Part 2 of my 2012 must listens is up now!!
Here is Part 1 of my must listens of 2012!!
Due to Hurricane Sandy, I’m not able to check out this weeks New Music. Here is what I was looking forward to though:
For more in depth looks check out tinksaysboo. I hope all affected by the storm are safe and dry! See you next week!
Shiny Toy Guns are back with III, a collection of strong songs that showcase their brand of electro-Pop with an alt-punk edge. The band embraces a softer sound on this record, due in part to the return of former Co-Lead Vocalist Carah Faye Charnow. Her alluring alto seems tailor made for a bed of dreamy synths, and is a perfect counterpoint to the slightly gruffer work by Co-Lead Vocalist Gregori Chad Petree. Their duets on tracks like “Waiting Alone” (below) and the lush “Wait For Me” make for my favorite moments on III. This is a record you can relax to, but that doesn’t mean it is without its uptempo moments. “The Sun” is a pulsating rocker that spices up the album’s latter half, and “Speaking Japanese” has a dirty guitar fueled grind to it. III has a much more focused feel than previous Shiny Toy Guns records, but that is not to say that their previous albums are unfocused. The often over used (and dreaded) term “more mature” can certainly apply here, but when writers employ that term they are usually referring to the bands focus. III feels like a complete album, one whose recording process started with a specific direction in mind. Fans have celebrated the bands ability to jump all over the musical map, but with their third record the band has chosen to send a specific tonal message, one that I found most engaging. Grab it for yourself today at Amazon MP3.
PLAY IT WITH: Metric, The Presets, Yeasayer, The Eurythmics
Happy New Music Tuesday! This week sees new records by Muse and Matt and Kim! Check it out over at SoAndyway.com!
While everyone was complaining about them mentioning their influences, progressive powerhouse Muse have created and released one of their best albums. The ‘hotly debated among people who haven’t heard a single note of it’ record in question is The 2nd Law, and it is one of the best aural journeys you will take this year. The lesson to be learned by all the bloggers, tweeters, and other social media users out there is this: Shut up and listen. They were so focused on the possible inclusion of Dubstep in their beloved perennial experimenters music that they didn’t listen to anything else the band had to say. Yes, there are tracks that have a Dubstep influence, but the band also manage to seamlessly weave in Classic rock, Metal, Electronica, Progressive Rock, Funk, Broadway Pop, Classical, and U2 inspired Power Pop. Seeing as how the “Dreaded” Dubstep’s roots are firmly in Metal/Prog Rock, not to mention the band’s love of aggressive electronic sounds has been evident across their entire discography, this marriage should be viewed as a natural one. Couple that with the fact that there is only one track to wear this influence on its sleeve (The 2nd Law: Unsustainable), everyone who panicked and trashed the band publicly should feel embarrassed. What is truly remarkable though, is that the track is meant to be the sonic representation of panic and fear, juxtaposed against the suite’s calmer continuation (The 2nd Law: Isolated System).
I felt that all needed to be said about the ridiculous pomp leading up to the album’s release, but how about we look at the album itself? Opening march “Supremacy” is a triumphant salvo that sets the adventurous mood upfront. Lead singles “Madness” (below) and “Survival” are as killer as any of the bands catalog, with sways and swells that explore the bands Queen influence in a fresh light. The funky bass driven intro to “Panic Station” will have your head bobbing involuntarily across the danceable three minute tune. The aforementioned title tracked suite that ends the record is some of Muse’s most poetic and bold work to date, a truly remarkable pair of art rock. Muse has long proven themselves to be masters of mashing up genres while staying true to their core, and the fantastic The 2nd Law is another chapter in their ever ascending career. This album deserves nothing but praise, and the music is perfectly capable of arguing that for itself. However, its now time for me to shut up about it, and you to listen.
Indie darlings Matt and Kim have returned with another sunny festival of block party ready tunes. Lightning will certainly delight fans, and anyone not on board with this fantastic duo should certainly take notice this time around. Bright opener “Let’s Go” (below) is the kind of track that you’ll be humming for a week after just one listen. “Now” is a pulsating power pop jam that shimmies and sparkles. Rippling synths lay the bed for “Overexposed” and set the tracks bubbly tone. The piano led “Ten Dollars I Found” brings the party to an eloquent close after just ten short tracks. The tune is anthemic and broad in scope, but never lets go of that homemade feeling that makes the rest of Lightning so inviting. This is the kind of album that will have you smiling subconsciously throughout, and any of its tracks are sure to brighten up any playlist. This is a must add to your library.
