Tuesday, January 30, 2018

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for January 26

The record labels are trying to take us out early with all these new releases, guys.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Dream Wife
Album: Dream Wife
Quick Description: Solid alt-punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's a lot of fun, and is modern while still feeling familiar.
Overall Thoughts: “Let’s Make Out” kicks this album off in a fun, angsty way. The full album doesn’t quite keep up tonally with its kickoff, slipping into more of an alt-rock role as opposed to a more accessible punk sound, but that’s not a bad thing at all, as it's easily the best, most fun thing out this week. The album ends up being a pretty solid listen I’m looking to jump back into, and even if the full package doesn’t do it for you? You’ll likely find a few solid takeaways.
Recommendation: Album of the week, worth a listen for everyone.

Artist: The Spook School
Album: Could It Be Different?
Quick Description: New album from a poppy, peppy indie act.
Why You Should Listen: They sound like some of the bands you already love, but better.
Overall Thoughts: The best way I can describe this is that The Spook School are a band that I envision Los Camposenos as in my head. Los Camposenos is always a little odd and off-kilter, while this has a similar tone and sound to it while having a much more accessible and mainstream sound. There are hooks for days here, and, on first listen, it’s one I’m absolutely looking forward to getting back to.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Vincent Van Gold
Album: Box of Light
Quick Description: Deer Tick drummer branches out.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Deer Tick and interesting indie music.
Overall Thoughts: A side project from the drummer for Deer Tick, this is sort of a not-quite-folk-but-not-quite-rock release that is just left of center enough to be an interesting listen even if it’s not the greatest thing ever. I enjoyed this listen well enough, and there’s enough Deer Tick in here to appeal to those fans while still being different enough to have different appeal, but this may ultimately be an acquired taste.
Recommendation: Not for everyone.

Artist: The Prefab Messiahs
Album: Psychploitation Today
Quick Description: Newest album by the somewhat-well-known psych rock act.
Why You Should Listen: This is like a party in musical form.
Overall Thoughts: Holy retro rock, Batman. This may as well be an album that’s straight out of psych rock AM radio. The songs are catchy, the music is classic, and the album is pretty much here to party. Not much else to say about it – if you’re looking for that album that is just going to take you straight to a prior era, fire this up.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: The Steep Canyon Rangers
Album: Out in the Open
Quick Description: Steve Martin's cohorts with their own album.
Why You Should Listen: They're good even without Steve Martin.
Overall Thoughts: Sans Steve Martin, the group becomes a much more traditional act with less wit but the same amount of charm. It’s really, really solid bluegrass and one of the best of the week, but I can also see people being less interested if Martin isn't involved. Don't be that person.
Recommendation: Instead, enjoy one of the best early rootsy records of the year.

Artist: Colette Savard and the Savants
Album: Colette Savard and the Savants
Quick Description: Another independent folky album.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something safe and familiar.
Overall Thoughts: Some folky independent stuff that will likely be a familiar sound to those of you who listen to most of what we highlight here. This is a very solid, straightforward independent folk-leaning record, but in a busy week, it’s not going to be the most essential listen.
Recommendation: It's good, but not amazing.

Artist: Mary Gauthier
Album: Rifles and Rosary Beads
Quick Description: Longtime folky is back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: She has decades of experience that shows she's worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: Another traditional folk album this week, it has a starkness that I didn’t expect, although it’s not the same sort of stark as, say, Gillian Welch. For me, I thought this was fairly nice, but it sits in a weird middle ground where it’s a little too traditional to feel fresh, but too deliberately empty sounding to grab me. This will work for a specific audience, but it’s one I might not really be part of.
Recommendation: Might work for you, give it a shot.

Artist: Jesse Marchant
Album: Illusion of Love
Quick Description: Interesting, heartfelt country-tinged music.
Why You Should Listen: You don't want miss this album this year.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like Jesse Marchant is where Jason Isbell might have ended up had he taken a slightly different path in his alt-country adventure. There’s a rich quality to this with the added ethereal soundscapes that seep through, and it creates a sound both familiar and foreign. While it may be a quieter listen than you might be looking for, it more than makes up for how low-key it is with the interesting choices made throughout. Sure to be one of the more underrated releases of early 2018.
Recommendation: Nearly album of the week, very good.

Artist: Family Pet
Album: Petty
Quick Description: An indie release we missed last year.
Why You Should Listen: You like a little fuzzy, lo-fi stuff.
Overall Thoughts: One from last year and produced by Colleen Green, and it definitely has her fingerprints all over it. An interesting listen in that it has the raw, lo-fi punk energy you’re looking for in a lot of ways, but likely doesn’t have the sort of staying power you’d expect. In that much of its novelty comes from the production of the record, it’s not one I see changing the world, but it’s a fine listen on a whole.
Recommendation: A good listen if you have the opportunity this week.


* Rabbit! - Bestest of Friends (the most adorable act in indie rock is still killing it)

Also out:

* Ampline - Passion Relapse

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