Recent Purchases, October Edition

October was a somewhat quieter release month (and my wallet thanks the record industry for that), but these releases were no less awesome. Here’s a few albums I picked up…

Liam Gallagher, As You Were, released 6 October. Yes, I am still willing to admit I’m an Oasis fan (as well as a Blur fan, but that’s another post entirely), and I’ve followed both Gallagher brothers post-breakup. Liam, the snotty kid brother, is no longer recording under the Beady Eye moniker, and it seems he’s finally shed his Beatles/Jam hippie-mod hybrid leanings. The new solo album is strong and confident, much like post-Be Here Now Oasis.

Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049 score, released 6 October. I’ve been getting into scores lately, which is kind of a new thing for me as an avid listener. Zimmer does a fantastic job updating the sound originated by the classic 1982 SF film, providing a bit of warmth to an otherwise dark setting. [For the record, I had a few issues with the film scriptwise but overall I quite enjoyed it.]

The Church, man woman life death infinity, released 6 October. One of my favorite bands from the 80s is still going strong, and still fiercely independent in their sound. This is one of their spookier albums by far.

Beck, Colors, released 13 October. I can always count on Beck to release one of two kinds of albums: either a beautiful heartbreaking serious album (like Sea Change and Morning Phase or an off-kilter weirdo album (like Odelay and this one). I’ve come to really appreciate his musicianship over the years, and “Dreams” is definitely one of my favorite recent singles of his.

St Vincent, Masseduction, released 13 October. St Vincent finally returns with a new album, and it’s even weirder than her last. This one took me a few listens to get into for that reason, but it’s just as solid as her previous work.

Stars, There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light, released 13 October. I can always count on Stars to come out with a laid back alt-rock album with no pretension or bombast, and they write such lovely melodies. One of my favorite albums of this month.

The Sound of Arrows, Stay Free, released 27 October. This Swedish electronic band is a new find for me, but I love them already. They’ve been described as a mix of Pet Shop Boys and M83, and I think that’s spot on. About halfway through my initial listen I realized this could very well be the style of music to listen to for my next writing project.

…More releases coming soon! 🙂

The kids would all sing, he would take the wrong key

Last Friday saw the release of a major compilation from the Who entitled Maximum As & Bs, featuring nearly all their singles from their first release as the High Numbers to their most recent.

I’ve been a somewhat passive Who fan in the past, knowing most of their more famous songs from listening to classic rock radio as a youth, but I never really followed them too closely until years later.  I found them very similar to the Kinks; they were an acquired taste and you kind of had to understand their very British influences in order to really appreciate them.

So of course during the course of Friday afternoon I streamed the collection from Amazon, and found it quite fascinating.  Like most bands from the 60s (yes, even the Beatles), the band flailed around for a few years trying to find their footing.  There’s a lot of mod posturing and moon-June lyricism going on in the early tracks.  They managed to get past this most of the time, thanks to Pete Townshend’s wit and amazing riffs, John Entwistle’s thundering bass lines, and of course Keith Moon’s manic drumming.  Roger Daltrey’s of course a great singer, but those first couple of years are a bit shaky for him; it felt like he was trying too hard to fit his powerful voice into quiet songs.  By the time they came to Tommy, though, they were a powerhouse and a rock radio staple.

[Granted, their concept album era of Tommy and Quadrophenia isn’t for everyone.  I myself find both projects a little too ridiculous, but they both contain some stellar songs that stand on their own amazingly well.]

This compilation is quite long, covering multiple decades (and is essentially a cd/digital repackaging of the singles box sets they released recently), so you may want to take it in a cd at a time, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Finding New Music

Finding new music to listen to isn’t always easy.  As I’ve mentioned before, commercial stations tend to have a set rotation so we hear the same core songs over the course of a few months, with maybe a new track popping up every now and again.  But it’s rare for that new addition to the playlist to immediately get a lot of play right away.

In a way, the same can be said for listening to college radio.  While those stations often don’t have the set rotation setup, they can also be a bit too leftfield, playing nothing but obscurities and outsider music.  It’s fun to listen to if you like that sort of thing, but that sort of stuff doesn’t really resonate with me.

I tend to go somewhere in between; I’ll listen to college radio for part of the day (my home station lately has been Boston College’s WZBC, though I’ll slip over to my other favorite, Santa Clara University’s KSCU, later on), but then I might switch over to Boston’s RadioBDC or one of the SiriusXM stations.  Somewhere during all that listening, I’ll catch a new song that will catch my attention.

I’ll also stop by some of the websites that are streaming new albums.  NPR features an interesting selection, as do a few others.  I’ll also check out albums that I can stream through Amazon Prime (one of the main reasons I signed up for it, actually); I actually use that site extensively on New Release Fridays to check out the new stuff and decide if I want to explore the bands further or not.

