This week's list is an odd collective to be sure. With at least one release from each of the previous five decades, it's bound to be a little disparate. Hopefully in a good way. It made for interesting listening, switching gears as it does. It many ways, I blame the weather which spanned from summer to spring to fall-like all in the span of a few days. When it's warm, I got to get the sunshine tunes going and then it gets windy and bleak and I want the comfort of feeling sad. Looking ahead to next week's list, it's going to consist mainly of my most anticipated releases of the first quarter of 2010 thanks to a trip to Princeton Record Exchange and the best record story in Philly, Aka Music on second. For now, may I present this oddball bunch for you to ponder.
Arctic Monkeys - My Propeller EP: Essentially a single, but with three unreleased B-sides, it felt like a return to the '90s when the single made a somewhat resurgence (at least with British bands). The title track is one of the best from the Humbug album and the B-sides are quality. "Joining the Dots" being the best. Worth it for fans.
Johnny Flynn - Sweet William e.p.: Flynn's full-length was one of my favorite albums of 2008 and I was pretty excited to hear this follow-up EP. Four songs long, they are all the same brand of that new contemporary London folk scene. Really smart song writing. Doesn't miss a beat from the full-length, but doesn't stray far either. All of these songs would fit seamlessly onto the album. That's a high compliment.
Mr. Gnome - Heave Yer Skeleton: Okay, so I fully admit to being attracted to this because of the amazing cover that reminds me of the haunting glimmer I have from some Raggedy Ann cartoon special I saw as a child. Sometimes, these intuitions pay off. I really enjoy this album. Sure, the singer sounds like a dead ringer for Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but the music is far more interesting than the YYY have been in years or maybe it's just that I'm obsessed with psychedelic folk at the moment.
AM - Future Sons & Daughters: I caught the video for the single from this album and was intrigued enough to hear the entire thing. It reminds me a lot of the late '90s Brooklyn scene of bands like Essex Green, Ladybug Transistor, and the non-Brooklyn band The Minders. Which is to say, it's pretty fantastic indie pop. It differs from those aforementioned bands in many ways though. It has definite L.A. feel to it that I'm always a sucker for. Kind of Portugal. The Man-lite sound.
Oneida - Preteen Weaponry: Oneida has been around for years and doesn't get enough credit for their endurance in a scene that is fickle to say the least. This is a pretty solid effort of instrumental neo-psy. Not earth shattering, or anything I haven't heard before, yet done with a professionalism that sometimes is lacking in the genre. If instrumental indie rock is your thing, this is certainly worth a listen.
Portugal. The Man - Under Waves of the Brown Coat: The latest PTM nod on the roundup, this stands to be the last for a while as I think I've pretty much caught up on their entire catalog (one album remains, but I'm kind of saving it). This 2005 EP is slightly lesser than most of the either work, yet still better than most others bands. Some great tunes on here though. If you are still unfamiliar with this band, don't start here, but once your hooked, certainly don't overlook this release either.
Tad - 8-way Santa: One of the early "Seattle Sound" bands the pioneered the scene along with Mudhoney and others, Tad is a band I've largely, and unrightfully, ignored for years. This is "classic grunge" (nod to Lifeseeker there). Heavier than most of the bands that went mainstream from the scene, Tad is h-e-a-v-y! I loved this album. "Jack Pepsi" is a must.
Jefferson Starship - Freedom at Point Zero: I've always been a giant Jefferson Airplane fan and skeptical of Jefferson Starship. Though I've recently been digging the Jefferson Starship albums "Blows Against the Empire" and "Red Octopus" and thought this one worth checking out (with a cover like that, how could I resist) even though it was 1979 and nearing the disaster that is Starship. Though not completely awful, this isn't exactly good either. Some quality tunes though. "Jane", "Awakening" and the title track are worth the listen.
Kyuss - Welcome to Sky Valley: Though I've always been a Queens of the Stone Age fan, I've never quite loved the root band Kyuss. I enjoyed Blues for the Red Sun, but didn't love it. This album is surprisingly different than that one. Very much an Alice in Chains sound on here. I liked it. It was heavier, but at the same time more commercial. Decent heavy rock album with a distinct '90s sound, but I still don't see the where the cult of Kyuss comes from. "Space Cadet" is the stand out track for me.
Neil Young - Neil Young: It's that time of year again. It seems every year for the last 15 years, I go on this Neil Young kick. I'm full-on in the midst of another attack. I'd never picked up this first solo effort (released a few months before the 5 star Everybody Knows This is Nowhere). But is is definitely a good Neil album. "The Loner" rocks of course, and I actually love the epic "Last Trip to Tulsa" in all it's Dylan-esque glory (a lot of people rail about that song, they're loss). More Neil to come in upcoming roundups.