Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

The floodgates have opened, ushering a tidal wave of new releases to end the late summer drought that I've suffered through. For weeks I've been talking about upcoming albums that had me drooling, well it seems a good number of them finally emerged this week, leaving me with enough albums for the next few Roundups. It's been one of those weeks that feels like Christmas morning, not knowing what to listen to first or next. As I look at the list of what I've chosen to review, it appears that I was in a rock mood and gravitated to a lot of those albums, probably because of the weather which decided to hit us with the hottest temperatures of the summer now that Fall is right around the corner. So the folk vibe will have to wait another week or so before it gets into full swing. For now it's time to turn up the volume and gets yer rocks off. Enjoy!

Death From Above 1979 - The Physical World: Ten years after their epic debut, the two-piece Toronto noise rock band will finally release their follow-up album this week. A rather long split separates the releases, along with a few solid solo releases from Sebastian Grainger, but this album proves that no matter what has transpired between, the chemistry is still there. Consisting only of guitar and drums (just as The White Stripes and Black Keys) the band manages to squeeze an incredibly full sound out of the instruments, and actually go much heavier than the other mentioned bands. They take their influence from punk rather than blues, and it shows. Perhaps the most anticipated release of the year for me, actually I've been anticipating ever since the reformed two years ago, this album has not disappointed. There isn't a song that I don't like, but as with the first album, it will take several listens for the real standout tracks to surface. Welcome back!

Kill It Kid - You Owe Nothing: The third album from the UK indie rock band, released last week, is a blues influenced indie rock record. It reminds me a little bit of another blues rock band I've been listening to of late, Black Pistol Fire. Like that band, this shows equal parts influence from contemporary garage blues like Dead Weather and '70s blues hard rock like Deep Purple. The result, while nothing particularly groundbreaking, is thoroughly enjoyable. "High Class," "Sick Case of Loving You," and "I'll be the First" are among my favorites. Definitely worth checking out for fans of heavy leaning blues rock.

The Icarus Line - Avowed Slavery: My favorite L.A. noise rock band surprised me this week with the release of this so-called "mini-album" which they declare to be a companion to last year's phenomenal "Slave Vows" record. These five songs, most longer than 6 minutes, were apparently recorded at the same time as the record and it shows. They have the same dark energy that made that record one of my favorites of last year. It also seems to contain a lot of the chaos that made there 2004 album "Penance Soiree" one of my all time favorite records. "Junkadelic," "Raise Yer Crown" and "Salem Slims" are standouts, but honestly, all five songs are brilliant.

The Kooks - Listen: The UK indie pop rock band returns after a three year silence with this typically upbeat album. I've always enjoyed their way of blending BritPop influences with contemporary indie rock, creating a sound that feels like Suede mixed with The Magic Numbers. It's catchy, but frayed around the edges just enough to feel special. This is their best album since 2008's "Konk" and perhaps after a few more listens, might even equal that record. Wisely, they've infused a disco dance element into most songs in order to appeal to the new trend in indie pop, but they do it well, without abandoning what fans have always liked about them. "Westside," "It Was London," "Bad Habit," and "Backstabber" are standout tracks for me.

J Mascis - Tied to a Star: The Dinosaur Jr. front man's first solo album since the wonderful "Several Shades of Why" in 2011 was released two weeks ago. It's another beautiful acoustic singer songwriter piece that feels like a trip into a nice hazy world. In some ways it feels like a mellower version of Kurt Vile's "Walkin' a Pretty Daze" but perhaps that's only because Mascis is an obvious influence on him. This is one of those perfect Sunday records to listen to while lazing around and letting your mind drift toward internal stories. "And Then," "Better Plane," "Trailing Off," and "Me Again" are just a few of the songs that make this a must-have record.

Sinoia Caves - Beyond the Black Rainbow: Released this week was the second album from Black Mountain keyboardist Jeremy Schmidt under the Sinoia Caves moniker. The previous album, 2006's "The Enchanter Persuaded" is one my all time favorites, so needless to say I was super excited to see this come into existence. With a progressive electronic sound, the album creates imaginary worlds of mystery. Like most electronic music of this genre, it's very much a mood piece, something to create an atmosphere, though unlike other records, it varies the mood of the music, going from euphoric to slightly spooky. Definitely one to check out for fans of ambient leaning electronic music.

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