Sunday, June 29, 2014

La Sera - Hour of the Dawn

At least once a year, an album comes out that begs for summer listening.  This year, it's this one.  This is La Sera's third album, and I think it's their best.  On this album, Katy Goodman and company have been able to marry their reverb pop with punk, and the result is fantastic.  Roll the windows down, crank up this album and sing as loud as you can.
Fun fact: I listened to this album while driving up the Maine coast, and it was absolutely perfect.

Rating: 5/5
Favorite track: "10 Headed Goat Wizard"
(That's probably the most metal name for a sunny pop song I've ever heard.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

St. Vincent - St. Vincent

I've been a fan of St. Vincent since Marry Me first came out.  With each album, she has tried something different, while still sounding like no one but herself.  She takes risks, but still maintains her sound.  I never know what I'm going to get with a new St. Vincent album, but I know it'll be different, and I know I will love it.

This album is no different.  It's heavier on synths than her past albums, and that bothered me a bit at first.  She's an amazing guitarist, so I scowled a bit at the thought of synths overshadowing her guitars.  But it didn't take me too long to get rid of that line of thinking.  The arrangements are so dense and interesting that they drew me in (and there still is plenty of guitar here, it just doesn't feel like the focal instrument).
And, of course, her voice is in the middle of it all.  She has a beautifully subtle way of singing.  It's a powerful instrument, but she knows exactly when to dial it back.  There's a great warmth in her voice.

At this state, I don't think there's anything she could do that I would hate.  I already love this album, and am excited to see what she does next.

Rating: 5/5
Favorite track: "Huey Newton"

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Marissa Nadler - July

Is it snowing where you are?  I'm assuming your answer is "yes", because it's snowing everywhere right now.  For me, there's currently about 4 inches of snow on the ground and some freezing rain tonight.

There are some albums that lend themselves to listening to them when snow is falling, and this is one of them (in fact, pretty much any album in Nadler's discography fits that description).  Absolutely beautiful.  Terrific instrumentation, and her voice just seems to float over the music.  I have loved her for a long time, and this is probably her best album.  Grab it and listen to it before all the snow melts.

Favorite track: "Was it a Dream"

Also a huge fan of the opener, "Drive"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Top 20 Albums of 2013

I'm getting this out later than I would like.  Apologies.  Apologies all around.  I've been busy with writing on other sites, and this one has fallen by the wayside.  I'm going to try to pick that up a bit.  Starting now.

A shout out to those who didn't quite make the cut:
Yo La Tengo - Fade
Laura Marling - Once I Was an Eagle
Jenny O. - Automechanic
Gary Murray & LN - Minor Lives
Minor Birds - Hold Back All My Dark
Low - The Invisible Way
The Head and The Heart - Let's Be Still
Grouplove - Spreading Rumours
Washed Out - Paracosm
Mazzy Star - Seasons of Your Day
A$AP Rocky - Long. Live. A$AP.
Toad the Wet Sprocket - New Constellation
Appleseed Cast - Illumination Ritual
Night Beds - Country Sleep
Matt Pond - The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand
Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

To the list!

20. Lorde - Pure Heroine
Favorite track: "400 Lux"

19. Zola Jesus - Versions
Favorite track: "Collapse"

18. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City
Favorite track: "Don't Lie"

17. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines
Favorite track: "This is Love (Feels Alright)"

16. Daniel Amos - Dig Here, Said the Angel
Favorite track: "We'll All Know Soon Enough"

15. David Bowie - The Next Day
Favorite track: "(You Will) Set the World on Fire"

14. Leif Vollebekk - North Americana
Favorite track: "At the End of the Line"

13. My Bloody Valentine - mbv
Favorite track: "She Found Now"

12. Hem - Departure and Farewell
Favorite track: "So Long"

11. Frankie Rose - Herein Wild
Favorite track: "The Depths"

10. Lissie - Back to Forever
Favorite track: "I Bet On You"

9. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
Favorite track: "Dead Now"

8. Jake Bellows - New Ocean
Favorite track: "Two Weeks"

7. Sigur Ros - Kveikur
Favorite track: "Brennisteinn"

6. Action Bronson - Blue Chips 2
Favorite track: "Rolling Thunder"

5. Noah and the Whale - Heart of Nowhere
Favorite track: "Lifetime"

4. Ghostface Killah - Twelve Reasons to Die
Favorite track: "Murder Spree"

3. The Lonely Wild - The Sun as it Comes
Favorite track: "Buried in the Murder"

2. Josh Ritter - The Beast in its Tracks
Favorite track: "New Lover"

1. The National - Trouble Will Find Me
Favorite track: "Pink Rabbits"

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Noah and the Whale - Heart of Nowhere

I didn't love this album immediately.  Honestly, it was a bit too cheerful.  A bit too upbeat.  Parts of it came across as a bit cheesy for me.  Apparently I have a problem with sincere happiness.
But the songs are catchy, so I kept coming back to it.  The more I listen to it, the more I really love it.  Great, well-crafted songs.  Just a really nice little pop album.  I love it.  The instrumentation is terrific.

Rating: 4.5/5
Favorite track: "Lifetime"

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jake Bellows - New Ocean

I have been a huge fan of Neva Dinova since they released their self-titled debut in 2002 (amazing that album came out over 10 years ago).  So you can imagine how excited I was to find out that the lead singer released a solo album.  I tried not to get my hopes up too high.
As it turns out, I could not have set my hopes high enough to be disappointed by this.  It's a terrific album, ranking up there with Neva Dinova's best work.
If you liked Neva Dinova's work, you'll like this album.  If you haven't heard Neva Dinova, listen to this album, then grab all of their albums.  You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5
Favorite track: "Two Weeks"

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Lonely Wild - The Sun as it Comes

This entire album feels like a sonic explosion occurred in the middle of a Western.  Quite a few songs start sparse, only to grow into something massive by the time it's over.  There are times I can swear I'm listening to an updated take on a Morricone soundtrack.
This is the sound of the sky falling around two grizzled gunfighters.

This one didn't hit me immediately.  It took me a few listens to really fall in love.  But now I can't stop listening to it.  At the end of the year, I'd be shocked if this didn't end up in my top 5 albums of the year.

Favorite track: "Buried in the Murder"
Rating: 5/5