Huge week! New ones from many of our faves, so let’s jump in and start with:
The Men, New Moon – Brooklyn’s most dynamic young rock band of the moment returns with its third expectations-raising/confounding record in as many years. Austin L. Ray writes:
Each of the last three years has produced a new album from Brooklyn’s The Men, and each of those albums has only increased the cultish glow of adoration for the fervent rock band, which has proven itself both capable and uncompromising. Like the subjects of Michael Azerrad’s ’80s-underground bible, Our Band Could Be Your Life — a book The Men would’ve been featured in had they been making music 30 years ago — this is a band that believes in the saving grace of a sweaty, anthemic rock song … New Moon is exciting transition, an anticipatory vision of how we’ll describe whatever’s next.
Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt – This record. We are in love. A record that could have come out in 2003 on Saddle Creek and changed my life. Here’s Carrie Battan with more:
American Weekend, Katie Crutchfield first under the name Waxahatchee, felt like a whispered sacred document of youthful discontent and loneliness, the kind you could curl up and live inside for days. On the follow-up, Cerulean Salt, Crutchfield has plugged in the amplifiers and slightly glossed up the production. That might initially disappoint American Weekend fans, but the decision not to attempt to reproduce the holy rawness of her debut ultimately serves Crutchfield well. Her subtle gut-punches translate just as powerfully once the volume’s been dialed up.
Youth Lagoon, Wondrous Bughouse – Trevor Powers’ second full-length as Youth Lagoon expands outward from the internal Year of Hibernation to explore the big, bad, beautiful outside world. Shades of Sparklehorse, Mercury Rev, the Flaming Lips and Built to Spill abound in this colorful and textured guitar-rock suite. Ryan Reed says:
If The Year of Hiberation, Trevor Powers’s debut album under the name Youth Lagoon, felt like riding a slow-moving, psychedelic county-fair carousel, then his sophomore effort, Wondrous Bughouse, is like being strapped into the spinning teacups at Disney World while on psychotropic drugs. This woozy, slightly out-of-focus aesthetic is a sharp U-turn, arriving after the pixie-dust electro-pop of Hibernation — it’s as if Powers grew disinterested in idyllic prettiness and purposely decided to uglify and intensify his trademark sound.
The Replacements, Songs for Slim: A benefit EP for former Replacements guitarist Slim Dunlop, who was hospitalized for a massive brain stroke last month, Songs for Slim reunites Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson under the Replacements name. The results are loose and kinda bar-rocky, perfectly unpolished and surprisingly toothy.
Rhye, Woman – Quietly gorgeous, Sade-influenced chamber pop. Our own Jayson Greene wrote the review on this one, and here’s a sample:
You will discern the primary influence behind Rhye roughly 0.00002 seconds after singer/producer Mike Milosh opens his mouth: in his creamy, untroubled contralto, edged with lingering hurt, you will hear Sade materialize in front of you. Like Sade, Rhye seeks higher energies in the intermingling of the masculine and feminine. The full-length debut, tellingly titled Woman, it follows through on the fusion proposed by those early songs – chamber pop and Lovers Rock, poised with their mouths inches apart, whispering.
Olof Arnalds, Sudden Elevation –Our favorite Icelandic folk singer’s first English-language album. This is as light and pretty as we’ve come to expect from Olof, her voice curling around the notes like smoke from an incense stick. RECOMMENDED
Jimi Hendrix, People, Hell, & Angels - eMusic’s own Lenny Kaye wrote a beautiful, elegiac piece about the latest to be unearthed from the Jimi vault. It will be up and live a little bit later today, but here is a taste:
Out of a foreshortened lifeline and a relatively small body of work, it seems there is no end to the many miracles wrought by Jimi Hendrix to feed our insatiable hunger to hear every lick he played. For someone who did his fair share of burning the candle at both ends, as well as in the middle, he never lost sight of his work ethic and fascination with music’s byways — ceaselessly experimenting, recording and jamming with his peers. The level of commitment in the studio is high, and really, no matter whom he’s interacting with, Jimi doesn’t change so much as usher the chosen players into his spatial universe.
