Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 13 Releases, 2012

By: Sam Boyer, Blogs Editor / '90s Blogger

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, but I know you're all thinking about the rad album releases this week instead. No? Okay, fine. It's my job to think about those album releases for you, then. And boy, oh boy, do we have some awesome ones this week.

Let's start with the obvious. Green Day dropped part two of its trilogy, ¡Dos!, which is only slightly better than ¡Uno!. There are some pretty strong tracks, like "Wow! That's Loud" and "Stray Heart," but there are a handful of mediocre ones, too. And then there's "Nightlife," which is perhaps one of the worst Green Day songs in history. If a hardcore Green Day fan like me says a song is terrible, then it really is terrible. I can dig just about anything GD does, but having a female rapper on a track? That's just unacceptable. But there's still one more album in this trilogy, so here's hoping ¡Tre! is some kind of brilliant (wishful thinking, I know).

Look for my review of ¡Dos! on ACRN's website soon!

Since I am a '90s blogger, I have to give a shout out to my boys in Soundgarden for releasing their first album since 1996's Down on the Upside. King Animal is decent, but it sounds more like a warm-up album rather than a comeback album. This is the same band that released Superunknown, arguably one of the best albums of the '90s. So where's that earth-shattering metal sound from before? King Animal isn't bad, but it's a little too tame for Soundgarden. The casual fan might dig it. Hardcore fans might be a little skeptical.

Check out ACRN's review here!

Are you ready for some mainstream rock? The answer is always yes. Deftones released their seventh studio album, Koi No Yokan, and it's not bad. Not bad at all. It's more alternative than mainstream rock, but the Deftones have always avoided being shoved into one specific genre. If you're not into the whole alternative rock scene, I'd skip this album. But if you're like me and you still rock out to "My Own Summer," definitely check this out. 

Some other releases of note: Christina Aguilera's Lotus (shouldn't she just give up at this point?), Brian Eno's LUX and Crystal Castles' III. I don't know a lot about these artists, so I can't go handing out recommendations. But if something strikes your fancy, don't be afraid to give it a try!

Also, check Drop It Like It's Hot each week for new releases and witty commentary!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6 Releases, 2012

By: Kristen Spicker, Copy Chief 

Unless you live under a rock and next to a pineapple under the sea, I’m sure it’s been brought to your attention that it’s Election Day. And if you’re anything like me, you’re dreading the onslaught of “Did you vote yet?”s and political ads that run like clockwork when all you want to do is watch a YouTube video. So instead, lie in your bed, turn off the TV and listen to some new music.

Always fighting to stay relevant, Aerosmith released its 15th studio album, Music From Another Dimension, which is approximately the median number of DUIs the band’s fans have. Following the election theme, the album starts off with “LUV XXX,” which has a creepy, futuristic intro that basically tells listeners that they have absolutely no control and brings up repressed nightmares of that creepy tunnel scene from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Although that first minute alone gives people enough reasons to immediately turn the album off, if anyone tries to trudge through the 18-track album (coincidentally, the median number of failed marriages Aerosmith fans have) they’ll only discover Aerosmith sounding exactly like what the band is: a group from the '70s who think that it still has a place in modern music. Buy this album for your dad…if you want him to have a midlife crisis.

Speaking of irrelevant, Kylie Minogue also released an album: The Abbey Road Sessions, which is clearly named after the studio where the Aussie recorded the tracks. The album is a reworking of previous songs, and considering the only one I recognized was “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” I had pretty low standards for the album. Thankfully, the album is actually good. Minogue slows things down, uses real instruments and acts more like a lounge singer than a third-rate pop star. Unfortunately, nothing can make the “la la”s in “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” acceptable.

Also look for the score for the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. But please note the word "score," which means the Adele song is not on this album. Ne-Yo (the R&B guy that didn’t beat up Rihanna) released R.E.D. today, as well as Prince Rama’s Top Ten Hits of the End of the World, which, based off the album cover, should never have been created. Metal groups ISIS and All That Remains also put out albums. If you want to actually listen to something good, maybe try Andy Stott’s electronic Luxury Problems, which ACRN writer Ross Lockhart adored (if it sucks blame him).

So sorry, I was wrong. You probably should go out and brave the poll bullies instead of subjecting yourself to this week’s lackluster new music.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30 Releases, 2012

By: Colin Roose, News Editor

Christmas and folk. This is the music we get the day before Halloween. No Rob Zombie, no Alice Cooper, but chestnuts roasting on an open fire and a man with a violin.

Alright, well, Neil Young can make some pretty good sweater music. But Christmas albums? Seriously? Who decided that October 30 was a good time to start singing about marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow and scary ghost stories…oh.

Anyway, let's start with the man still searching for a heart of gold. Neil Young's newest album Psychedelic Pill is the first album of new material with his backing band Crazy Horse since 2003's Greendale, and accordingly is a rougher, more jam-centric album than the other six solo albums he's done since then. And if that seems like a lot of work for a 66-year-old man in eight years, consider that this is his 35th record overall. That's not even counting his various collaborations with Crosby, Stills and Nash or Buffalo Springfield. The man has been a slave to you, people. If nothing else, he deserves the opportunity to reminisce about the first time he heard "Like a Rolling Stone."

