Sunday, December 1, 2013

Weekend Music Roundup

Alright, the Roundup is back on track this week. After weeks of listening to my existing music collection, I've once again entered the world of checking out new sounds. This also marks the beginning of the winter sounds, those haunting and eerie records that I find so enjoyable in the grey, cold days of the coming months. Some of these are new releases, while others are albums from the past few years that I've finally gotten around to hearing. Hopefully there's something for everyone on here. Enjoy.

King Creosote & Jon Hopkins - Diamond Mind: For the past 15 years or so, King Creosote has been releasing his style of indie folk, most of it rarely reaching across the pond to the States. Several years ago I came across one of his albums and was taken in by the sweep of its simplicity and storytelling. He reminds me a lot of Alasdir Roberts (of Appendix Out). This 2011 album is a collaboration with electronic artist Jon Hopkins, who wisely doesn't impose his style on the King, but rather uses subtle textures which add to the musician's sound. A very compelling folk album, perfect for a cloudy Sunday like today.

Maple Bee - Chasing Eva: This 2004 album is the first Melanie Garside album released under the Maple Bee name and was re-released in 2010 with a bonus disc of material. As the bassist for Queenadreena, and sister of that band's iconic singer Katie Jane Garside, it's no surprise that the record has a similar spooky beauty to it. Given that Katie Jane is one of my favorite musicians ever, I was already predisposed to enjoy Melanie's work. Her voice is similar to her sister's, if not quite as babylike, though she sounds less like her on this album than she does on 2008's Home. There's a quiet delicateness to this record that heightens its mood. To me this feels like the record that might be playing in the underground clubs of a place like the City of Lost Children, perhaps that's a product of the Marianne Faithful quality to the songs. This will certainly be getting a lot of play over the winter.

Moonface - Julia with Blue Jeans On: Spencer Krug has been one of my favorite singer/songwriters of the last decade, and pretty much of all time, winning me over with his wealth of wonderful projects (Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown, Swan Lake, etc.) This is his fourth release under the Moonface name, used for solo projects. Released last month, this joins the previous releases as another compelling record. This is also the most straightforward Moonface album, and the most reminiscent of Sunset Rubdown. "November 2011" and "Back is Back in Style" are my personal favorites.

Midlake - Antiphon: The Texas indie folk band's fourth album, and first since 2010's The Courage of Others, was finally released in November. This is an album I'd been looking forward to for quite some time, but not without reservations. I knew it was going to difficult to follow the last album, which was a near masterpiece of neo-psychedelic folk. I'm happy to say this album feels like a continuation of its predecessor. The haunting vocals are accompanied by a wash of Pink Floyd rhythms, creating a beautiful sound. Midlake has always been able to stand out among the wave of bands using similar textures and influences, and once again have succeeded in making an outstanding album.

Andrew Bird - I Want to See Pulaski at Night: Released earlier this month, this EP is really basically one long music piece divided into seven parts. Three instrumental tracks proceed and follow the vocal title track. The instrumental tunes are achingly beautiful string numbers featuring Bird's trademark style. The title track is pure chamber folk beauty, once again showing that Andrew Bird is still riding a tide of excellence that began with two outstanding albums released last year. A powerful song that only makes me more anxious for whatever comes next.

Lana Del Rey - Born to Die: Though released last year, I avoided the massive hype that surrounded this record. After reading many mediocre reviews, I was skeptical of this, assuming it to be just another record industry push. Then a few months ago a friend shared "Dark Paradise" on Facebook and I was pretty blown away. I sought out the album immediately and have to say I was super impressed. There is an overwhelming pulse of L.A. cool in the trip hop beats and starlet stories that flow through the tracks. Lana's voice is timelessly hip. At times she reminds me Paloma Faith, and Lilly Allen at other times. "Born to Die," "Off to the Races," and "Dark Paradise" are real standout songs.

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