Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

Finally doing a bit of catching up on new music, having exhausted a fair amount of my tolerance for nostalgic listening over the past month or so. Most everything on the list this week was released in the past few months, but there a few that stem from the investigation of older records and tracking down a band's other releases. There's a range from folk to metal, with no sense of continuity, except for the fact that most of the artists are British this week in celebration of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon earlier today. Enjoy.

Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou - Quality First, Last & Forever: Released in 2011, this is the married British folk duo's second album under this moniker, their first album having been released under the band name Indigo Moss 2007 after being discovered by Simon Tong (of Verve). I've been a fan ever since that first album, and they continue to make beautiful folk music. After recently listening to the previous album the other week, I found that I had missed this one and sought it out. A fine addition to their growing catalog of music, and a must listen for anyone who thinks the folk revival begins and ends with Mumford & Sons. "All Been for Nothing," "The Stargazers' Gutter," and "A Hill Far, Far Away" are among my favorite tracks.

Sleep - Dopesmoker: The San Jose sludge metal band's 2003 epic was re-released last year on colored vinyl, with a bonus album of live versions of songs from their other epic album, Sleep's Holy Mountain. I picked this up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire last December and have found myself listening to it a lot as the summer weather warmed up. Its heavy grooves mix well with the sweltering air, lingering and multiplying as the one track album pushes through three sides of the record. This an album that took 10 years to see the light of day in its original release, due to label fighting and the lack of desire for them to put out a 63 minute song. It took another ten years to get it on vinyl, but the medium is the best for hearing this type of drone metal. Definitely worth picking up if you ever come across it. 

Bill Ryder Jones - A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart: Released this spring, this is the Coral guitarist's second official solo album, though there is an early, and brilliant, unreleased album out there as well. Moving away from the neo-classical style of his 2011 album If... this album takes on a lullaby gospel feel reminiscent of Spiritualized. There's also a Leonard Cohen like confessional feel to some songs, like the beautiful title track; a minimal piano, acoustic guitar, and tambourine tale of self-loathing. This is a fantastic album, perfect for setting the mood for a reflective day.

Seven Sisters of Sleep - Opium Morals: Hailing from California, the birth place of sludge metal, this is the band's second album, which came out this past spring. This is heavier than most, bordering on death metal, especially with the screamcore vocals. This usually isn't my thing, but the music was played well enough, and heavy enough, to keep me interested throughout the album. Typically I wouldn't make it through an entire listen of a growling, demonic voice, so that's saying something. But if that's your thing, this is a good album to pick up.

The Pigeon Detectives - We Met at Sea: It's been six years since this Leeds indie band came along in the wave of rock that followed the Arctic Monkeys debut the year before. Their first album had a similar type of edge, but the two albums that followed were a definite move toward more commercial appeal. Now with their fourth album, the band has discovered the right balance on this release. And while the Monkeys have continued to evolve and change, the Pigeon Detectives have stayed true to playing rawkus pub rock love songs. Nothing incredibly earth shattering here, but a good summer rock album, and easily their best since their first. "I Won't Come Back," "Hold Your Gaze," and "No State to Drive" are my current favorites.

Beady Eye - Acoustic Session Live Abbey Road Studios: Recorded on the eve of their second album release last month, this set features 10 songs from the album, all done in a scaled back acoustic arrangement. Given that a lot of the album is already semi-acoustic, it makes sense, but even so, these live versions are truly brilliant and show how good a professional band can sound. The version of "Ballroom Figured" is especially good. There's also a bonus cover of The Beatles "Cry, Baby, Cry." A nice companion to the album.

Electric Eye - Pick-up, Lift-off, Space, Time: The debut album from this Norwegian band is a swirling psychedelic joy. It's sort of a cross between the Black Angles and a trippy version of Joy Division. The first single, "Tangerine" is a a masterpiece of Floyd inspired Space Rock. These guys definitely know how to weave beautiful textures of sound into music that never loses its core. They drift, but keep the center, making this record one of the best examples of the genre in a while. Great stuff and one of my favorites of the year so far.

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