As I mentioned last week, the pull of new music had been awakened within me recently. Perhaps it was the clearing of the mind that comes with the completion of a story, or perhaps from the unseasonable weather that has blown into the hills. Either way, I spent most of this week dusting through the first few months of 2013 releases. As with every crop that is harvested, there have been some positives and negatives in the yield so far. I've also included two 2012 leftovers just to mix things up a little a bit. But don't worry, 2013 albums will make up a huge part of the mix for the foreseeable future. Enjoy.
Cancer Bats - Dead Set on Living: Released last year, this is the fourth album from the Toronto band. They have been getting a lot of attention over the past year, but it wasn't until their billing on the Blur Hyde Park show that I bothered to look into them. I was surprised by how heavy they are. They are basically a metal band that for whatever reason are linked to the indie circuit. I definitely appreciate the hardcore elements, even if they aren't very pioneering.
I am Kloot - Let It All In: This Manchester band is one I came to via friends in Switzerland nearly a decade ago. In that time, they still have yet to break into the States in any way, and it's really a shame. This is their sixth album, and quite possibly their best. It shows incredible growth, using many different influences to create an eerie indie sound. "Let Them In" is one of the best songs I've heard in a while. If you don't know this band, I highly suggest checking them out. This is a great place to start.
Beth Orton - Sugaring Season: The London based singer songwriter made two of my favorite albums of the late '90's, Trailer Park in 1996 and Central Reservation in 1999. She made two other albums after that, the last one being in 2006. In the six years since her last album, Beth has returned to the formula that make those earlier albums so amazing. There's a folkish quality to her voice and the acoustic guitar that accompanies it. But the music also includes a wonderful mix of strings that make the songs swell with energy and life. Truly beautiful, and had I heard it a month earlier, it very possibly would have made my best of list for last year.
Johnny Marr - The Messenger: The former Smiths guitarist has finally released his first solo album, a full 25 years after the iconic band's split. He hasn't been lazy in the interim, having fronted the short-lived band Electronic and being a member of Modest Mouse. This solo album is definitely respectable, following a traditional Britpop blueprint. However, I hate to admit that if it had been anyone else releasing this album, it wouldn't get nearly the attention it is getting. There are a few stand-out tracks like "Generate! Generate!" and "New Town Velocity," but most of it kind of just exists. A decent enough album and certainly worth a listen.
Low - The Invisible Way: One of my favorite bands of all time, these slowcore legends return with their follow-up to 2011's outstanding C'mon. There's no real new ground covered on this record, but there doesn't need to be. When you've perfected a sound as well as these guys, there's no real reason to mess with it. Their songs are incredibly minimal, but incredibly powerful emotionally. Another truly wonderful album to add to their catalog.
Gliss - Langsom Dans: This is the L.A. shoegazer band's first album in four years and well worth the wait. Their 2006 debut, Love the Virgins, made a huge impression on me when it came out and ranks among one of my favorite L.A. albums, no small achievement given my love for that city's brand of rock. Since that record, they've transformed from a rock band into a more etherial producer of dreamscapes. Every second of this album is quite beautiful and they certainly deserve the same attention as bands like Best Coast.
Mystical Weapons - Mystical Weapons: This free form instrumental record is a collaboration between Sean Lennon and Deerhof's Greg Saunier. It has moments of experimental jazz fused with whining David Gilmore like guitar. It's very much a noise record, one that avoids being trapped into any kind of groove. This element makes it both fascinating and grating at the same time. Certainly not for everyone, but with the right pair of ears, and while in the proper mood, it can be quite an enjoyable listen.