It was a sweltering week around these parts, another testament to my absolute hatred of summer. This is the kind of weather where one wishes they could remove their skin and leave it in a cold tub of water to be fresh for the next time you have to put it on. Thankfully it was also a great week for new music. There were a few things I'd been looking forward to for some time that did not disappoint. There were also some surprises and an album I had no idea existed. I've also included two bootlegs from the Oasis brothers because there's something about summer that just gets me in the mood for Oasis. Then again, every season feels like Oasis season in my world. Enjoy.
Portugal. The Man - In the Mountain in the Cloud: Over the past few years, this neo-psychedelic outfit has become one of my favorite bands of all time, delivering amazing album after amazing album. Released this week, this new album continues the trend. Though I find it almost indistinguishable from their last two efforts The Majestic Majesty and American Ghetto, that's quite okay with me because those are wonderful albums. More psychedelic indie rock with falsetto beauty swirling all around, easily one of the best albums of the year so far.
Sparrow and the Workshop - Spitting Daggers: This Glasgow trio's debut album, Crystals Fall, was on my best of list last year and I was thrilled that they put out another album so quickly. Jill O'Sullivan's voice is pretty phenomenal and it shines once again on this album. Whereas the last album was a little more folk, this one is a touch faster but it serves them well. If the first one felt like the heartbreak from a bad relationship, this one possesses the anger that follows. A very good indie rock album.
Wu-Tang Clan - Legendary Weapons: Officially out next week, this is easily the best Wu release in years. It's the usual cast of characters spitting in their usual flow, but it's the production that seems to return more to the classic Wu sound. That said, it's not a copy of old RZA sword fighting beats. It uses that style, but with an influx of some of the styles that the newer Wu side projects have incorporated. It still doesn't hold a candle to prime time Wu, but still smacks most of what is out there. U-God pretty much nails every one of his verses and AZ delivers another fantastic guest rhyme. Definitely worthwhile.
The White Stripes - Signed D.C./ I've Been Loving You Too Long: Another surprise release in Third Man Record's From the Vault series, this time unearthing two previously unheard White Stripes songs. Both are covers, and both fall in the "Truth Doesn't Make a Noise" style White Stripes numbers; slower, more blues influenced garage. This a band known for covers in their live shows, there's around fifty or so covers that I know through various bootlegs, but not these two songs. Any week to hear new White Stripes material (another all time favorite band of mine) is a good week, especially considering this very well may be the last of the unheard songs. Thanks guys.
Beady Eye - KEXP 2011 Live Session: I've had this radio show waiting for its review since March, but had overloaded the Roundup with Beady Eye/ Oasis material at the time, so I held back. This is a four song and interview show they did featuring four of the best songs from the album, including "The Roller" and "Three Ring Circus". The band, having essentially been together now for a decade if you include the time with Oasis, sounds tight. They've always been a live band of sorts, so there is definitely an energy to it. This is available online and I highly recommend it for those who have been skeptical of the band. Liam also provides a few good laughs in the interview as usual.
Noel Gallagher - Where I Belong: I can't leave Noel out if I'm talking about the guys in his old band. It just doesn't feel right and besides, this is a good time to review this in anticipation of his new single debuting online tomorrow. This bootleg has been waiting since January for it's review which is actually a crime on my part because it's phenomenal. A collection of rarer Noel solo performances from various sources over many years, it's a great album. Along with acoustic versions of Oasis songs, it includes covers of "Help" and "Eleanor Rigby" which completely transform the originals. There's also a great cover of "Bittersweet Symphony". Can't wait for solo album.
Brian Harnetty & Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Silent City: It was only last week that I discovered that this 2009 album existed and simply had to have it. I talked about my love for Will Oldham (Bonnie) last week, but Brian Harnetty is also an interesting figure. As far as I know, his only other album is 2007's American Winter which is one only about 150 albums I've given a 5 star rating and it sat in my rotation stack for almost two years. He's known for doing field recordings and capturing this out of time americana music and sound. Listening to his work is like finding artifacts of brilliance. Add Bonnie Prince Billy singing over it in places and you've got a haunting record. Not as stunning as American Winter, but still amazing.
Olivia Tremor Control - Dusk at Cubist Castle: Pulling one from my own vault here, this is an album I first heard in 1997. It was in heavy rotation in the St. Mark's apartment I shared with the dANIMAL that summer. This week, I've been reading the Aeroplane Over the Sea book in the great 33 1/3 series and it discusses a lot of Elephant 6 records including this one. Having not listened to it in probably six or seven years, I pulled it off the shelf to give it a go. Well, I ended up giving it more than a go. I've listened to it every day this week (and twice one day). It's the perfect summer kind of album of sunshine indie pop, but also so much more than that. Twenty-seven songs that all run into each other and never lose a beat, it's an epic groove that I invite everyone to tune into if you've never taken the trip to the Cubist Castle. And if you have...maybe it's time to check back in for a visit.