Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

I spent most of this week listening to new music, something I hadn't done in a while. Perhaps that's because it's now February, which traditionally means the beginning of the onslaught for new releases. There have been a lot albums released recently that I'm excited about. Some made it on this list, but others felt like I needed more time to digest them before putting a review up. Therefore, a couple of older albums are mixed in, ones that I've been listening to over the past few weeks that round out the Roundup. Enjoy.

Earth - Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II: Released one year after the first part, this record is the second half of the band's drone epic. Though toiling in the same genre since the early '90s, Earth have certainly evolved and fine-tuned their style. Equally as good as the first part, and on par with other recent albums like Hex and The Bees Made Honey..., this is another soundscape of a gloomy place that is a pleasure to visit. Not for anyone who isn't a fan of heavy music played slowly.

Dr. Dog - Be the Void: The Philly band's seventh album, released this week, is certainly one of the albums I've been looking forward to it. Having been one of the most consistent rock bands of the last decade, and one of my favorites, I was eager to hear what they've been up to since 2010's Shame, Shame. The answer seems to be more of the same classic rock revival in a psychedelic folk disguise. I have to say this is not my favorite of theirs. Though good enough to enjoy, it does feel a little forced at times. It's certainly a more mainstream release than previous albums. Somehow the high production value seems to strip the honesty that I've always enjoyed in their music. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes their biggest album to date.

Little Dragon - Ritual Union: A few weeks back, I reviewed one this Swedish electro-pop band's earlier albums. Released last summer, this is the band's latest effort. This is definitely dance music, owing a lot to Michael Jackson Off the Wall era, which is just fine with me. I love that Motown disco sound. They do it well, even if the songs do feel two dimensional at times. The title track is easily the best song on here, but the others are decent enough. Certainly an album that one must be in the mood for.

Caribou - Andorra: London indie electro-pop artist Dan Snaith released his first two albums under the name Manitoba but was forced to change names to Caribou starting in 2005. This 2007 record is the second release under that name. It's an album that has grown on me with each listen. I honestly didn't care much for it until the third or fourth listen, then I heard it with new ears. There are blissful pop moments here that remind me The Olivia Tremor Control and Sunshine Fix. Really a beautiful album. The opening track "Melody Day" is amazing.

The Inmates - First Offence: The 1979 debut album from London pub rockers was a nice find when I first heard it a few years ago. There's certainly nothing innovative here. The band does its best Rolling Stones impression, but it's a good one. I recently picked the album up on vinyl for $1 and have been enjoying it all over again. "Mr. Unreliable" is a real standout song on an album of high energy rock. Certainly worth checking out for anyone that likes '60s era Rolling Stones.

Grateful Dead - Europe '72: Considered one of the band's classic live albums, this 1972 triple album chronicles the band's European tour and covers a large section of their catalog. Though known for their live shows, I sometimes have a problem the Dead's live albums. They tend to ramble through songs a little too long for my taste. But there are still some amazing tunes on here. "Jack Straw," "You Win Again," and "Ramble on Rose" are pure perfection. But for a live Grateful Dead album, I'd still recommend 1969's Live Dead.

Bowerbirds - The Clearing: This album comes out in March and is the third album the North Carolina contemporary folk outfit. Like their stunning first two albums, this is delicate music. On this album, they borrow a little from Andrew Bird, going for a more Baroque influence. It works quite nicely, producing beautiful songs. Certainly worth checking out for any fan of the current folk revival.

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