Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

It's been sweltering here this week, burning through the hours with an unrelenting blaze of sunburst. The only thing that made it bearable was the acquisition of two stellar albums by favorite artists of mine, as well as some nice vinyl pick-ups at the local Memorial Day record fair. There was also a wealth of other releases that I have yet to get through, making the upcoming week seem promising. Then again, the fact that the heat is supposed to break would be enough to make any week seem promising. Mostly new goodies on the Roundup this time, but a few old gems as well. Enjoy.

Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends: Ever since their first EP in 2005, this psychedelic indie band has been releasing one amazing album after the other, coming one a year like clockwork. For the first time, there's been a two year gap between this new record and their last. The time off was well spent, because even though they have become one of my favorite bands of all time in just the short while they've been around, I must confess that 2011's In the Mountain in the Cloud was a bit of a let down. Well, with Evil Friends, they have erased any fear of a downward trend. This is definitely one of their best efforts to date, showcasing their catchy sound at it's best. Definitely one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Sly & The Family Stone - Greatest Hits: Another one of those Greatest Hits albums that was put together a mere three years and four albums after the band's debut, this 1970 collection is a psychedelic soul classic. I found this on vinyl in a $1 bin last weekend and didn't have to think twice about buying it, despite already having it on CD. From the opening "I Want to Take You Higher," this album kicks off a groove that feels perfectly suited for summer nights. As a fun note, my copy apparently once belonged to the Staten Island Community it's seen some fun times.

The United States of America - The United States of America: Released in 1968, this psychedelic masterpiece is the only record the band ever made. Founding member Joe Byrd would release The American Metaphysical Circus a year later, but it couldn't live up to the sheer genius of this record. Ahead of it's time, the album was released on CD in 1997 and became hugely influential to bands at the time. Combining experimental rock/folk sounds with soaring melodies, the album stands alone as a unique work of art. I bought this on CD when it came out and listened to it constantly. This past weekend I came across a mint copy of the original vinyl selling for a fraction of it's worth and snatched up that treasure. "Hard Coming Love" and "I Won't Leave My Wooden Wife For You, Sugar" are real stand outs. One of those records that belongs in every collection.

Low - The Visible End: As they did with their last album, 2011's C'mon, the slowcore legends released this companion EP along with their new album The Invisible Way back in March. There are four tracks, all demos of songs that are found on the album, but this band has a way of making every song sound unique every time they play it. Thankfully, it's also four of the best songs from the album, making alternate versions that much more attractive. A nice addition to a great album.

The Bevis Frond - White Numbers: Since 1986, Nick Saloman has been releasing his neo-psychedelic rock as The Bevis Frond. Criminally unknown here in the States, he ranks as one of my favorite songwriters of all time. There is a Neil Young quality to his work, but with a more indie rock sensibility. This is his first album since 2011's phenomenal The Leaving of London. Like that album, this is another double album of fantastic rock. There isn't a bad song among the 24 tracks, and the album ends with a 42 minute monster of a jam. No need to be familiar with his previous work, feel free to dive right into this one and work your backwards if you like.

Lightning Dust - Fantasy: It's been four years since the band's Infinite Light record, but they finally come through with their third album. Over the course of their career, the band has progressed from the minimal sound of their debut to a more traditional indie folk sound, even including some electronic elements into this record. Amber Webber (of Black Mountain) has such an amazing and fragile voice that has always made this band stand out among a sea of indie folk rock. "Loaded Gun," "Reckless and Wild," and "Agatha" are some of the stand-out tracks.

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