” but that’s not a bad thing – the album is on such an even keel that I believe there are some hidden gems waiting to be uncovered.
Recommendation: So I’m withholding full judgement, but I’m optimistic.

Artist: Protomartyr
Album: Relatives in Descent
Quick Description: Solid post-punk.
Why You Should Listen: They are quietly making some of the best loud music you'll hear.
Overall Thoughts: I shouldn’t like Protomartyr on the surface. It’s a very heavy, yet very melodic, act with a sound I don’t generally gravitate toward. This is the second album I’ve heard from them, though, and I continue to be impressed and fascinated by what they offer. I love music, but it’s rare these days for an album to repeatedly get me to stop and listen outright, and Protomartyr does this repeatedly with their latest effort. I’m not always in the mood for this genre, but it works swimmingly when I am.
Recommendation: This is one of the better listens of the week, never mind being one of the most interesting.

Artist: Lauren Ruth Ward
Album: Well, Hell
Quick Description: Debut album from your new favorite singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: She deserves to be noticed.
Overall Thoughts: Lauren Ruth Ward is a testament to Spotify doing a good job pinning down my musical interests. They’ve been slowly feeding me new singles from her debut over the last six months or so, and her debut album ends up being a pretty fun record with a lot going for it. Ward isn’t afraid to get a bit angsty, she doesn’t shy away from topics of sex, and she doesn’t hold herself to any specific genre when exploring things on a whole. Some listeners could be turned off by how intentionally all-over-the-place she is, but this totally worked for me and was a surprise favorite.
Recommendation: Make some time for this.

EPs of note:

* H2O - The Don Fury Demo Sessions
* Molly Rocket - More Than All This (worth a listen!)
* Echosmith - Inside a Dream

Also out:

* Hannah Lurry - This Heart of Mine
* Primus - The Desaturated Seven
* Michael Jackson - Scream

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