For a second week in a row, I'm attempting to go through my accumulated albums that are still awaiting reviews. Though having finished the second draft of my new manuscript, and with more administrative duties lined up for the next week, I'm feeling the itch to go on a new music spree. So expect a bunch of new releases for next time. For this week, nearly all of the albums were released at the end of 2012 and may be ones you missed. Most were contenders for my best of list, so they are definitely worth checking out. Enjoy.
Kaizers Orchestra - Violeta, Violeta Volume 3: Over the past two years, the Norwegian indie rock band has released this trilogy with an album coming every six months or so. I've been a fan of their eerie sound for over a decade and this certainly represents one of their most involved projects. This third volume may be my favorite. It's return to orchestral folk conjures a City of Lost Children type world, or a vaudeville infused The Wall. An excellent payoff to an ambitious endeavor.
Guided By Voices - The Bears for Lunch: The lo-fi legends released this album in November, their second full length record of 2012. As with Class Clown Spots a UFO, the band finds itself right back in their late '90s peak. They vary their sound so much, drawing on influences from Syd Barrett to 70's hard rock, that their albums never cease to bring surprising turns. Like their masterpiece Bee Thousand, there are close to 20 short songs on here and there isn't a weak one among them.
GWAR - This Toilet Earth: Released in 1994, this is the demon metal band's fourth album and combines the same thrash metal and punk influences from their previous records. The musicianship is just as strong as ever, and the genre bending inclusions are just as clever as they've ever been. However this album definitely feels like an attempt to be slightly more commercial, leaning toward the heavier end of the mid-90s alternative success. As a result there are more than a few songs that feel forced and out of place. Still, a quality record with many treats.
Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II: These San Fran psychedelic rockers have released ten albums in the six years since their debut. Though much more lo-fi than Tame Impala there is something similar in the swirling sunshine of their songs, but with a heavy dose of fuzz to go with it. This is an album that I considered for my best of list, but just missed the cut. Like Apples in Stereo, The Minders, Sunshine Fix, and other Elephant 6 bands, there's an obvious influence of '60s garage pop. Great stuff.
Roc Marciano - Reloaded: On his third album, the NY rapper attempts to single-handedly bring back old school East Coast hardcore. A obvious decedent of legends such as AZ, Nas, Raekwon, and Mobb Deep, Roc brings back the stories of NYC dangerous streetlife. His flow is undeniable and he twists words with remarkable skill. Definitely a throwback to the glory days and a welcome one at that.
Alberta Cross - Daytrotter Sessions: Easily one of my favorite bands that I discovered for the first time last year, their 2012 release having made it onto my top albums. These four songs all come from that album, Songs of Patience. However, the acoustic versions presented here surpass even the wonderful editions from the album. I honestly can't wait to see what this London band does next. (This session can be heard on daytrotter.com).
The Sword - Apocryphon: The Austin metal band's fourth album is possibly their best. Continuing their own self-mythology, the type not really seen since the 70's and 80's metal heyday, they create an amazingly relentless album that combines the swing pulse of Sabbath with the shredding guitars of bands from the new wave of British heavy metal. One of the best metal albums in years.