Sunday, April 26, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

Another busy week passed by, and given that I was still savoring my Record Store Day buys, it left little time for me to indulge in new music. However, I did manage to listen to four 2015 releases, all of which I'd been anticipating. So this is one of those quality, not quantity lessons. Besides the strange, unplanned theme of black, white, and grey covers, there seems to be a focus on albums with boldness (at least the first three). It's nice to see so many bands taking risks, especially in a market where everybody mostly seems to try and sound like everybody else. Enjoy.

San Fermin - Jackrabbit: Two years after their intriguing debut, the Brooklyn indie band released their second album this past week. I really enjoyed the genre-bending chaos of their first album and I'm glad to see them push the envelope even farther here. Their combination of indie rock, electronic, and orchestral arrangements keep the listener engaged throughout. They remind of Menomena and Boggs, but with they go even farther, including songs that are more pop infused, though could never really be pop songs. Definitely one of the newer indie acts that is worth watching. "The Woods," "Philosopher," "Parasites," "Emily" and "Two Scenes" are among my favorites.

Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color: The second album from the breakout indie blues rock band of 2012 was finally released this week. I was one of the hoards of people who were impressed by their debut, though I admit I never truly fell in love with it. This record is a bit more dramatic, and definitely a brave exploration into music as they push their boundaries, trying to further their sound. Like the last album, it draws heavily on early late '60's and '70s blues rock of Janis Joplin and even some Stones mixed in. However it also draws from contemporary indie rock, giving it a current feel. At times it's down right stunning, and I have no doubt it will be a blockbuster album of the summer. "This Feeling," "Don't Wanna Fight," and "Gimme All Your Love" are my personal favorites.

Björk - Vulnicura: The Icelandic pixie released her 12th solo album in January and it's pretty damn close to a masterpiece. Her career has been a lot of hit or miss for me. There's never been an album that I didn't like, but there are definitely ones that I enjoy a whole lot more than others. This is my favorite of hers since 2000's Selmasongs. It's perhaps the most coherent and consistent record since 1995's Post, but musically far more superior than either of those albums. She sometimes has a tendency to veer too far into electronic weirdness, but not here. These songs are genuine and beautiful, and always seem to know exactly what they are and what they are supposed to be. Easily a surprise candidate for my end of the year list.

Rocky Votolato - Hospital Handshakes: Released last week is the eighth studio album from the Seattle singer songwriter, via Dallas. His blend of contemporary folk is infused with an alt country style, and I've been following him over the course of his last four albums. This is his first in three years and it's another solid record. At times he feels like a version of Ryan Adams with less attention to stardom. As with his previous records, there is nothing to really make it stand out from the crowd, though it certainly holds it own with his contemporaries. "White-Knuckles," "A New Son," and "Sawdust & Shavings" are stand out tracks.

Guns N' Roses - Make My Day!: This bootleg from 1991 is basically a collection of songs that can be found on other bootlegs. It focuses on early unreleased GNR classics, like the Hollywood Rose songs and demo versions of "November Rain" and "One in a Million." Many of these can be found on the three disc bootleg Appetite for Outtakes or the CBGB's set. Despite that, and despite my extensive collection of Guns bootlegs, there is one song that I didn't have before. Though I have many versions of their "Jumping Jack Flash" cover, I had not heard their acoustic version before. As expected, it's dynamite. Certainly worth owning, especially if you don't have any boots, or the Hollywood Rose album. 

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