Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May 31 Album Releases

Here we go again, kiddos! May has been an excellent month for album releases so far. From Okkervil River to Lady Gaga to Fleet Foxes, this fifth month has been nothing short of spectacular. And, once again, we have a lovely and interesting week for new music.

The biggest release this week, at least in my humble opinion, is Death Cab For Cutie's seventh studio album, Codes and Keys. Like any other stereotypical indie chick, I've had a serious musical crush on these guys since I was 14, so I'm obviously pretty stoked for this. Since their last release, Narrow Stairs, lead singer/lyricist Ben Gibbard has found sobriety and married the adorable Zooey Deschanel, so it'll certainly be interesting to see how this reflects on his music, if at all. I know I'm excited!

My Morning Jacket also releases Circuital this week. I'm not too terribly familiar with My Morning Jacket, but their latest album has gotten high marks so far from several music publications, including SPIN. While a lot of bands just start to phone it in after a few albums, these high marks seem to show that these guys are still working hard. Also, Jim James, the lead singer of MMJ, keeps company with Conor Oberst and M.Ward as a part of the supergroup Monsters of Folk, so if his music is good enough for these guys, it's good enough for me.

The next few releases just scream moody middle-schooler to me. First up in this category is Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs. I was way too into grunge back when I was 13, so that part of me is always pretty stoked for something new from Vedder, no matter how disappointing new Pearl Jam albums may be. His last solo venture, the Into The Wild soundtrack was a huge success, so this ukulele thing may end up being less weird than it sounds. I also YouTube'd one of the tracks, "Longing to Belong," and the whole thing has an essence of sadness and beauty to it, and of course, Vedder's stellar and standout voice is in the mix, so that's worth the price of admission on its own.

Second up in this moody middle school category is The Melvins 11th live album, Sugar Daddy. Now, I'm not going to pretend to know more about these guys than I do, but I do know that Kurt Cobain was a huge fan and knew these guys pretty well, which impressed me about when I was 12. I also know that they've been around for nearly 30 years, which is nuts. And if they're still touring after being together that long, kudos! They must be doing something right.

Flogging Molly's Speed of Darkness also comes out this Tuesday, which probably has that jerky punk kid I knew in the 7th grade pretty excited. (I still hate you for making fun of my Ataris shirt, by the way.)

And every middle school girl from the '80s has to be excited for Jordan Knight's Unfinished.

So, with a few little indie jams and a lot of things that remind me of those miserably awkward years from 11 to 14, I bid you adieu. Happy listening!

--Carolyn Menyes, Interviews/Live Reviews Editor

Monday, May 16, 2011

May 17 Album Releases

I’ve always felt that May is a good month for album releases. Maybe it’s the feeling of listening to new music right as school is winding down, or maybe it’s because music tends to be more exciting as the weather gets warmer. Whatever the case, May 17 does not disappoint.

First, we have the hotly anticipated Rome album from super-producer Danger Mouse and composer Daniele Luppi, which will be released via Capitol. Those two brought together a handful of retired Italian musicians that worked on some of the most influential westerns from the '50s and '60s. After that they added Jack White and Norah Jones’s vocals to the mix, creating an all-new kind of spaghetti-western soundtrack. Personally, I think anything Danger Mouse touches is gold, so I definitely trust this to be a fantastic album.

Next we have Scottish group Glasvegas releasing its sophomore effort, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ on Columbia. I adore the band’s self-titled debut, and I’m hoping for more of the same colossal-sounding rock from the group. European reviews have been pretty favorable and Pitchfork hates it. Both of those are to be expected. If the album is as good as the first, I suppose I can forgive Glasvegas’s caps lock obsession.

Kidz Bop Sings Monster Ballads. “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by a bunch of pre-adolescents? Yes please!

Moby will release his tenth album, Destroyed, on Mute. I’ve never really listened to Moby, but know his material. From what I can tell from reviews, this wouldn’t be one to start with, as it’s probably going to be more of an album for the obsessive Moby followers of the world.

Either way, ten albums is an impressive feat. There aren’t too many musicians out there who have made it that far, but now we can say that Moby is one of them. Gotta give props to one of the most successful names in electronic rock.

One of the albums I’m most excited for is Let’s Wrestle’s second record, Nursing Home, which will be released on Merge. I first heard of this British group when Cage The Elephant covered the spectacularly-titled “My Arms Don’t Bend That Way, Damn It!” in an acoustic performance for Rolling Stone. While Nursing Home doesn’t have any song with quite the same instantly incredible title, I’m sure it will offer some of the same raw power as the first. Plus, there is a song called “There’s A Rockstar In My Room,” which reminds me of the title of a children’s picture book or something.

There are, of course, plenty of other releases to sink your teeth into this week, including Mercury Rev, Miracle Fortress, and Ben Harper (who was last seen working with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur in Fistful of Mercy).

So get out there and pick up some new music. It’s springtime, which in my mind means that your brain is yearning for something fresh.

--Chris Dobstaff, News Editor