As promised last week, I return to the usual Roundup format. Having not done it in quite a few weeks, I had a lot of albums to choose from, dating back from more than a month ago. I decided to go with a diverse mix of sounds. There's some obscure albums here as well as some classics. All kinds of genres are represented. Hopefully a little something for everyone. Enjoy.
Miles Kane -Colour of the Trap: Released last spring, this is Miles Kane's first solo album, though he previously fronted The Rascals and was one half of The Last Shadow Puppets (along with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys). He comes from the same breed, playing aggressive indie rock, but somehow lacks the ingenuity of Alex Turner. The album is a solid collection of songs, even if there isn't a lot of range. Still, a decent British rock album.
The Cure - Three Imaginary Boys: This 1979 debut has long been my favorite Cure album and when I was in Europe last month I was lucky enough to come across a copy of the first printing German edition on vinyl. Given that it was never released in the States, it was certainly the kind of find I was hoping for over there. The band hasn't developed it's gloom rock style yet. This is pure post-punk glory. Every song is amazing, but "Fire in Cairo," "Meat Hook," "Accuracy," and "10:15 Saturday Night" are the real standouts.
Kanye West - Eyes Closed: This mix-tape album came out last summer as a follow-up to the phenomenal My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. As with most hip-hop releases of this top, there are a lot toss-off, throw-away type tracks. A lot of it is also very raw. As a result, it kinds of falls flat, especially when compared with the album. But there are moments of greatness as is to be expected from such a talented artist. "Chain Heavy" is the real stand-out track. Otherwise, really just for fans.
Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs: I've had this album since shortly after it came out in 2005 and have been listening to it endlessly this past week. Though Andrew Bird has released several excellent albums, this one is by far the best in my opinion. From beginning to end, it has an incredible flow and tells amazing stories. "A Nervous Tick Motion...," and "Measuring Cups" are two of my favorite songs of all time. If you don't know this one, I highly recommend picking it up.
Agalloch - Of Stone, Wind and Pillor: A folk-metal band from Portland, Agalloch has put out four albums and six EPs in the last twelve years. This EP was released in 2001, still in the early days of the band. This is very much a mood piece, creating a soundscape not terribly different from the story invoked from album cover. At times it gets lost a little in its soft sludge, but overall is an interesting piece of music.
Black Sabbath - Live at Last: This 1980 release was a European only release, though later released on CD in the US in the late '80s. I found a first printing on vinyl in Switzerland and was pretty excited as I'd never heard it. The concert dates back to 1973 however and it's a great setlist, including "War Pigs," "Sweet Leaf," "Children of the Grave," and "Snowblind." Sound quality is a bit of an issue as always with live albums, but it still rocks.
Comus - First Utterance: The 1971 debut album from British progressive folk band Comus is certainly one of the more interesting albums I've heard in some time. It weaves in and out of traditional British folk and insanity arrangements. At times it reminded me of crazier Incredible String Band albums, but even manages to take it a step farther. Certainly a must hear for fans of the genre.
Built to Spill - You in Reverse: After a five year absence following 2001's triumphant Ancient Melodies of the Future, this was considered a comeback album when it came out in 2006. There were many times I picked it up in a store between now and then but never committed. Finally a few weeks ago I got to listen to this and was very impressed. It's a far more mature album than their previous work, which I also love by the way. This is an intelligent indie album with great arrangements and depth. Long overdue but I'm making up for it with many extended listens of late.