Tuesday, February 16, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 12 February

Artist: Jillette Johnson
Album: It's a Beautiful Day and I Love You
Quick Description: Great rootsy rock music.
Why You Should Listen: Jillette Johnson has a ton of great songs here.
Overall Thoughts: We must have missed her 2017 release if the Google machine is any indication, but Johnson's third album is really great. The production value is high, and some of the songs like "Jealous" and "What Would Jesus Do" are absolutely awesome. I love everything about this album, and it's great for fans of Tift Merritt and the like.
Recommendation: Do not miss this one.

Artist: K. Michelle Dubois
Album: The Fever Returns
Quick Description: Criminally overlooked singer-songwriter material.
Why You Should Listen: This is Dubois's second album in a row that deserve higher praise and visibility than it gets.
Overall Thoughts: Dubois made her musical name as part of a punk-adjacent act in the 1990s, and her solo work has been less rock than that, choosing to explore soundscapes rather than stick to a single genre. While that can be hit or miss with most artists, Dubois bucks that trend with yet another collection of mature songs like "Firestar" and "On the Run" that stick with you. I don't feel like I hear enough about how great she is, so get on board.
Recommendation: A must-hear this week.

Artist: Aerial East
Album: Try Harder
Quick Description: Beautifully fragile singer-songwriter music.
Why You Should Listen: The sparse instrumentation and gorgeous songwriting are a wonderful change of pace.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know much about Aerial East, but a lot of it is reminiscent of Julien Baker's Turn Out the Lights, except a lot more reserved. It feels like you're in a house concern with a woman and her guitar and just one awesome song after another. Of the listens out this week, I'm looking forward to this one more than most.
Recommendation: Mandatory listen.

Artist: Steady Holiday
Album: Take the Corners Gently
Quick Description: Latest from the indie popster.
Why You Should Listen: Steady Holiday makes fun songs, plain and simple.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan of Steady Holiday for some time now, and this new album is more of the same high-quality songwriting we've come to expect. I don't have a ton to say about this in a busy-ish week, but there's ultimately not a bad song in the whole batch, and I really enjoy a lot of this listen.
Recommendation: Make time for this effort.

Artist: The Actions
Album: Flourish
Quick Description: British rock act channels their inner Portishead.
Why You Should Listen: It's a surprising listen in 2021, but a welcome one.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't know of The Actions before Friday, but this album, a super trip-hoppy affair, definitely made me look for more. Listening back to their 2009 effort, this is a departure from what they used to do, but my goodness is this an interesting listen. It's not breaking new ground, but it's also not trying to. It's just a good record.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Devil Love
Album: Broken Things
Quick Description: Classic alt rock in a modern style.
Why You Should Listen: It feels like it was taped off of WBCN circa 1994.
Overall Thoughts: One of my favorite listens this week. This album isn't reinventing the wheel, but Devil Love has a very clear and precise love for the alt rock I came of age with, and each song on this album has the sort of alt/power pop that I try to seek out. This album is exactly what I needed, and scratched the nostalgia itch perfectly.
Recommendation: Give this a spin.

Of note:

* Mush - Lines Redacted (Delightfully odd indie punk.)
* Claud - Super Monster (A solid indie pop listen, musically a step up from their debut.)
* Layzi - Be Mine?
* Styrofoam Winos - Styrofoam Winos
* Run River North - Creatures in Your Head
* His Name is Alive - Hope is a Candle
* Anika Pyle - Wild River
* Slaine - The Things We Can't Forgive
* Calyx - Stay Gone
* Django Django - Glowing in the Dark
* 7-11 Jesus - Tree Dream
* Beth Lee - Waiting on You Tonight

* Abbie Ozard - Let's Play Pretend (Don't miss "true romance.")
* Girli - Ex Talk (Don't miss "Has Been.")
* Haley and the Crushers - Fun Sized
* Lizzie Reid - Cubicle
* Sierra Hull - Weighted Mind (The Original Sessions)
* Kelly Duplex - Kelly Duplex
* Ellect - Intellectual Property
Live albums/Compilations:

* Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition) (A reissue of her 2020 album with a bunch of b-sides and bonus tracks.)

Also out:

* Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility
* Pale Waves - Who Am I?

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