Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 13 July

Album of the Week:

Artist: Jenn Champion
Album: Single Rider
Quick Description: Latest from the longtime singer-songwriter; first album under the Jenn Champion moniker.
Why You Should Listen: You like intense, mature songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: I’m racking my brain trying to really describe the experience of this album. It’s very direct, yet still feels ethereal and haunting. It has an urgent aggression to it even in its almost airy and quiet nature. It is especially interesting for the lyrics to stand out and be so blunt when we’re focused on a sound that lends itself to a more metaphoric/allegorical approach. This is my favorite listen of the week because of how it upends the expectations it carries with it, and there’s something kind of cool about that.
Recommendation: The best listen in a while.

Artist: Cowboy Junkies
Album: All That Reckoning
Quick Description: Latest from the well-known act.
Why You Should Listen: It feels a lot like what you've come to expect.
Overall Thoughts: This act has been around seemingly forever, have a very dedicated and loyal fanbase, and does something I’ve never truly and fully connected with. This new album? Really, really good. Really good. The songs are interesting, with a lot of solid pieces throughout, and this is one I’ll not only come back to, but will probably inspire me to give their back catalog a second look.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Mikaela Davis
Album: Delivery
Quick Description: First proper full-length from a buzzworthy singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Davis, a harpist by trade, takes a different route than the other major harpist on the scene.
Overall Thoughts: This reminds me a lot of an Abi Reinhold album from last year. A lot of dynamic sounds here with some songs that definitely stand out on first listen; this is certainly one to keep an eye on and something I’m looking to revisit.
Recommendation: A truly top listen this week.

Artist: Rayland Baxter
Album: Wide Awake
Quick Description: Latest roots record from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: This could be the album that propels him into fame.
Overall Thoughts: We’re fans here, and this one was a surprise at how mainstream it sounds. What I thought would be another solid roots outing from someone with a good track record instead sounds like an album that could propel him into the mainstream, or at least into the Sturgillsphere.
Recommendation: Make some time for this one.

Artist: Amy Shark
Album: Love Monster
Quick Description: Debut full-length from the alt-pop songstress.
Why You Should Listen: This fits right in with a lot of the more interesting pop stuff out there.
Overall Thoughts: Is it fair to put her in dark pop territory? I don’t know, but this is a decent pop record with a lot of great moments nonetheless. A misstep with Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 aside, this might scratch the pop itch you have, especially given how desolate the landscape has been lately.
Recommendation: Might work for you.

Artist: Valley Queen
Album: Supergiant
Quick Description: Long-awaiting debut album from a buzzy act.
Why You Should Listen: Few bands sound like this one right now.
Overall Thoughts: This is a great album, first and foremost. “Breaking the Muse” has been in constant rotation for me since I tripped up on it, and there’s just a great mix of interesting vocals and great instrumentation that sort of gives me a “10,000 Maniacs, but kind of weird” thing, if that makes sense. I had high hopes for this album, and it not only meets them, but exceeds them.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Marlowe
Album: Marlowe
Quick Description: L'Orange/Solemn Brigham collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: It's the best rap album of the week/month.
Overall Thoughts: There's something really special about this album that shows itself even moreso compared to a good Kool Keith album and an okay Future effort. The music is great, the lyrics and flow seemingly effortless. It's what you want in a rap album even if you don't know it.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Tanukichan
Album: Sundays
Quick Description: Dreamy, gazey singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that more transportive effort.
Overall Thoughts: I find this to be a difficult album to describe in many ways. It is easy to just call this a superlative shoegaze effort, but that doesn't do the effort a service. It's more than that, and probably more than what it presents itself as at the end of the day. It's one of the best of the week, and something that deserves some attention for its songwriting and musical superiority.
Recommendation: Give this the time it deserves.

Artist: Luluc
Album: Sculptor
Quick Description: Great folk music.
Why You Should Listen: Luluc isn't reinventing the wheel, but just doing their best to perfect it.
Overall Thoughts: There's a bit of a reflex in discussing folkish efforts in trying to compare them to other acts. I'm as guilty as anyone. Luluc can be compared in similar ways, but that would do them a disservice in particular because of how special this effort is. It's a truly gorgeous affair with a lot of subtle things happening that I loved on first listen. If you're looking for a good folky record, you're not going to do better than this one this week.
Recommendation: Put this in your rotation.

Of note:

* Lydia - Liquor (successfully straddling the line between indie and mainstream)
* Wet - Still Run (no one sounds like Wet, and this is a solid listen from a band that is truly unique)
* Kool Keith - Controller of Trap
* Dirty Projectors - Lamp Lit Prose
* Suffers - Everything Here
* The Ophelias - Almost
* Lemuria - Companion

Not EPs but Not Albums (since these 7 song things are apparently here to stay):

* Matt Muse - Nappy Talk
* Deafhaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
* Wilder Maker - Zion
* Collections of Colonies of Bees - Hawaii


* Body/Head - The Switch

Also out:

* Cliff Westfall - Baby You Win
* Smokescreens - Used to Yesterday
* Future - BEASTMODE 2

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