As I promised last weekend, this time around I'm reviewing mostly higher profile new releases. Some of these albums I've been living with for a few weeks and know pretty well by now. There's been a good crop of records coming out recently, making up for a slow start to the beginning of the year. It's also the unofficial start of summer today, which means an increased emphasis on sunshiney music. Most of these are new albums from old favorites. Enjoy.
Alexander Ebert - Alexander: The solo album from the lead singer of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros is an album that has grown on me a lot. To be honest, I didn't care for it at first, but after a few listens, I'm truly enjoying it. At it's core, it's an indie folk album, but there are so many diverse influences on here, from doo-wop to Marvin Gaye to '60s Cali sunshine pop to Donovan and even 80's Paul Simon-esque world beat, which I know sounds horrible, but it all comes together to form something quite beautiful. Like a more interesting version of Fleet Foxes.
Marilyn Manson - Born Villain: I really thought with his 2009 album that Marilyn had started to regain his form, with much thanks to a reunion with Twiggy. This album proves that even more. It's heavier than anything he's done in a while, but still manages to keep the beauty that he's discovered in his music in recent years. Though he may not be "in" right now, Marilyn is easily one of the most important artists of the last two decades and he continues to make relevant music.
Spiritualized - Sweet Heart Sweet Light: J. Spaceman returns with his first album since 2008, and easily his best since 1997's Ladies and Gentleman... This album really blew me away upon first listen. It captures the desperation that is familiar with all of Spiritualized work, but is more complicated musically than some of the latest albums. It simply soars with heartache, but with the upbeat summer melodies that make it a joy to listen to over and over.
Blue Sky Black Death & Nacho Picasso - For the Glory: For the past several years Blue Sky Black Death have been creating some of sickest beats in hip-hop and wisely pairing up with underground rappers to deliver spectacular albums. This 2011 album ranks up there with the best of them. The music is eerie and intense and Nacho is brilliant. His flow and rhymes are incredible. Witty and intelligent in a way I haven't heard in a long time. "Dmt" is a masterpiece. They released another album this year that I can't wait to hear.
The Dandy Warhols - This Machine: It's nearly 12 years since this Portland band has recorded anything worth mention, but they have finally proved the magic behind their late 90's albums is still alive. They've shed their manic power pop sound for something darker and deeper. Compared to their usual sound, this is very lo-fi and minimal, and the songs show a maturity that I've long hoped for. A solid and enjoyable album.
Silversun Pickups - Neck of the Woods: The indie band's long awaited follow-up to 2009's surprise hit Swoon is another album that took some time to grow on me, but grow it did. I'm not even sure anymore what it was that I didn't like to begin with, because I truly enjoy every song. Sure, it's a little mainstream heavy, but that's an L.A. tradition and something that has never really bothered me as long as the songs are good. They've always reminded me a bit of some early 90's bands that never really made, like the Drop Nineteens for example. I expect at least one song from here to be a summer hit and could potentially see this becoming as big as Arcade Fire's last album.
King Creosote - I Learned from the Gaels: This new four song EP from the prolific Scottish folk singer/songwriter was released this week and falls right in with his extensive catalog. As with most singer songwriters, he has a voice that you either love or loathe...I happen to enjoy it. Anyone familiar with his records will feel right at home listening to this. Not his best songs, but certainly respectable. A good listen for all those newly formed Mumford & Sons fans out there that are interested in delving deeper into the wonderful folk tradition of the UK.