I seem to be on a roll, for the third week in a row the Roundup is dedicated strictly to albums released this year. This is a result of two things, that I'm finally catching up with my listening and that with the spring finally arriving, so are the albums that I care about. It also helps that Record Store brings out any number of albums trying to cash in on the one day shopping extravaganza. All that said, I did take a tiny step backwards into my winter folkish ways, but it's tempered with a good amount of flat out rock n roll. Hopefully you'll all find something to be excited about. Enjoy.
Jack White - Lazaretto: Last weekend on Record Store Day, Jack White set out to make the fastest record ever to go from the studio to the store. He accomplished this feet in just under four hours with the 7" release of the title track from his upcoming solo album. Due to equipment malfunction, the single had to be recorded in mono, which record fans don't mind one bit. The song shows a ton of promise for his next album, fueled by the same manic energy found on previous songs like "Icky Thump" and "Sixteen Saltines." For the B-Side, he covered Elvis's "Power of My Love," giving it an aggressive tempo that makes it feel fresh, just as he always seems to do with songs that he covers. In the case of the fastest record ever, speed did not diminish quality. Another Jackie White gem.
Damon Albarn - Everyday Robots: Due out this week is the first proper solo album from the legendary Blur, Gorillaz, and The Good, The Bad, and The Queen frontman. Though he's released several soundtracks, two operas, and an awesome album of demo sketches, this is really his true debut solo record and it's pretty spectacular. The songs on here represent the softer, more personal side that he's always shown here and there in his other bands. With each listen, I love this album more. There isn't a single bad song on here, once again proving that Damon is one of the best songwriters of his generation. "Hollow Ponds," "Lonely Press Play," "The Selfish Giant," and the title track of among my favorites on a record that easily a contender to be on my best of the year list.
Smoke Fairies - Smoke Fairies: The self-titled release, released two weeks ago, is the fourth album from the British indie folk duo. I've never understood the logic in self-titling an album that isn't a debut, but that aside this is another fine folk record full of dreamy melodies. The only problem with Smoke Fairies is that there are quite a few bands out there doing the same thing, most notably First Aid Kit. But that shouldn't take away from a fine album and so I try not to hold it against them in any way. This is a great chill-out album, perfect for mornings, sleepy afternoons, or early evening. I've found it particularly good to listen to while creating a fairy tale aesthetic while writing. "Eclipse Them All" is currently my favorite track on the album.
The Antlers - Familiars: The Brooklyn based indie band's fifth album, due out in June, is their first record in three years and perhaps their best release to date. Though it doesn't stray from the dream pop sound of their previous albums, it somehow seems to come together in a way that makes more of an impact than the uneven records that came before it. I suppose it benefits from not trying to be too pretentious, which has been a problem with them in the past. This is just beautiful mellow art rock without attempting to be more than what it is. "Intruders," "Doppelganger," and "Palace" are my personal favorites.
Semi Precious Weapons - Aviation: Back in 2007 when this NYC glam rock band released their debut, I was enthralled, especially with the stellar track "Magnetic Baby." Their 2010 follow-up proved difficult to attain, but this week their third album was finally released. This is album is more dance punk than it is glam rock, given that it's been the trend over the past seven years, that's not really a surprise. That's not really my genre, but it's still listenable. There are a lot of 80's synth pop influences that keep it interesting, but I miss the sleaze component of their early days. The title track and "Vegas" are standouts, but overall it's just too dance pop for me.
Mars Red Sky - Stranded in Arcadia: Released just two days ago is the second album from the French psychedelic stoner rock band. I came across this on a fluke, and am glad that I did. This is exactly the kind of heavy psyche rock that I dig. It's not perfect, but it's one of the best new psychedelic rock bands that I've heard in a while. This feels a lot like Tame Impala with perhaps less focus on melody and a bit of Dead Meadow mixed in. "Seen a Ghost," "Circles," "The Light Beyond," and "Join the Race" are my personal favorites.