Monday, February 26, 2018

Upcoming Album of the Week (Ending February 24)

I'm sure by now we've all seen Fergie's interesting rendition of the national anthem before the NBA All Star game. I probably don't have any thoughts on it that haven't been said before, just seems like an overly-stylistic performance that was not fully committed to. I don't think she's a bad singer, and she did release a few not-band singles last year for her Double Duchess album. If she sticks to the recorded stuff for a while and announces any new music, be sure to keep an eye out for it on my Upcoming Releases page!

This week, the incredible Janelle Monáe announced her fourth album, Dirty Computer.

Monáe came onto the scene in 2007 with the EP, Metropolis: Suite I (The Chase), debuting her highly-conceptual style and her alter ego, the ArchAndroid. She followed with her debut album in 2010, named for her alter ego, and another album in 2013.

Following her second album, she started to make moves in a new industry, starring in two films, Hidden Figures and Moonlight, which were both nominated for several Oscars. I thought that, with her quick success in the industry, she would shift her career focus, but was apparently already in the studio at work on her latest record.

She announced the new album on Thursday, along with two new songs and videos! Dirty Computer is set to be released on May 4.

Also announced this week:

Alexis Taylor - Beautiful Thing (April 20)
Buzzy Lee - Facepaint EP (April 27)
David Bowie - Aladdin Sane Reissue (April 20)
David Bowie - CHANGESTWOBOWIE Reissue (April 13)
Father John Misty - “Mr. Tillman” (out now)
Kacey Musgraves - Golden Hour (March 30)
Matt & Kim - Almost Everyday (May)
Parquet Courts - Wide Awake! (May 18)
Remember Sports - Slow Buzz (May 18)
Shamir - “Room” 7” (March 9)
Simian Mobile Disco - Murmurations (May 11)
Sorority Noise - YNAAYT (March 16)
Speedy Ortiz - Twerp Verse (April 27)
Twin Shadow - Caer (April 27)
The Who - Live at the Fillmore East 1968 (April 20)
YG - “Suu Whoop” (out now)
You Were Never Really Here: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (March 9)
Zola Jesus - Okovi: Additions (April 6)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

New Music Friday - February 16, 2018

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You

It just over a decade ago that Carlile was a new artist, and one of my first forays into Americana music. Now, on her sixth album, she has become a reliably-excellent figure in the genre. On her latest record, she tackles both personal subjects, like motherhood, and broader issues. Also, fun fact, the cover art was painted by Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers!

Watch: "The Joke"
Listen: "The Mother"

Fischerspooner - SIR

Fischerspooner is Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner, an electroclash duo formed two decades ago. Their first album in nearly a decade was self-produced, with some help from Michael Stipe and BOOTS (also with new music this week!, and features Holly Miranda, Andy LeMaster, and Caroline Polachek.

Watch: "Togetherness" (featuring Caroline Polachek)
Watch: "TopBrazil"

Loma - Loma

Loma is a new band, made up of Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg and both members of the duo Cross Record. The partnership began when Meiburg was sent Cross Record's debut album by Ben Goldberg of Badabing! Records, and brought them on tour with him soon after. While on tour, they found some common ground and decided to record together, creating this eponymous debut record.

Watch: "Black Willow"
Watch: "Relay Runner"

POLIÇA/s t a r g a z e - Music for the Long Emergency

This is another meeting of minds, this time the Minneapolis band joins forces with the Berlin-based orchestra. The album has some personal elements for the performers, but is anchored by more overtly political tracks. The political aspects of the record continues on POLIÇA's last album, United Crushers, reckoning with the current state of affairs, especially Trump's presidency.

Watch: "agree"
Listen: "How Is This Happening"

U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited

If I had known about U.S. Girls' Half Free before the end of 2015, it easily would have been one of my favorite albums that year. But alas, I only first heard of Meg Remy in 2016, though I almost instantly fell in love with that previous record. She released a couple of amazing singles late last year before announcing this record. I've already listened to this a few times, and I must say, it's an early contender for my favorite of the year!

