Tuesday, November 14, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for November 10

A slow-ish week. I'll be covering the new TayTay when it finally hits streaming services, but until then...

Co-Albums of the Week:

Artist: Kindling
Album: Hush
Quick Description: Local shoegazey goodness.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking to harken back to a different time, but not the trendy stuff that's hitting today.
Overall Thoughts: Holy crap this is absolutely wonderful , droney, almost shoegazey music. A band from Easthampton, I figured I’d like them when Spotify listed Infinity Girl as a comp, but this is so much better than that. Maybe my favorite of the week at this point, the vocals are gorgeous and drenched in reverb, they’re not afraid to get aggressive, and this is a rare act that sounds like something you’ve heard before even though you know it’s fully unique.
Recommendation: Do not miss out on this at all, it’s a brilliant listen.

Artist: Fever High
Album: FHNY
Quick Description: 1980s throwbacks, but more like a time machine than an homage.
Why You Should Listen: Your leg warmers aren't the least bit dusty and worn.
Overall Thoughts: Fever High is not only channeling the 1980s on this record, but they’re outright hopping in a time machine and outright stealing from the era, and it’s amazing. I think the second or third song is outright using the Soft Cell boops, and there’s one song that is one step away from being a Bananarama cover. It’s blatant musical appropriation and I honestly loved every moment of it. It’s close to my favorite album of the week on a whole, it’s just waaaay to much fun.
Recommendation: Too good for words.

Artist: Radnor & Lee
Album: Radnor & Lee
Quick Description: Weirdest collaboration in a while.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of either of these guys.
Overall Thoughts: Ben Lee is a name you probably know thanks to his folk rock work over the last decade. Josh Radnor is best known as Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother, and he’s set himself up as a sort of artist’s Zach Braff since then, with some indie film and stage work. So it’s not completely weird that a stage guy is doing an indie record with a bit of theatrical flair to it. His voice isn’t especially strong, but I might just be hearing him as his TV character more than him doing whatever this is. Still, coming in with low-ish expectations, this far, far surpassed them.
Recommendation: Better than you'd expect.

Artist: Quicksand
Album: Interiors
Quick Description: Comeback album from an early 1990s act.
Why You Should Listen: You haven't had your emo fill in a while.
Overall Thoughts: The latest in a line of post-rock/emo acts coming back around, Quicksand provides a record that sounds like it’s straight from the early 1990s scene. The nostalgia and the authenticity is there, but as someone who has traditionally been hot and cold on the entire thing, this one failed to really grab me much at all. This is not an indication that someone with a real love for this era wouldn’t find a lot to enjoy here, but just that this ultimately was not for me.
Recommendation: Give it a shot, but be wary.

Artist: Brother Roy
Album: Last Man Standing
Quick Description: Classic country rock stuff.
Why You Should Listen: This is the retro release for the week in this area.
Overall Thoughts: Brother Roy is pushing for a really interesting sort of classic aesthetic, and it mostly works. He’s got a pretty nondescript voice, allowing the tones and musicality to ultimately drive the experience on this. The songs are good, and there’s really nothing negative to say about this except that it doesn’t have anything that really gives it that great leap forward one might expect. It’s absolutely worth a listen, and if you’re into this sort of thing you might find something in it that I didn’t.
Recommendation: A good listen for a shortish week.

Artist: Plastic Flowers
Album: Absent Forever
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock act.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoyed their last album.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know what my expectation was here, especially since I know I heard this band in the past and the sound here surprised me. This is solid, albeit unexciting, indie rock in a good form, and that’s all well and good but doesn’t do a lot to set itself apart. This might be your cup of tea, but there are better albums to listen to first.
Recommendation: Not crucial.

Artist: Langhorne Slim
Album: Lost at Last Vol. 1
Quick Description: Latest from the acclaimed folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Langhorne Slim has built up more than enough good will.
Overall Thoughts: I still remember when I first saw Langhorne Slim however long ago, probably opening for Clem Snide. He was a whirlwind even then, and I’ve happily kept up with his work since then. This latest album is not a step back, but it is a step in what feels like a calmer direction on a whole. Back to his roots a bit, as it were. This is not going to be your favorite Langhorne Slim record, but it’s going to be something you’ll still enjoy. Just differently than how you’ve liked his other stuff.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Yeah But No
Album: Yeah But No
Quick Description: Standard indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: A solid if unspectacular listen.
Overall Thoughts: Another indie rock act this week, I also liked this one (and arguably more than Plastic Flowers), but it suffers from a very similar situation to Plastic Flowers in that it doesn’t do a ton to set itself apart. I liked this one a little more, but it’s still not something that I would reach for first this week.
Recommendation: Maybe if you need something more.

EPs of note:

* Adia Victoria - Baby Blues
* Ingrid Michaelson - Snowfall
* Slothrust - Show Me How You Want It To Be (great covers EP!)
* Empire of the Sun - On Our Own Way
* Tennis - We Can Die Happy
* Sleigh Bells - Kid Kruschev

Also out:

* Angel Olsen - Phases (weird rarities collection)
* Dillon - Kind
* Tim Heidecker - Too Dumb for Suicide (Trump protest songs. It ain't good...)
* Shooter Jennings - Live at Billy Bob's Texas
* Husker Du - Savage Young Du
* R.E.M. - Automatic for the People (25th Anniversary Edition)

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