Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

This week was a bit of a whirlwind which spanned several states and consisted of a busy schedule. Oddly enough, I still felt as if I had more time to explore new music than I've had in recent weeks. Seeing as the music highlight of the week was my visit to the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame, it's only fitting that most of the albums on today's roundup feature artists that have been a part of my listening pleasure for quite some time, decades in some cases. There's no artist on here that was new to me, but some I hadn't visited with in a little while. These are more of the wealth that comes with autumn, some albums which I'd been looking forward to for quite some time. A lot of different kinds of music here, but it mostly falls under indie forms of this or that. Enjoy.

Neil Young - Storytone: The grandfather of grunge has been on a roll lately, yet another in a career of peaks and valleys, though to be fair, mostly peaks. This is his second album this year, following this spring's album of covers recorded in Jack White's phone booth. This one is a more traditional Neil album which reminds me of Journey Through Past and Comes a Time. The deluxe edition includes both solo versions and band versions of the songs. I think I prefer the bare versions because Neil's voice is always so stark and powerful. There is something appealing about about the richness of the full versions though. Not my favorite Neil record of recent years, but decent enough that fans should probably check it out.

The Flaming Lips - With A Little Help From My Fwends: The psychedelic pop giants are at it again! Due out this week is their second attempt at reinterpreting a classic album. Five years after their masterful interpretation of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" they're back to take on The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's" album, this time with the help of "fwends" My Morning Jacket, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, Dr. Dog, and a whole host of others. As they did with "Dark Side" the Lips remake the revered album in an exaggerated fashion. One of the things I loved about that album, and this one, is how they are willing to push the psychedelic elements to the extremes. Just as "Dark Side" was not my favorite Floyd record, "Sgt. Pepper" is not my favorite Beatles record, so I came into this open to hear it torn apart and put back together, which is exactly what this is. And for the record, Miley Cyrus doing "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is phenomenal!

The Coral - The Curse of Love: It's been four years since the Liverpool area neo-psych indie band released a new album. This past week saw the release of their seventh album, one that has a gentler folk tone than previous albums. I've been following this band ever since there 2002 debut and consider them a largely underrated talent of the last decade. This album continues their long wonderful career with a more sophisticated moody piece that shows guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones' influence over their sound. These are delicate chamber folk songs in the style of Nick Drake, fused with the unique style they've developed over the years. This has the feel of an epic English Romantic poem, which is about as wonderful as it gets in my opinion. "The Watcher in the Distance," "Willow Song," "The Golden Bough," and both Parts 1 and 2 of the title track are standouts for me.

Cold War Kids - Hold My Home: The Cali indie rockers returned this week with their fifth album, which is possibly their best since the debut, or at least since 2008's Loyalty is Loyalty. I loved those first two albums, then soured a bit on the next two, though last year's Dear Miss Lonleyhearts had some songs that I enjoyed. I wasn't expecting much here, but I like to stay loyal to bands in hopes that they will regain the magic I once heard. This is one of those times where I've been rewarded. They return to the sort of garage blues sound from their early days, and the result is fresh and catchy. "Flower Drum Song," "Hear My Baby Call," "Drive Desperate," and "All This Could Be Yours" are standout tracks. Definitely worth a listen, even if you've written this band off in the past.

Those Poor Bastards - Vicious Losers: The seventh album from the Madison, WI gothic country act is another beautiful piece of madness. For those unfamiliar with duo, they are the Americana rebirth of Nick Cave and Tom Waits, mated in misery and satanic darkness. For nearly a decade they have been one of the best around at merging roots music with a sense of evil and revival. Released earlier this month, this is one of their finest and most complete albums. The moments of hyper chaotic energy are balanced with more spiritual moments, which also makes this their most accessible album. My favorite songs are "Lonely Man," "Let Us Rot," "Born to Preach," and the epic 10 minute closer "Today I Saw My Funeral."  A really nice surprise, not that I wasn't expecting good things, but still a real nice surprise.

Peaking Lights - Cosmic Logic: This is the seventh album from the San Fran psychedelic electro-pop band. Released this month, this is the first album of theirs I've checked out since 2009 and there sounds seems to have changed quite a bit. Like a lot of indie bands these days, this is inspired by 80's synth, letting the electro sounds flow through the album like a river while the other elements splash around in the current. Perhaps that sounds awful, but it actually works. All in all a fun listen even it's not my favorite style. Sometimes it's good to get away from your comfort zone though.

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