It has been a very busy week, leaving me with little time to digest new music, and as a result, I'm compelled to offer a shortened Roundup. Though condensed, this list is made up entirely of new releases by artists I've followed for years. It's always interesting to see how bands or songwriters progress during their career, and when you have the chance to follow over a period of time and experience it as it happens, that's even better. A lot of Midwestern inspired indie and alt country on this list, so hopefully you'll be in the mood for that on this day of resurrection. Enjoy.
My Morning Jacket - The Waterfall: Due out in a few weeks is the Louisville indie band's seventh album, and first in over four years. This is an album with a grand scope that attempts to sound huge on every track. There's a feeling of wide open spaces on here, which I enjoy. Too often bands tend to grow more claustrophobic as they go along, always trying to limit their risk. This is an attempt to be bold. It doesn't succeed on every track, but when it does, it's fantastic. After a slow start, the album grows into something epic, reminding me a bit of Pink Floyd's landmark '70s records. There's a ton of great classic folk-rock guitar grooves and alt-country moments that combine to make something unique sounding and not at all derivative. "In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)", "Get The Point," and "Spring (Among the Living)" make for a brilliant mid-album trio. "Like a River," "Tropics (Erase Traces)," and "Thin Line" are also stand out tracks.
Simon Joyner - Grass, Branch & Bone: The Omaha singer songwriter's 15th album is an acoustic alt country gem, in the folkish style he's done so well for so long. Part Bob Dylan and part Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Simon Joyner has always been one of those interesting artists that remains under the radar despite his obvious talent. Though I've missed his more recent records, I followed his work for a long time and this album shows a deep growth in the song structure. He understands the need for songs of deep emotion to be contained in appealing melodies, the way Neil Young always has. "In My Drinking Dream," "Sonny," "You Got Under my Skin," and "Jefferson Reed" are among my favorites.
Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts - Blaster: The Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver front man has returned with a new band for his fourth solo album, released last week. As with a lot of solo albums from lead singers, there definitely feels like there may be an element missing here. That's not to say it falls flat on its face or anything. It's a solid hard rock album with a kind California laid back nature. It feels a little outdated at times, and lackluster at others, but there's still magic left on a few songs. "Hotel Rio," "White Lightning," and "Youth Quake" are standout tracks.
William Elliot Whitmore - Radium Death: The alt country singer songwriter released a new album the past week, his sixth and first since 2011. Unlike many of the alt-country acts, William draws heavily on bluegrass and roots music, giving his music an old timey sound. And keeping with old country music themes, many of the songs on here are sad songs, as the title and cover might suggest. "Civilzations," "A Thousand Deaths" and "Can't Go Back" are my personal favorites on a quality record that's pretty perfect if you're in the mood for it.