Recent Purchases, March Edition Part 2

Here’s another huge blog entry featuring some truly excellent tunage from an excellent month of releases.  Enjoy!

The Naked and Famous, A Still Heart, released 9 March. Another ‘unplugged’ album, and it’s a lovely one, with a mix of old favorite tracks from the band mixed with some excellent new ones, including a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”.

David Byrne, American Utopia, released 9 March. The always twitchy, always worldly Byrne treats us to another great album of the odd alt-pop he does so well.

Embrace, Love Is a Basic Need, released 9 March. I love this new record of theirs. It’s tender, it’s beautiful, and it’s got a hell of a lot of heart to it. One of their best records.

The Neighbourhood, The Neighbourhood, released 9 March. Proving they’re much more than just a one-hit-wonder with “Sweater Weather”, this band continues to release fascinating and slightly weird music worth checking out.

Editors, Violence, released 9 March. One of my favorite bands of the last decade or so, their new album isn’t as dark as the previous one, but it’s just as tense.

The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl, released 16 March. A slight change of sound and mood for this Portland band, finally embracing their 80s post-punk influences. Very unexpected sounds, but they pull it off beautifully.

Meshell Ndegeocello, Ventriloquism, released 16 March. Cover albums don’t always work as well as we wish they would, but this one is absolutely stunning, covering 80s and 90s R&B hits from Prince, TLC, Funkadelic, Al B Sure, Janet, and more. One of my favorite albums of the month, hands down.

Preoccupations, New Material, released 23 March. After changing their name to a much less controversial one (they were formerly known as Viet Cong and released one album under that name), they’ve only gotten better and better. Their new record has a distinctly late-80s-college-radio sound (this particular video even looks like it would have been right at home on 120 Minutes back in the day) that I love so much.

Failure, In the Future EP, released 30 March. Failure returns with a new project, a science fictional-themed album that will be released as a handful of EPs (and will be released as a full album later on). Looking forward to more from this amazing band.

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Coming Soon: April releases!

Recent Purchases, March Edition, Part 1

Another month almost near the end! Here’s the best of what was purchased over the first couple of weeks of this month, most of which I’m still listening to quite heavily. I say ‘purchased’ and not released, because these all had a drop date of the 2nd, and I had to keep an eye on my bank account!

The Breeders, All Nerve, released 2 March. A welcome return to the original Last Splash-era Breeders, with classic chunky riffs, noisy production, and the always off-kilter lyrics of Kim Deal. This one’s definitely going to be a summer listen for me.

Moby, Everything Was Fine, and Nothing Hurt, released 2 March. This one’s quite similar to his classic Play album from 1999, mixing twitchy upbeat songs with quiet mood pieces. There’s even a hint of trip-hop in there as well.

Lucy Dacus, Historian, released 2 March. She reminds me of Beth Orton in a way; not just a singer/songwriter but a sound sculptor. This album starts out soft and sedate but it features a lot of unexpected — and sometimes loud — turns, which keeps me coming back to it.

Moaning, Moaning, released 2 March. Apparently taking a page or three from Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, this Sub Pop band comes straight out of 1985 college radio and doesn’t give up with its walls of guitar and reverb. Which of course means this album is tailored just for me!

Lucius, Nudes, released 2 March. The first of a few ‘unplugged’ albums that show up this month, and it amazes me how well Lucius translates to alt-folk in the process. Especially the new track “Woman”, which is simply stunning with its dual-lead harmonies.

Buffalo Tom, Quiet and Peace, released 2 March. The Boston boys are back with another great record of brash alt-rock and excellent songwriting. There’s even a hint of Springsteen influence on this album, but I’m not complaining.

Tracey Thorn, Record, released 2 March. The vocal half of Everything But the Girl releases her first solo album in six years, and it’s a welcome return.

Andrew WK, You’re Not Alone, released 2 March. The professor of All Things Party releases an album that screams EPIC, but also talks honestly about life. Meat Loaf-esque hard rock bombast (but without the ten-minute operettas, thankfully) shares the same space as spoken-word interludes on being the best you can be at whatever you aim for. Noisy and uplifting, just how AWK wants your life to be lived.

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Up Next: The rest of the month!

Recent Purchases, February 2018 Edition

It’s been a busy couple of weeks here, what with me releasing a new book, catching up on personal things, and preparing for FOGcon, I almost forgot to continue with the Recent Purchases post!  Thankfully February is a short month and I don’t have to split it up into two posts, so I can catch up quickly.

Hope you enjoy!

GoGo Penguin, A Humdrum Star, released 9 February. I don’t listen to jazz nearly as much as I used to, but this one was suggested by AllMusic and I have to say I’m glad they did, because this album is FREAKING AMAZING. They’re your basic piano-bass-drums trio, but their music is so energetic and unique that it sounds so much bigger. Highly recommended.