For Ben Folds Five fans, the wait is finally over. The trio’s first album in thirteen years, The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind, is here and it was well worth the wait. Songs like first single ‘Do It Anyway’ (below) show that despite the passing of over a decade, the band can still rock with the same exuberance that their earlier albums enjoyed. The track features Robert Sledge‘s trademark fuzzed out incredible bass work, and drummer Darren Jessee pounds out the rhythms as passionately as ever. ‘Hold That Thought’ is rich with harmony and a warm, inviting melody. Ballads ‘Sky High’ and the breathtaking “Away When You Were Here” show the bands versatility. They can rock with the best of them, but its the dynamic between the rockers and softer tunes that give this album its place next to the bands previous records. ‘Thank You For Breaking My Heart’ closes the record in expert fashion, leaving you with one of Folds’ finest ballads ever. Ben Folds Five are back, and after hearing “The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind“, you’ll feel like they never left. Pick up a copy today.
Mirage Rock is filled with inviting, well crafted rock. Band Of Horses shows a strong Americana influence on the record, especially on songs like ‘Slow Cruel Hands Of Time’ and ‘Shut-In Tourist’. The vocal work by Ben Bridwell certainly has a hand in that world, but his haunting tenor lends itself to just about any influence the band tackle. ‘Knock-Knock’ (below) kick things off with fuzzed out guitars and “woo-ooh’s” reminiscent of The Beach Boys. The bass lead in of ‘Dumpster World’ sets up a moody, cowboy-noir like shuffle that erupts into a heavy, distorted march. ‘Electric Music’ is a bright track that echos the tumble and bounce of early rock and roll but never sounds dated or well worn. Mirage Rock is the kind of record that would fit perfectly with an autumn campfire, equal parts exciting and mellow. It is certainly worth adding to your collection.
After a short hiatus that many expected to be the end of the band, The Killers have brought us Battle Born, a record that may arguably be the band’s finest album to date. The record is slightly darker in tone than previous efforts, but it includes all of the rock and roll bombast we’ve come to expect from Brandon Flowers and company. All of the bands previously explored influences find a comfortable home on Battle Born. ‘Flesh and Bone’ begins the record with an electro pulse that gives way to an exciting track that summarizes the sounds that we will hear later on in the disc. Single ‘Runaways’ (below) has all the shimmer and power we’ve come to expect from a Killers single, but has a magic all its own. The driving ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ grabs a hold of the listener and doesn’t relent for its near five minute run time. Electro acrobatics crescendo into an american rock pulse on ‘The Rising Tide’, a track that will draw many comparisons to other artists but its chorus is unmistakably the bands own. The track also features an exciting guitar solo, a seemingly lost art these days. I was not hotly anticipating Battle Born, but I am delighted to say that my preconceptions were wrong. This a truly fine record, one I know I’ll be spinning for a while.
Amanda Palmer is a true artist in the digital age, and with the release of her new album Theatre Is Evil she makes that point even truer. The album was crowd funded through Kickstarter, a fantastic way for fans to support the artist they love, and Palmer’s fans certainly got what they paid for. As a whole, the record is fantastic. Palmer is famous for her brand of cabaret inspired art punk-rock, and while that theme is certainly explored on the record, there are a lot of other influences at play. Synths and effect soaked vocals begin the album on “Smile (Pictures Or It Didn’t Happen)”, and that kind of shoegaze meets electro pop shimmer reappears on other album highlights like the fantastic single “Want It Back” (Censored video below with a link to the NSFW version). “Do It With A Rockstar” pulsates with a punk rock fury that will supercharge your day. Strings blaze through the stunning ‘Trout Heart Replica’, a tender, emotional piano ballad. By the time “Olly Olly Oxen Free” crashes to its thundering close, you will have fallen in love with this beautiful record. I really cannot say enough about this album. If you are the least bit artistically inclined, Amanda Palmer is the kind of artist that will make you want to create. Head over to her website to grab a physical (CD or vinyl!) or digital copy of Theatre Is Evil, rock out, and enjoy.
‘Want It Back (Uncensored NSFW)’
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from this collaboration between David Byrne and St. Vincent, but Love This Giant managed to take me by complete surprise. I mean that in the best way possible about this amazing album. Both of these artists styles are evident on the record, yet they created a sound wholly unique and exciting. Big rhythms and catchy melodies are augmented by beautifully arranged horns that give a feeling of Big Band style records, but don’t get me wrong. While that element is certainly at play here, Love This Giant is definitely not a Big Band album. The way they manage to undercut each arrangement with either an acoustic guitar bed or quick electric riffs is what gives the record its ‘hard to classify’ nature. Lead single “Who” (Below) is a great introduction. If you enjoy that track (and how can you not?), this is a record for you. Equal parts dangerous and safe, you really need to hear Love This Giant. I loved this record, and I know you will too.
