Sunday, January 29, 2017

New Music Friday - January 20, 2017

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Austra - Future Politics

Austra is a Toronto-based electronic band fronted by Katie Stelmanis. Their third album, following 2013's Olympia, sees them paring down the group from six to three members and finds inspiration in electro cumbia music, to which Stelmanis was introduced following a trip to Mexico. Although the album was written prior to the political tumult that occurred in the back half of 2016, it (as can be well-guessed from the title) takes on a political bent.

Watch: "Future Politics"
Watch: "Utopia"

Foxygen - Hang

Following a spectacular second album, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, Foxygen released an album that was a bit harder to love. 2014's ...And Star Power clocked in at an overwhelming 24 tracks. They've winnowed back down for their fourth album to just eight tracks (their first two albums contained seven and nine tracks respectively). The directed focus suits them well, with full orchestras, backing singers, and 70s-inspired grooves, the album is lush enough without being overlong.

Watch: "On Lankershim"
Watch: "Follow the Leader"

Michael Chapman - 50

Chapman is a 76-year-old British guitarist whose career is 50-years-old. His latest album commemorates the length of his career. He's released nearly as many records over that time, and he considers this to be his "American" album. Working with Steve Gunn, he's crafted an album that sounds like it comes from someone much younger.

Listen: "Memphis in Winter"
Listen: "Sometimes You Just Drive"

Other Full-Length Releases

Kid Koala featuring Emilíana Torrini - Music to Draw To: Satellite

Watch: "Collapser"
Listen: "The Observable Universe"

Landlady - The World Is a Loud Place

Watch: "Driving in California"
Watch: "Nina"

Menace Beach - Lemon Memory

Watch: "Maybe We’ll Drown"
Listen: "Suck It Out"

Mick Harvey - Intoxicated Women

Listen: "Contact"
Listen: "Baby Teeth, Wolfy Teeth (Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup)"

Proper Ornaments - Foxhole

Listen: "Bridge By a Tunnel"
Listen: "Cremated (Blown Away)"

Tim Cohen - Luck Man

Listen: "John Hughes"
Listen: "Meat Is Murder"

Uniform - Wake in Fright

Watch: "The Killing of America"
Listen: "Tabloid"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Camp Cope/Cayetana - "Split 7”"

Listen: Camp Cope - "Keep Growing"
Listen: Cayetana - "Trails"

CEP - Drawing the Target Around the Arrow

Listen: "Pupil"
Listen: "Up the Flagpole"

Jesse Kanda - heart

Listen: "Womb"

Mai Lan - "Vampire"

Watch: "Vampire"

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending January 28)

There's a feeling of unease among many musicians around the promotion of new music considering our current political environment. Some are combatting that feeling by also releasing protest music. There are multiple ongoing projects underway that seek to respond to the Trump presidency and fight against it, as well as many artists who are donating portions of their album sales to charity. I will post my own list of these undertakings soon, but as always, my most anticipated new music can be viewed on my Upcoming Releases page.

This was a busy week, but one new album announcement that I'm especially looking forward to came from The New Pornographers, who announced their seventh album, Whiteout Conditions.

The New Pornographers were one of the first bands that could be considered an indie rock supergroup, and certainly the most prolific. The band is made up of an incredible slew of musicians who also all have amazing solo careers, including Kathryn Calder, A.C. Newman, Dan Bejar, Neko Case, and Todd Fancey (who released a new solo album just this week).

Their most recent record, Brill Bruisers, was released August of 2014. They seem to have wasted no time on the new record, despite new solo records from four members. Whiteout Conditions was announced on Friday, along with a new song, "High Ticket Attractions."

Whiteout Conditions is set to be released on April 7.

