Sunday, August 4, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

This week's list is a combination of newer releases and older albums that I've recently sought out. Most likely it will probably be that way for a while since I have such an abundance of albums collected that I've not been able to absorb. When this happens, I tend to ignore all but a few new releases. Especially with the Fall rush about to be unveiled, I want to make sure I've gone through what I already have. That said, there are still great albums on this list. Newer does not always mean better. Enjoy.

Neil Halstead - Oh! Mighty Engine: Founding songwriter of Slowdive and Mojave 3, two of my favorite bands, has released three solo albums in the last decade, this 2008 album being the second. It veers solidly into the folk genre, which is where Mojave 3 had been heading over the course of their last two albums, moving away from the dream pop sound that carried over from Slowdive. Like all his work, these songs are beautiful and poignant. At moments, it reminds me of early Belle & Sebastian, only less playful. Neil always has a way of reaching into the seriousness of reflection.

Psychic Ills - Dins: It's been seven years and seven albums since this 2006 debut from the Brooklyn neo-psychedelic band. They have since honed their craft considerably, but there is something to be said for this exploration of sound and all its looseness. Definitely the kind of album made for spending the day higher than high while sitting around a sunny apartment as the city goes on without you outside the window. I have a weakness for albums like that, and this is no exception. There's nothing on here that I haven't heard before, but it's also a sound I never particularly mind hearing again. A nice find if you come across it.

Holly Miranda - High Above the City: There isn't very much information on this collection of 20 songs, so I'm not sure if it was sold only at concerts, if it's a demo, or was self-released, but it dates from 2002, a full three years before the release of The Jealous Girlfriends first EP, and seven years before Holly's solo debut EP. (That's assuming the release date is correct). Regardless, this is a very nice album of acoustic songs, featuring only Holly's amazing voice and an acoustic guitar, which is far different from the lush beauty of 2010's The Magician's Private Library. I've seen Holly perform twice, both acoustic sets that feel very much like this album, so for me, it was great to finally find this after years of searching. Very personal, poetic songs, something I can imagine being a teenage girl's favorite record ever, luckily there's a part of me that connects with that idea as I'm sure my books have shown.

Amy Cook - Summer Skin: Released last August, this is the Austin based singer songwriter's sixth album. I was introduced to her earlier this year when I heard the amazing "Airplane Driver" on the radio and sought out this album. There's a definite country/folk vibe to this album. It reminds me of Elizabeth & The Catapult in some ways, Norah Jones in others. A good record that's easy to listen to, but nothing really groundbreaking.

Kurt Vile - Wakin On a Pretty Daze: The Philly native follows up 2011's Smoke Ring for My Halo with another masterpiece of psychedelic folk. This double album is one of my favorites of the year so far. It plays like a mellow Dinosaur Jr. album washed in a haze of a lazy day. The entire album keeps a consistent groove throughout, making it almost feel like one continuous song. With each album, Kurt seems to improve, and he's well on the way to becoming one of the best songwriters of the moment.

John Frusciante - Outsides: The newest EP from one of my favorite songwriters of all time, due out at the end of August, is a continuation of the experimental sound of last year's PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone album and the Letur Lefr EP. It contains only three tracks, all of which are instrumental, with the exception of a few lines on one track. The blending of guitar and electronic glitch is more seamless here than on last years' albums, showing that he's really perfecting this new sound, which is certainly an exciting prospect for future releases. The entire Side A consists of one 10 minute groove track called "Same," which is truly wonderful to listen to, and I've played it many times over the course of this week. The second side is two tracks which feel a little less focused, more like sketches than songs. An interesting piece that makes a nice companion to 2012's releases.

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