For the second straight week I've spent most of my listening pleasure on CDs of days gone by, rediscovering some fantastic albums along the way. Since many of those records have been reviewed here over the years, I won't bore you with another review. Luckily I've managed to gather up a group of albums from the past few months to put together a short but sweet roundup. It's a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll, hopefully you'll find something you'll want to hear. Enjoy.
Cocoon - Covers: The French indie pop band released this EP of covers in 2011, and it remains their last release to date. I love cover records, and they pick some interesting choices. Destiny's Child's "Say My Name" becomes a slow-downed beautiful dream pop song. Max Romeo's reggae song "Chase the Devil" becomes a brilliant campfire sing-along. And Outkast's "Hey Ya," the album's most interesting choice, also gets a good acoustic folk make over. A fun record for cover fans.
The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die - Whenever, If Ever: By their name alone, it's obvious that this band is going to play a form of post-rock emo on their recently released debut album. I probably never would have checked this out if it had not been in the top rated albums of this year. Despite the pretentious name, it's surprisingly good. Definitely reminiscent of early Brand New, it showcases a softer fuzzed out sound that feels like small label 90's indie rock. There's nothing that feels truly new here, but it's well done and an enjoyable listen.
Guided By Voices - English Little League: Following up their two albums released last year, the Dayton, Ohio boys released this album in the spring. You'd think that the third album in a year would suffer from a serious lack of inspiration, but you'd be wrong. They prove that there is seemingly no end to the lo-fi masterpieces left in them. It also sounds different from last year's albums, more reflective in a way. As always, their songs benefit from remaining short, almost sketches, but that's what gives them that spontaneous sound that makes them so unique. "Islands," "Trashcan Full of Nails," and "Biographer Seahorse" are among my favorites.
Daughter - If You Leave: After two EPs in 2011, the London dream folk trio released their first full length album this past March. The songs on this album are haunting and beautiful. It has an ethereal feel to it, both vocally and musically. There's something of a Holly Miranda quality to the vocals where everything is sung with a powerful softness. This kind of wispy record is probably better suited for my Fall or Winter listening tastes, but it works on a lazy summer day as well.
Lucero - Texas & Tennessee: This four song EP was released in April and sees the Memphis alt-country band return to their scaled back sound. There's more a traditional country soul feel to these songs that suits the band well. Lots of acoustic guitars, and the occasional piano, makes this one of their best releases in years. I really hope they put out an album soon that keeps this rhythm to it.
The Dolly Rocker Movement - Your Side of Town: It's been four years since this Australian psychedelic pop band has released anything, and even though this is only a single, it's certainly nice to know they're still around. Both songs are 60's garage psyche inspired gems. There's also the obvious Syd Barrett influence, from which they take their name. I really can't wait for a new album from these guys, it's been too long.