Also announced this week:

ANOHNI - Paradise EP (March 17)
City and Colour - “Peaceful Road”/“Rain” (March 3)
Father John Misty - Pure Comedy (April 7)
Fleetwood Mac - Tango in the Night Reissue (March 30)
Geotic - Abysma (March 31)
Goldfrapp - Silver Eye (March 31)
Guided By Voices - August By Cake (April 7)
Jacques Greene - Feel Infinite (March 10)
Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales - Room 29 (March 17)
Joe Goddard - Electric Lines (April 21)
Karriem Riggins - Headnod Suite (February 24)
Major Lazer - “Run Up” (out now)
Mastodon - Emperor of Sand (March 31)
Mew - Visuals (April 28)
Mount Eerie - A Crow Looked at Me (March 24)
No Joy - CREEP EP (February 24)
Omni - “Fever Bass”/“Thesis” (February 28)
PINS - Bad Thing EP (March 24)
Pond - The Weather (May 5)
Ray Davies - Americana (April 21)
Real Estate - In Mind (March 17)
Ronald Bruner, Jr. - Triumph (March 3)
SZA - CTRL (February 3)
Tei Shi - Crawl Space (March 31)
Thundercat - Drunk (February 24)

Sunday, January 22, 2017

My Favorite Albums of 2016

20. case/lang/veirs - case/lang/veirs

Watch: "Atomic Number"
Listen: "Best Kept Secret"

19. Animal Collective - Painting With

Watch: "Golden Gal"
Watch: "FloriDada"

18. Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker

Watch: "You Want It Darker"
Listen: "Treaty"

17. Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression

Watch: "American Valhalla"
Watch: "Sunday"

16. Maria Usbeck - Amparo

Watch: "Maoi Y Yo"
Watch: "Uno De Tus Ojos"

15. Flock of Dimes - If You See Me, Say Yes

Watch: "Semaphore"
Listen: "Minor Justice"

14. James Blake - The Colour in Anything

Watch: "I Need a Forest Fire"
Listen: "The Colour in Anything"

13. David Bowie - Blackstar

Watch: "Blackstar"
Watch: "Lazarus"

12. Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial

Watch: "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales"
Watch: "Vincent"

11. Shearwater - Jet Plane and Oxbow

Watch: "Pale Kings"
Watch: "Quiet Americans"

10. Poliça - United Crushers

Recent national events have driven a lot of new records this past year and Poliça is no different. Their third album was written while protests raged in their hometown of Minneapolis, prompted by the shooting of a young black man at the hands of police. Sonically, it follows perfectly from their sophomore album, Shulamith, and the band avoids being too overwhelmed by the magnitude of their inspiration. Channy Leaneagh's remains one of my favorite voices in music!

Watch: "Wedding"
Watch: "Lime Habit"

9. Savages - Adore Life

I slept on Savages' debut album, Silence Yourself, a mistake I realized when I first listened to it. That didn't come soon enough for the record to make my favorite albums of 2013 list. I was excited when the first singles were released for their follow-up. I didn't love the new songs immediately, but they quickly grew on me. And I have to love any band who can write a song inspired by The Smiths and make it a complete rocker.

Watch: "Adore"
Watch: "The Answer"

8. Beyoncé - Lemonade

I was a big Destiny's Child fan as a teenager, but cooled on Beyoncé as a solo artist. It wasn't an issue of her likability or quality of her music, she went solo at a point that I was actively trying to resist the mainstream. I had started to cool on that when she released her surprise 2013 self-titled album and have since reached the point of not caring about an artist's popularity (as long as they're good). This is Beyoncé at her most personal, her most political, and at her best.

Watch: "Sorry"
Watch: "Formation"

7. The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love

The Radio Dept.'s last album, Clinging to a Scheme, is one of my favorites of the past few years, but one I've only ever listened to intermittently, it was never a listen-on-repeat album for me. Their follow-up combines their subtle electronica and mixes it with politics (seems to be a theme with last year's music). It's been a more repeatable listen for me; though I can't tell if it's because it's more immediate or because the band is now familiar to me. Either way, this is a spectacular record!

Listen: "Swedish Guns"
Listen: "Teach Me to Forget"

6. Solange - A Seat at the Table

If I appreciated, but avoided Beyoncé's early solo work, I completely ignored Solange, assuming that she was just following in her sister's footsteps. It was a few years ago, when she released the True EP, that I saw that she had something different to offer. Her work began to line up with the music that I usually seek out. Some similarity remains with her sister; like Lemonade, the album is political and unapologetically black. She differs in her style and perspective, taking a more outward approach and employing a simpler mix of genres.

Watch: "Cranes in the Sky"
Watch:  "Don't Touch My Hair"

5. Andrew Bird - Are You Serious

I don't know if this is Andrew Bird's best album, but it has been the most immediate for me, starting with the opening notes of "Capsized." I think that, on the whole, he sounds freer on this album than he has in the past. For the first time that I can really recall, he's letting his personal life seep into his lyrics and I walk away from this record knowing him better. Of course, it never hurts to put the incomparable Fiona Apple on your record!