Franz Ferdinand, Always Ascending, released 9 February. These poppy weirdos have returned with yet another irresistibly catchy album full of quirky alt-pop gems. As always, it’s a fun listen from beginning to end.

The Wombats, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, released 9 February. One of my favorite album names of 2018 so far, and another fun listen. This band somehow manages to write songs that sound gleefully happy, even when the lyrics aren’t, and I love them for it.

Fischerspooner, Sir, released 16 February. I’d almost completely forgotten about this band — I own 2003’s #1 album, but missed out on all their follow-ups — but this one jumped out at me and wouldn’t let go. Alternately sexy and weird, and that’s exactly how they want it.

Superchunk, What a Time to Be Alive, released 16 February. My manager at the record store loved this band back in my HMV days, but I never quite latched onto them. Thankfully their latest has fixed that ghastly mistake! Good punky fun.

FiFi Rong, Awake EP, released 23 February. Another groovy, trip-hoppy EP from one of my favorite internet finds.

Our Lady Peace, Somethingness, released 23 February. This crowd-funded release finally gets a wide release. There’s an energy on this album that’s reminiscent to their late 90s-early 00s sound that balances out their softer side that they’ve been mostly using on their later releases.

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Coming Soon: March 2018, which so far seems to want to bankrupt me with its awesomeness!

Recent Purchases, January 2018 Edition, Part Two

Here’s the second half of last month’s purchases for your enjoyment!

They Might Be Giants, I Like Fun, released 17 January. Released as a ‘rock album’, TMBG is still writing the short, weird and catchy songs thirty-plus years on. They’re still doing their classic Dial-a-Song project as well, which is now available online!

Belle & Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2) EP, released 19 January. The second of three EPs to be released by the band, they’ve found themselves comfortable in their invigorated indie-pop sound but still retain their wonderful songwriting chops.

tUnE-yArDs, I can feel you creep into my private life, released 19 January. Merrill Garbus and co. are still playing off-kilter tunes infused with international beats and worldly lyrics. This one’s less abrasive than some of her earlier work, but no less confrontational when it needs to be.

The Go! Team, Semicircle, released 19 January. A band I’d heard of but not followed, and now I’m wondering why the hell I haven’t! A goofy fun mix of indie pop with funk beats and double-dutch chants.

Milck, This Is Not the End EP, released 19 January. Ages ago I probably would have filed this under ‘one of those singers you hear on Grey’s Anatomy‘ but I’ve come to like a lot of this kind of thing when it’s done really well.  This release is quite lovely.

The Spook School, Could It Be Different?, released 26 January. Scottish indie punk that manages to emulate the classic C86 sound perfectly. Lots of fun listening here.

Django Django, Marble Skies, released 26 January. This band has always been just a bit weird, but always catchy and great listening. This new album is a bit of a departure in that it feels less poppy/commercial than their previous albums and more adventurous, which is definitely not a bad thing. There’s even a few synthy tracks that kind of remind me of early Depeche Mode in there!

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Coming up soon enough: February releases!

Recent Purchases, January 2018 Edition, Part One

Here we are, back again for another round of new tunage at the start of a new year!  Since I’m doing a lot more streaming than impulse buying this year to save money and get my collection under control, a lot of these were bought not on their drop date but week or three later.  These are the many of the titles that made the cut.

It feels like this month was stronger than previous, with a lot of solid albums that I’ve been listening to on repeat.  So much so that I have to split it up into two posts!  We’ll see the follow-up next Tuesday.  So!  On with the show…

BØRNS, Blue Madonna, released 12 January. One of those albums where the more you listen to it, the more you love it. My initial listen was ambivalent but positive; I thought it was pretty good. Upon repeated listens, however, I found myself resonating with a lot of it. It kind of reminds me a bit of early New Order mixed with the atmosphere of M83.

Typhoon, Offerings, released 12 January. I’d never heard of this Salem, OR band before, but I love what I’m hearing. One of those bands with an indeterminate number of members, with a sound that could be inventive indie rock or lower-level math rock, I’m not sure. All I know is that they sound great and I’m most likely going to search out their other stuff soon enough.

Jaguwar, Ringthing, released 12 January. Shoegaze is alive and well! Jaguwar’s latest is a lovely, blissful run full of fast and fun songs and a lot of reverb. It’s quite enjoyable, especially during my Day Job hours!

Shame, Songs of Praise, released 12 January. What you get when you cross shoegaze with Art Brut-like punk silliness. Dreamlike but with sometimes shouty, sometimes surprising, and often not-quite-on-key vocals. I kept coming back to this one.

