Sunday, August 3, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

The drought of the last several weeks abruptly came to an end this week with several releases meant to kick off the beginning of the Autumn rush. Some old favorites emerged once again, but they were joined by a few newcomers, making it an exciting week of listening. I decided to limit the list to those records that I've truly been loving over the past few days, saving others for upcoming lists. In other music related news, I went to see Midlake perform an acoustic show the other night. It was an intimate and wonderful show, and has me once again obsessed with their 2006 album The Trials of Van Occupanter, which is not on the list, but definitely an album everyone should check out. Enjoy.

Spoon - They Want My Soul: After four years of silence, the Austin indie rock band is set to return this week with their eighth album. For the first half of the last decade, this was on my favorite bands around. Their first five albums were cornerstones of the 00's rock revival, highlighted by 2001's Girls Can Tell and 2005's Gimme Fiction. Then came their breakout 2007 record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga with the hit "The Underdog." Personally, I could never embrace that album and as a result, the band faded from my consciousness a few years before their last release in 2010. Feeling nostalgic and hopeful, I was curious about this album, and my curiosity couldn't have been better rewarded. This is a real return to form for the band and it echos those great records of the early part of the last decade. It's focus on honest, yet catchy indie rock has always been their strength. "Rent I Pay," "Rainy Taxi," "Knock Knock Knock," and "Let Me Be Mine" are fantastic tracks on an album that stands proudly alongside their best. 

Ty Segall - Manipulator: After releasing two amazing albums last year, and three the year before, the lo-fi psychedelic pioneer, and leader of Sic Alps, has been relatively quiet this year. Finally, at the end of August, he will release his first album of the year, another brilliant batch of indie psychedelia. Picking up with the last two records left off, there is a spiritual beauty to chaos that shrouds this album. This is the sound of a songwriter hitting his creative peek and exploring whatever direction his muse decides to take him. This time around, it takes him on a furious fueled adventure and leaves behind a wonderful rock album. "It's Over," "Feel," "The Faker" and "The Crawler" are standout tracks for me.

Mirel Wagner - When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day: The second album from the Finnish contemporary folk singer is due out later this month. I was drawn to the title, and the sample track I heard, which promised to deliver a dark fairy tale. It certainly does. A collection of beautiful songs with brutal undertones that remind me of Nick Cave's darkness mixed with Jason Molina's scaled down howl. An exceptional album that won't appeal to everyone, but for those who it will appeal to, you're in for a treat. "1 2 3 4," "Taller Than Tall Trees" and "The Dirt" are my personal favorites, but definitely an album best enjoyed as a whole.

The Circulatory System - Mosaics Within Mosaics: Released last month, this album was recorded over a period of twelve years. It is the first release by the band, headed by William Cullen Hart of Olivia Tremor Control, in over four years. Like all of the previous albums, this one is compilation of fragments woven together into something beautiful. It wanders sleepily from dream to dream, pausing to examine one curious moment after the next. This is experimental psychedelia at its best and is a wonderful addition to the Elephant 6 universe. This isn't album where one can pick out songs. It's one piece, to be appreciated in a single listen. 

Vanilla Fudge - Vanilla Fudge: In 1967 the NYC music scene was beginning see the passing of the folk renaissance, while the psychedelic rock movement was just starting to spring up out on the West Coast. Vanilla Fudge is one of the rare psychedelic bands to emerge from New York at the time. They differ vastly from The Velvet Underground, perhaps the best known psychedelic band from NYC at the time, more closely resembling bands from L.A. like The United States of America and The West Coast Experimental Pop Art Band. The other weekend I picked up this 1967 debut on vinyl and have been pretty obsessed with it ever since. It opens with a stunning rendition of The Beatles "Ticket to Ride" and a few songs later offers an amazing interpretation of The Zombies "She's Not There." But the absolute highlight of this record is the mesmerizing seven-minute version of The Supremes "You Keep Me Hanging On." A nice album closer of "Eleanor Rigby" wraps up the set. Definitely a must for any collector of early psych rock. 

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