Watch: "Capsized"
Watch: "Left Handed Kisses" (featuring Fiona Apple)

4. Mitski - Puberty 2

While there are artists on this list who I may more closely resemble physically, it is Mitski who's made the music I most relate to this year. As a mixed race woman, she finds herself not fully accepted by either community. I'm not mixed, but as a black person raised in predominately white neighborhoods, I often felt that I wasn't fully accepted in one group, and didn't fit well into the other. This album reflects that dilemma, and I am amazed at how much of myself I see reflected in her lyrics.

Watch: "A Burning Hill"
Watch: "Your Best American Girl"

3. Rihanna - ANTI

Rihanna is another artist who I've always admired as a person, but whose work I wasn't particularly drawn to. I did like the singles that she released before this record, though none of those made it onto the album. I didn't think this record would become something I would want to listen to over and over. It's become cliché to say that this album has no "bangers," but that may be the exact reason it is so great as a record. So many albums are built around a few stand-out tracks, this one works because the songs just sound good together.

Watch: "Work" (featuring Drake)
Watch: "Needed Me"

2. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam - I Had a Dream That You Were Mine

I've said it before, I'll say it again, Hamilton Leithauser can do no wrong for me. Everything he's touched has been so incredible, and this is no exception. He works with Rostam Batmanglij on his latest post-Walkmen offering. Rostam recently parted from Vampire Weekend, and his influence on that band's sound is evident here. The partnership pulls Hamilton's sound further away from what he did with The Walkmen, and I hope that they continue recording together!

Watch: "A 1000 Times"
Listen: "In a Black Out"

1. Angel Olsen - My Woman

I only started listening to Angel Olsen around the time that she was rereleasing her previous album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness. At the time, she reminded me of another favorite of mine, Sharon van Etten. I hear less of a similarity on this record. Here, there are inspirations from country, '60s girl pop, and '70s glam. I feel like every year, I struggle to write about my favorite album. It's always something that I just enjoyed listening to the most, and that is true with this record.

Watch: "Intern"
Watch: "Sister"

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending January 21)

A couple of months after I shifted the format of my New Music Friday posts, I took a hard look at the artists that I wrote the most about. It seemed like so many of the bands and musicians that I focused on were straight, white men. I was appalled. I know that, in part, it's reflective of broader realities in the styles of music I like, but it also wasn't something I could continue. While I won't ignore artists I truly love even if they are straight, white men, I try to find and write more about female musicians, non-white musicians, and LGBT musicians. In a political environment that threatens to relegate anyone who is other to the sidelines, we all need to do our part to make sure those voices aren't lost, and I hope that my blog helps at least a little bit.

As always, you can head over to me Upcoming Releases page to see a list of music that I am excited for!

This week, Dirty Projectors announced their seventh album, also called Dirty Projectors.

On the band's last album, 2012's Swing Lo Magellan, David Longstreth was influenced by a variety of genres and sought to create a more personal record. It's this follow-up, however, that may come to be an even more personal affair. In the almost five years since Swing Lo Magellan, Longstreth separated from his long-time partner Amber Coffman, who also performs in the band. The album's preceding singles reflect that separation and resulting heartbreak.

The years since have also seen professional changes for members of the band. Olga Bell, Nat Baldwin, and former member Angel Deradoorian all released solo records. Longstreth himself collaborated on songs by Rihanna, Joanna Newsom, and Solange, and Coffman is reportedly planning to release her own debut record later this year.

The band announced this new record on Wednesday and released another new track, "Up in Hudson."

Also announced this week:

Aimee Mann - Mental Illness (March 31)
CEP - Drawing the Target Around the Arrow (out now)
Conor Oberst - Salutations (March 17)
Damaged Bug - Bunker Funk (March 10)
D∆WN - Infrared EP Deluxe Edition (January 27)
George Harrison - George Harrison: The Vinyl Collection (February 24)
Matt Martians - The Drum Chord Theory (January 27)
Sondre Lerche - Pleasure (April 14)
Timber Timbre - Sincerely, Future Pollution (April 7)
Willie Nelson - God’s Problem Child (April)

Monday, January 16, 2017

R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

On November 7, at the age of 82, musician and poet Leonard Cohen passed away.