Josh Ritter, The Beast in Its Tracks – A wry, rueful divorce record from the country-folk singer Josh Ritter. Annie Zaleski writes:
In the artist notes for The Beast In Its Tracks, Josh Ritter wastes no time establishing the premise of his sixth album: “My marriage ended on November 1, 2010. It was a cold, blustery morning in Calgary, Alberta, and I was on tour. I hung up the phone and looked around me.” But while the impact of his divorce certainly hovers over The Beast In Its Tracks — the longing and regret coursing through the whispery acoustic opener “Third Arm” is breathtaking — the record smartly frames the breakup through the lens of optimism, not bitterness.
Caitlin Rose, The Stand-In – Confident, powerful pop-country voice comes into her own. Here’s Stephen Deusner with more:
Given her avowed love of old Hollywood glamour (just check out that album cover), the title of Caitlin Rose’s sophomore full-length likely refers to the 1937 backlot comedy The Stand-In, about a love triangle between the title character, a hapless number cruncher and a hopeless film producer. While Rose does write about similar romantic confusions, the film reference nevertheless comes across as false modesty: On these dozen songs, she emerges as a confident, distinctive pop-country artist with a biting lyrical style and a smart way with a hook. Perhaps A Star Is Born sounded too cocky?
Young Dreams, Between Places – Yearning, dramatic, fresh-faced indie rock, somewhere between Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend. Laura Studarus writes:
On their debut Between Places, the Norwegian collective Young Dreams rounds out a subgenre in your music collection you didn’t even know existed: well-adjusted coming-of-age anthems. As evidenced by the driving album opener “Footprints,” Young Dreams isn’t lacking for scrappy enthusiasm, and Between Placesbrims with youthful vigor and energy. Like Vampire Weekend of Fleet Foxes, they work in a light, retro-pop style that came to prominence that came to prominence years before they were born, updating it with lyrical signifiers of modern life: cell phone chargers, drinking games, and the otherworldly quality of summer vacation.
How To Destroy Angels, welcome oblivion – First full-length from new Trent Reznor project. Jon Wiederhorn says:
Welcome oblivion, the first full-length album with Trent Reznor’s new band How to Destroy Angels, is both totally familiar and unlike anything Reznor has ever done. It’s dark, brooding and filled with angst, but the anger that drives Nine Inch Nails is mostly absent, replaced with a sense of urgent desperation, as if Reznor knows time is passing and he wants to explore new, challenging sonic avenues, much like his idol David Bowie.
Rotting Christ, Kata Ton Aaimona Eaytoy – Athens, Greece-based black metal outfit continue to push hard at their chosen genre’s boundaries. Jon Wiederhorn writes:
After 25 years together, many metal bands settle into a comfort zone and stick with a sound they’ve developed over the decades. Not Athens, Greece’s Rotting Christ, who continue to discover new approaches to sonic blasphemy. The band’s 11th full-length, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy (which translates to the Aleister Crowley motto “Do what thou wilt”), takes its title seriously, not just from a lyrical perspective but also from a creative standpoint … A natural evolution from the band’s last two releases, 2007′s Theogonia and 2010′s Aealo, Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy should be a welcome addition to the collections of those that have enjoyed listening to the band develop over the past half-decade.
Autechre, Exai – The electronic act, entering its third decade, continues to find way to blow synapses. Andy Battaglia wrote the review:
One way for a long-running electronic-music act to ensure their listeners stay freaked out and confounded — two emotional qualities that have been Autechre’s specialties since their dawning IDM days — is to release a double-album that clocks in at a little over two hours. Melodies snake and swerve through almost every track, taking their time to develop and resolve, when they resolve at all. And the beats — well, they bristle, bray, lean back, zoom forward, break up, and beam out toward the outer edges of the cosmos, where music so serious and austere might provide a suitable soundtrack.