Pacifica is a perfect example of what makes an electronic album great. Terrific songwriting, bouncy beats, bold sounds, and the will to experiment make the latest album by The Presets one not to miss. Hyperactive power pop, disco/funk, and soul all find a home on the disc, sometimes in the same tune. “Youth In Trouble” (Below) gets things off to a toe-tapping start, with the kind of ‘in your face’ vocals fans have come to expect. That mood will shift quickly come the much discussed “Ghosts”, a delicately layered, dreamy, synthpop gem that tells the story of a young soldier injured in war. “Promises” is another album highlight, a bright ode that should make its way on to many playlists as summer winds down. Album closer “Fall Epic” is a magnificent send off to the record, a bare yet powerful ballad that is a showcase for Julian Hamilton‘s intense vocals. The album’s end is moving, and will leave you wanting more. Pacifica is a wonderful record, and a must own.
At least once a month when assembling this post, there is an album that has me from second one, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have that happen right off the bat this month with the new album by indie/dance pop group Two Door Cinema Club. Beacon is an introspective, contemplative dance party that never gives up. There are a bit more mid-tempo rockers here than on their previous album, but that is certainly not to the album’s detriment. ‘Next Year’ kicks things off in spirited fashion, and the record that follows further builds on this tune’s sense melodic interplay. The band is on point, and the delicate, purposeful vocals by Alex Trimble are a perfect fit to the electronic infused indie rock sound the band has perfected. I’ve embedded lead single ‘Sleep Alone’ below to give you a taste, and also a spotify link to my favorite track on the record, the horn accented ‘Sun’. Grab Beacon in physical or MP3 today.
Jazz pianist Chick Corea has had a long and varied career, from progressive-jazz-fusion-rock (Return To Forever) his work with vibraphonist Gary Burton. The pair have worked together for nearly forty years, and on their latest album Hot House, they sound as fresh as ever. Take their exciting rendition of Beatles favorite ‘Eleanor Rigby’ (See the live version embedded below). The melody around which the duo play is familiar, but the soundtrack they create is anything but. This is an album full of two virtuoso having fun with music and enjoying their time playing with melody and composition. If you like what you hear in the video below, grab Hot House today.
I have already explained my affection for Matchbox Twenty here, and subsequently all those reasons are why I really like North. Not just out of nostalgia for a band I’ve loved, but because the songs on this disc continue to resonate with me as much as their work always has. Despite their long absence, the album doesn’t sound forced or dated in anyway. Highlights include lead single ‘She’s So Mean’, power ballad ‘Overjoyed’, and the darkly melodic ‘English Town’ Check out the link above for more info about the album, but know that if you’re a fan of anything the band has produced over the years, you will greatly enjoy this record.
Animal Collective isn’t for everyone. Their brand of art rock is augmented by strains and sounds unfamiliar in most indie rock circles, more akin to the psychedelic experimentation done in the sixties. The beauty in their music is how they use these unconventional sounds and arrangements to create the kind of songs that sound familiar as soon as you hear them. Not in the sense that they are rehashing already well trodden territory, but in that “Of course!” sense you get when you hear a song that you love before its over. The feeling you get when you are completely blown away by a song, and you wonder how you ever went without it. Now if you can imagine that feeling in between industrial sounding beats, electronic distortion, and filtered vocals, you have the epic that is Centipede Hz. If that sentence turned you off, than go ahead and skip to the next album in this post. If you were intrigued by that notion however, you should check out >Centipede Hz.
The songs on Cat Power‘s latest album Sun are just fantastic. What I mean by that is if you cam across any one of the album’s eleven tracks individually, they would immediately make you want to know more about the artist that created them. Sun is a labor of love from an immensely talented singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer, whose real name is Chan Marshall. With the exception of some mixing duties, Ms. Marshall handles every bit of Sun herself. You can hear her passion for her craft in tunes like album opener ‘Cherokee’, the album’s title track, and the fantasitc harmonies on ‘Ruin’ (below). The eleven minute empowerment epic ‘Nothin’ But Time’ swells and falls over shiny synths and thundering rhythms, and features background vocals by an almost Johnny Cash sounding Iggy Pop. His gruff vocals offer a perfect counterpart to Marshall’s sweet breathy melody, and the tune floats by like a dream. By the time you reach the hip-hop-ish closer ‘Peace and Love’, you will have found that Sun is full of warm and welcome surprises. Make it part of your collection.