Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Tunes Reviews, October 8, 2013: Parquet Courts, Tim Kasher, Amos Lee, Alex Chilton

Parquet Courts released an EP called Tally All the Things that You Broke, which is retro guitar-heavy 90s alt-rock at its best.  If you enjoy bands like Pavement, etc, check out this band. Their debut full-length, Light Up Gold, is also great. 

It feels like Tim Kasher never changes. The front-man from of Cursive and The Good Life, released a full-length called Adult Film.  Drunk, cynical, and romantic, the songs are enjoyable and Cursive-y.  (If you know what that means, you're halfway there. Give this release a try.)

For your easy folk-rock, public radio listening pleasures, Amos Lee released Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song. It feels like a fall-weather album with quiet guitars and delicate vocals. There are some harmonies but for the most part it is just Lee, strumming a guitar and singing his feelings. 

Did you ever want to listen to an album that captures the intimacy of an open-mic night, except the singer isn't an amateur but instead is Big Star's Alex Chilton?  Well, you are in luck.  This week his Electricity By Candlelight / NYC 2/13/97 was released.  After some research, I found out this recording was captured after the lights went out before Big Star was about to start a second set at the Knitting Factory. The end result was an impromptu, relaxed acoustic performances of "I Walk The Line," and "Surfer Girl," "If I Had a Hammer," "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" and more.  I love recordings like this. It really shows the true personality of this influential band.

And of course, this week's releases cannot come to a close without mentioning William Shatner's prog rock album, Ponder the Mystery.  Think about that for a second: William...Shatner...prog...rock. That is all. 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Tunes Reviews, October 1: Basia Bulat, Lorde, Yuck, Johnny Flynn, and more

Currently the field of female indie-pop bands is quite crowded so there is a lot to check out, especially this week when a bunch of buzzed-about female artists released albums.  These three artists (Lorde, HAIM, and Basia Bulat) are all dreamy vocalists with a fondness for electronica drum beats and general whimsy. 

I enjoyed Basia Bulat's powerful gospel-infused voice.  Her album is called Tall Tall Shadow, and is a follow-up to 2007's Oh My Darling. With a mix of song types and tempos, this album is recommended. In a few of the songs, like "It Can't Be You," the music is secondary to her vocals. Other songs, like "Wires," are very dancey. 

[Watch this video of Bulat covering "Glory Days" for AV Undercover. It gives a little preview of her impressive vocals and awesome hammer-harp skills.]

A few tracks into Lorde's Pure Heroine, I was finally able to place where I'd heard her before. "Royals," the "single," is currently the song de-jour of department stores, coffee shops, and TV montages. This song is everywhere and, you know what, the album does not disappoint.  I usually like my female vocalists to be a little tougher (ie. Neko Case and Liz Phair on Exit in Guyville), but I can see the appeal of Lorde. It is like Feist, mixed with CHVRCHES, with some Grimes thrown in. And she's only 16.

HAIM's release, Days are Gone, was the most buzzed about. SiriusXM has been playing songs from his quartet of sisters for months. They are obviously influenced by indie-pop and R&B.  There appears to be some sampling and remixes. Overall, though, this release probably ranks third overall. 

Yuck released their first album since the departure of singer Daniel Blumberg.  Entitled Glow and Behold, it reminiscent of Big Star with a 1970s breezy vibe. 

Fuzz's self-titled debut is just what you may think: an album of fuzzy rock.  Ty Segall's latest project is full of guitar solos and heavy riffs. Not for me, but recommended if you like the fuzz.   

British singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn released Country Mile. This is his first album since 2010's excellent Been Listening (although he did score A Bag of Hammers in 2012). As a former actor, Flynn is an excellent wordsmith and the lyrics reflect his narrative ability. I definitely recommend it especially if you haven't listened to Flynn before and enjoy folksy singer-songwriters - ie Frank Turner.