It's another Sunday, and time for another list of all new releases. Once again there are a bunch of albums here that I'd been anticipating for quite some time. Over the past several weeks, it's been like Christmas with all the new music that has come out. As is typical, some surpassed expectations, others missed the mark, and some were just complete surprises. There's a lot country folk rock on here, but I'm keeping it real with a little metal and psych rock thrown in. Enjoy.
Bill Callahan - Dream River: This is the fifth album from Texas alt-country singer/songwriter. His strength is the rich sound of his voice which sinks into the laid back flow of music like the heavy plop of raindrops on metal during a storm. At times, it can also be a weakness, because there is little range to his voice and song structure. I've always found his work to be a pleasant enough listen, but nothing that I gravitate strongly toward. This album feels the same way. When it's on, I find it enjoyable. When it's not, I don't miss it. That said, I know a lot of others will enjoy this much more than me.
Korn - The Paradigm Shift: Twenty years after their first album, the nu-metal pioneers are still at, releasing their eleventh album this past week. As with their previous few albums, the band brings a melodic sound to their heaviness, which makes it very entertaining metal. There are flat moments, as with all of their records, but when they are on, they sound amazing as ever. "Prey for Me," "Love & Meth," and "Mass Hysteria" are stand-outs.
Johnny Flynn - Country Mile: Just released last week is the London folk singer's third album. Back ins 2008, Johnny's debut A Larum was one of the best releases of the year, marking the return of British folk, before Mumford & Sons. His traditional approach to folk music, much like Alasdir Roberts', provides for bare and beautiful songs. Not as much of as a revelation as his first album, mostly because of the flood of folk since that time, but Johnny definitely is among the best of the bunch. "Fol-de-rol" is a real stand-out track for me.
Blitzen Trapper - VII: On their seventh album, the Portand based indie folk band goes way country. This is a toe-tapping kind of 70's country rock album. It almost sounds like Seasick Steve meets Grateful Dead. I'm not totally in love with it, but it grows on me with every listen. There's an undeniable groove to the record that sounds pretty darn good. "Ever Loved Once," "Thirsty Man," and "Don't be a Stranger" are my favorite tracks.
The Fratellis - We Need Medicine: With their breakthrough debut, Costello Music in 2006, this Glasgow pub rock band seemed destined for huge things. They followed that album up with another great record in 2008, Here We Stand. Then Jon Fratelli went off on his own to release a solo album and an album under the name Codeine Velvet Club. The band split for a time, but have wisely come back together for this album, one of my most anticipated releases of the year. This is another album packed with pub rock enthusiasm, catchy choruses, and pounding rhythms. It doesn't feel as fresh as it did seven years ago, but it still sounds pretty good.
Nik Turner - Space Gypsy: The founding member, and driving force, of Hawkwind just released this solo album of all new material and it's my biggest surprise of the year so far. Teaming up with other members of Hawkwind, the album returns to the space rock roots of the '70s band. This is pretty flawless, and could easily pass for a classic Hawkwind album. Could definitely be a contender to make the best of the year list.