Watch: "Mad as Hell"
Watch: "Velvet 4 Sale"

Other Full-Length Releases

American Nightmare - American Nightmare

Watch: "The World Is Blue"
Watch: "Flowers Under Siege"

Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy

Watch: "Nervous Young Inhumans"
Listen: "Cute Thing"

Everything Is Recorded - Everything Is Recorded by Richard Russell

Watch: "Mountains of Gold"
Watch: "Close but Not Quite"

I’m with Her - See You Around

Watch: "Little Lies"
Watch: "Game to Lose"

Johanna Warren - Gemini II

Watch: "Here to Tell"
Watch: "inreverse"

Marlon Williams - Make Way for Love

Watch: "Vampire Again"
Watch: "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore" (featuring Aldous Harding)

Nipsey Hussle - Victory Lap

Watch: "Been Down" (featuring Swizz Beatz)
Watch: "Last Time That I Checc’d" (featuring YG)

Ought - Room Inside the World

Watch: "These 3 Things"
Watch: "Disgraced in America"

Pianos Become the Teeth - Wait for Love

Watch: "Charisma"
Watch: "Love on Repea

Robert Earl Thomas - Another Age

Watch: "What Am I Gonna Do"
Listen: "Another Age"

Superchunk - What a Time to Be Alive

Watch: "What a Time to Be Alive"
Watch: "Erasure"

Walter Martin - Reminisce Bar & Grill

Listen: "I Can Run Now from the Hellhounds but I Can’t Hide"
Listen: "Me & McAlevey"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Beach Boys - Surfin’ Safari Vinyl Reissue

Listen: "Surfin’ Safari"
Listen: "409"

Belle and Sebastian - How to Solve Our Human Problems, Part 3

Björk Guðmundsdóttir & tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar - Gling-Gló Reissue

Listen: "Gling-Gló"
Listen: "Ruby Baby"

Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago 10th Anniversary Reissue

Listen: "Flume"
Listen: "Skinny Love"


Watch: "Delete Delete" (featuring Run the Jewels & Cristin Milioti)
Listen: "#DARKDAZE"

Lion Babe - "Honey Dew"

Listen: "Honey Dew"

Nina Simone - At Town Hall Reissue

Listen: "Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair"
Listen: "Cotton Eyed Joe"

Ride - Tomorrow’s Shore

Watch: "Catch You Dreaming"
Listen: "Keep It Surreal"

Ryan Adams - "Baby I Love You"

Watch: "Baby I Love You"

Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway Reissue

Listen: "Carry Me, Ohio"
Listen: "Pancho Villa"

Tanlines - Present

Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix Reissue

Listen: "Don’t Look Back"
Listen: "About You"

Tinashe - "Faded Love"

Watch: "Faded Love"

Wild Beasts - Last Night All My Dreams Came True

Watch: "All the King’s Men"
Listen: "The Devil’s Palace"

Saturday, February 17, 2018

My Favorite Albums of 2017

Other Full-Length Releases

20. Moses Sumney - Aromanticism

Watch: "Lonely World"
Watch: "Indulge Me"
Watch: "Doomed"

19. The Fresh & Onlys - Wolf Lie Down

Watch: "One of a Kind"
Watch: "Impossible Man"

18. Feist - Pleasure

Watch: "Century"
Watch: "Pleasure"

17. Fleet Foxes - Crack-Up

Watch: "Third of May/Ōdaigahara"
Watch: "Fool’s Errand"

16. Ibeyi - Ash

Watch - "Deathless" (featuring Kamasi Washington)
Watch: "I Wanna Be Like You"
Watch: "Me Voy" (featuring Mala Rodríguez)

15. Spoon - Hot Thoughts

Watch - "Do I Have to Talk You Into It"
Watch: "Hot Thoughts"
Watch: "I Ain’t the One"

14. Laura Marling - Semper Femina

Watch: "Next Time"
Watch: "The Valley"
Watch: "Nothing, Not Nearly"

13. The New Pornographers - Whiteout Conditions

Watch: "Whiteout Conditions"
Watch: "High Ticket Attractions"

12. The National - Sleep Well Beast

Watch: "Dark Side of the Gym"
Watch: "Walk It Back"
Watch: "Sleep Well Beast"

11. The War in Drugs - A Deeper Understanding

Watch: "Holding On"
Watch: "Nothing to Find"
Watch: "Pain"

10. Bedouine - Bedouine

Bedouine is Azniv Korkejian, who was born and raised in the Middle East (Syria and Saudi Arabia respectively), before landing in the US in the latter part of her childhood. It's her experience in the US which seems to lend itself most to her music, recalling 1970s folk. I knew next to nothing about the artist before first hearing her debut record, but I was captured from the start of the opening track.

