Tuesday, April 23, 2024

First Listen: New Releases for 19 April 2024

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: The Tortured Poets Department
Quick Thoughts: I mean, it's fine. I think that was my feeling on first listen, and I think a lot of more casual Taylor Swift fans are coming around to that position. There are 30 tracks when you include the Anthology tracks, and about half of them are good-to-great. There's not a bad song here, but it's not a fun two hours the way some of the (Taylor's Version) ones have been. I also think, in a take that it turns out is not nearly as hot as I originally thought, that Jack Antonoff's production here is doing a disservice to a record that's more Evermore than Midnights. But this is a lot of words for an album that you've probably already heard and already have opinions about, so...
Songs of Note: Too many to list, but "I Can Do It With a Broken Heart," "The Prophecy," and "The Bolter" are the highest highlights.

Artist: Pearl Jam
Album: Dark Matter
Quick Thoughts: Aging grungeheads probably see Eddie Vedder as the titular tortured poet, but that Pearl Jam has effectively slotted themselves into the adult-alternative landscape without sacrificing a lot of what makes them special is worth noting. As a more casual fan (after decades of resistance), this is up there with any of their post-Yield work, but longtime fans might still wonder why it doesn't rock as hard as we might want. Songs of Note: "Wreckage," "Dark Matter," "Upper Hand," "Waiting for Stevie," "Running," "Something Special," "Got to Give"

Artist: Paraorchestra
Album: Death Songbook
Quick Thoughts: A great British music project featuring musicians with disabilities and getting a ton of star support on the side. Organized by conductor Charles Hazlewood, the album features Brett Anderson of Suede along with a bunch of guest spots, it's a solid orchestral listen with a lot going for it, musically and socially.
Songs of Note: "The Killing Moon," "Wonderful Life," "He's Dead," "Enjoy the Silence," "The End of the World"

Artist: Pillow Queens
Album: Name Your Sorrow
Quick Thoughts: Pillow Queens have been great for their entire run, but the Glasgow-based foursome made something a little bigger and bolder this time around and we all benefit as a result. "Suffer" in particular is a highlight, featuring the best the band offers and leaving you wanting to slam the repeat button. Don't miss out on this one.
Songs of Note: "February 8th," "Suffer," "Blew Up the World," "The Bar's Closed," "Heavy Pour," "One Night"

Artist: Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard
Album: Skinwalker
Quick Thoughts: One we missed from earlier this year, it's loud and it's messy and it's absolutely glorious. Songs like "National Rust" feel like controlled chaos, and "Therapy" drips with feeling throughout its entire runtime. The album is pretty great, and is worth your time.
Songs of Note: "National Rust," "My Star Sign is a Bassett Hound," "Leatherbound," "In My Egg," "Therapy"

Album: A Chaos of Flowers
Quick Thoughts: Another one we missed, this is a Canadian act that's probably best described as alt-experimental, but that makes it sound weirder and more out-there than it is. There are so many layers to so many of the songs that it's probably the album I'm most excited to get back to this week. Check them out.
Songs of Note: "not speaking of the ways," "chanson pour mon ombre"

Artist: Agent blå
Album: STAB!
Quick Thoughts: It's hard to talk about Swedish rock without talking about The Hives, but this album reminded me a lot of the feeling of when Veni Vidi Vicious landed on American shores, in that there's an excitement and newness to the entire approach that's endearingly awesome. Agent blå's brand of indie pop/alt-rock is certainly of the moment, but there's something special here that doesn't always land right when other bands do it. A great listen.
Songs of Note: "Ebb and Flow," "Mind Mapping," "The Fascination of Self-Sabotage"

Of note:

* Half Past Two - Talk is Killing Me (Ska is not dead!)
* Griefcat - Late Stage Capitalism (Think if Garfunkel and Oates were terminally online shitposters.)
* Ysr Gramz - So Much Enrgy & Sav
* Couch Slut - You Could Do It Tonight
* Melvins - Tarantula Heart
* Kindsight - No Shame No Fame
* Sarah Siskind - Her Rites
* claire rousay - sentiment
* The Baby Seals - Chaos
* Brainstory - Sounds Good
* A Certain Ratio - It All Comes Down to This
* Grocer - Bless Me
* Eyedress - Vampire in Beverly Hills
* Cloud Nothings - Final Summer
* Cadence Weapon - Rollercoaster
* ekko astral - pink balloons
* Tei Shi - Valerie
* Tourist - Memory Morning
* Salami Rose Joe Louis and Flanafi - Sarah
* Martin Howth - Distant Dissonance
* Chanel Beads - Your Day Will Come
* Charm of Finches - Marlinchen in the Snow
* Kooley High and Tuamie - All Infinite
* Seafood Sam - Standing on Giant Shoulders


* Hot Joy - Small Favor (Far and away the best power pop I've heard in ages.)
* MIDDLEMAN - John Dillinger Died for You
* Prima Queen - Not the Baby
* HighSchool - Accelerator
* Creature Comfort - The Honeymoon EP
* Bear McCreary - The End of Tomorrow
* Marika Hackman - Little Sigh (Acoustic)
* Menomena - The Insulation EP
* Sofia Bolt - Martini
* Moonpools - Hide and Seek

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Orbital - Orbital (The Green Album Expanded)
* William Shatner - So Fragile, So Blue (Live at the Kennedy Center)

Also out:

* notVisible - Movie Scene
* DJ Smokey, Christ Dillignger, and RXKNephew - THIS ALBUM IS TERRORISM

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