Throughout much of his career, Cohen was not a top-selling artist, but many of his songs have become widely recognized due to myriad covers and he is considered to be one of the greatest songwriters of his generation.

Cohen started as a writer, but pursued a music career starting in 1967. He's released 14 albums over those almost-50 years. He enjoyed a late career resurgence with three albums released since 2012 that were among his most celebrated and successful. Old IdeasPopular Problems, and You Want It Darker all cracked the top 20 on the US charts and saw the highest sales ever in his career.

Though not intended to be his final record, You Want It Darker, released in October just a few weeks before his death, feels like a prophetic release, with thematic elements of religion and death.

So long, Mr. Cohen!

Songs to remember him by:

"So Long Marianne"
"You Want It Darker"

Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Music Friday - January 13, 2017

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Flo Morrissey & Matthew E. White - Gentlewoman, Ruby Man

Flo Morrissey is a young British singer with one album under her belt and Matthew E. White is an American singer and producer with just two solo records, but scores of collaborations and production work. Morrissey's and White's collaborative album is a collection of covers, with songs originally performed by Frank Ocean, Little Wings, and Frankie Valli.

Listen: "Grease"
Listen: "Look at What the Light Did Now"

Run the Jewels - RTJ3

Killer Mike and El-P are always welcome voices to hear, but the release of their third records is perfectly timed. With just one week until the inauguration of a new president, their angry, direct, and fiercely political music provides a needed response to both the real and feared social landscape. There will be many voices of opposition over the next four years, but few will be as unapologetically brash as those of Run of Jewels.

Listen: "Legend Has It"
Listen: "Down" (featuring Joi)

The xx - I See You

The xx suffered one of the common sophomore curses with the release of 2012's Coexist; they'd released an album too similar to their debut. In the five years since that album, one of the group members, Jamie xx, released a celebrated solo record, one that informed the sound of his group's third album. While still identifiable as a The xx record, the sound is more expansive with the style of In Colour taking the band into a new direction.

Watch: "On Hold"
Listen: "Say Something Loving"

Other Full-Length Releases

Bonobo - Migration

Watch: "Kerala"
Listen: "No Reason" (featuring Nick Murphy)

The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Watch: "How??"
Watch: "Sunrise (Eyes of the Young)"

PnB Rock - Goin’ Through the Motions

Watch: "Alone"
Watch: "Selfish"

Sohn - Rennen

Watch: "Hard Liquor"
Watch: "Conrad"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Foxing - Two

Mr. Tophat - Trust Me

Listen: "Right Time" (featuring Robyn)
Listen: "Trust Me" (featuring Robyn)

Nirvana - Incesticide

Listen: "Dive"
Listen: "Sliver"

of Montreal - Rune Husk EP

Listen: "Internecine Larks"
Listen: "Widowsucking"

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending January 14)

It's the new year and new album announcements are pouring in after a relatively-quiet period at the end of last year. Check out some of those new albums over on my Upcoming Releases page!

This week, Odd Future member Syd announced her first solo album, Fin.

Syd, fka Syd tha Kid, is a member of the Odd Future hip hop collective and leader of one of it's subgroups, The Internet. She's released three albums with The Internet, including 2015's Ego Death.

She announced her debut album on Wednesday, accompanied by a new song a video, "All About Me."

Fin is set to be released on February 3.

Also announced this week:

Beach Slang - Here, I Made This for You (Beach Slang Mixtape Vol. 2) (February 10)
Blanck Mass - World Eater (March 3)
Cameron Avery - Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (March 10)
Diet Cig - Swear I’m Good at This (April 7)
Half Waif - form/a (February 24)
Jay Som - Everybody Works (March 10)
Karen Elson - Double Roses (April 7)
Luxury Death - Glue EP (February 24)
The Luyas - Human Voicing (February 24)
Lydia Ainsworth - Darling of the Afterglow (March 31)
Spiral Stairs - Doris and Daggers (March 24)
Spoon - Hot Thoughts (March 17)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Music Friday - January 6, 2017

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Full-Length Releases

Brian Eno - Reflection

Gone Is Gone - Echolocation

Watch: "Gift"
Watch: "Dublin"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Jingle Yay!

Listen: Julien Baker - "Decorated Lawns"