Welcome to the weekend, and what better way to welcome it in than with a fresh batch of brand-new music. Following the predominant trend of the last several weeks, this Roundup is dedicated entirely to 2014 releases, all of which have come out in the last few weeks, or will be coming out in the next week or so. There are many albums on here that I've been waiting for, and I haven't been disappointed by any of them. Some long-time favorites return, along with more recent favorites, and one new addition to my listening enjoyment. Except for one album on here, last week's folk binge has passed and it's time for summer rock 'n roll. This is the most solid crop of rock albums in some time, which pleases me. Hopefully you will all find something to groove to. Enjoy!
Jack White - Lazaretto: With his second solo album, the garage rock revival hero continues the musical exploration that began in the second half of the last decade. He doesn't reinvent the wheel on this record, instead choosing to put together all of his different periods into one monster album. There are songs on here, like "Temporary Ground," that sound like the country blues feel found on The White Stripes album Get Behind Me Satan. There are aggressive hard blues reminiscent of The Dead Weather, as on "The Black Bat Licorice," and love lost tunes like those done with The Raconteurs, such as "Would You Fight For My Love?". That doesn't mean this album feels old, or worn, but more like we're getting a new album by all three of his fantastic bands at once. "Entitlement," "Lazaretto," and "I Think I Found the Culprit" are my favorites for now.
Kasabian - 48:13: The neo-psychedelia UK indie rock group finally make their return this week with their first album in three years. The band's fifth record, named after its total running time, feels like a return to their early work. It is infused with a dance punk element that hung over their first two albums, once again bringing new energy to their music. The band has always had an attitude about them that they used to transform Britpop into something heavier and more aggressive, one of the ingredients that initially made them so appealing to me. But there's a maturity to this album, and it feels more layered and intricate. This is one of those rock albums that commands to be played at high volume. "Bumblebeee," "Stevie," and "Bow" are standout songs in my opinion.
First Aid Kit - Stay Gold: The third album from the Stockholm indie folk duo is due out this week, and it's a real treat. Picking up where 2012's The Lion's Roar left off, this album sees the band morph even further in their incorporation of Midwestern country folk. It sounds even more like Neko Case than their previous efforts, yet they manage to remain unique. This is one of those perfect summer albums, full of sunshine and warmth. "Master Pretender," "Stay Gold," and "Cedar Lane" are among my favorite tracks on a album that really deserves to be listened to as a whole. This album is almost certain to continue their climb into being recognized as one of the best acts around today.
The Strypes - 4 Track Mind: After releasing their impressive debut last year, the young Irish lads followed up with this four song EP earlier this spring. Once again, they are fully committed to their mod revival sound. As they get a little older, they're getting even better. They recently opened for the Arctic Monkeys and it's obvious why. These four songs seem to fit right in with AM but with the rough edge that the Monkeys had when they were first starting out. "Hard to Say No" is a near perfect mod garage rock anthem, and "Still Gonna Drive You Home" is a bluesy delight. I really hope this band continues to improve and live up to all their potential just as their tourmates did almost a decade ago.
Jolie Holland - Wine Dark Sea: The contemporary folk singer songwriter from Brooklyn released her seventh album late last month and it's quite enjoyable. I have some of her earlier albums, and though there are always songs that I love, and though her unique old jazz voice is captivating, I've always found the albums to be uneven. This one feels as though it comes together more as a whole, and I appreciated that about it. She creates music that I wish Amanda Palmer would create, rather than just give the illusion of creating. There's a drunken eeriness about Holland's music that feels like Fionna Apple mated with early Tom Waits. "Saint Dymphna," "The Love You Save," "On and On," and "Dark Days" are among the strongest tracks.
Riff Raff - Neon Icon: The second proper release from the southern spring break rapper comes out later this month and there is certainly something addictive about it, and Riff Raff's infectious persona. I've listened to his work off and on ever since seeing Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers movie last year in which the James Franco character may or may not have been based on Riff Raff (the matter is currently one for the courts to decide). There is no debating that man has flow to spare. Like few rappers can, he can incorporate hard-hitting moments with humor. His style follows the current trend in Southern hip-hop, but he manages to bring something fresh to it. As with many hip-hop albums there seems to be a lot of filler on here, but the shining moments truly shine. "How to be the Man," "Wetter than Tsunami" and "Introducing the Icon" have been on heavy rotation for me and true gems.