Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to the weekend! This was another week where I spent a lot of time listening to music I already own. After all, those records need to be listened to at some point. Some of them are albums I hadn't listened to in a long time and figured it was a good time to include them here for those who might not know them. I did manage to squeeze in some new stuff too...because the music never stops. A few surprised me, both in positive and less than positive ways. But even those I didn't quite love, seemed worthy of mention because they were good enough that I know others might like them. It was just a matter of taste. Enjoy.

AZ - Stand Up New York!!: Another mixtape courtesy, my new favorite source for hip hop mixtapes. AZ is one of the legends of '90s NYC hardcore. In recent years, he's popped up on various mixtapes, almost always overshadowing the main artist with his no nonsense delivery and smooth rhymes. This 2009 selection is pretty tight. The strongest tracks easily overshadow the weaker ones. It's nice when an artist is still at the top of his game nearly two decades after it started. Definitely worth picking up for real hip hop fans.

Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf: This is certainly not a new album for me. I've owned it since it's release in 2002, but I dug it out a few weeks ago and have been listening to it a lot ever since. This stands right alongside the band's debut as their best work. The album is loosely held together by fake radio snippets, which are actually making a point about the stale state of music, unlike a lot of other albums which use similar devices simply for laughs. The songs are incredibly well crafted, intense, heavy and often beautiful. "No One Knows" may just be one of the best songs of the last decade. If you don't have this album...get it.

Caribou - The Milk of Human Kindness: Released in 2005, this is the first album to come out under the Caribou name. Having first heard the two follow-up albums, I have to say this isn't my favorite. It's definitely not as focused. The songs are very experimental in nature, very reminiscent of Olivia Tremor Control, but lack some of the Beatles inspiration that really makes the sound click on the later albums. "Hello Hammerheads" is the one real stand out track for me. 

Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls: The debut album from this southern blues rock band, released this spring, has gotten a lot of attention lately, and probably for good reason. Brittany Howard's vocals are truly spiritual. Her gut wrenching delivery reminds me of Janis Joplin in a lot of ways. Musically, it's strictly old school southern rock. A real solid album. I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.

Work Drugs - Absolute Bearing: With their fourth album in last year and half, this Philly band is certainly trying to put their stamp on the indie scene. There's a dreamy quality to most of these songs that helps to soften the dance-pop tempo and arrangements. At times, this is a beautiful record, especially the stand out track "Tourist Heart." But for much of the album, it veers to much into adult contempo for my taste. But certainly worth checking out if you like your indie a little poppy.

Alberta Cross - Songs of Patience: Just out this past week, this is the second album from the Brooklyn, via London, rock band. I've been really loving this album all week. It definitely reminds me of a lot post-Brit Pop UK bands such as Kasabian and The Stands, as well as fellow Brooklynites The Rosewood Thieves. There is a delicate quality to these rock songs, something rough amid all the careful crafting. I highly recommend this one.

The Hives - Your New Favourite Band: Another album that has been in my collection a long time but which I've recently been listening to a lot lately. This is a UK compilation covering the Swedish garage rock band's early EPs and first full length album. It was the first release made widely available in the States back in 2001 when this band was up and coming and so it was the first release of theirs I bought. This album is packed with great in-your-face rock n roll and still can get me going even though I've heard it a million times. "Main Offender," "Hate to Say I Told You So," and "Supply and Demand" open the collection with a full-on assault and the album never really lets up afterwards. The band's newest release, Lex Hives, has the feel of these old songs and really got me back into their back catalog. This is a great place to start for Hives newcomers.

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