Back on schedule this week and back with a list of mostly current releases. Every time the seasons switch, I talk about how the weather influences what I like to listen to. What's fascinating to me is how this is never really a conscious choice for me. It's not as if the leaves change and I tell myself that it's time for more subdued folkish music. My mental clock seems to make the adjustment before I'm even really aware. So here we are, the first Roundup of autumn and already the season's true colors are showing. Enjoy.
Big Blood - Old Time Primitive: My current favorite freak folk collective released their eleventh album in six years this past April and I have to say it may be their best yet. It's an ambitious attempt at creating an artifact that is partially something dug up from the past, and a relic from the future at the same time. The one thing that is always true about a Big Blood album is the undeniable groove that runs through them even as songs veer into experimental psychedelic folk. This is what makes their albums an entity rather than a collection of songs. Easily one of my favorite albums of the year so far.
The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers: The one non-new release on the list in the L.A. folk band's classic 1968 album. This is the album where the band was falling apart (they would continue with a vastly different lineup afterwards). Following their masterpiece albums, Fifth Dimension and Younger than Yesterday, this one is more a return to folk roots. Though less ambitious, it strikes a great chord, capturing some of the sorrow that would later fill albums by bands on the scene in the years to come. A beautiful record that really completes an amazing trilogy for the band. The expanded version is well worth it, including David Crosby's "Triad" (which would appear on Jefferson Airplane's "Crown of Creation" album instead).
Sea Wolf - Old World Romance: After their first two albums, this L.A. band was easily one of my rising favorites. It's been three years since their last album, so I was really excited to hear this. I'm happy to say, it met all expectations. It doesn't veer far away from the previous albums, but that's alright with me. Just great indie rock without all the pretensions. They are like a more straight forward Arcade Fire meets Wolf Parade. "Priscilla" is my favorite track of the moment, though there really aren't any bad ones.
Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't: The Swedish singer songwriter's first full length album since 2007's Night Falls Over Kortedala. Like that album, this one has moments where I really enjoy it, but mostly it frustrates me. He has an amazing Morrissey kind of voice and musically, it's very well done. Where it really gets me is when I listen to the lyrics and realize he's talking about nonsense. The three best songs happen to be the last three; "The End of the World is Bigger Than Love," "I Know What Love Isn't," and "Every Little Hair Knows Your Name." It's on these songs where I can see the potential for Jens Lekman to one day be as good as Andrew Bird...yet, isn't.
Sic Alps - Sic Alps: For their fourth album, the San Fran psych folk rockers went the self-titled approach. I must admit, I never understood the self-titled album, especially when it's not the debut. But the band makes up for it with their most consistent release to date. From start to finish, this record is a steady stream of lo-fi bliss, whereas their previous efforts have been slightly marred by occasions of freak-out experimentation. An absolutely great record by a band that just keeps getting better.
Woods - Bend Beyond: This Brooklyn folk pop band has been around for nearly a decade, but really seem to have come into their own recently. Reminiscent of San Fran psych folksters Skygreen Leopards, they have a warm sound with wonderful harmonies. The album opens with the amazing title track and never really lets up. The soft and beautiful "It Ain't Easy" and "Wind Was the Wine" are other standout tracks. A very solid effort.