The new year is already in full swing, but thanks to my end of the year blitz I still have a wealth of albums to get through before I can even begin to think about new releases. However, a good number of these are somewhat current, having listened to them in hopes that they might be contenders for the best-of list. Others represent recent vinyl buys that I've finally gotten the chance to listen to. Still others are albums I somewhat forgot about. All in all, a pretty good selection of music. Enjoy.
Big Blood - Dead Songs: On a recent trip to Portland, Maine I was hoping to find some of this freak folk band's work on vinyl, seeing as it's their hometown. I was lucky enough to find this 2010 album, one I didn't yet have. As with all of their work, this beautiful and eerie album is like a fossil out of time. Maybe not their most ambitious album, but I think it may include some of their best individual songs. Truly mysterious and wonderful and to top it off, they always have the best artwork.
Belle & Sebastian - The Supper Club, NYC: I've had this bootleg CD since 1998, but recently found it on the shelves and realized I'd never cataloged it. I bought this after attending this concert in person. This was shortly after the release of the Scottish band's third album and when they were really at their creative peak. It was a wonderful show, featuring their subtle genius in a wide range of songs from their already extensive catalog at the time. The album quality is decent and really captures the feel of the show.
earth - Phase 3: Thones and Dominions: Released in 1995, this is the Seattle drone band's third album and has been a favorite of mine ever since. Probably best known because of founder Dylan Carlson's friendship with Kurt Cobain, this band is a pioneer in the drone metal arena. This is the best of their early work, a perfect mix of heavy and melodic. Though I own on this CD, I recently bought it on vinyl because for $9.99, sealed, the price was unbeatable for a double album. This album's layered soundscapes have never failed to inspire stories within me.
Blur - Parklive: After a few year hiatus, the legendary Britpop band resurfaced last spring with a wonderful new single "Under the Westway," and later appearing in small venues around their native UK. All of that was in preparation for their big post-Olympics show in Hyde park. This deluxe release includes that full concert on two discs, as well as the warm-up shows. The band is in great form, playing through a set of their incredible catalog. A full-color hardbound book adds to the quality of the release, making this a must-have for any fan.
Baroness - Yellow & Green: This metal band hails from Georgia and have been releasing music since 2004. I recently discovered them when I saw this album on SPIN magazine's best 50 albums of the year. This is their third full length album and it's a double album. From the description I read, I'd been hoping it would be more like Sword or Kadavar, but it's more hard rock than metal. I suppose it's on the cusp of being stoner metal in the vain of Kyuss but there are too many elements of radio rock in it for me to confidently refer to it as "metal." It feels a little like Brand New musically, though certainly more straight forward. An okay album, but it just felt like everything needs to be pushed a little farther for my taste.
Brendon Benson - What Kind of World: One of the underrated singer songwriters of the last decade, this is Benson's fifth solo album and his first since 2009. In the early part of the 00's, he had some indie success before getting wider exposure as a member of The Raconteurs. During his career, his ability to write catchy, Lennon-esque love songs has only improved over time. If anything, this album suffers only from his own attention to the craft he's worked so hard perfect. By that, I mean it varies very little from his other terrific solo albums. There are some more bluesy elements mixed in here that manage to keep it fresh however. A really enjoyable album that should keep fans happy.