Watch: "One of These Days"
Watch: "Solitary Daughter"
Watch: "Dusty Eyes"

9. Aldous Harding - Party

I first heard of Aldous Harding when she opened for Deerhunter on tour in 2016. I sensed that other concert-goers seemed either unimpressed or weirded out by her, but there was something incredible about both her music and her presence. I looked for her first album at show, with no luck, so I immediately purchased online when I got home. She's still a little weird on this second album, but is far more polished. The best example is in the lead single from the record, "Imagining My Man".

Watch: "Blend"
Watch: "Imagining My Man"
Watch: "Horizon"

8. Rostam - Half-Light

I was worried about future of Vampire Weekend when Rostam announced he was leaving the band. Regardless of their future, he has proven that his work outside of the band will continue to be excellent. The first example came with his collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser in 2016, but he shines on his own here, as well. I can hear elements in his music that contributed to his past work, but his own perspective and voice shine through on his proper debut.

Watch: "Bike Dream"
Watch: "Half-Light"
Watch: "Gwan"

7. Gorillaz - Humanz

I have a dirty secret to tell, I think this is the best Gorillaz album. The band's best songs aren't on this record, but this represents their best complete vision (IMHO). The collaborations here are amazing, ranging from Vince Staples to De La Soul to Mavis Staples to Savages' Jehnny Beth. The Vince Staples collaboration that opens the album is probably my favorite and ends with what may be the most incredible rap line of 2017 (you'll have to listen below to find out)!

Watch: "Strobelight"
Watch: "Saturn Barz" (featuring Popcaan)
Watch: "Ascension" (featuring Vince Staples)

6. Wolf Parade - Cry Cry Cry

While it was sad when Wolf Parade went on hiatus, I was leery of their return. I've sometimes found that a band's return sees them become a mere shadow of their peak (see: The Dismemberment Plan). They first teased their return with a short EP, which left me underwhelmed, but this album floored me. My favorite of theirs remains their debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, but this is a far better return than many other bands have been able to achieve.

Watch: "Valley Boy"
Watch: "King of Piss and Paper"/"Artificial Life"

5. Dirty Projectors - Dirty Projectors

This is more of a David Longstreth solo record, one on which the artist ostensibly lays his soul bare following the end of his relationship with former bandmate Amber Coffman. Some details that have come out since the release of this album call into question its honesty, and lessens its emotional impact. Still, this was on repeat in the early part of the year, and I think it's a great record. Dirty Projectors have always been a little weird, but that weirdness is best contained here.

Watch: "Up in Hudson"
Watch: "Cool Your Heart" (featuring D∆WN)
Watch: "Little Bubble"

4. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION

So until a couple of weeks ago, this album was on my favorites list, but not this high. St. Vincent had a concert in Cincinnati a few weeks ago and the incredible live show bolstered the strengths of the record. Every time that I listen to the record now, I'm transported back to the theater and reminded again of just how amazing of a performer and musician that she is.

Watch: "Los Ageless"
Watch: "New York"
Watch: "Pills"

3. Lorde - Melodrama

My bias against pop music is something that I've been starting to release myself from in the past couple of years. Still, my initial impression of Lorde when she released Pure Heroine was colored by this bias. Over time, I came to love a few singles from that album. She's even better this time around, matured by her experiences over the past few years and even more assured of her own unique perspective and style.

Watch: "Perfect Places"
Watch: "Green Light"

2. Kendrick Lamar - DAMN.

I was apprehensive when I heard the direction that Lamar was taking for his fourth album; trap isn't my favorite genre. But, ever the auteur, he has elevated the sound far beyond what anyone else is doing. It doesn't sound like a copy of anything; he is one of those few artists who, regardless of the changes he makes between records, always sound definitive.

Watch: "LOYALTY." (featuring Rihanna)
Watch: "ELEMENT."
Watch: "HUMBLE."

1. SZA - Ctrl

I'd heard SZA's music prior to her stand-out feature on the opener of Rihanna's ANTI-, but it was that feature that got me most excited for her work. The delays on the release of the record only served to increase its anticipation. Fortunately, it has lived up to, and exceeded, the excitement and hype built up over its multi-year release cycle. My favorite thing about SZA is just how unconcerned she is with decorum. It's in her lyrics, her dancing in her videos, everything with her image and her sound!

Watch: "The Weekend"
Watch: "Supermodel"
Watch: "Drew Barrymore"