Sea of Trees - Live at the Linda: This is a band from Albany (my general region of residence). They were offering this E.P. as a free download from their website and I decided to give some local music a chance. Glad I did. This is a beautiful set of songs. Swirling vocals, Elephant 6ish constructions, each song sounds a shoegazer interpretation of the NMH's "Oh, Comely", which is to say...damned good. I hope to see them live soon. (If you guys are reading this, play Woodstock!)
Cocoon - Back to Panda Mountain: This is a live album from one the best French indie-pop bands around. Their debut album My Friends All Died in a Plane Crash has been one of my favorites for the last year or so. They sing beautiful campfire pop songs that are also incredibly sad. They don't lose anything live and the crowd's interaction almost adds to the nature of the songs.
Noel Gallagher - The Dreams We Have As Children: A recording of Noel's solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall was a vastly pleasant surprise. A lot of these songs, I've heard Noel sing before, either because he sings them on the albums or they're songs such as "Wonderwall" where Liam has refused to sing over the years. Some, were new to me with Noel's voice and they sound great. I love Liam's voice, but there's also something about hearing the emotion that the songwriter puts into a tune that is pretty unbeatable.
Queenadreena - Djin: The highlight of the second half of my week was when the new album by one of my favorite bands of the decade came in the mail. Rising from the ashes of Daisy Chainsaw, this is Queenadreena's first album since The Butcher and the Butterfly, one of my 10 favorites of the decade, and this is just as brutal and powerful. Self-released, this is only available from the band's website as of now, but worth the buy. Katie Jane Garside's voice is just as brilliant as it was back in 1992 when Daisy Chainsaw burst onto the scene. David Gray's guitar playing is violent and amazing. Highly recommend you get anything and everything by this band.
Bear Hands - Golden EP: This was the opening band for the Manics on Wednesday, so I checked them out before hand. This is the Brooklyn based band's only release thus far, but I understand a full-length is soon on the way. They're in the mold of other recent NYC post-punk outfits producing a fuzzed-out fast paced rock that's also strangely danceable. Reminds me a lot of Death From Above (1979). Good stuff.
The Executioner's Last Song - Volume 1: This compilation is a collection of songs surrounding death, capital punishment, and sadness featuring greats like Neko Case, Johnny Dowd, and many more. Some great death folk music on here with a political message. Great for fans of Murder by Death, Bonnie Prince Billy's I See a Darkness, and other such greats.
Etta James - Come a Little Closer: I picked this up on vinyl this week and really enjoyed it. Etta's voice is always amazing, but there's an added element of a tortured soul in this collection of soul songs. Recorded while she was in rehab, you can hear the tinge of defeat and sadness even in the upbeat songs, which gives them an added depth.
Harry Nilsson - A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night: Nilsson had become a rock star prior to recording this album, and rumor is, he didn't like being one. So came this album that must have shocked fans of his previous albums at the time. This is a collection of standards, crooned in Rat Pack glory. But it's a great listen and Nilsson's voice never sounded better.
Due to the lack of new material, I've decide to pull out two from my vaults. These 5 star albums date back to my college days in the mid-90's, but they still impress me every time I listen to them. Plus, these bands never get enough attention.
Ghost - Second Time Around: The second album from Japan's psychedelic legends is perhaps my favorite. More folky than some other efforts, this album is like the soundtrack to another place . . a dreamscape of sorts. But it also hits with incredible moments of sonic grooving that get the head spinning and bobbing.
Groundhogs - Thank Christ for the Bomb: It's a tragedy that this British blues-rock outfit doesn't get more love while many of their contemporaries are revered. Their playing is unmatched and their message and lyrics are on par with the bests of the era. Though I love many of their albums, this is the classic must-have. "Soldier" and "Thank Christ for The Bomb" will make all those fans of Pink Floyd's The Wall want to toss that record on the floor and complete the conversion to the church of Groundhogs.