Sunday, June 24, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

I'm still going through a bunch of new releases from the past few months and finding many gems among them. As a result, this is one of the most diverse lists I've done. There's a lot of genres of music represented here, so there's definitely something for everyone. I've listened to each of these albums again today so that my thoughts would be fresh. What's interesting is a lot of these albums have an autumn feel to them. Two days ago when the sky was melting, I would image my choices would have been quite different. Enjoy.

Tim Buckley - Goodbye and Hello: As I continue to make my way through Tim Buckley's catalog, I grow ever more impressed with the wealth of great music he recorded in his short career. This 1967 album is his second. It's a little less experimental than later efforts, following a more traditional folk structure. But there is nothing mundane about what he does. I hear so many elements in his music, part Nick Drake, part Leonard Cohen, part Syd Barrett, part early Nilsson, part Jefferson Airplane, part Van Morrison, but sounding nothing like any one of them at any given point. Not his best, but still amazing. The title track is fantastic. Last week I bought another of his albums on vinyl. I can't wait to hear how his voice sounds on record.

Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots a UFO: The new album from the kings of lo-fi is probably their best in over a decade. Reminiscent of their their 90's masterpiece Bee Thousand, this album seems to vary tone and structure with each song, yet they flow seamlessly together. There really isn't a bad track on here, which is impressive considering there are 21 of them, though most are under 3:00 minutes in length. Easily a contender to make my best of list for the year.

Nacho Picasso - Lord of the Fly: On the Seattle rapper's second album in less than a year, he is once again paired up with Blue Sky Black Death. The previous effort, 2011's For the Glory is nothing short of the best hip hop album I've heard in a long time. This album feels like a continuation of that one. It has the same fantastic spooky beats that Blue Sky Black Death does better than anyone else. Nacho's flow is impeccable. It's a slightly darker record, and while it's pretty incredible, I do miss a little of the fun from the first record. A third album, "Exalted," is already out. Expect a review soonish. I'm excited that Blue Sky Black Death has found a perfect match...though another Jean Grae album would be welcomed.

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick 2: Last winter when I first read that this album was coming out on a message board, I thought it had to be a joke. I researched it and found that it indeed was real. Released in April, 40 years after the original masterpiece, this is Ian Anderson's sequel and it's surprisingly quite good. First off, I have to say that it was a bold decision. Also, it's a much more interesting concept than just releasing a deluxe package of the original, especially since you can't improve perfection. I wish more artists would revisit the period of an album when it reaches a milestone and show us how they would interpret it today. All of that said, I've enjoyed this album. Starting with the cover treatment, updating the original's newspaper with a website, this record attempts to revisit the the same themes as the original and demonstrates that the nothing much has changed in the way the world is run...those in charge and those who follow are still 'thick as a brick.'

Natural Snow Buildings - Beyond the Veil: There seems to be no end to the well from which this drone folk duo's music springs. Having released hours and hours of music each year for the past decade, they are still able to return with another full length album after releasing two last year. This one is a return to the storybook quality of my favorite albums of theirs. There are elements of the Sunlit Stone albums, along with the pure eeriness of Daughter of Darkness. This is going to be great come Fall. Plus, another amazing cover...their albums always have amazing artwork.

Soulsavers - The Light the Dead See: This is the UK indie band's first album since 2009 and third overall. Without the gloom of Mark Lanegan's voice, which made their 2007 album so good, the sound feels slightly flat. Musically it's still solid. And there's definitely some really great songs on here that conjure the dark mood that they do best. "Take Me Back Home" is probably the best song on here. All in all, it's worth a listen, though I was hoping for more.

Gossip - A Joyful Noise: This is the Portland band's first album in 3 years. I quite enjoyed their last one and this one isn't much different. It's the same brand of dance rock. I love the way they mix  really heavy grooves into their music. Their sound is much the same as The Rapture in that way. Beth's voice is wonderful as usual. A solid record for the summer.

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