After a summer where I found fewer albums to be excited about than usual, recently there have been a lot of albums that I've been pretty thrilled about. By that I mean there are a lot of albums that I've been listening to repeatedly. Some of those are on this list, others are still to come. Most of these have a summer feel, but I've also been transitioning into autumn music...always my favorite time for listening to music. Enjoy.
Sic Alps - Pleasures and Treasures: Last week, my friend Marc introduced me to this lo-fi psychedelic band from San Francisco. I only heard one song, but it had a great sound, something like an experimental update of The Grateful Dead. When I searched them out, I started with this album, their 2006 debut and worked my way through their next two albums. This one is a little chaotic and noisy in places, but it works well with the moments when they slip into their stoner groove. Good stuff, but only a sign of better things to come.
Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger, & The Trinity - Streetnoise: I'd been looking for this 1969 prog folk album for about a year when I finally found it on vinyl at a tent sale two weeks ago. This is the second collaboration of these London folksters and it's pretty amazing. There a few Brian Auger keyboard tracks that I don't really care for, but are ahead of their time. The Julie Driscoll songs though are the real standouts. She has an amazing voice, sounding like Grace Slick if she sang bluesy folk. This is one of the gems the London folk movement.
The Pentangle - Pentangle: Continuing with the late '60s London folk scene, I finally got the chance to check out one of the staples of that scene with this 1968 debut. This band has a fantastic sound. I love the way the songs progress. They remind me of more controlled Incredible String Band or a more passioned Fairport Convention. I recently picked up their second album, a double album, on vinyl and am greatly looking forward to listening to it.
Hollywood Rose - The Roots of Guns N' Roses: This is the earliest version of Guns N' Roses with the original lineup of Axl, Duff, Izzy, and Traci Guns (who left to form L.A. Guns). This studio session from 1985 was long considered to be the great lost classic of L.A. glam punk. Only five songs, some of which had been bootlegged, but this still was a welcomed release when it finally came out on CD in 2004. But even though I own it on CD, the other week when I came across the limited 1000 copy colored vinyl release from 2007, I had to have it. These five songs are blistering, includes "Reckless Life", "Shadow of Your Love", and the early version of "Anything Goes."
Kitchie Kitchie Ki Me O: This 2011 album from a band born from the ashes of Norway's My Midnight Creeps and Madrugada has been one of my favorites of the year so far. It has a similar moody rock sound to those previous bands, but incorporates some prog elements and horns that really bring it to another level. Not to mention it has one of the best covers in year.
Jon Fratelli - Psycho Jukebox: Released a few months ago, this is the solo debut by the frontman of the Fratellis. Since that bands last album in 2008, there was the interesting side project Codeine Velvet Club in 2009. But this is the first album that sees him return to his roots of great Britrock. As with the Fratellis, this is more an album of singles than anything else, and there are some great ones here. I also like the way he brought in some rockabilly elements to make it sound fresh. This guy just knows how to write good pub rock.
Brett Anderson - Black Rainbows: Since Suede's 90's heyday, their lead singer has struggled at times to find his muse. Besides a one off album in a band called The Tears, his solo albums have been pretty weak. 2007's self-titled album was rather terrible and 2009's Slow Attack wasn't much better. I'm happy to say this album, while not exactly a return to form, is at least close to capturing the magic of Suede. It's uneven, but the songs that stand out are really good. Certainly worth checking out, even if you'd given up.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - I'm With You: I'm not a huge fan of this band, but certainly enjoy the John Frusciante catalog, with 2002's By the Way being the best. I thought their last album was bloated and very uneven. I could say the same for this one, the first post-Frusciante album. But once trimmed down to the six good tracks, it's a fun little EP and hearkens to the best of By the Way and Californication (their two best albums in my opinion).