Stubborn Heart, Stubborn Heart – Today is the US release of this indie Brit-pop/soul hybrid, about which Barry Walters writes:
One could be forgiven for at first believing there’s little about Stubborn Heart that sets this pair apart from their London EDM contemporaries. There are aching vocals from Luca Santucci, electronic backings from Ben Fitzgerald, and a sleek noir sensibility shared with James Blake, Jessie Ware and the xx. Eschewing sunlight, the duo favors shadows no longer radical. Their distinction is a frisson that aligns them with a highly specific offshoot of ’80s Brit-soul — the smooth-but-tortured AOR of the Blue Nile, Black and Danny Wilson.
Son Volt, Honky Tonk – The latest from Jay Farrar continues down his well-traveled road. Richard Gehr writes:
“There’s a reckless side of tradition, a push of the tide having its way,” sings Jay Farrar above a guitar, harmonica and accordion wailing plaintively in the background of “Livin’ On,” the centerpiece of Son Volt’s ambivalent seventh album. Farrar’s sense of tradition is hardly reckless as he celebrates both the wild and down sides of honky-tonk life — and its resident angels — through alternating midtempo waltzes and shuffles played by a stately country sextet.
Kate Nash, Girl Talk – In which Kate Nash gets impressively, spitting mad. Annie Zaleski writes:
When British singer-songwriter Kate Nash said that Girl Talk consists of her “blood, sweat, emotional puke and tears,” she wasn’t just being dramatic. Her third full-length is a messy chronicle of post-breakup grief that veers between relief (“Fri-end?”), soul-searching (“Conventional Girl”), wistfulness (“Are You There Sweetheart?”), sadness (“Lullaby For An Insomniac,” “O My God”) and anger (“All Talk”). Appropriately, Girl Talk‘s music is also all over the place; styles covered include wobbly, girl group-inspired indie-pop, brash punk, stormy post-punk, grimy new wave, sparkling Britpop and vulnerable acoustic pop.
Helado Negro, Invisible Life – Bewitching, endearing multiculti pop. Richard Gehr writes:
According to Invisible Life‘s credits, Helado Negro, the stage name of Ecuador-born Roberto Lange, “played the computer synthesizer to make this music.” That sounds about right. Invisible Life may be the most coherent of Helado Negro’s three albums of electronics con vocals, but it still has a distant, abstract quality to it even though it features, for the first time, four English-language tracks.
Daniel Amos, Kalhoun, BibleLand and Songs of the Heart: A trio of ’90s albums from this underrated California alt-rock band. Of the three, Kalhoun is not only the strongest, but arguably one of the best of the band’s career, a collection of finely-wrought rock with razor-sharp lyrics that are, by turns, scathingly satirical and startlingly sensitive. It’s start-to-finish perfect. The rest are a mixed bag: BibleLand was the group’s response to grunge that was polarizing when it came out (I was always a defender). Songs of the Heart was a well-intentioned misfire.
Jamaican Queens, Wormfood: Coy little band from Detroit proffers buzzy, nerdy indie rock with yelping vocals, sputtering drum machines and electronic crackle and fog.
Lady, Lady: Lady is a duo comprised of Terri Walker from London and Nicole Wray from Atlanta, but their combined effort recalls the slinky, high-gloss R&B of the late ’70s. There are big, bright horn charts, limber grooves and assured vocals. They’re balanced right on the precipice where R&B started to give way to funk; there’s been a deluge of retro-soul lately, but by shifting their reference point up a decade or so, Lady manage to give some shine to a part of soul history that has been heretofore ignored.
The Cave Singers, Naomi – The raw, intimate backwoods rock of The Cave Singers grows a little bigger. Ryan Reed writes:
On their sprawling fourth studio album Naomi, Seattle’s Cave Singers continue to expand their brand of rootsy, psychedelic rock. Now officially a quartet (with the addition of former Blood Brothers bassist Morgan Henderson), they sound more like a legitimate “band” than ever before: Henderson brings a funky virtuoso edge to these groove-heavy anthems, punching up the high-octane soul of “Early Moon” and anchoring the jittery, two-chord pulse of “Have to Pretend” with deep-pocket propulsion.
SUUNS, S/T – Grooving, hypnotic, Clinic-style rock.