Tuesday, March 20, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for March 16

Album of the Week:

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: I'll Be Your Girl
Quick Description: New album from the veteran act.
Why You Should Listen: It will likely be their most divisive listen since The Hazards of Love.
Overall Thoughts: The Decemberists are a band that, at this point, are not putting out anything typical or predictable yet always sound like The Decemberists. This is always a difficult thing for bands to do, but Colin Meloy's songwriting always tends to have a poetic, theatrical flair, and the rest of the band fills in the musical gaps nicely. This is a good album, I think - there are moments of levity ("Everything is Awful"), moments to experiment ("Severed") and the result here is an album that will likely split the fanbase again. Especially after how gorgeous a return to form their previous effort was, it's both surprising and not surprising that we received this.
Recommendation: Definitely the best of the week, but you may find you disagree.

Artist: Yo La Tengo
Album: There's a Riot Going On
Quick Description: Yo La Tengo returns with a very YLT record.
Why You Should Listen: You have been a fan for ages, but really wish they were doing more stuff like I Can Feel the Heart Beating as One.
Overall Thoughts: I don't recall when the switch flipped for me regarding Yo La Tengo, but I remember it all starting to make sense at some point and that their more recent output didn't quite reflect the quiet, sometimes droney, very deliberate stuff of their most well-known albums. This new album absolutely reminds me of "classic" Yo La Tengo, for whatever that might mean to anyone on an individual level. It's a solid listen and one that I was pleasantly surprised by.
Recommendation: Great if you like the classic YLT sound.

Artist: Murs
Album: A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable
Quick Description: Independent rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Murs combines some interesting instrumentation with his rhymes for a fun listen.
Overall Thoughts: This is not like a lot of rap music out right now by design, but even still, we get a good batch of songs along with some fun asides (like "Superhero Pool Party") to turn this into an interesting listen. With a week filled with lots of rap music, this is absolutely the best of the batch.
Recommendation: Listen to this even if you don't like rap music.

Artist: The Bonnevilles
Album: Dirty Photographs
Quick Description: Good ol' garage rock.
Why You Should Listen: You didn't realize how much you missed The White Stripes.
Overall Thoughts: Yeah, if you listen, you might be saying "more like The Black Keys," but whatever - this is pitch-perfect garage blues rock that scratches exactly the itch you want it to. If you want to hear something like this, you'll love it. If not, it won't be for you.
Recommendation: Worked for me!

Artist: Chuck Strangers
Album: Consumers Park
Quick Description: Solid mainstream rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Probably the most accessible of the three rap albums being highlighted this week.
Overall Thoughts: I think this won me over at "1010 Wins," which is just a pretty brilliant song from start to finish. The whole package ain't bad, although it's maybe a little longer than it needs to be. Still, if you're looking for a rap album that isn't going to stray too far outside of its lanes, this is definitely worth the time. I definitely enjoyed most of this.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Dear Rouge
Album: Phases
Quick Description: A little synthy, a little indie.
Why You Should Listen: You tried Fickle Friends and want something better.
Overall Thoughts: I'm a fan of Dear Rouge. Their initial EP a few years back was in rotation for a while, and their single "Tongues" a staple in my general playlist for some time. This was a highly anticipated album for me, and, if I'm being honest, it's more hit than miss. The sound is a little tighter and more produced, but almost too much so in some senses. It's a solid listen, for sure, but it might take more time to grow on me than anticipated.
Recommendation: A good album this week.

Artist: Caroline Says
Album: No Fool Like an Old Fool
Quick Description: Quiet indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little on the softer side, but with that alt-rock feel.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be up front: as a fan of the previous Caroline Says release, I was looking forward to this one. It didn't do the trick for me - a little too on the slow side, a little too plodding instead of deliberate, and the songs simply weren't grabbing me. I wanted more than what I got from this, which is unfortunate in a somewhat busy week.
Recommendation: If you're unsure, skip this. There's a lot out this week.

Artist: Toby Goodshank
Album: Dream on Me
Quick Description: Anti-folk hero back with another album.
Why You Should Listen: He's probably one of the most important anti-folk artists still performing.
Overall Thoughts: I haven't kept up with what the former Moldy Peaches people are doing as of late, but when I saw Toby Goodshank had an album out, I had to give it a spin. It's actually one of the best albums of the week! It feels earnest but still not insincere, and the musicality is so good (especially seeing as the band could barely play their instruments when I first saw them). A great listen.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

Artist: Clarissa Johnson and the Cure-Alls
Album: Talk Talk Talk
Quick Description: Album from the WBCN Rock N' Rumble winner.
Why You Should Listen: Solid local rock.
Overall Thoughts: I missed this one last week, but we have an album here from a deserving winner of the prestigious local tournament. If you like independent hard rock, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.
Recommendation: Worth your time if you're into it.

Artist: The Dean Ween Group
Album: rock2
Quick Description: Half of Ween with his side project.
Why You Should Listen: You miss Ween as much as I do.
Overall Thoughts: This is fine. If you like Ween, you know what you're getting here, largely. I wish I had more to say about it, but this isn't an album I'll likely go back to again. Just not really interesting.
Recommendation: Meh. Whatever.

Artist: PRhyme
Album: PRhyme2
Quick Description: More independent rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Well-produced with an interesting sound.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be up-front: I didn't care much for this. It has some weird choices even while a lot of it is an interesting listen, but so many of the choices (like the inconsistent censorship) just left me wondering. When you have Murs doing truly groundbreaking stuff, and Chuck Strangers holding the line, I just don't know where this fits in. It just made me wish they were a Doomtree act instead.
Recommendation: Don't bother with this one.


* Mount Eerie - Now Only
* Morgan Page - Born to Fly
* Lauren Auger - Who Carry's You
* The Violet Kind - O X T R

Also out this week:

* Snoop Dogg - Bible of Love (Snoop goes gospel?)
* Fickle Friends - You Are Someone Else
* Stone Temple Pilots - Stone Temple Pilots
* Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens

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