Interestingly, I’ve found some favorites via social media as well.  Sometimes a random band will follow me, and I’ll always give them a quick listen and follow back if I’m interested. This is always fun, because these bands and musicians tend to be more low key yet absolutely fantastic. I’ve picked up a number of albums from bands this way.

Here’s a few of my favorite finds over the past year:

FiFi Rong (followed me on Twitter)

Of Verona (followed me on Twitter)

The DROiDS (followed me on Twitter)

Pia Fraus (suggested by AllMusic.com)

Cosima (suggested by Stereogum and The Line of Best Fit)

 

Cymbals (suggested by AllMusic.com)

Gang of Youths (heard on WZBC)

Recent Purchases, September Edition, Part II

More musical goodness from last month for you to enjoy!

Living Colour, Shade, released 8 September. Great to see these guys back, still rocking hard and writing some damn fine songs.

The National, Sleep Well Beast, released 8 September. A somewhat more somber affair for these guys (well, a bit more laid back than they already are!), but still a great album.

Lamb, “Illumina” single, released 13 September. A new track by Lamb? SWEET! A lovely track by one of my favorite electronic bands. Definitely looking forward to more from them.

Foo Fighters, Concrete and Gold, released 15 September. A harder, darker album, less catchy but just as great.

Ringo Starr, Give More Love, released 15 September. Ringo’s albums can be hit or miss, but he definitely hit it with this one. Very upbeat and confident on this one.

Prophets of Rage, Prophets of Rage, released 15 September. Music by the guys from Rage Against the Machine and rappers from Public Enemy and Cypress Hill. You’d better expect some fucking rage.

Gary Numan, Savage (Songs from a Broken World), released 15 September. I think I may have found another album that I will be listening to during writing sessions for the next Mendaihu Universe story. I’m amazed at how damn good this album is.

Cut Copy, Haiku from Zero, released 22 September. This band manages to create a new variant of their signature electronic sound with every new album, and I’m always fascinated by them. Yet another fine release.

Tricky, ununiform, released 22 September. Another ‘I will buy anything they release’ musician. Tricky’s not as grimy and gritty as he used to be, but he still retains the great triphop chill that defines his sound.

The Horrors, V, released 22 September. I stumbled upon this group a few years ago and I love their mid-80s goth retro sound that kind of reminds me of Comsat Angels. Definitely worth checking out.

Wolf Alice, Visions of a Life, released 29 September. This is such a fun band to listen to! You never quite know where they’re going next with each song, but the ride is a blast.

Coming soon enough: October releases! We have some fine albums for this month as well that I’m looking forward to picking up!

 

Recent Purchases, August Edition

The further we go along in 2017, the more this year seems to be that everyone is putting out an album!  Not that I’m complaining. There’s not just favorite bands releasing new stuff, I’m also finding new bands to obsess over. Here’s some of my favorites for August:

Life On Venus, Encounters, released 4 August. Dreamy, reverby shoegaze from Moscow? Sure, why not? Very Slowdive-y, in a really good way.

Black Grape, Pop Voodoo, released 4 August. Shaun Ryder once again proving he can’t hit a note to save his life, his poppier, dancier group returning after far too long with a new album.

Dan Wilson, Re-Covered, released 4 August. Known more for his songwriting and production now than his tenure in Semisonic, Wilson records some of his most well-known tracks that were recorded by other artists.

Frankie Rose, Cage Tropical, released 11 August. AllMusic described this album as sounding remarkably like a pop album from 1985, and they weren’t wrong. I most likely would have bought this at Strawberries back then.

Emily Saliers, Murmuration Nation, released 11 August. The other half of Indigo Girls finally releases her own solo album, and it’s a fun, poppy, maybe even a little electronic record worth checking out.

The Districts, Popular Manipulations, 11 August. A band that’s new to me, but won me over on the first track above. They kind of remind me of the Killers vocally but Beach Slang musically.

Paul Draper, Spooky Action, released 11 August. Draper has lost none of his quirky songwriting chops since leaving Mansun oh so many years ago. Definitely a welcome return!

Gold Class, Drum, released 18 August. It took me a few listens to realize they remind me a lot of The Cult, but without the overwhelming pomp and less Ian Astbury wail. I’m quite liking this one.

KMFDM, HELL YEAH, released 18 August. I really need to get back into Belgian industrial. I loved it way back in the day but could never find any of it (and when I did, I was usually too broke to buy it). Great to hear this band is still going strong.

Rainer Maria, S/T, released 18 August. I have been playing the hell out of this album. Over a decade since their last album, this is one hell of an excellent return. One of my favorites of the year.

UNKLE, The Road, Part I, released 18 August. Another band on the “I will buy anything they put out” list. They’ve come a long way from their more electronic sound, but James Lavelle still knows how to create a creepy ambience with his music.

Steven Wilson, To the Bone, released 18 August. It is kind of weird to see the Porcupine Tree front man playing alternapop here (and smiling in the video!), but it’s a great new record, apparently inspired by his favorite UK pop bands from the 80s.

