Tuesday, February 6, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 2 February

An interesting new release week...

Album of the Week:

Artist: Sunny War
Album: With the Sun
Quick Description: Lovely, edgy folk music.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Cold Specks's album from last year was more like her earlier ones.
Overall Thoughts: On initial listen for this, I was surprised at how the vocal quality and delivery reminded me of Erin McKeown, but the stark nature of a lot of the music also gave me a lot of thoughts to the earlier Cold Sparks albums. This is a really gorgeous folk album with some light strings, great harmonies, subtle guitar work, the whole thing. This might have legs, so here’s hoping this is a breakthrough effort that gets the attention it deserves.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Bat Fangs
Album: Bat Fangs
Quick Description: A side project of sorts that is as fun as it is aggressive.
Why You Should Listen: You like your guitar rock with every distortion pedal turned up.
Overall Thoughts: A compressed blast of fuzzy alt rock is probably the most pleasant surprise of this week. The songwriting is above average, the sound familiar yet unique, and the result is a really interesting listen that you’ll likely know whether you’ll love within the first minute.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the time this week.

Artist: The Wood Brothers
Album: One Drop of Truth
Quick Description: Interesting country-folk.
Why You Should Listen: You like some liveliness with your roots.
Overall Thoughts: Country-tinged music here with a bit of what feels like theatrical vocal flair made this not work for me as much as I wanted it to work. I expected something perhaps a little more traditional on this one and didn’t quite get it, which may be my problem more than the album itself. If you’re reading this mostly for coverage of our more rootsy stuff, give this a more wary look, but don’t just say no outright.
Recommendation: This could be your new favorite thing if it’s hitting the right spots for you.

Artist: Kyle Craft
Album: Full Circle Nightmare
Quick Description: Unexpected power poppy stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You like Fountains of Wayne, but also have some Doc Martens in your closet.
Overall Thoughts: If you look at Kyle Craft’s photo on Spotify, you would not expect this to be the sort of gleeful-sounding power pop that it ends up being. It’s an interesting listen on a whole, with some really hooky choruses and bright guitars throughout. I look forward to going back to this one just because the first listen was so positive and unexpected.
Recommendation: Find some time this week.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Standing at the Gates: The Songs of Nada Surf's Let Go
Quick Description: You love, or even like, this seminal indie record.
Why You Should Listen: All cover albums are worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: A compilation celebrating 15 years of Nada Surf’s Let Go, an album everyone loves and is likely on the bottom half of Nada Surf albums for me, as I got on board at The Weight is a Gift. Still, as a covers record, this is pretty decent and has a few really interesting takes on the Let Go tracks. Overall, though? It just made me want to hear the originals again instead.
Recommendation: Good for fans of Nada Surf or the acts covering them here, but not for much else.

Artist: Anna Burch
Album: Quit the Curse
Quick Description: Soo debut from the indie rocker.
Why You Should Listen: One of the best of the week.
Overall Thoughts: This was a fairly anticipated release for me this year, and it more than met my heightened expectations. Burch is combining a few folk and rock elements together to provide one of the more interesting listens of the week even as it has a fairly mainstream and accessible feel. If I have any complaints, it’s that the nine tracks go by much too quickly on a whole. Either way, it’s one of the great releases of 2018 so far and needs some time in your rotation.
Recommendation: A mandatory listen this week, nearly my favorite.

Artist: Field Music
Album: Open Here
Quick Description: The latest chamber poppy record from this act.
Why You Should Listen: This is one of the more ambitious releases of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Field Music tries very hard to be a more orchestral band working in interesting soundscapes more than anything else, and the result for me, historically, has been mixed. There’s something about this record, though, that is working for me where previous Field Music records did not. It might be the tone, it might be how the songs are structured, but this was a really solid listen this week.
Recommendation: It’s not going to be for everyone, but this deserves your time.

Artist: Rhye
Album: Blood
Quick Description: New album from the soulish indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This band consistently stands out when they have a new record out.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve liked Rhye for some time now, and the new album continues the sort of precious, fragile falsetto pop that they do so well. I wish I had more to say about it, but this is simply an album that should be heard anyway, and an act that has been putting out consistent music for a few years now.
Recommendation: Don't sleep on this.


* Childish Gambino - EP (re-release of his 2011 EP, a highlight of that year)
* EMA - Outtakes from Exile

Also out this week:

* Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods (this is legitimately awful)
* Rae Morris - Someone Out There
* D-Tension - Violence of Zen (think Wesley Willis without the mental illness)

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