Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

Fear not, the end of the world has not arrived even though the Roundup was missing in action last weekend. Despite popular belief, that is not one of the signs of the aforementioned apocalypse. So as you revel in relief, you can look forward to a welcome return of random thoughts on random albums. Not only was I indisposed last weekend with travel, it had also been yet another week of limited musical interest. Thankfully this week sees a turning of the tide, bringing some of the much anticipated Fall releases to the light of day, along with a strange trend of "hands" on album covers. I used to love this time of year when a new school year would begin, and while toiling away with the burden of new classes, the universe rewarded us with new music. Even though school is a thing of the past, thankfully the universe doesn't seem to know that. A lot to be excited about here, so enjoy!

Blonde Redhead - Barragán: After 20 years of existence, the New York noise rock band returns with their first proper album in four year. It's been seven since their breakout 23 album and in that time they seem to have evolved into purveyors of moody dream pop. Their vision of this genre is made intriguing by the remnants of their early sound which provides a wrinkle into the sound, making it feel unexpected and a little uneasy. This album sort of feels like a pleasant nightmare, something The Xx might make after spending months inside an old Victorian country home that may or may not be haunted. "No More Honey," "Dripping" and "Defeatist Anthem (Harry & I)" are among the best tracks on a solid comeback.

Michael James Tapscott - Good Morning, Africa: This is the third solo album from Tapscott, half of the band Odawas. Like the band's newest album, there are elements of this that remind me of Pink Floyd in their Meddle/Atom Heart Mother phase, but decidedly more drone and free folk in feeling than the Odawas' work. The album spends most of its time as if existing in outer space, peering down on a lonely and beautiful planet, and only occasionally comes down to the surface to bring that beauty into clear focus. It plays like a film score to a movie that will only ever be seen in the listener's mind, and what a wonderful film that is. Definitely not for everyone, but any admirers of space sounds and drone folk will appreciate this delicate record.

Ryan Adams - 1984: After taking some time off, the former Whiskeytown singer/ songwriter is set to return later this fall with a new album. In the meantime, this little EP consisting of 10 songs, all around a minute in length, was released earlier this month as a kind of teaser. Though given the brevity of the material, it's hard to really gauge much from this, except that his energy is high and his enthusiasm seems to have returned. More rock than his classic efforts, "Rats in the Wall" and "Wolves" certainly have left me eager for the new album.

The Magic Numbers - Alias: The London indie pop band burst onto the scene back in 2005 with a stellar debut of beautiful folk pop songs written by the pair of brother/sister siblings. I loved that album, and enjoyed the follow-up the following year. It's now been four years since their third album, and I was actually surprised at how much I missed them. I've been listening to the debut album quite a lot in recent months and was eager for new material. With a sadder tone, this album is just as beautiful and shows real growth. "Out on the Streets," "Shot in the Dark," "You K(no)w," "Enough," and "Wake up" are among my favorites on this solid album.

Interpol - El Pintor: After four years off, and several solo works by Paul Banks, the New York post-punk darlings return for their fourth album. In some ways this feels very much like Paul's 2012 Banks album, which I suppose didn't really differ too vastly from Interpol. Full of eerie sounds and imagery, coupled with bursts of swirling rock goodness, this is the kind of record we've come to expect from the band, which given their limited output, isn't such a bad thing. They wisely seem to wait long enough between albums to give us what we've been missing. This probably won't win them any new acclaim or legion of fans, but it should satisfy their existing followers. I know it satisfied me. "Tidal Wave" "Breaker 1" "Anywhere," and "All the Rage Back Home" are my current favorites.

Astronauts - Hollow Ponds: This is a debut album from a new London based band. An indie folk record that takes liberties with dream pop and electronic undertones, this is one of the more exciting debuts that I've heard this year. It has the feel of a grey and rainy day, which typically is the kind of feel I prefer my albums to have. The music very much matches the cover image, and reminds a bit of Midlake crossed with Gliss. A dreamlike quality prevails throughout, but it never really wavers from reality and remains grounded with an honesty. "Vampires," "Flame Exchange," "Skydive" and the title track are standouts in my opinion.

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