Sunday, March 9, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

It was an especially slow week for new releases, which led me to delve into stored albums that have been waiting to be heard. This isn't a bad thing as I've built up quite a large backlog of tunes. Of course, that didn't stop me from tracking down some things from my even larger wishlist. Basically I have a music addiction problem that hopefully I'll never be cured of. Once again, the list represents the warming weather and my warming mood. Lots more upbeat stuff on here, though the cloudiness lingers on some days and calls for a lapse back into a winter phase. Hopefully you'll all find something on here worth checking out. Enjoy.

Karen O. - At Home: This bootleg of 2006 home recordings emerged a few years ago and features a bare bones intimacy from the Oscar nominated Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer. I've always enjoyed the quiet songs she did for Where the Wild Things Are and Her, so this was a nice find. The album is pretty much what one might expect from home recordings, very subtle and wandering acoustic pieces, but there's a fragile beauty to them that feels more like early Cat Power than anything by YYY. All but two songs are untitled, adding to their sense of incompleteness. These songs were obviously never meant to be released, but in a way, that's what makes them so personal and moving. It's the kind of album to listen to in the dark while allowing it to inspire your dreams.

Black Lips - Underneath the Rainbows: The Atlanta garage rockers are set to release their first album in three years in March and it's a welcome return. After some rambling records, this one has the fun feeling of their early work. They have always been able to stay true to the classic style of '60s garage rock, but unlike some other bands like The Makers, they always seem to add a contemporary angle to the songs, especially when they infuse elements of the blues into their work, like on the fantastic "Boys in the Woods." In addition, "Funny," "Do the Vibrate," and "Dandelion Dust" are real stand out tracks. Should be a great album for early summer.

Elf Power - Sunlight on the Moon: One of the founding bands in the Elephant 6 collective, Elf Power released their first album nearly 20 years ago. Released last year, this is the Athens GA band's twelfth album of lo-fi psychedelic pop. The album is very reminiscent of their early albums, recorded instrument by instrument in some cases, with lyrics taking shape over time. Though they share similarities with other Athens Elephant 6 bands, most notably Neutral Milk Hotel, their sound is more in line with Guided By Voices, having the same sort of roughness around the edges with beautiful harmonies floating through. This is one of the albums that should have received some of my attention in gathering the best of last year, but alas it was missed. Another fantastic record for the coming warm weather. "A Grey Cloth Covering My Fact," "Darkest Wave" and the title track are among my favorites.

Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action: Another album that slipped past me back in 2013 was this, the fourth album from the Scottish indie dance rock band. Four years passed between 2009's "Tonight" and this record and it seems the band decided to take a step back in that time, returning to the high tempo sound of their first two records. I thoroughly enjoyed the more experimental turn on their last album, but it's nice to hear this energy from them again. This is a fun record, even if there's nothing groundbreaking on here. "Stand on the Horizon," "Evil Eye," and "The Universe Expanded" are among my favorites.

Woven Bones - In and Out and Back Again: Released in 2010, this is the only full-length album from the Austin based garage rock band to date. I sought this out this week after reading how their name was inspired by the act of crossing one's fingers for good luck, and then seeing the wonderful album art. There's a frantic energy to their sound that reminds me of Thee Oh Sees and Sic Alps. This is classic psychedelic garage stuff, with a darkness creeping into the driving beat the way it did on early 13th Floor Elevators songs. "Creepy Bone" and "Blind Conscience" are my personal favorites on here. 

Jack White and the Bricks - Live On The Garden Bowl Lanes: Recorded live in Detroit way back in 1999, this short-lived band also included Brendan Benson on guitar. This was issued on vinyl last year by Third Man Records as part of their "Vault Package" program. What's amazing about this is that it includes songs that wouldn't show up for a few more years on White Stripes albums, including "Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground," "Union Forever," and "The Same Boy You've Always Known." It also includes songs that were frequent mainstays at White Stripes shows like Dylan's "Isis" and the redone folk classic "Black Jack Davey." As is to be expected from a live recording of a band that barely existed, recorded in a bowling alley (lanes 11-14), the quality is rough, but the energy more than makes up for it. It really captures the live experience of whenever Jack puts on a show. Definitely a must for fans.

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