Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weekend Music Roundup

This was a week of listening to mostly new music, which as regular readers know has been something that hasn't happened all that much of late. Some of these albums are things I'd been looking forward to, but a few of them were things which I didn't even know were out, but would have been anticipating them had I known. That said, there were still a few older albums that made it into the rotation and I decided to review those at the end as well. Hope you all find some good tunes to listen to on this long holiday weekend. Enjoy.

Moonface - Organ Music (Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped): This falls into the category of albums I had no idea were coming out. Moonface is basically just a Spencer Krug solo project (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Frog Eyes). The EP put out under the Moonface name was one of my favorite EPs of last year. It was just one 20-minute song, but it was fantastic. This is a full album of five songs, all over 7-minutes long, which keeps the feel of the EP. These are definitely story songs, told in Spencer's wonderful Neil Young-esque howl and experimental instrumentation. Of all Spencer's other projects, the Moonface tracks remind me most of early Sunset Rubdown in structure, but with later day Wolf Parade soundscapes. The combination is excellent, like most everything he does.

Low - C'mon & C'mon (Acoustic): Another album, though it came out in April, that I kind of missed. I've been a fan of this Minnesota slowcore band ever since I heard their version of "Down by the River" with the Dirty Three in my friend's apartment in Queens, circa 2001. Their blend of indie spiritual songs played sometimes at a such a slow pace that you feel the tension between notes is addictive. This is one of their best albums in a few years, and the bonus acoustic EP, with versions of half the songs included, makes it spectacular. "Witches" is one of the best songs they've ever done in my opinion. Great stuff this. Great stuff.

Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math: The fourth full length album from the Atlanta indie band doesn't stray too far from 2009's Mean Everything to Nothing. As usual, Andy Hull's voice is the center that holds their albums together. There's definitely and Elephant 6 influence on this band's sound, though these days it's matured into a more radio friendly structure. That's kind of the one problem I have with this album is that at times it feels too safe and too safe often sounds bland. When this band takes risks, they are at their best. That said, the title track "Simple Math" is most likely their best song to date and I highly recommend checking out the video.

The View - Cutting Corners EP: It's nice to see that after a year or more off, The View is back in the business of releasing a lot of material. Earlier this year they released Bread & Circuses, their third album, which has grown on me with every listen. They also released a great 7" for Record Store Day. Now comes this five song EP. Two songs are off the album and another track is just a remix, but there are also two original tracks "Alone" and "Sideways" which are nice little gems that could easily have been on the album. They are quieter tracks, a sound they do very well...then again, they do all sounds very well.

Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation: Over the past few months, I've been into the early Thin Lizzy albums dating to the period when the band was one of those on the forefront of transforming the hard blues genre into the hard rock genre. This album dates from 1977, a few albums after the band had really established their hard rock sound and radio success. At times it's a little too groovy for my taste, but then there's always the blistering guitar and an amazing sense of song structure that makes it impossible not to enjoy on some level. Not my favorite stage in their career, but a decent album nonetheless.

Black Mountain - Black Mountain: Released in 2005 (and a favorite of mine ever since), this debut is one of those type of albums that assured I would listen to every album the band would make in the future. There's a heaviness that runs through the undercurrent, giving it a Black Sabbath weight, but it's not a metal album at all. There's too much of a stoner pulse bringing it back to an indie sound. Easily one of my favorite albums of the last decade and one I've been listening to a lot over the past few weeks. "Don't Run Our Hearts Around," "Druganaut" and "Set Us Free" are phenom. If you don't know this album and you like rock music, then you need to get it, pronto.
Built to Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love: I have a habit of listening to entire catalogs of bands soon after I discover that I enjoy them. This was the case with Built to Spill. After ignoring them through the late '90s, I was listening to their Live album (in the same friend's Queens apartment, possibly on the same day in 2001) and once again it was a Neil Young cover that helped me see the light. Over the next year or so, I explored their other albums, which back then meant buying them. This is their second album and probably the one that got the least attention from me back then as it isn't quite as remarkable as Perfect From Now On or Keep It Like a Secret. But I've been listening to it this week and being long removed from those other albums, I could finally appreciate it for what it is. They're still developing their sound, and often feel a little more like a Guided By Voices spin-off band than their later fully realized indie pop greatness, but that's still quite alright with me. "Cars" is my favorite track on here.

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