Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12 Album Releases

Album releases this week range from indie-favorites to concept cover albums, but only one album this week left me extremely psyched for its release.

Belle and Sebastian is releasing Write About Love this week on Rough Trade Records-- four years after their last release, The Life Pursuit, in 2006. The album opens softly, which may have been why I felt as though my interest was waning quickly. Belle and Sebastian’s sleepy sounding vocals accompanied with light piano on the first track seemed to ring throughout the whole album. However, “I Want the World to Stop” was more upbeat and I found myself easily tapping my foot. While it may be because Belle and Sebastian are simply not my preferred taste, the album was just mediocre to me.

Another indie-veteran Sufjan Stevens released The Age of Adz this week on Asthmatic Kitty Records. The album is Stevens’ first full-length release since Illinois five years ago. It was definitely my least favorite of the releases. Despite my having an extensive collection of Sufjan Stevens albums in my library, I’ve never been able to get into his tunes. His voice always fails to move me and particularly on this album, he doesn’t seem to have any emotion behind it at all. The electronics felt overdone and the choral accompaniments in the background felt like too much.

I was surprised to see that Less Than Jake was releasing TV/EP. Less Than Jake was a favorite back in our high school ska scene; however, I didn’t even know they were still together making music now. In TV/EP, Less Than Jake covers popular TV sitcom theme songs and commercials. The EP, which is a little over 11 minutes long, is best listened to while viewing the commercials and songs via video on their website. It was an awesome throwback hearing those familiar childhood tunes from the ‘80s and ‘90s and hilarious to see the commercials with the punk versions of the songs dubbed over. They used lots of horns and had their classic punk-ska sound: loud, energetic and silly. Some of my favorites included the Hungry, Hungry Hippos song, the McDonald's Big Mac song from 1984 (below), and the Different Strokes theme song. I don’t think I could listen to the album on a regular basis, but it was really awesome to hear their renditions of the songs along with the old videos.

Finally, Cleveland-based Cloud Nothings just released their first full-length album Turning On with Carpark Records. I’ve been meaning to see Cloud Nothings for so long, being a Cleveland native myself and hearing positive buzz about them around town. The buzz didn’t do them justice though; Turning On was the one album this week I could not stop listening to. It’s dark, catchy and upbeat and reminds me a bit of The Whigs, but a little more raw. “Hey Cool Kid” seems to be the first single and it’s a perfect pick. The recently released video (below) is eerie and matches the dark and creepy vibe of the song. The band would fit in great with the Athens music scene and I can totally picture them playing a packed show at the Union.

Some other notable album releases this week include Badly Drawn Boy with Part 1–Photographing Snowflakes, Lil Wayne with I Am Not A Human Being, and You, Me, And Everyone We Know with Some Things Don’t Wash Out.

--Melissa Burant, Editorial Copy Chief and PR Director

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October 5 Album Releases

We are not starting October with a substantial week in music, I must tell you. October 5 does not arrive with a babble of big releases to be severely dissected and critiqued. Instead, music-buyers have their pick of smaller interest bands that can be gladly approached with open ears and willing minds. What a relief—or a disappointment, depending on the breadth of your critical streak.

Enough stalling with flouncy words and introductory paragraphs. Let’s get to the few highlight-able releases on this week’s list of brand new albums. Shall we?

First and, I say, foremost, stellar independent label Kill Rock Stars is presenting two records from some of the industry’s most dynamic performers: Corin Tucker and Marnie Stern.

Sleater-Kinney parted ways in 2006, and since then the wall-buckling, ground-crumbling vocals of Corin Tucker have been left silent, sadly. But now Corin has her own band, The Corin Tucker Band with whom she has recorded her debut solo-ish record, 1,000 Years. Sure, it’s not as zingy as her Riot Grrrl days, but if you weren’t to compare her new sounds to those of her younger days, Corin would still have nearly boundless vigor in her approach to rock. Listen to “Doubt” and feel the burgeoning howl, ready to be unleashed.

After two previous full-length records released on Kill Rock Stars, Marnie Stern is releasing a self-titled album. Given the bombastic, bordering-on-violent-video-game frantic energy of the album’s opening number, “For Ash,” this album obviously does not fade away from the finger-tapping, guitar-playing neon fireworks Marnie displayed on her previous works. Face-melting chops she has in spades.

While busy speaking about commendable record labels, I may as well move on to London-based indie label Domino, which has a noteworthy album on their agenda: Clinic’s Bubblegum.

Clinic is not a new band. This band from Liverpool has been releasing albums biannually since 2000, making Bubblegum their sixth—count them, sixth—studio record. The album’s first single, “I’m Aware,” with its mumbled vocals and dreamy, twangy sounds, comes accompanied by a trippy video featuring caftan-clothed puppets with antlers submerged in a color-drenched environment fit for child-aimed, daytime entertainment. And that’s putting it simply.

Well, what else is there? Dustin Wong, guitar-playing member of the radical, sound-crashing Baltimore band Ponytail, has a solo album, Infinite Love, coming out on Thrill Jockey. Expect electric guitar loops, forceful and emotive, and do not expect any vocals to muddle the panorama. Never have cohesive vocals been associated with Dustin’s work in the past, and the future promises no surer sign of lyrics.

Now I’m meandering. How better to end this dragging post than to list off a few more albums coming out from peculiarly named bands. I have run out of productive ideas, so, alas, a short list: Wild Go by Dark Dark Dark, Meet Me at the Muster Station by PS I Love You, Litanies by Royal Baths, Soft Landing by Soft Landing.

I have been assured these are not false listings and these are real bands and real album names. So enjoy yourself, sorting through the abstract incoherence of words I have thrown at you and listen to something brand spanking new.

-Jessi Finn, Album Reviews Editor