The other workhorse this year is Andrew Bird, for whom it did not suffice to release just the hour-long Break It Yourself earlier this year. The companion EP Hands of Glory adds an additional 35 minutes of re-recordings and strum-strummy covers of old singer-songwriter music. If the whole laid-back group-chorus old-time sleepy violin sound appeals to you, you've probably already known what Andrew Bird is up to and I'm talking to myself now. Actually, I must confess that I am not familiar with Mr. Bird's considerable output, despite his appearance at the Nelsonville Music Festival this year. Maybe I'd better not admit I listened to Mumford & Sons for the first time this past weekend before the folk community beats me with mandolins.

And so, the Christmas albums. I'd like to direct your attention to the left to take a look at the miracle of Photoshop that is Cee-Lo's Magic Moment. The Gnarls Barkley singer has now apparently taken the place of Santa Claus, flying through the night with his sports car pulled by a majestic array of steeds. Or maybe this is his way of telling us he's a brony? But anyway, he duets with such varied talent as Christina Aguilera, B.o.B. and The Muppets.

If flamboyant Vegas style rap does not immediately spring to mind when you think of the holidays, there is also Rod Stewart, who has taken a break from his copious renditions of the Great American Songbook to make an even more friendly album for Mom and Dad called Merry Christmas, Baby. On the other hand, there is an innovative Yuletide-indie crossover by Everything But the Girl vocalist Tracey Thorn. It may be called Tinsel and Lights and have song titles like "Maybe This Christmas" and "Snow," but it's actually mostly original songs and has a paranoid post-punk sound. Really. Well, I think it's about damn time someone tried to unseat "Same Old Lang Syne" as the newest Christmas song to be played on every FM station.

There's also Flyleaf this week, who are releasing their last album with singer Lacey Mosley, and Lulu Gainsbourg, the son of French popmeister Serge Gainsbourg. Other than that, well…if you like Toby Keith

Ok, I'm going to end this before the folkies start shouting "Judas!" at me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 16 Releases, 2012

By: Colin Roose, News Editor

Well, it looks like the well of monster releases in September and October is finally running dry. Green Day, The Killers and Muse have all played their cards, and this week's list languishes in the obscurity of side projects and bands with names like "Police Teeth." But there is still an oasis or two in this desert of fringe albums (sadly, none of the Gallagher variety). So, let's hit on the big ones.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor will be expounding upon their affinity for exclamation points this week with the release of Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!. With their first album since Yanqui U.X.O. ten years ago, they have managed to reform almost their entire original lineup. No mean feat for eight members. Dissonant, distant post-rock weirdness is what you'll find here, with two of the songs actually written before their long hiatus. I really can't say I understand song titles like "Strung Like Lights at Thee Printemps Erable," but all signs point to them still being the latest and greatest in post-post-modern rock-as-art.

And next, we'll be getting Sunken Condos from the venerable Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, a band that has seemingly been forgotten by everyone except classic rock radio. Although he may be "Reelin' In The Years," he's still going to "Do It Again" and put out something that will get him on "F.M." again, heh heh…okay, I'll stop. It sounds like it's just about the closest thing to another album from the Dan that can be expected, with the same brand of neurotic jazz-pop. A dusky, driving-through-the-city kind of sound. Poppy and unpretentious while still having a sophisticated flair. Those last two sentences didn't really mean much, did they? Anyway, this guy is way too talented to be as obscure as he is. Roll over Peg, tell Josie the news: Donald Fagen is back.

In other news, Ben Gibbard certainly seems rather depressed. Take a look at that there gloomy cover. And with song titles like "Teardrop Windows" and "Oh, Woe?" Watch out everyone, I think we have a high-profile breakup album on our hands. I can't help but feel he should have cut the cryptic symbolism of Former Lives' name and just subtitled it Specifically, The One Before I Split Up With Zooey Deschanel. But I digress. From what I hear, the record goes to show that Death Cab for Cutie does not necessarily equal Ben Gibbard. There's less of an indie band sound here and more experimentation, like on the twee "Something's Rattling (Cowpoke)." It's also nice for a fan like myself to hear that he can still craft melodies and still sings like he's about 11 years old. But then again, his band just released a new album last year. I hope this solo venture won't mean we'l have to wait even longer for another Death Cab album.

And if you're into Phish, there is a new Trey Anastasio album out called Traveler. Which is good news considering that his home band is quickly becoming the new Grateful Dead, putting out millions of live releases instead of new studio material. This one is everywhere though, jumping between drum n' bass experiments, straightforward country-flavored rock and the jam band sound for which he's known. Such a work ethic, too--he's put out almost as many bands in the last decade as Phish has in 20 years. He's also covering "Clint Eastwood" by the Gorillaz, making it somewhat less intoxicated-sounding than the original. That song has special meaning for me, being one of the first pop songs I was exposed to long before I understood the meaning of "sunshine in a bag."

But that's pretty much it in terms of high-profile stuff. Unless you would like to hear about More Lullbaby Renditions of U2 or Piano Tribute to KISS. But looming large on the horizon for next week is the new Taylor Swift album. Inevitably, everyone and their teenybopper little sister will help it to break all the sales records, but you, the discriminating music aficionado, know better, don't you? Drop It Like It's Hot will cover the real noteworthy stuff just for you. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October 9 Releases, 2012

By: Rachel Haas, Features Editor

Wow, kids! Can you believe it’s already the second week of October? Pretty soon it’ll be Halloween, Thanksgiving and then *gasp* Christmas! But for now, let’s focus on the tracks released this week before we get too ahead of ourselves as there are a few exciting releases worth a shout-out.

