What a week for new tunes! Some of my most anticipated releases of the summer came out today, so lets get started!
My favorite thing about each new Dirty Projectors album is that first listen. Songs jump and twist in ways you didn’t see coming, and you never know what to expect next. Frontman Dave Longstreth and company take you on an aural roller coaster ride with each new release, and Swing Lo Magellan delivers on all fronts. Elements of folk, “indie”, glam, electronica, and pop are all married together track after track in a beautiful dissonance. Animated drum loops propel playful rhythms that enhance a gentle bed of largely acoustic guitars from track to track. While never brash in tone, a casual listen may prove challenging because album tracks such as “Offspring Are Blank” and “About To Die” take unpredictable turns through varied genre conventions. The songs never feel forced or different for the sake of being different, which can happen in the hands of lesser composers. Instead, what you will get for your dollar is an extremely well arranged record that rewards with each listen. Right now, Amazon has “Swing Lo Magellan” for $3.99, as well as great discounts on the rest of the bands albums.
I have to admit, I have a huge soft spot for The Early November. They are one of my favorite bands to come out of the emo/pop-punk explosion of early to mid 2000s. While a lot of those bands focused on playing harder and louder with each release, TEN always let their melodies stand for themselves, even if that meant leaving a track acoustic or taking care to create a record as a whole rather than just a collection of 3 minute songs. After a period of hiatus, In Currents finds the band at a creative height. “Frayed In Doubt”, “Tell Me Why”, and “Guilt & Swell” are as hard edged as any of the bands previous shout-laced rockers, and “A Stain On The Carpet” and “Digital Age” showcase the band’s softer side. Though filled with individual gems, the album’s biggest strength is how all the parts come together and create a truly effective full length record, one that you should definitely hear for yourself.
Music fans who turn their noses up at hip hop have obviously never heard of Aesop Rock. Not only can he rap better than most, his production skills rank him among the top producers across all genres. While every track on Skelethon boasts his trademark rhyming, each presents its own individual world of influences. Echoes of funk, electronica, “indie” and hard rock punctuate Aesop’s beats so effectively, the record is just as strong without vocals, even taking on a slightly different personality. That being said, Aesop’s poetry over tracks like “Ruby ’81” “Crows 1” and “Zero Dark Thirty” makes Skelethon an intricately layered, genre bending gem. The album is available through Amazon MP3 here, as well as the instrumental version.
I’m not quite sure when synthesizers and drum machines became cool again in the world of indie rock, but if we keep getting records like Confess, I won’t ask anymore questions. Equally influenced by Howie Day style breathy pop, Sting influenced story telling rock, and the darkness laced bright tone of Depeche Mode, Twin Shadow presents a record full of tunes that have a smile buried deep behind the sadness. This constant juxtaposition is all over the record, especially tracks “Beg For The Night” and closer “Be Mine Tonight”. Danceable beats back calm, dark synths so effectively that the listener won’t know whether to dance or relax the night away. That may sound like a criticism, but after listening to Confess, you’ll know I mean it as a compliment to this warm and well structured album.
Even if you weren’t a big fan of System Of A Down, I’m willing to bet the solo work of lead singer Serj Tankian has something for you. Harakiri opens strong with the punishing crunch of “Cornucopia” and “Figure It Out” kick things off with a bang. Tankian has proven himself to be a strong lyricist as well as tremendous vocalist, as evidenced on the track “Uneducated Democracy” where he writes: ‘Without an education there is no real democracy/ Without an education there is only hypocrisy”. Not everything is as political in nature, but each track burns with the clear passion Tankian has for his craft. This is the first of four solo albums we will see from him this year, and her certainly whets the appetite for more with this record. Along with most of this weeks new releases, Amazon MP3 is selling Harakiri for $3.99 right now.
Other releases to check out this week: