I've been listening to a lot of new music once again now that the annual slew of summer releases is making it's way onto the market. Since I've been gathering the new albums by bands that I've followed for a long time, it's made for a wide-range of musical stylings for the week. I've saved some of them for next week and threw in some other albums that been hanging around waiting for their day in court. All in all I think list represents a good selection of summer listening. As always, it also goes along with the current project I'm writing which takes place during the afterlife. Enjoy.
The Horrors - Skying: This is the London quintet's third album, each coming in two year intervals. The space between releases seems appropriate for the dramatic changes that have occurred from one to the next. Only two weeks ago, I re-reviewed the band's groundbreaking debut which really lived up to the band's name. The second album saw them mellowing and expanding. The same can be said for this album. This is a more swirling Britpop sound than the horror feel of the debut. If you played the two albums in a row, nobody would be able to tell it was the same band. However, both are pretty spectacular in their own genre. It's hard to pin down the sound of this, but it's more the child of late Stone Roses and early Ride mated with The Cure. It's has a wonderful open sound that is simply great to get lost in on a sunny afternoon.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - There Is No God: I've been a dedicated follower of Will Oldham (aka Bonnie) since the mid-90s days of his band Palace. He's easily among my twenty favorite songwriters of all time. But as with anyone who is so prolific, a new release is sometimes greeted with a sense of unease. I'm not sure why because more often than not, I'm rewarded. This new two song single plays as an interesting concept piece with the A-Side being an up-tempo song renouncing God in his typical Americana sound. The B-Side, "God is Love" is then a redemption song (and the better track), featuring Will's keen ability to write modern spiritual folk songs. A solid addition to his ever-growing catalog. (NOTE: cover edited due to nudity)
The Flaming Lips - Gummy Song Skull: Though only four songs, this is an extended EP from the pioneer nu-psychedelic indie rockers with all songs clocking in over 5 minutes. My relationship with this band was mixed for a long time, but after 2009's two stellar releases Embryonic and Dark Side of the Moon, I kind of fell in love with them all over again. Released in April, this EP continues the kind of claustrophobic soundscapes found on Embryonic but in a much more experimental style. It feels a bit like a work in progress, but that helps lend a bit of excitement to it. "Drug Chart" and "Walk With Me" are exceptional tracks. The other two I could live without.
pandoras.box - Monomeet: This is the second album from one of Germany's new crop of prog rock psychedelic bands. Their 2009 debut Barriers was on my best of list for the year. It had a spacey Echoes era Pink Floyd vibe. This album continues that tradition, but certainly makes more use of electronic elements. I've enjoyed it's spaciousness. It's certainly reminiscent of earlier Porcupine Tree records.
Trouble Andrew - Dreams of a Troubled Man: The second album from snowboarder turned Mr. Santogold, turned incredible beat master. For over a year, I've been jamming to "Chase Money" the single from his first album and it never gets old to me. That album had been a nice surprise, but with this one I had expectations and it has surpassed them all. I was hoping a few good synth gems and ended up getting an entire album of consistent goodness. Certainly meant for club play, this is album full of great beats, but there's also depth to it. Any fan of updated '80s new wave is sure keep this on steady rotation. "Run Hide" is stellar.
William Elliott Whitmore - Field Songs: I first encountered this Iowa native on a compilation a few years ago and was struck by the old timey feel of his voice. I always meant to check out more of his work, but never did until this week when I listened to this, his new album. As the title states, this is a collection of roots field songs that hark back to Woody Guthrie. They are heartfelt and sincere and quite moving at times. It's very much a roots revival record, but it doesn't feel gimmicky at all. A solid offering.
Kanu - Transgress: I got this four song EP for Christmas back in 2004 and it felt like one of those albums that had always been in my head. Hailing from Switzerland, Kanu has a harder indie sound. The music is haunted by a dark shadow that reminds me of the great B-Sides from In Utero era Nirvana. Sadly as far as I can tell, this is only music they ever released. It's certainly worth checking out if you ever come across it though. I seem to pull it out at least once a year and always find it refreshing.
Brian Jonestown Massacre - Your Side of Our Story: This compilation was released in 2004 to accompany the release of the wonderful documentary DIG! It covers the band's creative peek years and includes some of their best material. But what's great about it is that it's mixed and arranged to feel like an album rather than a comp. Though I know all the material, I've still enjoyed listening to it all this week. Every time I listen to this band, I'm reminded of how amazing they really were through the '90s with their beautiful psychedelic California sound. A good place to start for newcomers to these dysfunctional geniuses. Listen to "It Girl" and you'll be hooked.