First up, the release I am MOST stoked about for this week is II from the Bad Books, which is comprised of Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull and lovely singer-songwriter/personal favorite Kevin Devine. Their self-titled debut was a delightful mix of soft acoustic and alternative rock tracks--or a blend of the in-between--with Hull and Devine's voices complimenting each other to near perfection. This album is more of the same, but in the absolute best way possible. The songs are just as enjoyable and both artists shine. It's so cool to listen to them meld into one insane, super musical identity instead of just being those two dudes from those two bands. Also, the song "Forest Whitaker" is so infectious you won't be able to pass up listening to the entire album. Yeah, that's a challenge.

Tame Impala released their second album Lonerism and, if this recommendation isn’t enough, maybe Pitchfork’s 9/10 review will convince you to take a listen. The band has kept up with the psychedelic sounds featured on their debut Innerspeaker, but have seemed to cultivate a fuller, more developed atmosphere. Enjoy this richly layered time machine, break out those groovy bell bottom pants and get ready to dance around a little when you put it on.

Jakob Dylan—yep, son of harmonica-wielder Bob—is back. The Wallflowers haven’t released an album since 2005 (that’s 7 years ago for those of you, like me, that are mathematically impaired). But finally, Wallflowers fans can get their fix with Glad All Over, the sometimes funky, usually catchy sixth studio release. It doesn’t sound like a bad album per se but, let’s be honest, we really all just want to go listen to “One Headlight” (or maybe that’s just me). However, former Clash guitarist Mike Jones appears on two of the tracks, which is pretty damn cool.  

Also, Ellie Goulding, the girl who sings that “Lights” song and is dating Skrillex, dropped Halcyon this week. The first track, “Don’t Say A Word,” softly opens the album, slowly building and building until reaching a predictable burst of peppy beats and high-pitched girlish vocals. The song teeters between dance-y and epic Robyn-meets-Florence ballad—kind of weird, I know, but it works. Actually, that pretty much sums up the album. I don’t think it’ll disappoint for those searching for that sort of thing. Plus she is super adorbs.

Fitz & the Tantrums, Freelance Whales, The Script and KISS (yes, Gene-Simmons-face-paint-I-wanna-rock-n-roll-all-night KISS) also dropped some tunes this week. Want to know who else dropped an album? Rick Springfield. RICK SPRINGFIELD. His album Songs for the End of the World is now out if you’re so inclined to have a Springfield listening party.

Speaking of which, brb, going to listen to “Jessie’s Girl” now.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October 2 Releases, 2012

By: Chris Dobstaff, Reviews Editor

What up, October? You're looking real good right about now. Hot apple cider, pumpkins and the changing colors in the trees are just a few of my favorite things about the fall. And of course, there's fall music. You know what I'm talking about: good ol' sweater-wearing music. Luckily, we have some interesting records coming out to kickstart October and, just like those leaves, new albums are going to keep dropping throughout the fall season.  

Muse is back in a big (not unexpected) and interesting (again, not unexpected) way. The British band released its sixth studio album, The 2nd Law, on Tuesday and naturally they've already pissed some people off. That's just what Muse does, isn't it? Reviews have generally been positive thus far, but the group is naturally alienating fans by embracing electronica and dubstep influences this time around. I'm all for musicians changing up their sound every once and awhile, but Muse's epic reach may just be going a bit too far for some fans. 

Flying Lotus, on the other hand, nailed it this time around. With Until The Quiet Comes, Steven Ellison has created one of the best electronic albums of the year. Flying Lotus' fourth album is currently flooring critics, including myself, with songs like "All In," and "Sultan's Request." The album is completely organic in a way that too few electronic albums are. These songs are ones to get completely immersed, and sometimes lost in. Thanks to artists like Flying Lotus, I can firmly attest that there is reason for electronic music to exist other than those damn club settings.

The indie world was also well represented this week with The Mountain Goats, The Hood Internet and Matt & Kim all releasing new material. For The Mountain Goats, Transcendental Youth is their 14th (!!!) album, and their second on the Merge label. As per usual, John Darnielle has put together a collection of songs that will ultimately be pleasing to anyone out there who even slightly enjoys the indie genre. That's the thing about bands like The Mountain Goats: it's hard not to like them.

The Hood Internet released a record called Feat, which features lead singer of The New Pornographers A.C. Newman adding his vocals to an electronic track. I'm not gonna say it's bad, but I will say it's weird. A.C. Newman has such a wonderful voice, and hearing it with those darn computerized noises in lieu of an acoustic guitar rattled me just a bit. Additionally, Matt & Kim released Lightning,  the duo's fourth studio album. I may be in the minority here, but I think Matt & Kim are kind of boring. Sure, "Daylight" was a flipping excellent song, but other than that nothing has really hit a chord with me. But that doesn't mean I won't be checking Lightning out, 'cause I definitely will. The group's infectious energy will undoubtedly be fun to turn on for a bit of cleaning around the house.

So there ya have it. October has started off right with what appears to be a pretty interesting week in music. As usual, not all of it's going to be great, but I'm a firm believer that any album one listens to when the leaves are falling can be magical. 

