Summer's end is upon us, but not without a fight. Temperatures took a spike into disgusting territory this past week which meant the speakers were aching for some high impact warm weather music. Music is so mood influencing that it's impossible to separate certain albums from certain seasons. Summer music tends to have more of a pulse, probably because I always feel so sluggish. I listened to most of these albums for the first time this week, others are hold overs but seem to fit the pattern.
O. Children - O. Children: The debut album from these London goths was one I've been waiting for ever since I heard the single "The Ruins". There's a definite classic goth punk influence from Bauhaus and even the more pop goth elements of The Cure. But this band is also very much part of the newer generation of bands imitating that era. It's a decent album and reminds me a lot of early High School years, which was also fitting with the Back to School hullabaloo. "The Ruins" is still the best song on here however.
Klaxons - Surfing the Void: Finally, the follow-up to the 2007 debut Myths of the Near Future. Not that I'm a die-hard fan of that album, but 3 years is long time. Rumor is, there was a scrapped album made in between. I wasn't expecting much, as I said, I enjoy the first album but don't swear by it. Perhaps that's why I was so pleasantly surprised by this one. Sure, it's the same nu-disco, furious tempo, indie rock as the first, there's no new ground here, but it sounds good. And of course, the cover is one of the best of the year.
Cotton Jones - Tall Hours in the Glowstream: Here is an album I was really looking forward to. Last year's Paranoid Cocoon was one of my favorites of last year. It was a folk pop masterpiece. This album is different. It's influences are more early '70s west coast lo-fi folk. It's fair example of that Gram Parsons style, but the last album was so inventive and brilliant that I can't help but view this a step-backwards. Another lesson in the danger of expectations.
Wild Moccasins - Skin Collision Past: This Texas indie band's debut confused me. The songs are all decent, but for some reason it doesn't feel like any of the album is played with even the smallest amount of passion. Listening to it, I couldn't help but feel like the band didn't care about the songs and wondered how they expected me to. But I'm aware that some people just don't connect with some works. It was a solid enough construction that I'm sure there are people out there that will feel it, but it passed me by.
Freeway & Jake One - The Stimulus Package: This is a hip-hop album that I've been hearing a lot of great things about, and seeing that Freeway is from hometown Philly, I had to check it out. It's very much a throwback to '90s hardcore hip hop, of which I've always been a fan. Freeway's flow is pretty awesome. There's some really stellar tracks on here, Microphone Killa being the best. If anything, it suffers from being too long (like a lot of hip hop albums) and weaker rhymes are used fill tracks. But with the miracle of iTunes, it slims down to a banging EP perfect for the end of summer.
Holly Miranda - Sleep on Fire EP: A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Holly's other EP and gushed a second time about her full length album. Now it's time to finish up with this, last year's solo-debut EP. In some ways, this might be my favorite. It's simpler and so beautiful. Holly's amazing voice really shines on this recording. Absolutely incredible indie folk.
The Ronettes - The Best of The Ronettes: As a little kid, I listened to a lot of Motown sound and '60s pop on the radio's 'oldies' stations the my mom and aunts like to listen to. I've always loved it and the Supremes have always been a favorite of mine. What I didn't realize before listening to this a few months ago, was a lot of those Supremes songs that I loved were really The Ronettes. Perfect vocal pop.
The Rosewood Thieves - Rise & Shine: As I mentioned two weeks ago, this band has been one my new favorites of the past month or so. This is their 2008 full-length album (their only LP so far). It's '60s inspired psychedelic pop bliss, it takes the catchy hooks of the Beatles and blends it perfectly with the NYC interpretation of Britpop that many bands were doing ten years ago, but never quite as perfectly as this band. Fantastic.
Poco - The Ultimate Collection: I'd never heard of this band until my mom told me about them two weeks ago. She'd never heard of them either. (For the record, I get my love of '70s folk from my mom). Turns out, Poco is Jim Messina's post Buffalo Springfield band and lasted quite a long time, but apparently without much commercial success. As with most retrospectives, this album is hard to judge because there are so many evolutions of the band that span decades. The early material is fantastic '70s west coast country rock and natural extension of Buffalo Springfield. The later '80s stuff isn't and becomes the kind of soft rock that I can't stand. This is why I tend to stay away from hits packages as a rule. I'm definitely interested in hearing some of the full early albums.
Morcheeba - Who Can You Trust?: Nothing says summer like trip-hop and the sweet smell of sweet leaf. This is the band's first album, from 1996 and I can still kick myself for not listening to them back then because I certainly would have LOVED it. I still do, but it was music tailored made for those weird years leading up to the end of the millennium. Easy beats, dreamy voice, it's the sound of summer on record.