New This Week: The Knife, James Blake, Paramore, & More

Wondering Sound Staff

By Wondering Sound Staff

on 04.09.13 in Spotlights

The Knife, Shaking the Habitual: The Knife’s latest is exhilarating and maybe the freakiest record this year. Kevin O’Donnell says:

What is clear is the Knife’s gift for crafting some of the most forward-thinking electronic music around — Shaking the Habitual is an exhilarating, what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here listen. It’s definitely their freakiest set yet — maybe the freakiest record this year. Cuts like “Full of Fire” and “Raging Lung” are packed with synth earworms and djembe drums and storm-the-floor electronic beats and flutes and recorders and art-damaged acoustic guitars and feedback drones. In a time when pop stars and television personalities offer up every mundane detail of their personal lives for the sake of a retweet, sometimes it’s nice to have an artist who remains shrouded in nothing but mystery.

James Blake, Overgrown: James Blake might sound like blue-eyed soul to some, but if you think he sounds like Jamie Lidell, you should get your ears checked. eMusic’s Andrew Parks says:

James Blake revisits the profoundly weird stomping grounds of his self-titled debut on Overgrown. Free of Feist or Joni Mitchell covers, the only creative voice that’s tortured or tweaked this time around is Blake’s own, whether that means something as live and direct as “DLM” or the patience-rewarding returns of, well, everything else.

Paramore, Paramore: Paramore stray from safe, simple hooks on their super-long self-titled LP. Says Ryan Reed:

“No one’s the same as they used to be,” sings Hayley Williams at the outset of her band’s boldly catchy fourth album, her lightning-rod yelp ricocheting off new-wave synths and tense punk-pop riffage. For Paramore, it’s a prophetic lyric: On this expansive self-titled set, they’ve all but ditched the emo stiffness of their early Warped Tour days, plunging head-first into the slick, arena-friendly stylings of modern pop.

Villagers, {Awayland}: The second LP from Irish troubadour Conor O’Brien, aka Villagers. Dan Hyman says:

Villagers, the musical outlet for troubadour Conor O’Brien, is a folk act at its core. But on 2010′s Becoming a Jackal, O’Brien drew justifiable comparisons to fellow Irishman Glen Hansard and Bright Eyes for his ability to expand outside the genre’s steel-stringed framework. With {Awayland}, O’Brien pushes these experiments further and expands this experimental bent, dabbling in lush orchestration and electronic textures.

Dawes, Stories Don’t End: Dawes embrace their folk-rock strengths on their latest LP. Hillary Saunders says:

Full of irresistible harmonies, clear-ringing guitar solos and astute lyrical self-awareness, Stories Don’t End serves as a graceful evolution from 2009′s debut North Hills and 2011′s Nothing Is Wrong. The album offers a more optimistic, or at least hopeful, tenor that you can hear most clearly in “Someone Will” and “Most People,” as well as the Blake Mills cover “Hey Lover.

Numbers And Letters, Guns Under Water: The debut full-length from Austin’s Numbers And Letters. Stephen Deusner says:

Austin alt-country outfit Numbers And Letters open their full-length debut with a brash declaration: “The fire’s been lit,” sings frontwoman Katie Hasty on “Ghost.” “I hope you still love this house, ’cause I just burned it down.” She’d rather torch the place than share it with ghosts who lurk but don’t pay rent. It’s a memorable introduction to an album littered with memories of doomed loves and populated by lovers pushed to emotional extremes.

The Postal Service, Give Up -  The side project that swallowed the career of everyone involved. For something so unassuming and wispy, this record changed a lot of lives, straight up. I do not have much to say about this album that you all don’t already  know/feel, but “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” remains one of the  greatest songs of the last decade, and will be around for a long while.

Various Artists, Fania Records 1964-1984, The Incendiary Sounds of New York – Tito Puente, Ralfi Pagan, Celia Cruz, and more on this dazzling and true-to-its-name (INCENDIARY!) compilation of NY salsa, as presented by the legendary Fania records. Hear a city boiling.

Jaimeo Brown, Transcendence -  A stunning statement from the “drummer/conceptualist” Jaimeo Brown, as Britt Robson calls him. In his rave review, he observes:

Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence is “essential” music, in the sense that the essence of the black church, the blues, and the emotional gutbucket that marks the best jazz improvisation help distinguish its identity. And yet this is almost the opposite of a “roots” album; Brown, a drummer-conceptualist in his mid-30s, has fostered a species of music that incorporates the scalding blues-rock guitar and hip-hop sonics of Chris Sholar (probably best known for his Grammy-winning work with Kanye and Jay-Z on “No Church In the Wild”); extended samples from the rural Alabama gospel group the Gee’s Bend Quilters from their recordings in 1941 and 2002; the sinuous, Carnatic-styled East Indian vocals of Falu; the resonant, ductile jazz tenor sax of J.D. Allen and piano of Geri Allen; and Brown’s own polyrhythmic, African-bush-to-NYC-club assaults on the drum kit. After a couple of straight-through listens, the entire package soaks into your soul.

Dave Douglas, Time Travel – The celebrated trumpeter brings his new quintet back to the clean-lined basics for his latest offering.

Julieta Venegas, Los Momentos – Airy, off-kilter Spanish-speaking indie/folk pop from the Mexican singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas.

Joey Bada$$,  “Unorthodox” – Talented, throwback-NY rapper, not yet twenty years old, links up with DJ Premier.

Vondelpark, “California Analog Dream” – Lovely, smooth, Arthur Russell-influenced watery dance-pop.

Sinkane, “Warm Spell” – Jittery, light-stepping rock/pop single given a number of bouncy, buzzy remixes.

The Juan MacLean, “You Are My Destiny” – Fluidly propulsive new one from DFA faves The Juan MacLean.

Kid CuDi, “Girls” – New single from Kid CuDi.

Kids on A Crime Spree, “Creep The Creeps” – This song sounds great; The Cure in a tin can,  just wonderful pop songwriting.