The weekend is here and so here is the music. It's been one of those weeks where I chose to listen mostly new releases. It was sort of evenly balanced between hearing albums I'd been anticipating for some time and others that were completely unknown to me prior to listening. Interestingly enough, this was one of the most solidly "winter" music lists of the season, meaning these are pretty much all albums that give me that cold and dreary day vibe that I love so much. Not every one, but most, fit that bill. As usual, there were some albums the exceeded expectations and others that didn't quite do for me what I had wished. Overall, an interesting list. Hopefully you can all find something to hear. Enjoy.
The Coral - Distance Inbetween: I've been a fan of this Liverpool neo-psych band since their debut back in 2002 and have followed each new release with excitement. This is their eighth album, and first in two years. As with all the entries in their later catalog, this is an album of songs inspired by Pink Floyd. They taking the spacey sound and work it into beautiful compact songs in a way Floyd rarely did after Syd Barrett's departure. This is a dynamic and coherent album, and perhaps their best to date. With no missteps or weak tracks, this was a pleasure from start to finish, and possible contender to wind up on my best of the year list. "Holy Revelation," "Connector," "Million Eyes," "Fear Machine," and the title track are stand outs on a fantastic record.
Mars Red Sky - Apex III: Praise for the Burning Soul: The new album from the French stoner psych band is one of my more anticipated releases this winter and it finally came out last week. The album opens with an epic 11 minute atmospheric title track, one of their strongest compositions to date that sounds like a metal infused Pink Floyd track. Unfortunately, that is by far the best song on here. While the rest of the album is certainly listenable, and enjoyable, it's certainly not striking or exceptionally memorable. But definitely check out the title track on their Bandcamp page.
Santigold - 99¢: The highly anticipated third album from the native Philly electropop artist was finally released last week, four years after her last effort. This album is less brash than her earlier work, and clearly meant for a new era of atmosphere over attitude. I don't know that I would call it growth as much as evolution. New Wave influences abound, especially on songs like "Before the Fire," and "Chasing Shadows," and this is where the album works best, sounding like hits from some alternate universe 1985. Thoroughly enjoyable, though expectations were high. Probably unfairly high.
Isaak - Sermonize: The third album from the Italian stoner metal band came out last Fall. It was one of the albums that I didn't get around to listening to before the clock ran out on the year. This is heavier than a lot of stoner metal out there, reminds me a bit '90s hardcore with metal riffs, sort of Helmet like in ways. There are moments where it feels repetitive, but when it all comes together, it rocks. "Showdown," "Soar," and "Lesson N.1" are songs that work particularly well.
Syd Matters - Ghost Days: The 2008 album from the French indie psychedelic folk band, their fourth, is a beautiful addition to the genre. Reminiscent of Midlake, with a bit of The Microphones mixed in, this is highly distinctive record that is just my kind of folk. It is evocative of times long gone by, much like The Trials of Van Occupanther, which is a favorite album of mine. "Cloud Flakes," "Louise," "I Was Asleep," and "Me and My Horses" stood out to me on a flawless album of mood. I can't wait to check out some of their other records.
The Doors - Waiting for the Sun: Sometimes it's amazing how a band that is perceived as legendary existed as that band for a mere four years, and six albums. This is the band's third, falling right in the middle, and is also one of the ones that frequently goes overlooked. For years, I was a bit of Doors naysayer, though I never disliked them, I wasn't a big fan either. Then, after not listening to them for more than ten years, I put on their debut this past summer and recognized how fantastic it is. When I saw this album in the $1 bin at the local shop, I had to grab it. It opens with the brilliant "Hello, I Love You", the only real hit of the record, and perhaps one of the reasons it gets overlooked. The rest of the album is some of the band's most psychedelic and daring material. Needless to say, well worth the price.