Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for January 26

Artist: NADINE
Album: oh my
Quick Description: Weird artsy folky stuff.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to be different than most of this week's releases.
Overall Thoughts: An interesting folkish release this week that kind of came out of nowhere for me. Nadine has an interesting voice, and the songs are well-crafted on a whole. My criticism is that there’s nothing here that makes this record stand out the way similar albums from Bedouine or Julien Baker did last year. It needs to stand out more, and this doesn’t quite get there. Don’t skip this if you like the folkier stuff, but you may end up wanting more.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Silvia Kastel
Album: Air Lows
Quick Description: Weird, Peaksy electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t have a lot to say about this one, except as a fan of the esoteric electronic stuff this absolutely scratched my itch in this area this week. If you’re looking for more challenging electronic music this week, check it out.
Recommendation: I really liked this, you might, too.

Artist: Turin Brakes
Album: Invisible Storm
Quick Description: Latest from the new era British rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Turin Brakes have been consistently solid for nearly two decades now.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Turin Brakes for close to 20 years now, and the band’s evolution from a folk-rocky duo to seemingly a full-band making radio-friendly music is still a little jarring. This latest release is another in a line of this tonal shift, but truly works better than anything they’ve done since Jackinthebox. Some quality tunes here, and a sound that feels like a band that has found its footing between the old and new.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Ben Miller Band
Album: Choke Cherry Tree
Quick Description: Folky roots stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking to stay on the straight and narrow musically this week.
Overall Thoughts: The rootsiest of the roots stuff this week, Ben Miller plays the authenticity card with his band on this one to good, albeit predictable, results. A good listen, but I do not get any sort of impression that I’d be reaching for this again right away, especially with a Steep Canyon Rangers album around at the same time.
Recommendation: Very good, but inessential.

Artist: Dumptruck
Album: Wrecked
Quick Description: First album in 20 years from this local act.
Why You Should Listen: It's modern whole still feeling like the era they came from.
Overall Thoughts: A longtime Boston act, what is interesting to me as someone new to the band is how they don’t sound like what you might expect a Boston act to sound like. We have standard indie rock trappings here, and there are some interesting sounds here, but it ultimately just made me curious about what I’ve missed all these years before I can really compare it to anything. A solid listen that may be a good entrypoint to folks like me.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Calexico
Album: The Thread That Keeps Us
Quick Description: Latest from the country-tinged alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Calexico is a solid band worth an effort.
Overall Thoughts: I saw Calexico open for Wilco once upon a time, and I’ve always generally liked what they do even though it’s never quite become my favorite. This new album keeps to its roots in many ways, but there are some choices here that were a little off to me. Part of it is expectation, for sure – what I come to a Calexico album for is not entirely here, but it’s more that the way their sound has expanded doesn’t totally work out here. Longtime fans may appreciate the result here, but as a more casual listener there’s plenty for me to reach for this week instead.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, and not a good starting point.

Artist: Django Django
Album: Marble Skies
Quick Description: Genre mashups galore from this British act.
Why You Should Listen: This is weird and wonderful.
Overall Thoughts: I always forget how much I enjoy this act at the end of the day, and this was as fun as their previous stuff and perhaps moreso. An interesting mix of modern and older styles, this was a solid listen in a busy week.
Recommendation: Not much to say, but it's a solid listen nonetheless.

Artist: Beechwood
Album: Songs From the Land of Nod
Quick Description: An interesting act with a unique sound.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something different but accessible.
Overall Thoughts: A retro-sounding act that uses a lot of reverb and feels like they don’t belong in this era at all, yet making a share of interesting choices that didn’t always work for me. I understand the desire to get loud, but it seems unintentionally abrasive more often than not. The total package isn’t something I was fond of, so be careful on this one in a busy week.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Album: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Quick Description: Instrumental psych rock from a Boston-area act.
Why You Should Listen: Nearly my album of the week.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I'm not a big fan of instrumental rock music, and Matthew Stubbs is set out with that knowledge about many music fans as his mission to convert us. For me? Yeah, he did the job so well that I immediately looked up his tour dates and got disappointed that I'll be out of town when he's 10 minutes down the road. Listen to this album - you'll be surprised at worst and his newest fan at best.
Recommendation: One of the best releases of the week.


* Jane Blanchard - Enemy
* Blushing - Weak

Also out:

* Hollie Cook - Vessel of Love

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