And if that sappy sentiment doesn't work for you, just go listen to Flying Lotus. Seriously, Until the Quiet Comes is damn good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25 Releases, 2012

By: Sam Boyer, Blogs Editor / '90s Blogger

Get ready, world. It's my first Drop It Like It's Hot entry! And what a perfect week to write about. We've been graced with releases from two super rad '90s bands and a group of folk giants. Let's do this.

So after months of anticipation (and some dread after hearing the first single), Green Day dropped the first album in their planned trilogy, ¡Uno!. By some Internet voodoo, I got the album a week early and spent that time studying each track individually. Since Green Day happens to be my favorite band, I made it a point to listen to the album at least seven times before writing a review. Bottom line: ¡Uno! isn't terrible, but it's not great either. It's heavily influenced by GD's side project from a few years ago, the '60s garage rock style band Foxboro Hot Tubs. Very dance-y and quite simple. It's nothing like American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown. No grandiose political overtones here, just straight-forward pop-punk tunes (mostly) clocking in at less than three minutes each. The first half is pretty solid, but the second half is weak. "Oh Love" happens to be the last track, which is a mistake since it also happens to be the worst song on the album. But like I said, ¡Uno! isn't too terribly disappointing. We've still got two more albums in this trilogy. Be patient.

If you want a more in-depth analysis of ¡Uno!, check out my review for ACRN. Or if you're interested in the history of Green Day/my personal thoughts on the band, head on over to my '90s blog. End shameless self-promotion.

Speaking of '90s bands, No Doubt came back from the dead this week with their first album in 11 years. I thought "Settle Down" was a solid first single, so naturally I was excited to hear the rest of the album. It's a little more electronic than classic No Doubt, which isn't really a bad thing. The band has totally departed from their ska roots, though. That's a shame since that's what attracted me to them in the first place. But bands mature and evolve and blah, blah, blah. Push and Shove is a great pop record, but it doesn't have the same energy as Tragic Kingdom or Return of Saturn. That might be my '90s snobbery seeping through, but I'm still willing to admit that the album has its moments, particularly with "One More Summer." And it's better than Rock Steady, so there's that. Overall, it's a pretty good effort, especially after a decade-long hiatus.

And once again, if you're interested in my personal thoughts on No Doubt, check out my blog. Okay, now I'm done with my shameless self-promotion.

In non '90s-related album news, folk darlings Mumford & Sons dropped the follow-up to the hugely successful Sigh No More. I never really got into these guys, so I don't have the extensive knowledge needed to delve too deep into Babel. Upon first listen, it sounds like a pretty dreamy record. Not the M83 kind of dreamy, but the folksy campfire kind of dreamy. And boy, do these guys sure like frantic banjo-playing. I guess Babel is good in an abstract sense. If I happened to be more of a Mumford fangirl, I'd be all over this release. But I'm not, so you'll have to consult ACRN's review of it for a fair analysis.

Because it's almost Halloween and I have a love affair with Tim Burton (pre-Planet of the Apes Burton, that is), I couldn't resist adding the Frankenweenie Unleashed soundtrack to this entry. This is the collaborative soundtrack, not the Danny Elfman score. It features some rad musicians like Karen O, Kimbra, The Flaming Lips and Robert Smith. I also have to give a shout-out to My Chemical Romance's Frank Iero for Former Blogs Editor Cassie Whitt. "This Song Is A Curse" is a pretty fun tune.

Check Drop It Like It's Hot for new album releases each week! And for some killer album reviews, check out ACRN.com!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 18 Releases, 2012

By: Carolyn Menyes, Managing Editor

For reasons unknown, the record industry decided to dump all of the year's most anticipated releases in September and October. Not that I'm minding now, but it did make for a dull summer. Can we just talk about that for a second? Like, when Kidz Bop 22 goes to No. 3 on the Billboard Charts, you know it's been a bad few months for new music. Sigh...

Luckily, this week is making up for it, and there's almost too much to consider. But, allow me to skim over the Sept. 18 releases that make the music nerd in me the most excited.

First, there's the long-anticipated fourth studio album from Las Vegas alt-dudes The Killers. Though their last studio album, Day and Age, was critically and financially unsuccessful, there are high hopes for Battle Born. The lead single, "Runaways," is synth-y, Springsteen-y and epic in all the right ways. The rest of the album tends to follow suit and shows The Killers returning to the Sam's Town era sonically. After many fans weren't so keen on their last release, I can assure you, Battle Born is everything a Killers fan would want from their first album in four years.

However, The Killers aren't the alternative band with the biggest break between albums to release something this week. That reward would have to go to Ben Folds Five, who put out their first album in 13 years, The Sound of the Life of the Mind.  The boppy, driving sound of Ben Folds' backing band distinguishes this from Folds' solo work from the past several years and, like The Killers, is quite welcome. The piano rock group put together a decent compilation of bitter, slow songs and upbeat poppy numbers. Regardless of the album's consistency, it's nice to have these '90s mainstays back.

The indie lover in me was most excited to find out Grizzly Bear's Shields dropped this week. After the brilliance of 2009's Veckitamest, it was hard to imagine what steps da Bearz could take next. The answer, I suppose, is a mostly solid follow-up. There's no "Two Weeks" or "Foreground" here, but Shields is distinctly Grizzly Bear, so therefore, it is distinctly awesome.

