New Albums: September 11th

Coexist” – The xx

After 2009’s “xx”, a brilliantly minimalistic debut that excited most of the indie-rock universe, many wondered where the British band would take their sound. The answer is somewhat complicated. Although the band’s most distinctive elements are still in place, they branch out in subtle ways. “Coexist” shows a band that is willing to flesh out and expand it’s sound without completely breaking free of their musical boundaries; in this way the album is more “Room on Fire” than it is “Kid A“.

Tempest” – Bob Dylan

Initial response to the legendary singer-songwriters 35th studio album has been overwhelmingly positive. Such notable publications as Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly and Newsday have all given the album a perfect score and described it as one of Dylan’s darkest records. This album looks like one I’ll have to spend some serious time digging into to see if the music justifies the early hype.

Love This Giant” – David Byrne & St. Vincent

Two years in the making, this collaborative effort features two distinct and diverse voices meshing their styles together and showing the willingness to experiment. Artsy but still accessible, the album is undeniably funky and sure to please fans of both artists music.

Other notable releases:

  • Algiers” – Calexico: the Arizona band’s followup to 2008’s well-recieved “Carried to Dust”, “Algiers” is reportedly dedicated to New Orleans and exhibits many of the signature sounds and styles that define that city.
  • The Carpenter” – The Avett Brothers: Following up 2009’s “I and Love and You”, the brothers again recruit legendary producer Rick Rubin behind the boards to engineer the bands folky sound.
  • Observator” – The Raveonettes: Inspired by the people lead singer Sune Rose Wagner met during a three day drug and alcohol bender due to depression, the Raveonettes latest album contains some of the bands most focused songwriting in years.
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Song of the Day: “Sagaba” – Blue Scholars

Here’s an older (relatively) hip hop track from the Seattle group Blue Scholars. Soulful as can be.

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Song of the Day: “Amanita” – Animal Collective

Animal Collective’s latest album “Centipede Hz”, while full of interesting musical concepts and fragments of sound, is not without its critics (for good reason). It’s too “busy” of an album, lacking the distinctiveness, dynamics and sense of direction of previous classics.

When the album’s approach works however, as on lead single “Today’s Supernatural” and the closing track “Amanita”, Animal Collective are able to create unique soundscapes that rival the best in their catalogue. “Amanita” doesn’t smack you in the face with an initial burst of noise like many of the lesser songs on the album, instead building and releasing throughout the songs 5 1/2 minutes.

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Song of the Day: “Sunset” – The xx

On first listen it would be easy to draw the conclusion that The xx’s new album “Coexist” is just a rehash of their critically lauded 2009 album “xx”. Surely many of the same elements from their debut are present on it’s followup: the simple song structures, the spaces within the music, the downbeat atmospherics, and the conversational interplay between the band’s male and female vocalist. But there’s a clear evolution in the band’s sound on “Coexist”, an evolution that is perhaps most evident during the albums midsection, on songs like “Sunset.” The stuttering drums that propel the song through it’s first half sound new and fresh, but it isn’t until the second part of the song, after things have gone virtually silent for a second of two, that the band’s innovations become crystal clear. A choppy, stuttering beat that reminds me of a slowed down version of a The Field song (perhaps this) makes its presence known behind the vocals and guitar line. When paired up with the drums it pushes the bands sound into a new, House-y territory.

“Coexist” is clearly a breakup record and the lyrics  for “Sunset” explore the title’s implications by describing the reunion of two former lovers and how both handle (and misinterpret) the situation. It’s not new territory for the band, but they handle the details of the encounter with a sense of beauty and heartbreak that enhances the lyric’s simple language.

Stream “Sunset” and the rest of “Coexist” at the link below:

http://coexist.thexx.info/

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Song of the Day: “Clique” – G.O.O.D. Music

I’d like to initiate a “song of the day” feature to the website as a way of sharing my taste in music. On days when I have enough time I’ll try and add serious analysis or commentary to the posts. On other days, like today, I’ll just post the song and let the reader interpret the music for themselves.

Today’s song of the day is “Clique,” the latest leak from Kanye West’s label G.O.O.D. Music. The group’s album “Cruel Summer” is set to drop on September 18th.

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New Albums: September 4th

I’m going to try to produce some shorter content to keep this website fresh and full in between my longer essays. Today I’d like to unveil a new article type to the blog, a weekly reminder and synopsis of all the new major music releases for the week.

Centipede Hz” – Animal Collective

Animal Collective’ followup to their stellar 2009 album “Merriweather Post Pavillion” has been touted as a significantly different record than it’s predecessor. Based on the stream that was available, courtesy of the band itself, I’d have to agree. “Centipede Hz” is a harsh, dissonant and busy record that lacks the poppy melodicism of their last effort. First single “Today’s Supernatural” is a pretty good example of the albums overall sound.

Sun” – Cat Power

Chan Marshall’s first album full of original material since 2006’s “The Greatest”, “The Sun” finds the gifted songwriter, one of rock music’s best female voices, at the top of her game while also bending and blending her style to create something alternately familiar and new. Listen to lead single “Cherokee“.

Breakup Song” – Deerhoof

Over the course of 11 albums Deerhoof has made a point of adding and subtracting elements to their music so that they never repeat themselves. Their latest album, “Breakup Song”, fits into this pattern and falls in line with the quality of Deerhoof’s previous material. Listen to album closer “Fete d’Adieu“.

Other notable releases:

  • Ocean Roar” – Mount Eerie: the band’s second moody, brooding album of 2012 is sure to be just as much of a critical darling as it’s predecessor “Clear Moon”
  • The North” – Stars: the sixth album from the Canadian band finds them sticking to their formula of electro-rock soundscapes and sugary vocals.
  • The Bloom and the Blight” – Two Gallows: Their first album in 5 years, “The Bloom and the Blight” is equal parts massive and intimate.

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The Best KEXP Studio Concert Ever?

Some videos have so many things going on in them, and are so indescribably awesome, that words wouldn’t do them justice. That is the case with Seattle radio station KEXP’s latest live set, featuring Despot, Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire, Killer Mike and El-P. Especially of note is a preview of one of the songs from Despot’s new album, a collaboration with electronica group Ratatat. Watch the video below and decide for yourself what degree of perfect it is:

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