Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

Winter moved into the hills with a vengeance this week, giving me a nice dose of slushy snow. Not enough to be fun, but just messy enough to mean hours of shoveling. Throw in the howling north winds and some sinus troubles and it was a pretty good week to stay indoors. Though I mostly sought out comforting music this week, I also ventured into some albums I've had for some time but had yet to listen to. As a result, this week's list is a little schizophrenic, mixing folk, experimental blues and indie pop. Enjoy.

White Denim - Takes Place in Your Work Space: This four track EP was released in November and after the Autin band's great full length album D, out earlier in the year, I was looking forward to hearing it. Instead of taking the '60s vibe of the album, these songs have a much mellower and poppy sound. I think it doesn't work as well for them, they are much better suited to the more unhinged vibe they're known for creating. Still though, nice to see them trying different things.

Stars - The Five Ghosts: This is the Montreal indie pop band's sixth album. It came out in 2010, and though I have all of their previous albums, I didn't listen to this one until this week. That is partially due to the fact that I was a little burned on them at the time. They have a consistent sound that doesn't vary much, however they do it very well. I was glad I waited because this album is very similar to the album that came before. But since I hadn't listened to it in quite a long while, this felt new in a way. They tell stories in their songs better than most and musically they go deeper than surface level dream pop. An underrated band to be sure.

Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask Replica: In the continuing theme of buying albums on vinyl that I've long owned on CD, I recently picked up this one. Probably one of my 10 favorite albums of all time, I first heard this album on Christmas Day 1993 and it has never really left me. Beyond the experimental blues framework of the album, this is one of those records that really transports the listener into another world, one of bizarre fiction and relics of insanity. It's a pleasure to have it now on the rich sound that comes only with vinyl.

William Fitzsimmons - Until We Are Ghosts: The Pittsburgh folk singer songerwriter 2006's debut is a wonderful blend of folk with Midwest influences. For the most part, the album doesn't sound much different than a lot of other indie folk artists doing the same sort of thing, but that doesn't make it irrelevant. There are moments where it gets a little too radio friendly for my tastes, but overall I'm looking forward to exploring his more recent work.

Sophie Zelmani -Sing and Dance: The Sweedish singer songwriter's fourth album released in 2001 is a beautifully easy album. Reminiscent of Amiee Mann's "Bachelor #2", released the year prior, this is an album of downbeat sentiment disguised in hopeful melody. I've been really loving this album all week long. She has a whole catalog of work that I hope to hear soon.

Peter Green - The End of the Game: In the earliest days of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green was the driving force behind their British Blues sound, having come up with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. But as he spiraled further into drug madness, he would leave the band in 1970 and release this solo record. It's a free-form blues jazz record that allows a master guitarist to explore the range of his craft. There are certainly moments of brilliance on this record, but there are also moments of aimlessness. Overall, it's an enjoyable listen and can create a wonderful atmosphere, but can tend to get a little boring over repeated listens.

Little Dragon - Machine Dreams: Another Swedish band, Little Dragon is a electro-pop band, but not one that's abrasive. Their sound is more of a synth heavy dream pop. This is their second album, released in 2009. This not typically my favorite genre, but there are definitely a few songs on here that have a good reinvented 80's sound that I really enjoy. There's is also something about them that reminds me of the xx. But like that band, I find their songs to be hit or miss.

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