Tuesday, April 17, 2018

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for April 13

Nothing unlucky about 20 new releases to cover this week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Many Rooms
Album: There Is a Presence Here
Quick Description: Dreamy folk-adjacent music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little more meditative this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ethereal, deliberative tones, heavy on the reverb and vocal trickery. Feels like if Bon Iver and Band of Horses had a daughter, and that is not a bad thing at all. This will absolutely not be for everyone, but this is an album that demanded my attention by the third song, and I see myself going back to this a lot in the coming months.
Recommendation: Really made me sit up and take notice this week. A must listen.

Artist: Night Flowers
Album: Wild Notion
Quick Description: Retro-styled alt-pop.
Why You Should Listen: You've been looking for a continuation of sorts from the trend we saw last year.
Overall Thoughts: I loved this! A little alt-poppy, sometimes has that hazy quality to it, but in terms of some super-melodic stuff that’s happening here, this album rarely misses. If last year was the mid-1990s alt revival, this is trying to revive the time that followed, and it just might work.
Recommendation: Really solid listen.

Artist: Josh Rouse
Album: Love in the Modern Age
Quick Description: Rouse goes retro, sort of.
Why You Should Listen: Josh Rouse is consistently excellent.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Rouse for close to 15 years now, and it is tempting to call this album another change in style for him, but the album title does reflect the attitude that it approaches even if the album feels decidedly Rousian in its execution. It’s definitely a good listen from an artist that rarely stumbles.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week

Artist: Brazilian Girls
Album: Let's Make Love
Quick Description: An interesting, complicated record from a long-standing act.
Why You Should Listen: Brazilian Girls always keeps it fresh.
Overall Thoughts: This act is very, very different than what they were when I first got into them a decade-plus ago. What is interesting is that they are severely aping Talking Heads quite a bit on this effort, which was unexpected. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a fun listen.
Recommendation: Worth a look.

Artist: Laura Veirs
Album: The Lookout
Quick Description: First solo record in years from the indie folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Laura Veirs has made some truly iconic songs over the years.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been a while since we got a proper Veirs solo album. Her songs on the case/lang/veirs project were the highlights, but the new solo album feels a little more contemplative and a little less adventurous. This isn’t a bad thing, but when the things that draw me to Veirs are more along the lines of “Rapture” and “The Cloud Room,” hearing a more traditional effort can be jarring. It’s still a welcome return, in any regard...
Recommendation: ...but just might not be what you were hoping for.

Artist: Sofi Tukker
Album: Treehouse
Quick Description: Modern pop.
Why You Should Listen: It's the only thing like it this week, and has a lot of pluses.
Overall Thoughts: This is a pretty modern dance/pop record, and I’ll admit – it’s a little hit-and-miss, but man, when it hits? Songs like “Best Friend” are a kicker and really make the lower parts of the record more tolerable. In a shorter week, this is likely worth the time if you’re interested in a more pop record. I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Recommendation: Might be your thing.

Artist: A Hawk and a Hacksaw
Album: Forest Bathing
Quick Description: Elephant Six meets the Eastern Bloc.
Why You Should Listen: This is great, gorgeous instrumental stuff.
Overall Thoughts: The Eastern Europeanish branch of the Elephant Six collaborative, this is some really gorgeous and interesting stuff. I don’t pretend to know the first thing about this type of music, but I really enjoyed the experience and I’m glad to see we’re getting a proper album from this duo for the first time in a while.
Recommendation: Absolutely should find some time this week even if it's not your genre.

Artist: The Damned
Album: Evil Spirits
Quick Description: Hard rock for people who might not like hard rock.
Why You Should Listen: Steel Panther is too much for you.
Overall Thoughts: I really would have dug this a decade ago. As it stands, though, I didn’t care much for this effort, which is sort of like a more serious sounding Darkness or something. There’s too much good music out this week for this, so try something else.
Recommendation: In a busy week, skip this.

Artist: L. A. Salami
Album: The City of Bootmakers
Quick Description: Sometimes singer-songwritery, sometimes poppy, sometimes rocking.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little more unique this week.
Overall Thoughts: At times this reminds me of early Langhorne Slim, at others a fairly standard pop-leaning rock singer-songwriter effort. L.A.S has an interesting voice and makes a really solid effort here that I definitely liked. Give this a shot, you might find a lot here to love.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Juliana Hatfield
Album: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John
Quick Description: Juliana Hatfield sings Olivia Newton-John.
Why You Should Listen: Juliana Hatfield sings Olivia Newton-John.
Overall Thoughts: This does exactly what it says on the package. It's fine. "Physical" is the obvious highlight. The more you love Olivia Newton-John, the more you'll love this.
Recommendation: Yeah.

EPs of note:

* Rachael Cantu - Love Rush
* The Longshot - The Longshot EP (Billie Joe Armstrong project)

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