Other than those more rocky releases, the world gave us Carly Rae Jepsen's sophomore album Kiss, which features this little-known song entitled "Call Me Maybe." P!nk blew us with The Truth About Love. And, unfortunately, Kreayshawn is doing things. She released Something 'Bout Kreay. Gucci, gucci.

Stay tuned to Drop It Like It's Hot for more saucy album releases. Coming up: we got Green Day, Mumford & Sons and more! YAY!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 11 Releases, 2012

By: Hannah Cook, Editorial Director

First and foremost, welcome back to the unpredictable and spontaneously-updated Drop It Like It’s Hot. I realize we haven’t been holding up our end of the deal too well, but give us a break, would ya? It was summer, we had other engagements (like watching reruns of Reba and David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding). Our minds were basking elsewhere. It’s better late than never though, am I right?

Secondly, Hoobastank. You know, the guys who wrote “The Reason” (if you're too young to know, it's for the best), perhaps the most poorly constructed song in every sense ever to exist. Even a bajillion years ago when I still wore studded belts and American Eagle bell bottoms together (I was confused), that song sucked. Love and regret, the two most commonly and easily rendered themes in a song, absolutely lost in whiny voices and guitars. ANYWAY, they came out with a new album, Fight or Flight. From the looks of it, they’re trying to be more alternative and edgier. From the sounds of it, well. I don’t know because I can’t find the streaming of it and I don’t really care to try. But in the words of the most clever ACRN writer, Jacob Betzner, “Hoobastank’s newest album hooba-stanks.” Haha.

But onward and upward! Other than unsought reminiscing of rock radio in middle school, this week in music releases has a bright future.

To me, The xx always sound like they’re doin’ it  (like sex). Like, if I could imagine their music as the soundtrack to any kind of movie, it would be a sci-fi porno. Like Star Trek gone dirty — Spock-y style. That being said, I love it. I love the pillow talking-esque whispers and the chill beeps and buzzes. Their latest release, Coexist, lives up to all my expectations as a non-avid, but appreciating, listener.

It seems that The Avett Brothers were pretty quiet about this release.  That, or I just subconsciously counted myself out on being up to date with things. Still, they must be on to something big with The Carpenter since they played a snippet of “Live and Die” in a Gap commercial.  The album holds true to what the bros do best: pleasant acoustics and longing lyrics that make you feel like everything’s gonna be alright. But it’s nothing all too inspiring, just expected and easy to listen to. Except “Paul Newman vs. The Demons.” Who gave Scott (or Seth, I don’t know which one) an electric guitar and some balls? I’m kidding. Anyway, after all is said and done, no one can deny that The Avett Brothers put on a spectacular live show. My dad would agree.

David Byrne and St. Vincent go pretty well together in Love This Giant. Well, St. Vincent could go well with a chainsaw and Hoobastank singing “The Reason.” It’s a weird effort, and maybe even some age discrepancies glimmering here and there, but still a solid album.

In other releases, The Helio Sequence released Negotiations. I will be er…buying that, with little to no hesitation. I expect only great things from them. Unlike Hoobastank.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15 Releases

By: Colin Roose, News Editor

Hm. A rather threatening vibe emanates from the list of this week's new album releases. Just looking at the list right now, I see Bloody Knives, Fearless Vampire Killers, The Grotesquery -- I bet their mothers are proud. What happened to the peaceful names of yore like Love or The Pretty Things? Or Bananarama?

Anywho, the new records this week. Looming large on the list is Bloom by Beach House, everyone's favorite teen-dream-pop duo. Though you might have heard it already, as it was leaked way early. I started seeing reviews for it a couple of months ago. Take a listen here.

The musical descendants of Brian Wilson's fantasy lands, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally, have created another 50 minutes of synthy bliss, reverb-laden vocals, and one-word song titles. Not quite rock, not quite electronica, the songs flow together in a waterfall of keyboards and Legrand's celestial singing. The only thing keeping the tracks from having any sense of time is the presence of "psht-psht" percussion, as I've heard one reviewer call it.

Lo-fi tendencies aside, your mileage of this album will really depend on how mellow you're willing to go with your indie. Programmed and carefully planned atmospheres resonate with me, but if you prefer organic, have a look at this week's other fine wares. 

Like the always earthy Willie Nelson! It's a landmark in itself to still be releasing albums at age 79, but the real reason to pick up his new release Heroes is to hear Snoop Dogg attempting a country drawl on the single "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." Reminds me of a certain other unlikely cross-genre collaboration with a major R & B star.

Not being familiar with his back catalog, I can only add my two cents by saying that his voice is in alarmingly fine form considering his age. It has a certain everyman quality that, in my humble opinion, many other country acts overdo with their exaggerated accents. As with B. B. King, the fact that he's still at it is enough reason to check out his new efforts.

I also have to admit that Garbage is not very familiar to my ears. But being something of a production buff and Nirvana fan, the fact that it features Nevermind producer Butch Vig is a pedigree I can't really pass up.

The lead single of Not Your Kind of People, "Blood for Poppies," at least sounds like it is straight out of '90s MTV - crashing drums and distorted guitars, but with a somewhat modern rap-tinged feel. I wouldn't really know though, Sam Boyer could tell you more about that than me. But if you can't stand Victoria Legrand's straight-from-heaven vocalizations, Shirley Manson's tougher pipes will be a much better fit for you this week.

