Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

This week showed a massive slowdown in the onslaught of new material that had made this Fall a wonderful time of year. Without any albums that I'd been waiting on, I spent most of this week listening to things that were new to me. And as the weather turned frigid, most of those explorations were in the realm of folk music, but not exclusively. It's a been a while since I spent an entire week listening to so much unfamiliar music, which gave me some time to get more acquainted with a bunch of the albums I've reviewed recently. So, without any more rambling, here's what I got for you. Hopefully you'll find something you want to explore. Enjoy.

Pink Floyd - Secret Rarities: Preparing the the legendary band's return next week, this bootleg surfaced recently. It includes a couple of rare demos from the '80s, including Gilmore's cover of "Like a Rolling Stone" and instrumental demos of "Learning to Fly" and "Dogs of War." The majority of the album consists of untitled tracks from 1993, material from The Division Bell era. Most of the upcoming album is comprised from the same material from what I've read, but these are just instrumental sketches and shouldn't spoil the band's first album in over 20 years. In fact, just the opposite has occurred for me. Hearing how tight they sound on these demos makes me more excited, as I've quite forgotten how interesting they still were back then. This is really only for hardcore fans, especially those eager for the new record.

Hozier - Hozier: Released in September, this is the debut album from the Irish singer songwriter. It follows two well received EPs, and also includes most of the songs from those EPs. This is the kind of album that can be categorized a lot of different ways, it could be uptempo folk, or soul folk, or chamber pop, or just indie all depends on what aspects you're focusing on. I suppose the closest comparison I can think of is Cold War Kids, which is a fine comparison in my opinion. It's easy to see why this album is getting a lot of attention, it's catchy but cleaver at the same time. Some songs are little too radio ready for me, but there are others that I love. "Take Me to Church," "Angel of Small Death," "To Be Alone," and "It Will Come Back" are standout tracks.

The Factory - Path Through the Forest: In 1968 this UK trio released a masterful psychedelic single, the title track of this compilation, which made it onto the Nuggets II album, bringing it out of complete obscurity and into minor obscurity. The band only released two singles, all four songs included here, along with two other songs never released. These are garage quality recordings, but there's something magical about this band's sound. The guitar is haunting, the vocals wonderful in a San Fran sort of style, and a great British Invasion style back beat. The title track is definitely the best song of the bunch, but the entire album is worth listening to for fans of the genre.

Olöf Arnalds - Palme: This is the fourth album from the Icelandic folk singer and it is rich in that island's native style with lots of celtic sounding string instruments accompanied by her fairy-ish voice. If you imagine a calm version of Björk with classical folk elements, then you'll have a good idea of what this album sounds like. The album is actually on the same label as her Icelandic counterpart, One Little Indian. It's not for every occasion, but every once in a while it's fun to visit this sound space. "Patience," "Half Steady," and the title track are my personal favorites.

Sonne Hagal - Ockerwasser: One of my new discoveries this week if the new album from the German neo-folk band. There's something delicate about the music, which is a nice contrast with the earthy vocals, giving this entire album a gentle eeriness which I really enjoy. There's something that reminds me of Legendary Pink Dots, but far less surreal. There's also elements that remind me Natural Snow Buildings, but without the drone. This is one those perfect albums for a dark winter day, and I hope to spend more than a few of those in that manner in these coming months. "Devon," "The Shape of Things to Come," "After the Rain," and "Black Spring" are among my favorite songs on this wonderful record. 

Zodiac - Sonic Child: The third album from the German stoner rock band was released early in September and it reminds me a bit of The Screaming Trees with a mellow edge even in it's heavier parts. Unlike most hard rock bands, this is one that sounds better when slow it down and immerse themselves in a heavy blues style. There's nothing about this that's unforgettable, or really all that original, but it's solid and enjoyable. They are what they are, and they do it well. "A Penny and a Dead Horse," "Rock Bottom Blues," and "Sad Song" are standout tracks.

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