Due to traveling and time constrictions, the Roundup took a short hiatus last weekend. I apologize for those of you who actually care, but not to fear, because it's back in full force this weekend. During the past few days, I've been searching out random albums on my never ending wishlist and was able to check off nearly thirty of them. A couple of them are here on this list, with many more to come on future lists. To finish off the list, there are a couple of recent releases that I'd been looking forward to for some time. Hope you enjoy.
Maple Bee - Home: Also known as Melanie Garside, Maple Bee is the sister of one of my artistic heroes, Katie Jane Garside (of Daisy Chainsaw, Ruby Throat, and Queenadreena). This is the Queenadreena bassist's third solo album, the second under the Maple Bee name. Released in 2008, this remarkable ablum is a blend of dream folk, rock and trip-hop...much like Queenadreena's albums. Her voice is amazing, and similarly childlike like her sister's, if not quite as unique. There's a spooky beauty that invades this album and makes it stand out. "Mirrior," "No Place," "Sweetness in Your Light," and "So Far from Lost" are all standout tracks.
Cocoon - Where the Oceans End: Released in 2010, this is the second album by the French indie folk duo, following 2007's amazing My Friends All Died in a Plane Crash. This is an album I'd been searching out for quite some time and finally got my hands on it this week. Just like their first album, this is a collection of outstandingly beautiful songs. The power of their music is the upbeat jangle of the music contrasted with the despair found in the lyrics. I just hope a new album is on the horizon sometime.
Chet Baker & Art Pepper - Playboys: This album matches two iconic figures of the cool jazz genre, meeting in their early primes to record this amazing album. Released in 1957, this is third collaboration between the trumpet and saxophone players. From the opening notes of "For Minors Only," I found myself completely engrossed in this album. It swings with such amazing ease and Chet Baker blows a fantastic sound on his trumpet that just pulls you into the world of the music. This has been my morning album for days now and never fails to get me moving in the right direction.
Efterklang - Piramida: With their fifth album, the Berlin band delivers another fine piece of mood music. Like a lot of other bands coming out of Germany these days, Efterklang experiment with space rock effects, transforming their otherwise straightforward indie folk-pop into something that expands into swirling atmospheres. At moments they can be as catchy as The Shins or as opaque as early Pink Floyd. Either way, they are always very listenable and enjoyable.
John Frusciante - PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone: This was perhaps the most eagerly awaited release of the year for me. I've been a huge fan of John Frusciante's work since I purchased his debut way back in 1994. This is his 12th solo album, and among the previous eleven, at least three of them hold places on my Top 100 of all time. This is his first solo effort since 2009, and the first to show the influence of having worked with The Mars Volta. This really is an album that exists on two levels. Each song feels like it has two parts. There's the underlying current which has trademark Frusciante elements and lyrical beauty. Then there's the surface level of each song which is a lot of experimental noise and electronic elements. The two are not very cohesive and are not mixed in a way to seem as if they were meant to be. It's almost as if the electronic music is infiltrating the tracks, disrupting them and taking over. It's jarring on first listen, but quickly grows on me as I see a theme at work within the context of the dueling parts. Would I enjoy it better if the electronic parts were stripped away? Certainly. But I respect the attempt at trying to create something different and in the end, this stands as a unique album, much like many of his other releases.
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Cobra Juicy: For the past decade, this Pittsburgh band has been recording mind-expanding neo psychedelic albums. Released last month, this is their fifth full length album, though many EPs have also emerged since they began. There is a definite California sunshine feel to this record that flows through the craziness. Swirling harmonies march alongside harsh electronic effects, but the two work together rather than against each other. The chaos of their music reminds me of Sic Alps, though set to a much faster pace. Probably not for everyone, but if you're into something a little more 'out there' then definitely worth checking out.