Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

As the week draws to a close, I'm ready to roundup the music that has occupied my head space for the past several days. Though it was another slow week for new music, the bulk of this week's list is made up of 2015 releases. I've been taking a few chances on things I know nothing about and catching up on new releases of bands that I've been following for quite some time. Also included are a few albums that I've owned for years and years. I'm still working my way slowly through the albums that I unearthed during my move towards the end of last year, and will continue to share those on weeks like this. Mostly rock music on here, so I hope you're in the mood. Enjoy.

Alamo Race Track - Hawks: Out this past week is the fourth album from the Amsterdam indie band, and their first 2011. Their first two albums from the early half of the last decade are phenomenal and when I saw this, needless to say I was eager to give it a listen. They have an interesting way of combining dark folk with the airiness of pop that makes their music compelling. They sort of sound the way some singer songwriters would sound if they melted their music with the creativity of a band. The Figurines are a band that comes to mind that have a similar energy. This is a delightful record, with just the right amount of weirdness. Easily their best since 2006's Black Cat John Brown. "Erase the Wires," "All Engines," "Young Spruce and Wires," and the title track are among my favorites.

Dopethrone - Hochelaga: Due out in April is the fourth album from the Montreal sludge metal band presumably named after Electric Wizard's landmark album. It would make sense, given that the grooves on here have the same intensity and darkness of Electric Wizard's recent work. This is an exceptional dose of sludge, played to perfection. Perhaps the best stoner sludge album I've heard in almost a year, and one that will quickly lead me to their past output. It has a wonderful horror vibe that fits with my current writing project and I've been truly digging it this week. "Dry Hitter," "Vagabong," and "Sludgekicker" are standout tracks.

The Black Light Social Hour - Space is Still the Place: The second album from the Austin band is a wonderful combination of psychedelic blues and stoner rock. Over the past few years, I've heard a lot of bands that try to walk a similar line and for one reason or another it always seems to falter somewhere along the way. This album is the closest I've heard to getting the delicate spacey blues balance just right. Still not perfect, at times it's a little more uptempo for the style in my opinion, but regardless it's a quality bluesy album that feels a little like a heavier version of "Division Bell" era Pink Floyd. "Slipstream," "Sweet Madeline," and "Ouroboros" are standout tracks.

Babybird - Rehearsal Tapes: This live album was released last month, and it's the first official release from the UK indie pop band in four years. In the late '90s, they emerged at the tail end of BritPop, blending the genre with indietronic. These performances are toned down, and more emotional than the music of theirs that I'm familiar with. Perhaps not essential, but this is a quality indie album from a band that is still more interesting than most others. A little quiet, a little rough, and all around enjoyable. "Man in a Tight Vest," and "Too Handsome to be Homeless" are my favorite tracks.

Drop City - A Revolution of Purely Private Expectations: The 1994 debut from the Australian psychedelic band is the latest in my rediscovery project. About ten years ago, I tracked down this hard-to-find import CD and recently listened to it again for the first time in more than half a decade. This is probably the closest band to Spiritualized in terms of combining Brit-Pop and psychedelic into an uptempo shoegaze haze. Part Ride, part early 90's American indie in the spirit of bands like Hum and Drop Nineteens, this is a curious lost record that will surprise some people who find themselves nostalgic for that era. "Inertia," "Kill the Day,"and "Worlds Apart" are my personal favorites.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Is Is: Another revisit, this is one of those rare, true EPs, one that comes between albums and contains songs that are never featured again on other releases. Released in 2007, after their fantastic first two albums, I've had this CD since it came out and recently went back it. In some ways, this marks the peak of their career. I've never loved anything of theirs that has come after this, yet these five songs are damn near perfect. Definitely a must for fans that may have skipped an EP along the way. 

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