Sunday, June 21, 2015

Weekend Music Roundup

I finally feel like I'm getting back into the groove and getting the chance to delve into more and more music. This is actually one of the rare weeks where I've heard more new albums than I'm willing to include in the Roundup, which means I've already got a jump start on next week's list. This week is a collection of new albums by old favorites mixed in with a handful of artists I knew little or nothing about before listening to the record. Some surprises, some not to be missed albums, and all in all a good week for music. Enjoy.

Blur - The Magic Whip: The Brit Pop legends' first album in eight years was released back in April. This is their eighth album, and possibly their most creative and complete. I've been listening to this for a few weeks and there isn't a single song that I don't love. Unlike many bands that release a new record after years off, they wisely don't try to relive past glory, and instead continue to progress, utilizing the songwriting talents of both Damon and Graham to create songs that feel fresh, exciting, and transcending. Easily one of the best records of the year and a true triumph.

The Bright Light Social Hour - Space is Still the Place: The Austin band's second album, and first in five years, is a wonderful piece of hard psychedelic rock. Despite the title, this isn't space rock, but does incorporate a lot of classic grooves that give it a '70s influence. The guitar is captivating on here, and though it feels inspired by the past, it never feels outdated. A very solid record, and a definite for fans of heavy psych. Could possibly be one that grows on me with future listens.

FFS - FFS: This collaboration album from Franz Ferdinand and Sparks was released last week and is one of the biggest surprises of the year for me so far. Though I enjoy work from both bands, I never considered the similarities between them. This merging brings out the best of both, pushing Franz Ferdinand into more experimental areas and honing the pop elements of Sparks. This is what Legendary Pink Dots would sound like if they made songs that were ever meant for wide release. I thought I was going to hate this, but found if completely infectious. Never prejudge.  

Belle and Sebastian - Live 2015: It's been nearly 20 years since the Glasgow indie pop band's groundbreaking debut, and though they've lost some valuable members since, they continue to make stunningly honest and endearing music. Released a few weeks ago is this career spanning concert recorded in their hometown, accompanied with a full orchestra. This wonderful set is captured in terrific quality. Certainly a must for fans. 

Jane's Addiction - Love Junkies: This bootleg concert, recorded in their native Cali back in 1987 just before the band made it big, sees the band at their chaotic best. I've always been more a fan of their earliest days when their sound wasn't as polished or produced. On this recording, you can hear that they are part of the late '80s L.A. glam/punk scene, sounding more akin to Guns 'N Roses than any alternative rock band. I snatched this up on vinyl a few weeks ago and it's a great edition to the collection. 

Steve Von Till - A Life Unto Itself: This is my first introduction to the Oakland singer songwriter, though it's his fifth solo album, and I'm sort of amazed it's taken me 15 years to discover his work. With a voice that sounds as old as the hills, this is music that colors the soul. He reminds me a bit of Mark Lanegan, but with a darker mood casting a shadow of his work. A very nice listen on a dreary day, one I'm sure to return to in the Fall. 

We Are the Ocean - Ark: The fourth album from the British rock band spans a few genres, feeling very alternative rock at times and a little heavy at others. It reminds of that '90s "alternative" sound, which isn't necessarily bad, especially if it's new to you. As for me, having lived through the era, it just felt too familiar in a been-there-done-that way. I have so much '90s alternative rock sounds stuck in my head that there is little room for new ones.

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