Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

This week I was a bit all over the place in my musical taste. There were a couple of new releases that I felt compelled to check out, as well as some bootlegs that caught my eye. The range of styles spans the spectrum, leaving the Roundup with no definitive feel this time around. One thing I did notice was as the seasons are beginning to change, I'm moving more and more into spring music, which includes more sunshine within its soundscapes. Perhaps my favorite album of the week is the one that comes from a parallel universe. Not only is the music fantastic, but the story attached to it has occupied a good portion of my imagination over the past several days. Enjoy.

Guided by Voices - Motivational Jumpsuit: After taking a long hiatus in the middle of the last decade, the kings of lo-fi have been busier than ever lately. Released this past month, this is their fourth album in the past two years. Unlike the previous ones, this album took a listen or two to grow on me. At first it seemed a little flat, but it just took a minute for the garage chaos to sink in. As with most of their albums this is a collection of very short songs that flow into each other to create a singular trip. Perhaps not as good as some of their more recent work, but still quite worthwhile.  "Child Activist," "Jupiter Spin," and "Zero Elasticity" are the songs that really stand out to me. 

The Myrrors - Burning Circles in the Sky: This 2008 debut from Phoenix based psychedelic rock band came recommended to me by my cousin, and rightfully so. It's fantastically ethereal, harkening back to '60s post-Barrett era Pink Floyd, but also contemporary psych rock bands such as Dead Meadow. The compositions ramble into sonic soundscapes, especially on the stellar 16 minute closer "Mother of All Living." This is that perfect album to help make the transition from winter to spring music and I've been loving it. 

Lana Del Rey - Young Like Me: The other week, this bootleg showed up online featuring mostly unreleased acoustic songs. It's unclear when these date from, but there is an obvious demo feel to them, with the exception of the great upbeat "C-Note 1.0," "Heavy Hitter," and a version of "Diet Mountain Dew." And though I love the produced style of her last album, it's nice to hear her voice on these sparse tracks. There's a vulnerability to her voice that is striking, and moving. They sound like quiet bedroom recordings that were probably never intended to be heard, but most of them are quite good.  "You, Mister," "Junky Pride," and "Move" are wonderful.

The Beatles - Everyday Chemistry: This artifact was brought to Earth in 2009 by a man claiming to have traveled to a parallel universe where The Beatles never broke up, and continued recording music. He successfully smuggled this mythical Fab Four album back with him. These 11 songs essential amount to a a mash-up compiled from solo work by the former Beatles. But they are mixed together to create such a keen melody and sound that they not only feel like new songs, but actually like Beatles songs. It's not impossible to believe this could have been an album recorded by the Beatles in the mid-70s. Had they not broken up, those bits and pieces that ended up in solo work, would have found an outlet somewhere. This is an incredibly fun album and I've been addicted to it all week. "Talking to Myself," "Saturday Night," and "Days Like These" are simply brilliant.

Bear Hands - Distraction: It's been four years since the Brooklyn indie band's debut and they finally returned with a new record last month. Their sound is very NYC indie rock with twang guitar and driving rhythm section that keeps things going. The problem with them is that they still haven't figured out a way to stand out from the dozens of bands doing the same sort of thing. There's moments where they show potential to break out, like on "Bad Friend," but the album never fully develops into anything terribly special.

Quicksilver Messenger Service - Shady Grove: Recorded in 1969, this is the second album from the San Fran psychedelic rock band. Having always been a fan of the late '60s rock scene of that city, this was one of those bands that was noticeably missing from my catalog until I picked this up on vinyl a few weeks ago. Like Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, there is a heavy drug influence to their warped interpretation of folk into psych rock. It's a little uneven, but there are moments that seem to warrant their inclusion in the movement. They are most comparable to H.P. Lovercraft in my opinion, though they take a more drifting approach to their songs, like in the wonderful "Flute Song," or a southern country influence on songs like "3 or 4 Feet From Home." A nice addition for any fans of the genre.

Curren$y - The Drive in Theatre: In the last 11 years, the New Orleans rapper has released 39 albums though only a few have been official releases, the rest have been online mix-tapes available free of charge. This new mix-tape showed up two weeks ago under his alias Spitta Andretti. Throughout the album, snippets of The Godfather trilogy show up, though the songs don't take a particularly gangster feel. As with most of his music, he talks about the things that interest him, from making money, to driving fast cars, and smoking lots of weed. Unlike some other hip-hop artists who try to push their music, or attempt to keep up with trends, Curren$y seems content with sticking to the game he plays so well. Laid back beats and his clever flow keep everything moving at a nice pace, but it does feel as though we've heard all of this from him before. "Fo," "The Usual Suspects," and "Godfather 4" are the true stand out tracks on here. Not essential if you have a good amount of his work already, but if you don't, you'll certainly enjoy this.

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