The last album I'd like to point out is by a guitarist dear to my heart, but one you may never have heard of. Trevor Rabin is best known for being the guitarist for Yes in the '80s, the favorite band of yours truly. If you ever fell in love with the irresistible poppy riff from "Owner of a Lonely Heart," you have this man to thank.

His new solo album Jacaranda is apparently all over the map, with classical, rock, and jazz being primary genres. I haven't found a stream to give it a listen yet, but it's worth a mention in this week's roundup because the guy has languished in obscurity since leaving the best band in the world, doing fittingly obscure soundtrack work. Do a Yes man a favor and give him a listen.

Check out the corresponding reviews this week on ACRN for more detailed overviews. And don't forget to skip the processed Glee banality newly thrown onto the racks.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 8 Releases, 2012

By: Cassie Whitt, Blogs Editor

It has all come full-circle, folks. This is my final "Drop It Like It's Hot" post as Blogs Editor for my beloved ACRN. I would get all sentimental, but there's a coincidence here cooler than anything mopey I could say to make you guys cry.

The first time I wrote an entry for this blog, I  gushed about the then latest release from Amanda Palmer. Much like that first time, I am writing about Palmer again because I can, for continuity's sake and for the sake of bringing finality to this segment of my life.

Of course, the record doesn't actually come out until September and, as (former) Blogs Editor, I know that's not the point of this blog, but--well--the Kickstarter project for it debuted last week, and it's pretty revolutionary. Seriously, check it out:

This is the future of music. Brilliant, AFP.

Now, onto the albums that are actually coming out on May 8, 2012.

Also a beautiful coincidence for my final entry: one of my favorite artists (second only to My Chemical Romance), Matt Skiba debuts his newest project Matt Skiba and the Sekrets with Babylon.

In my head, Skiba, 1/3 of Alkaline Trio and an outstanding solo artist, can do no wrong (see my ACRN review of his rough-cut 2010 Demos for evidence.) His Sekrets project does not change my mind about that, at least not from what I have heard, and considering 4 of the tracks are refined Demos songs ("Haven't You," "Olivia" [Formerly "Nausea (Cruel and Unusual)"], "How The Hell Did We Get Here?" and "Angel of Deaf"), I have complete faith in the album.

Check out track 1, "Voices," below.

All the more reason to expect great things: Matt Skiba and the Sekrets also includes Hunter Burgan from AFI and Jarrod Alexander formerly of A Static Lullaby (though he's often credited as being a member of MCR--that's just not true. MCR does not currently have a permanent drummer and have said many times that they do not see themselves acquiring one any time soon, funfact kthnx and get it straight, please.)

Also releasing this week: Neck of the Woods by Silversun Pickups. I chose to look into this album particularly because I wanted to rip on mediocrity.

My disdain radar for the complacency with unremarkable music of late beeped wildly when I saw the name "Silversun Pickups;" as, I leveled them with that Kings of Leon crowd who have been putting out the same song for the past few years, getting huge from it and consequently pissing off the hip kids who used to be their fans.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the album and even revisited their "Lazy Eye" song that bothered me senseless a few years ago.

Neck of the Woods has the rising intensity and vague creepiness I crave in music. You win this round, Silversun Pickups. I was wrong.

For a change of pace: OFF!'s OFF! --- Ooohhh, yes. The longest song on this throwback hardcore-punk album is 1:36, which translates to: "it's perfect." Plus, it sounds like it was recorded in 1979. Black Flag fans, Keith Morris' latest will not disappoint you.

Not bad, May 8. Not bad at all...

And, with that, I conclude my final "Drop It Like It's Hot" post.
Never let them take you alive,

Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 24 Releases, 2012

By: Scott Smith, Reviews Editor

Well, I guess this is it--my last contribution to Drop It Like It's Hot. I’d take some time to reflect on my time as an ACRN editor, but this is not time for sentimentality and nostalgia. No, I’d rather stick to what this blog is about: new music, because it’s something I’m truly passionate about.

I’m also an avid film fan, in particular documentaries, and in this week’s music releases those two worlds are colliding for me. Two of the bigger releases this week were artists I discovered through two of my absolute favorite music documentaries.

The first would be the manic-depressive, schizophrenic singer-songwriter from Austin, Texas known as Daniel Johnston. The film The Devil and Daniel Johnston documents the artist's early life and career and also serves as an incredible insight into both. It’s hard not to be charmed and astonished by his whimsical lyrics, simple yet effective song structures and boyish vocals. His talent is undeniable and to see him perform, even on a movie screen, is captivating.

His newest album (I’ve lost count how many he has; dude is prolific) is titled Space Ducks: Soundtrack, and as usual, Johnston designed the album cover himself. The album features contributions from a number of new and emerging artists. I’d start listing off some of those bands, because some of them I quite like, but I fear if I do that I’ll be condoning this abomination of a collaboration.

You see, Daniel Johnston is at his most effective when he’s making bare-boned melodies at the piano or on an acoustic guitar. He’s a classic example of less is more (and I’m not the only one who thinks so). So all these bands working with Johnston, while coming at the project with the best intentions, can only harm the final product.

