Album: Natural Disaster
Quick Thoughts: Back in high school, I was a big big fan of Nina Gordon's post-Veruca Salt debut solo album, and I kept going back to that in my head with Bethany Cosentino's debut solo effort sans Beach House. They're different albums, for sure - Gordon's was more pop compared to Cosentino's radio-friendly-indie-folk leans here, but in as much as they both seem like albums worthy of sending their respective careers into the stratosphere, all the better. This is a great album with some of the catchiest hooks you'll hear all summer, and it rightfully belongs in the list of one of the best of this year.
Songs of Note: "Outta Time," "It's Fine," "A Single Day," "My Own City," "Calling on Angels"
Album: Welshpool Frillies
Quick Thoughts: According to Wikipedia, Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices has written somewhere around 1,600 songs over the last 40 years, at least 600 of which have been "officially" released on GBV records. Some of them are true classics ("Glad Girls," "Everywhere With Helicopters"), but for as long as I've listened to indie rock, Pollard's never-ending font of musical expression has been both a pleasure and a punchline depending on who you ask. I'm hardly a hardcore fan, but I have listened to everything the band has put out at least once in the last decade, and I feel like I can say that this album is something surprising and special. The songs here are catchy and complex, and truly come across as some of the best music Pollard has released in ages. While we'll likely get a couple more GBV albums before the year is out, this one might deserve some longevity.
Songs of Note: "Meet the Star," "Cruisers' Cross," "Romeo Surgeon," "Animal Concentrate," "Radioactive Pigeons"
Album: The Ballad of Darren
Quick Thoughts: Speaking of bands that haven't grabbed me in some time is UK legends Blur. Damon Albarn is probably better known for Gorillaz stateside these days, and judging by the output of both groups, one wouldn't be shocked if you thought Gorillaz was the main act. For me, the last good Blur song was "Crazy Beat," which was a major swerve from the band and was also 20 years ago, but this album feels like a return to form that I truly didn't expect. "St. Charles Square" in particular might be the most "Blur" Blur song we've gotten since 13. Definitely worth the time both for lapsed and current fans.
Songs of Note: "St. Charles Square," "Barbaric"
Album: Pure Music
Quick Thoughts: Wanted to make sure this didn't get missed in a slow summer, Strange Ranger provides a great electro-rock album here that feels like it straddles three decades at once. It grabbed me immediately and unexpectedly, and "Ask Me About My Love Life" is going into heavy rotation here. Check this one out.
Songs of Note: "She's on Fire," "Dream," "Ask Me About My Love Life"
Album: City of Gold
Quick Thoughts: I was a massive fan of Molly Tuttle's first album with Golden Highway, and City of Gold meets those second album expectations perfectly. Tuttle knows how to straddle the line between classic country and the sort of tongue-in-cheek bluegrass that all the greats provide, and this new album cements Tuttle as one of the best roots musicians out there at present (assuming she wasn't there already).
Songs of Note: "San Joaquin," "Alice in the Bluegrass," "Down Home Dispensary," "More Like a River"
Album: They Live in My Head
Quick Thoughts: Bush Tetras have been around longer than I have, but I honestly and truly never heard of them before a couple weeks ago. The post-punk act were way ahead of their time in 1980 and feel ahead of their time today - tell me "Bird on a Wire" isn't a song that should be all over the radio and everywhere else. This is a welcome effort from a legendary act, and it's worth your time.
Songs of Note: "Bird on a Wire," "Tout Est Meilleur," "Another Room"
* Cut Worms - Cut Worms (Classic 1970s-style folk rock)
* LOBSTERBOMB - Look Out (Fun, retro-style rock.)
* Andrew Bird - Outside Problems (A (mostly) instrumental record, and simply great.)
* BBY GOYARD and DJ Smokey - LORESEEKER
* Locate S,1 - Wicked Jaw
* Georgia - Euphoric
* Brad - In the Moment That You're Born
* Landowner - Escape the Compound
* Renouncer - Dilettante Dawn
* Darlingside - Everything is Alive
* Kid Gulliver - Kiss and Tell
* Damon Locks and Rob Mazurek - New Future City Radio
* Jessy Lanza - Love Hallucination
* Madeline Kenney - A New Reality Mind
* Private Lives - Hit Record
* The Clientele - I Am Not There Anymore
* Lori McKenna - 1988
* Gooooose - Rudiments
* Koralle - Insomnia
* Lipphead - From The Back
* Mother Tongues - Love in a Vicious Way
* The Hot Toddies Jazz Band - The Hot Toddies Jazz Band
* Carly Rae Jepsen - The Loveliest Time
* Paris Texas - MID AIR
* iANO - What Will We See
* Whisper Hiss - Shake Me Awake
* Valee and Harry Fraud - Virtuoso
* Pia Fraus - Evening Colours
* Helvetia - Heuristic Hindsight Blues
* 7038634357 - Neo Seven
* Mehmet Ali Sanlikol - Turkish Hipster
* torr - molecule
* Sunforger - Sunforger
* Sweeps - Life and Light
* Krust - Irrational Numbers Vol 1
* Bedroom Eyes - Turned Away
* mauve - About the Weather
* Susto - My Entire Life
* Allegra Krieger - I Keep My Feet on the Fragile Plane
* Miss Tiny - DEN7
* Logan Lynn and Yellow Trash Can - Distracted
* INJI - LFG
* DACEY - JUST A TASTE
* Brian Eno - Flower Bells
* Forever - talk
* Mission to Sleep - White Death
* Elizabeth Moen - For Arthur
* Me Not You - Hotel Coffee
* Aphex Twin - Blackbox Life Recorder 21f/in a room7 F760
* Eleanor and The Pretty Things - Doomsayer
* ODESZA and Yellow House - Flaws in Our Design
* Bloc Party - The High Life EP
* Nora Brown and Stephanie Coleman - Lady of the Lake
* Milledenials - The Peak of Youth Life
* gWem - Slammin' Silicon
* JJ and the Real Jerks - Rat Beach
* Lauren Auder - the infinite spine
* Current 93 - If A City is Set Upon a Hill
* HALAL BOYS - Kufi Conversations
* Dwellings - Little Garden
* The Empty Threats - Monster Truck Mondays