I'm still working my way through music given to me recently, as well as a wealth of vinyl I purchased over the past month. Therefore I'm a little behind on new releases, but have managed to squeeze a few in this week. Most of the albums on this list have a distinct mood to them, a mood I've been trying capture in the latest project I've started. Mellow and dark. But there are a few more upbeat picks as well. Enjoy.
Blind Willie Johnson - The Complete Blind Willie Johnson: The Texas native lived in early part of the 1900's, passing in 1945, but not before leaving behind a catalog of raspy acoustic roots blues that reaches into the gut and stays there. I've known his songs for quite some time from another collection, but was given the complete collection the other week and it's been in constant rotation since. His voice is a raw growl and his picking is steady and swift. The combination makes for an original sound within the roots blues catalog. Great stuff.
Ghost - Freedom of Thought: This album, released in 2009, has been the biggest surprise of the week. It's an experimental hip-hop album from the UK. It has the kind of creativity that many British trip-hop albums had in the late '90s, but with the intelligence of the new wave of consciousness hip-hop. Most of the album is haunting instrumentals and samples, with the occasional voice working its way into the dreamlike flow of the record. Extremely well done.
Mount Eerie - Black Wooden Ceiling Opening: This band is another incarnation of Phil Elvrum of The Microphones. Given that, the basic structure isn't much different. Both bands are lo-fi indie folk and judging by what I've heard of each, both are brilliant. This EP is quite remarkable. Everything he does seems to be in a fog, until it suddenly breaks through into hymn like wonder. "Domesticated Dog" is the rare Dinosaur Jr.-esque melody driven rocker on here. Can't wait to check out the many, many other albums.
Tengger Cavalry - Tengger Cavalry: This 2010 EP was the debut release from this China based folk metal band. I'm not well versed in Chinese music, though I've heard some traditional folk music from that culture and love the complicated note structure which manages to still feel soothing. These four songs do a nice job of blending that concept with black metal elements. Not an essential album by any means, but certainly interesting if you're into seeing how music blends and evolves.
Odawas - The Aether Eater: I've been familiar with this band's 2007 album Raven and the White Night for a few years, but finally got to hear this 2005 debut last week. They play a unique blend of psychedelic folk music that reminds me of the late '60s era Pink Floyd. The songs are expansive, swollen with story and depth, much like the post-Syd version of Floyd. This album is definitely a little less defined than the follow-up, but that's neither a positive or negative. This is the kind of music that would frustrate a lot of people, but the kind that I love to get lost in.
Kaizers Orchestra - Violeta Violeta Volume 2: The second album in the Norwegian band's planned trilogy is another manic collection of furious unique rock. This project has seen them branch out a bit, incorporating hip hop elements and gypsy punk into their indie rock style. As with the first volume, there are a few songs I could do without, and I do miss the evil thread that ran through their earlier work, but this is still an enjoyable album and I look forward to the third and final part.
Howlin Rain - The Russian Wilds: Released last month, this is the San Francisco rock bands third album. I've been back and forth on this album all week. There are parts that I truly enjoy. It's a throwback to the classic rock radio sound, and when it works, it sounds really good. But there other elements of it that sound more like 80's rock radio, and not that I particularly dislike that style, it just doesn't work on here and the mixture of the two sounds is a little off-putting. This is one of those albums that will either take a little more getting used to and then I'll love it. Or it will irk me to the point that I never listen to it again. As you can see, I'm really torn.