The Dandy Warhols, on the other hand, are a band of little consequence to me. They were a group that got big in Europe for a little while in the ‘90s and have been able to somehow continue making music today. The band was the subject of half of the documentary Dig!, which featured both them and the exponentially more bat-shit crazy band The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

The Dandys served to show the dark side of success as it relates to big record labels and their treatment of bands while BJM was the “musical genius who can’t get over heroin to take his band to new and exciting heights” side of the story. Over seven years of documentation, we see The Dandys go from unknown to overnight success to a washed-up, burnt-out, over-worked band on the verge of completely falling apart. That was eight years ago, so to see The Dandy Warhols still pumping out music is nothing short of remarkable, and a little terrifying to think about.

Diamond Rugs do not have a film about them, mostly because they are a newly-constructed “supergroup.” Compiled of two members of Deer Tick and one member of the Black Lips, this is one of the more peculiar and inexplicable supergroups in recent memory. I’ve seen both Deer Tick and the Black Lips live and I don’t really find much that relates the two. I also feel like the kind of music the other band makes will make the fans of one put off by the idea of the two groups working together; folkies aren’t much for punk and punks think folk is too slow and soft. I guess that’s part of a supergroup; it doesn’t have to make sense to work.

Last, but never, ever least, I always try to include some hip-hop in these entries. This week we get the newest entry from Sacramento noise rap group Death Grips. The Money Store is the first release on L.A. Reid's record label Epic Records. L.A. Reid is that guy on Simon Cowell’s "The Voice."  So I’m supposed to believe that in between judging the vocal range of 16-year-old teeny boppers, he’s bumping the group’s 2011 mixtape Exmilitary and decides that these guys were perfect for his label? Confused doesn’t begin to describe where my head's at right now.

It’s not like Death Grips couldn’t get signed anywhere. In fact, there was a time when their Zach Hill-produced, grimy, borderline frightening beats and punch-you-in-the-mouth lyrical spit was the going trend in hip-hop. But it’s not 1990 anymore and Flava Flav and Ice Cube are too busy contradicting everything they stood for back then to make a comeback for this genre to seem feasible.

But here we are, with Death Grips signed to Epic. I don’t think this is the massive revival of gangsta rap. Death Grips is making music unlike anyone else within a culture that is relying on 3D gimmicks to make their shows enjoyable at this point.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 15 Releases, 2012

By: Kevin Rutherford, Editorial Director

After a relatively slow start, we're finally starting to get some buzzworthy album releases for the new year. Let us waste no time in discussing this week's.

Worth first mention is a Texas band that has roots in our area.

Heartless Bastards are headed by Erika Wennerstrom, who formed the band in Cincinnati. The bluesy, garage-y rock quartet releases their fourth studio album on Tuesday, giving it the title Arrow. Spoon drummer Jim Eno is the album's producer, and given his own band's recent stab at mainstream success, it isn't much of a stretch to see the Bastards do the same. That said, this will be the band's first release on indie label Partisan Records. It's tough, therefore, to predict what kind of success Arrow might achieve.

English rockers Band of Skulls return this week with Sweet Sour, the band's first LP since 2009's acclaimed Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. The album's lead single, "The Devil Takes Care of His Own," has already reached No. 20 on the Canadian charts, and seems poised to break in both native England and in America.

Montreal's Islands return for the band's third release on ANTI- Records, and its first since 2009. A Sleep & a Forgetting is its name, and bandleader Nick Thorburn calls it "far more personal than any I’ve made before.” Exciting! Keep an eye out on ACRN.com for an interview with Islands, to be posted this weekend.

Punch Brothers are a progressive bluegrass act that I love very, very much. The band's style is not specifically bluegrass, having roots in classical music, which accentuates the quintet's quirkiness. Also setting the act apart from more conventional bluegrass bands is the vocal from mandolin player Chris Thile, whose voice is far departed from what one might expect from the genre. Check out the band's new record Who's Feeling Young Now? and enjoy the five-piece's unconventional take on rootsy Americana.

Last, but certainly not least, let's mention The Explorers Club. The six-man South Carolina band releases its second album, Grand Hotel, which is its first LP since 2008. Check out this band if you're into pop-rock and surf rock slightly in the vein of The Beach Boys -- which, I promise you, is not a poor comparison. At least, frequent Beach Boys collaborator Mark Linett doesn't think so -- he mixed Grand Hotel.

There's plenty more dropping next week, including new releases from Sleigh Bells, Cheap Girls, the Chieftains and more. Keep it locked to ACRN.com's Drop It Like It's Hot, and perhaps we'll talk a bit about them next week.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

January 31 Releases, 2012

By: Scott Smith, Album Reviews Editor

It’s the first big week in music releases, but apparently no one told me. January is typically the slowest month for new albums—nobody wants to be forgotten about at the end of the year when it’s time for the Grammy nominations and end of the year picks and lists—but this last Tuesday of the month marks the first set of releases anticipated by more than just the band’s parents. Thing is, from a personal standpoint, I’ve either missed the bus, was never exposed to, or simply don’t care about any of these supposed “big releases” this week. So I figured I would delve deeper into what these releases really are, why I don’t know about them and if I really should.

The best place to start would be the artist I seem to have the most knowledge on, and because I get most of my information these days on the internet like most of you, that artist is of course Lana Del Rey and her much anticipated major label debut Born to Die.