PVRIS, All We Know of Heaven, All We Need of Hell, released 25 August. Bonus points for one of my favorite album titles of the year! A group that was getting a lot of publicity that I just had to check out, and I wasn’t let down. And they’re from MA! Yay!

Cymbals, Light in Your Mind, released 25 August. Another record suggested by a music blog I read that I warmed right up to. Laid back but not blissed out, I find them quite pleasing to play during my writing sessions.

More to come…our September shopping list is going to be quite epic!

Recent Purchases, July Edition

More new and reissued tunage from 2017, for your perusal…an interesting mix of old and new, loud and soft, ambient and danceable this time out.

Tory y Moi, Boo Boo, released 7 July.

Public Service Broadcasting, Every Valley, released 7 July.

Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder, released 7 July.

HAIM, Something to Tell You, released 7 July.

Yoko Ono, Fly, Approximately Infinite Universe and Feeling the Space reissues, released 14 July.

The Dears, Times Infinity Volume Two, released 14 July.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets OST, released 20 July.

Dunkirk OST, released 21 July.

Nine Inch Nails, Add Violence EP, released 21 July.

Cornelius, Mellow Waves, released 21 July.

Declan McKenna, What Do You Think About the Car?, released 21 July.

Arcade Fire, Everything Now, released 28 July.

People Like You, Verse, released 28 July.

Recent Purchases, June Edition

Another great month of new releases worth checking out!

Saint Etienne, Home Counties released 2 June. SE is one of those bands that I kind of knew from different tracks, but only within the last, say, four or five years have I come to really appreciate them. Poppy, distinctly British, and finely written.

Roger Waters, Is This the Life We Really Want?, released 2 June. It’s been quite some time since his last album. This is pure distilled angry, cantankerous Roger Waters at his finest, with music that sounds equal parts Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Final Cut.

alt-j, Relaxer, released 2 June. A continuation of their signature weirdness that somehow still gets a hell of a lot of airplay.

U2, The Joshua Tree [Deluxe Edition], released 2 June. How many times have I listened to this album and not gotten sick of it? It’s indeed a classic album and the new 30th anniversary package is quite worth checking out.

Panda Riot, Infinity Maps, released 9 June. One of many “oh, they have a new album out? SWEET!” releases that seem to be sneaking up behind me this year. I was a big fan of their 2013 album Northern Automatic Music and this was definitely a great follow-up.

London Grammar, Truth Is a Beautiful Thing, released 10 June. I know I’ve heard of this band before but I can’t seem to remember where, so I gave it a stream listen, and LO! It was pretty damn good.

The Drums, Abysmal Thoughts, released 16 June. One of those bands I didn’t quite ‘get’ the first time around, but the more I listen to them, the more I love their stuff.

Royal Blood, How Did We Get So Dark?, released 16 June. Another band whose first album passed right by me. This one’s loud and crunchy like Foals with a bit of Sleigh Bells thrown in for good measure.

Ride, Weather Diaries, released 16 June. A VERY welcome return to one of my favorite bands of the early 90s, they’ve lost none of their signature soaring shoegaze noise.

311, Mosaic, released 23 June. 311 is on my list of ‘I will buy any new album they release’ bands. I know they’re not to everyone’s tastes, especially since they’ve mellowed somewhat since their louder mid-90s output. It’s a hell of a great album.

Radiohead, OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997 2017, released 23 June. Loved the original when it came out 20 years ago during my HMV years (and one that got a hell of a lot of heavy rotation during the trilogy writing session years). Love the new release, which features a great remaster of the original, most of the b-sides, and three unreleased tracks. I originally wasn’t going to download this as I had most of it, but it was a great price and yeah — helluva great album and all that.

Prince & the Revolution,Purple Rain [Deluxe Remaster], released 23 June. An album that got me through a lot of my early teen years, it’s still a freakin’ FANTASTIC and solid album from start to finish. The new remaster sounds powerful and full of energy, and it also contains all those pesky hard-to-find era b-sides as well!

Algiers, The Underside of Power, released 23 June. Another ‘who the hell is this and WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT THEM’ band for me. Tried it out with a stream and immediately put it in the basket to purchase. I’m still not quite sure how to describe them other than a mix of TV On the Radio and Bloc Party. Highly recommended.

Au.Ra, Cultivations, released 30 June. Ditto for this band as well, only they get extra points for heavily reminding me of the early 4AD sound, complete with chimey guitars, dreamy melodies and reverb for days. I’ve been playing this one a hell of a lot over the last week.

Floating Points, Reflections – Mojave Desert, released 30 June. Ditto again. This particular band fascinates me because they’re kind of like Air, with a bit of Caspian thrown in, and maybe just a hint of BT’s more ambient sound as well. This one continues to fascinate me.

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OKAY! I’m not sure what’s coming in July, as I haven’t been up on my release lists as of late, but I’m expecting more goodness soon!