Tuesday, January 23, 2018

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for January 19

A busy week, so we splitting the check.

Co-Album of the Week:

Artist: Shopping
Album: The Official Body
Quick Description: Newest album by a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: It's like your favorite odd bands from the 1980s come alive in 2018.
Overall Thoughts: Ken has been riding the Shopping bandwagon for close to five years now, and I've thought they've been fine up to now, but this album feels like a great leap forward for the act. Sometimes it feels like Gang of Four's "Anthrax," sometimes it's like my favorite Oh-OK songs, but this is just a stellar album this week that I can't wait to dive back into.
Recommendation: Easily the best of the week.

Artist: Sure Sure
Album: Sure Sure
Quick Description: A lo-fi indie pop debut from last week.
Why You Should Listen: You're wishing you lived back about 15 years ago musically.
Overall Thoughts: A fairly uneven listen, Sure Sure does a fairly interesting not-quite-lo-fi indie pop with some thin instrumentation. While it sometimes works, such as with the opening track or their cover of “This Must Be the Place,” there are other times where I just wish it were more fleshed out, like with “Foreign Room.” A lot of good ideas here, and I think we might see this band break out in the future as they perfect their sound.
Recommendation: This will work for some people, but not everyone.

Artist: Inara George
Album: Dearest Everybody
Quick Description: The latest solo effort from one of the closest things we have to indie royalty.
Why You Should Listen: You want something from George that is a little more straightforward.
Overall Thoughts: The always-busy artist with her first solo effort in a very long time, I think my surprise with this one is how low-key it feels. I never walk into Inara George projects with expectations, but the light, airy feel only works part of the time in this effort. Might not work for everyone, but George is a solid enough artist with a great track record making this worth a shot.
Recommendation: Might be for big fans only.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Instant Love: Songs Between Women
Quick Description: A collection of love songs covered by women.
Why You Should Listen: A cover album is usually worth it, and the collection of artists on this album is great.
Overall Thoughts: A series of cover songs by female singers; we highlighted Tristen’s entry late last year. A solid collection on a whole – as with any collection of covers, the parts are always better than the whole, and there are some interesting takes to go along with some unmemorable ones, but it is absolutely worth giving at least a once-over to see if you can find anything to love.
Recommendation: Worth a listen for sure.

Artist: Wes Youssi and the County Champs
Album: Down Low
Quick Description: A strong classic country entry for the new year.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern efforts for classic country, but prefer the traditional aspects.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know the first thing about this act, but they lean hard into the classic country pastiche to pretty solid results. While there were times I was thinking, stylistically, I was listening to Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats, we still end up with a solid country album worth hearing in the new year.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Album: I Like Fun
Quick Description: The latest from the legendary alternative act.
Why You Should Listen: You've been listening for thirty years, right? Why stop now?
Overall Thoughts: Like, I get that they have a number of truly classic albums from 20 or so years ago, but I don’t know if I ever fully got this band, and this latest album isn’t really helping matters. It’s a language I don’t understand with music that isn’t connecting with me on any real level, and I can’t tell if it’s just because they’re a band with 30-something years on the back end of their career or it’s something else. If you’re a fan, you’ll probably like this. If you’re new, find a copy of Flood first.
Recommendation: Skip it unless TMBG is your absolute jam.

Artist: Meat Beat Manifesto
Album: Impossible Star
Quick Description: The latest from the well-known electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: While I don't know how longtime fans will feel about this, it's a good introduction.
Overall Thoughts: A group I’ve known about for ages but never listened to, this was a good introduction for me and will likely result in my exploring the back catalog a bit. Reminded me a bit of a more chill Aphex Twin on this record, it was definitely some interesting, different electronic music.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

EPs of note:

* Ron Gallo - Really Nice Guys
* ShitKid - This is It
* Fatboy Slim - Fatboy Slim v Australia

Also out this week:

* Anvil - Pounding the Pavement
* Joe Perry - Sweetzerland Manifesto

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