In case you live under a rock, yesterday was Record Store Day, one of my favorite days of the year. I always look forward to it with anticipation, though I'm rarely interested in the hundreds of reissues and special releases slated for the day. This year there were three releases that I was hoping to find, Nirvana's "Pennyroyal Tea" 7", the Black Angels EP which I reviewed last week, and a Songs: Ohia 7" box set. Alas, the store I visited had sold out of two of those and hadn't ordered the third. No worries though, I still walked out with a armload of vinyl, though most are albums that I have reviewed here before. However, this week's rotations was full of new releases. For yet another week, the Roundup is dedicated only to 2014 albums. Enjoy.
Big Blood - Fight for Your Dinner Vol. 1: Released this month is the Portland, Maine freak folk band's eighteenth full length album, all of them from the last decade. Their unique blend of psychedelic folk has propelled them near the top of my list of best bands currently around. This is another stellar performance, sounding like an artifact from an alternate reality where phonographs and traveling oddity shows still reign supreme. Fun interludes of wrong number answer machine recordings and one of a child making a mix tape in the 80's add to the surreal aspect of the record. "Well Water Pt. II," "Song for Herb," "2+2=? (The Bob Seger System)" and the title track are among the best. One can only hope that a Vol. 2 is in the works for a quick release.
The Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger - Midnight Sun: Due out later this month is the second album from Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl's evolving band. As I expected after catching them in concert back in the fall, the album abandons the neo-folk acoustic style of their debut in favor of a psychedelic rock vibe. Hearing this album, it makes sense the that band opened for Tame Impala and The Flaming Lips as it fits in that category, while also incorporating the best lessons from 90's trip-hop. Easily Sean's best album to date. He just keeps getting better and better. "Animals," "Last Call," "Great Expectations," "Golden Earring," and the title track are all stand outs.
Jessica Lea Mayfield - Make My Head Sing: The Ohio singer songwriter's third album was released last week out. I first came across her work in 2011 when her version of "Lounge Act" was included on SPIN magazine's Nirvana Nevermind tribute album. Her song was easily the best on there. After hearing that I sought out he debut and loved it. This album is equally as good as that one, and one of the better singer songwriter albums I've heard in recent months. It has a definite rock feel to it, moving away from the natural folk vibe of her voice. This albums feels Lightning Dust meets elements of The Black Keys. "Anything You Want," "I Wanna Love You," "Oblivious," and "No Fun" are my personal favorites.
Antemasque - Singles: News broke a several days ago that Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala had reformed a new band along with Flea. Needless to say, I was thrilled. I was still upset that Mars Volta were not going to put out new material, but now it appears they essentially are, just under a new name. Almost immediately after the news broke, the band put up four new songs. "Burned All the Witches" is the most different, a soft acoustic song that is simple yet striking. "Hangin in the Lurch" feels more like their older band At the Drive In with it's more straight forward rock sound. Flea's bass fits that song quite well. "People Forget" owes something to the L.A. strip with it's swagger, but interpreted through their prog-rock lens. Lastly, "4am" feels the most like a Mars Volta song and would fit nicely on their last album. All four songs are pretty spectacular and I couldn't be happier that those two are working together again.
Pink Mountaintops - Get Back: Coming out next week is the fourth album from Stephen McBean's Black Mountain side project band. It's been five years since their last album, and four since Black Mountain has put out a record. After an almost ever-present series of releases in the middle years of the last decade, I found myself sorely missing his brand of indie hard rock. On some songs this album has a lush feel to it that is usually reserved for British indie rock. But there is still an element of raw energy that provides enough edge to make this a solid album that feels new and welcomed. "The Second Summer of Love," "The Last Dance," and "Through All the Worry" are the standout tracks.