After the aimlessness of last week's list, I've returned with a full roundup of newish releases. Most of these albums came out in the last month or so, but all have come out this year. Many are from bands I've been following for years and rank among my favorites of the recent past. Thankfully, none have been disappointing, which means the addition of these has just improved this year's crop of music quite a bit. Enjoy.
Kadavar - Kadavar: The 2012 debut from Berlin heavy psych band is pretty much as epic as the cover would suggest. Heavily influenced by '70s hard rock, this album doesn't really cover any new territory, but the landscape it does cover is done exceptionally well. It keeps up a blistering pace throughout all six songs, never pausing for breath. Easily one of the best heavy albums I've heard this year. Perfect for any fans of Sabbath influenced rock.
Menomena - Moms: This is the first new album in two years from the Portland indie band. Following up 2010's amazing Mines is a tall order, but this album doesn't fail to live up to expectations. This band has evolved quite a bit from it's early days. Their sound is tighter and more refined, but at the same time has managed to keep the edge that made them so interesting to begin with. And like their other albums, it's the kind of record that is easy to listen to from start to finish without ever growing bored. Definitely will warrant consideration for the end of the year best of list.
Murder by Death - Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon: By the end of the last decade, this gothic country band had become one of the best bands around, producing amazing album after amazing album. Things fell off a bit with their 2010 release, Good Morning Magpie. Two years later, the band returns with this new full length album and they've certainly regained their stride. Desperate tales of drunkenness and cruelty abound, told over a frantic rock pace with country overtones. Really great album.
Frightened Rabbit - State Hospital: The Scottish indie folk rockers return from a two year silence with this new EP, released last month. As with their previous releases, I enjoy this album but find there are moments throughout where I lose interest. On this EP, it's the talk heavy "Wedding Gloves." Otherwise, this is a very decent collection of Scottish folk rock, reminiscent of Alasdair Roberts with more guitar.
Jason Molina - Autumn Bird Songs: This EP is the first solo release from the Magnolia Electric Co. frontman in six years, and though painfully short at only 22min, it's well worth the wait. Easily one of the best singer songwriters of the last decade, Jason is a modern day Neil Young with a Midwestern howl and hauntingly reflective lyrics. All eight songs on here are brilliant, with possibly the best being saved for last with "A Sad Hard Change." An album that seems destined for my best of the year list.
Dr. Dog - Wild Race: Earlier this spring, my favorite Philly psychedelic indie rockers released their first ever disappointing album, Be the Void. This month's release of this EP has redeemed them for the year. Basically a glorified single for the album's title track, this contains five songs, all of them bursting with the manic energy that has characterized their releases for the past decade, and which was lacking on the full length album. "Exit for Sale," and "Wild Race," are the two best songs in my opinion.