The Neighbourhood, To Imagine EP, released 12 January. This band has surprised me over the last few EP releases. They’ve been heading in interesting, experimental directions, leaving the rap-surf-pop of “Sweater Weather” far behind. I’m definitely liking what I’m hearing.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Wrong Creatures, released 12 January. BRMC returns to a much darker, louder J&MC-esque sound that fits them like a glove. An album that’s just begging to be listened to at top volume.

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Stay tuned for more next week!

 

Recent Purchases, December Edition

There usually aren’t that many new releases in the last month of the year; December is usually reserved for titles aimed at gift-giving…the box set, the greatest hits mix, the best-of-year compilations, and so on.  New albums don’t usually do so well this time out unless they’re either from big-name bands.  I usually use this month to pick up whatever few new albums there are and catch up on some of the older releases I hadn’t gotten around to.

So without further ado, a much shorter list to provide…

Cindy Wilson, Change, released 1 December. This was quite a surprise to a lot of people, as Cindy’s vocals are usually loud and up front, right next to Kate Pierson’s when they’re singing B-52s tracks. She’s much more subdued and adventurous here. The album feels like a mix of Tom Tom Club with a bit of less-noisy Sonic Youth thrown in.

Steven Wilson, Last Day of June OST, released 1 December. This one almost snuck by me! Steven quickly follows up his To the Bone with the soundtrack to a video game based on one of his songs. Much of it is instrumental, but that’s not a problem here, as he’s always had a gift for lovely and often haunting melodies.

New Order, NOMC15, released 1 December. I’ve always felt this band was a little boring live, as they never really had much stage presence at all (per Peter Hook, it was usually because they were either wasted or putting on an attitude, or both), but apparently they’ve lightened up and put on a much more entertaining show over the last few years. This is a great mix of New Order songs both new and old, and they do almost all of them justice. [I say almost, because I feel they really do “Atmosphere” a disservice, as Bernard can’t hit Ian’s low notes and it ends up like he’s singing the words but to the tune of “Ceremony” instead. Other than that, it’s quite excellent.]

U2, Songs of Experience, released 1 December. An excellent follow-up to 2014’s Songs of Innocence, and just as solid and strong. Just like the previous album, they’ve recaptured the power and focus that had been lacking in the last few releases. One of my favorites of the year.

Belle and Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 1) EP, released 8 December. The first of three planned EPs from a poppier version of a band formerly known for their lo-fi murblings in the 90s and 00s. It took me a few songs to get used to their new direction, but it works well for them.

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Coming up Thursday: the year-end compilation and best-of lists! 🙂

Recent Purchases, November Edition

A slightly shorter list this month, but running the gamut between soft, loud, delicate and noisy. November had quite the eclectic mix!

Lost Horizons, Ojalá, released 3 November. Simon Raymonde from Cocteau Twins, and Richie Thomas from Dif Juz? What’s not to love? A laid back, sort of jazzy album that’s a relaxing treat.

Bibio, Phantom Brickworks, released 3 November. Even more relaxing than the above album, this one’s filled with lovely meandering instrumentals and makes a fine writing soundtrack.

Sleigh Bells, Kid Kruschev EP, released 10 November. A usually-loud band surprises us with a mid-tempo, sometimes even quiet mini-set that’s just as excellent as their ear-bleeding noise.

Seal, Standards, released 10 November. I got a chance to see him play tracks from this album with the San Francisco Symphony a few nights ago, and it was absolutely fantastic. He really nailed the Sinatra/Rat Pack vibe on this album. I particularly love this track, as it really reminds me of The Wrecking Crew.

Morrissey, Low in High School, released 17 November. Questionable commentary, wonky politics and untrustworthy touring aside, I’m still a fan of Moz’s music, and I think this is probably his strongest album in quite some time. A lot of his previous records were good but not memorable, but this one’s got a goodly amount of keepers.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO, Wembley Or Bust, released 17 November. I totally admit I’ve been obsessing over this album lately! Yeah, I’m almost 47 and this is the music of my youth. It’s an excellent live mix of classics (and “When I Was a Boy” from 2015’s Alone in the Universe) and a hell of a fun listen.

Elbow, Best of, released 24 November. Go buy this already! One of my favorite bands of the new millennium. Absolutely stellar songwriting with gorgeous melodies and amazing vocals.  I don’t obsess over this band so much as I let their music pull me in and take me places.  I love it when a band can do that.

Bjork, Utopia, released 24 November. Weirdly beautiful as always, Bjork’s new album is once again less about the melodies and more about the sensation of its sound. Delicate and fragile, but always great.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds,Who Built the Moon, released 24 November. The Other Gallagher Brother (the one wot wrote nearly all the Oasis songs) puts out an off-kilter yet surprisingly strong album that’s quite different from his previous two.

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One more month of new releases to go!