Tuesday, April 2, 2019

First Listen: New Releases from 29 March

Another slow week.

Artist: Laura Stevenson
Album: The Big Freeze
Quick Description: Newest album from a favorite here and elsewhere.
Why You Should Listen: Laura Stevenson continues to pull together compelling record after compelling record.
Overall Thoughts: The Big Freeze is ultimately an exercise in managing expectations. Stevenson comes from a punk background, she hit our radar with some great indie pop in “Master of Art,” and some of her best songs have been more upbeat and louder on a whole. This new album is very introspective and, in many cases, definitely isn’t shielding anything from the meaning or intentions behind the music. This does not make for a bad album; in fact, it’s a very good one. But my struggle, on first listen, was trying to balance what I want from Laura Stevenson compared to what this album is. This is more her Sea Change, in a sense, and it absolutely works (and the soaring harmonies alongside some stark instrumentation is just gorgeous), but it just requires some recentering of our expectations to fully appreciate what we’ve received this week.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Billie Eilish
Quick Description: Dark, weirdo pop music from one of the most buzzworthy artists of the moment.
Why You Should Listen: This is a very unique vision.
Overall Thoughts: It’s very tempting, in some ways, to see this album as a deconstructed pop album, but I don’t know. This is more Grimes than Taylor, with a delivery more akin to hiding under the covers than being in your face. For every song that feels glitchy and weird, there’s something more off-center but still mainstream (a song that samples heavily from “Threat Level Midnight” from The Office). It’s difficult to really pigeonhole what’s going on here, and that is likely-to-completely by design, and it’s absolutely something we’ll be hearing more about in the coming weeks and beyond. The buzz is undeniable, and it’s worth your time.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Wet Dreams
Album: Wet Dreams
Quick Description: Grungy garage rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is a little different than the others.
Overall Thoughts: A countless number of garage rock-type albums slide through my weekly listens, and some are better than others but few tend to stand out. I do not know exactly why this specific album is working for me when others didn’t, but there’s a definite sense of something special here. The distortion is turned way up, and the album is lo-fi in many of the best ways. If you like this sort of thing, have a go at this one.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if this is your thing.

Artist: Heather Rose in Clover
Album: Canyons
Quick Description: Fun indie rock out of Providence
Why You Should Listen: This is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Overall Thoughts: There's something super familiar about this that I just can't place, but no matter - this is a really enthusiastic, upbeat indie record that I fell in love with fairly quickly. It's not reinventing the wheel by any stretch, but there's probably going to be enough here for you to find something to like.
Recommendation: Make some time.

Of note:

* Steve Earle - GUY (Concept/tribute effort with tons of great moments)
* Son Volt - Union (Some good and bad, but Son Volt is usually worth it)
* Russkaja - No One is Illegal (More fun Gogol Bordello-style punk)
* KARRYN - The Quanta Series (Weird but solid electronic music.)
* Cornelius - Ripple Waves
* Mekons - Deserted
* Chris Cohen - Chris Cohen


* Bad Bad Hats - Wide Right
* Emilia - Pollinations

Also out:

* Jake Nakor and the Moment of Truth - In the Cut
* Quelle Chris - Guns
* Edwyn Collins - Badbea
* UNKLE - The Road Part II / Lost Highway
* How to Dress Well - One Train Hides Another

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