Lana hit the internet last year with her single “Video Games” which can be found on the album along with the new single “Born to Die.” She’s been in the news recently for stinking it up on Saturday Night Live, but we’re concerned with her album here, not how much she can’t sing live (or really, to her defense, how poor the sound equipment at Saturday Night Live is.)

Lana is a new persona of Elizabeth Grant who released some material to little fanfare in previous years, went into hiding, and re-emerged with a new marketing strategy and possibly some new lips.

Her songs rely pretty heavily on nostalgia, something that can bore me, quite frankly, when not handled appropriately. Her songs feature lush instrumentation and strings with Lana singing a sort of half-seductive half-hazy middle register, sort of like a more traditional version of Victoria Legrand of Beach House. Unfortunately, unlike Beach House, Lana’s songs tend to float around for three or four minutes without going anywhere before quietly fading back out of existence. There’s such a lack of presence that a song could be over for 10 or 15 minutes without you evening noticing.

From the trendiest, trend-setting, trending thing on Twitter to the oldest of old-school songwriters still pumping out material, we move to Leonard Cohen. 2012 marks the 45th year that the man has been recording music, a feat very few people will ever achieve, and the fact that his music has remained relevant to some sort of fan-base the whole time is nothing short of astonishing. Old Ideas marks his twelfth studio album, and you can find the entire thing streaming over at NPR right now if you’d like.

This is one of those guys I missed out on. Music from the ‘60s and ‘70s are easy to miss out on primarily because most of the music we hear from this era comes from our parents, and Leonard Cohen wasn’t in the Zeppelin, or Floyd categories dad was into nor the Beatles or Bowie of my mother.

Leonard is different from all these in that he’s a singular artist and lyrical content is without a shred of doubt the most important aspect of his music much like a James Taylor or Paul Simon. It’s a style that came right out of Bob Dylan and the folk movement of the late ‘60s, and while it’s not a style I’m well-versed in (I prefer Dylan after he went electric and got a full band), it’s nevertheless an important and meaningful way to make art and music to share with the world.

Next is the new import from overseas, Gotye. Don’t ask me how to pronounce his name, I go with “got-ya,” completely disregarding my knowledge of the English language. Anyway, this guy seems to be gaining steam with his duet “Somebody That I Used To Know” featuring Kimbra, and by gaining steam I mean it has over 57 million hits on YouTube. Okay, so this guy is more-or-less an internet sensation, but what’s his music about? And more importantly, should I care?

Well his lyrics are rather ambiguous and his melodies soft and beautiful. It’s music that can definitely take one on an introspective journey through their own subconscious, which is good if you’re asking me. It might even be labeled as music to fall asleep to, which to me really isn’t a bad thing, there’s a place and a time for music like that, and it just so happens to be when you’re trying to fall asleep (go figure). I think of all the releases, Gotye’s is the most polarizing. He has the least to lose (Lana by comparison, has the most) and the most to gain (what more can Leonard Cohen really achieve?). Safe to say we should keep our eyes on the Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist; his path looks to be the most intriguing.

Finally, Ringo Starr is putting out a solo record this week. Some of you are now finding out that Ringo Starr has a solo career, seeing as how he’s never been known for being a songwriter with The Beatles (he wasn’t even known as the best drummer in The Beatles), this can most likely be chalked up to Ringo Starr being bored with retirement and wanting to jam, and no one's having the nuts to tell a Beatle “no.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 10 Releases, 2012

By: Hannah Cook, Managing Editor

Excuse me and the ACRN editors in how long it's been since the last Drop it Like It's Hot post. Forgive me even more for the lifeless, uninformed update about to come from me. It's a slow week in music, which isn't weird for January, and so I don't recognize a lot of the albums that came out, which isn't weird for me.

Is there a bandwagon out there that I keep missing? I feel like every time I've done one of these, I don't know anything I'm talking about. Maybe I'll discover a new band to love in this process. Let us hope so.

Anyway, here goes nothing.

Keepaway, from Brooklyn, NY (Everyone is from Brooklyn, so it seems) released their first full-length titled Black Flute. I've never heard this band, so what I envisioned was some sort of morose, theatrical, indie sound, but that is not what I got when I listened to their single "Cake." Take Animal Collective, hip-hop and Prussia and you've got yourself Keepaway. And so, naturally, I like them a lot. No other songs were legally available on the web, from what I could find, but I might just like this band enough already to buy (maybe "borrow" from the Internet) the album.

And for the cutest name in country history, The Little Willies (dawwwwww!!) released For the Good Times, seven years after their first release. The songs are as classic country as they come, no less honky-tonk than Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton.

The band, which includes the lovely Norah Jones, implements harmonies that are both delightful and sad. Jones sounds so unlike her "easy listening" self that I didn't even realize it was her until after some research. Though there's nothing extraordinary about The Little Willies and their newest feat, they've still got a flare that comes few and far between in country these days.

Athens locals Mind Fish apparently came out with an album called Watch Out! Staff Writer Matt Bemer had some pretty silly things to say about it, both positive and negative. Check it out his review.

Other names that came out this week include Snow Patrol (I didn't know they were from Ireland!), Charlie Haden and Hank Jones (I don't know).

Like I said, a slow week, and a lack of knowledge.

Keep an eye and ear out for albums released in weeks to come, though, brought to you by the one and only ACRN.