Category Archives: Drake’s Take

Drake’s Take: New Releases 06.26.12

The eyes have it — Ty Segall Band release Slaughterhouse
Ty Seagall Band
Words: Drake Lelane

Welcome back Drake! – ed.

I’ve been taken out of the game for a bit, thanks to Sasquatch! Music Festival (with editing nearly 5k photos) and a new job. There have been some great releases I’ve lost out on in the process (Fiona Apple’s latest, for one), but I couldn’t pass up this week’s great releases from Ty Segall and DIIV, even if we have to keep it short. Other notable new releases come from Sonny & the Sunsets, the return of Beachwood Sparks, The Flaming Lips, The Henry Clay People, Everest, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Chain and the Gang, Milk Maid and Joe Jackson‘s tribute to Duke Ellington.

Playlist: New Releases 06.26.12: Spotify

Ty Segall Band – Slaughterhouse [Insound]
LP via Insound / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody

Ty Segall Band - SlaughterhouseFollowing so quickly on the heels of 2011’s quieter and more controlled Goodbye Bread, Ty Segall’s 2012 barrage of garage rock gems quickly put to bed any fears that Segall was mellowing out. Two months ago it was the excellent collaboration with Timothy “White Fence” Presley (Hair), and this week he returns with more friends to lay waste to your garage rock expectations. Slaughter is Segall at his fuzzed-out best, loud and brash but always with an ear out for a pop loving melody. There’s so much good pop to be had under all the muck that the closing 10-minutes of distortion (the aptly named “Fuzz War”) merely acts as a palate cleanser, working it’s way through your ears and cleaning out any of the many earworms that Slaughter has left behind.

Download: “Wave Goodbye” [mp3]

DIIV – Oshin [Insound]
LP via Insound / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody

DIIV - OshinCombining the dream pop of Disintegration-era Cure with the shoegaze/Creation Records sound, Brooklyn’s DIIV (pronounced “Dive” in honor of the Nirvana song) have produced a compelling debut. Great songs like “How Long Have You Known” and “Doused” are surrounded by instrumentals and eightiesish audio landscapes making an end-to-end dream-like experience for the ears.

Download: “How Long Have You Known?” [mp3]

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Sonny & the Sunsets – Longtime Companion [Google Play] / Stream from Polyvinyl Records
Beachwood Sparks – The Tarnished Gold [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream / “Forget the Song” [mp3]
The Flaming Lips – The Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends [emusic]
Henry Clay People Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives [emusic] / Free AOL Album Stream
Everest – Ownerless [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream / “Rapture” [mp3]
Milk Maid – Mostly No [emusic]
Joe Jackson – The Duke [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
The Soundtrack of Our Lives – Throw It to the Universe [emusic]
Chain and the Gang – In Cool Band [emusic]
A Place to Bury Strangers – Worship [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream / “You Are the One” [mp3]
The Daredevil Christopher Wright – The Nature of Things [emusic]
Jessica Hoop – The House That Jack Built [Google] / Free AOL Album Stream / “Born To” [mp3]
Lorn Ask the Dust [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream

The Mountain Goats – Hound Chronicles/Hot Garden Stomp [emusic]

Drake’s Take: New Releases 05.15.12

Beach House release another stunner with their new album Bloom
Beach House - Bloom
Words: Drake Lelane

Maybe it’s the effects of a full week of sunny weather, but it’s been hard not to feel optimistic about new music, even when there’s only a couple albums with May release dates that I’m wearing out in the headphones. One of those releases has been Beach House‘s latest, Bloom, which expands only slightly on their breakthrough 2010 release, Teenage Dream.

Longtime Drake fave Tenacious D stage a comeback, and decide to include some new fans (my kids, for one) with a thoughtfully done clean version.

Elsewhere, look to new releases from Best Coast, Cornershop, Plushgun, Josephine Foster, MV & EE, Bang On!, Willie Nelson, The Cribs, the comedic stylings of Reggie Watts and an Occupy compilation featuring veteran artists like Patti Smith. In reissues, check out the first digital offerings from the back catalog of Seattle’s proto-grunge group Skin Yard (started by legendary producer Jack Endino and bassist/CZ records’ Daniel House in 1985).

Playlist: New Releases 05.15.12: Spotify

Beach House – Bloom [Insound]
LP/CD purchase via Sub Pop / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody

Beach House - BloomFour albums into their already impressive career, Baltimore’s Beach House have never seemed like they were in a hurry to get anywhere. “Drifting in and out,” begins the stunning opener, “Myth,” and the duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally are content to do just that through Bloom. While the release is merely a lateral move from the 2010’s breakout Teenage Dream, is there really any need to venture out from the oasis they’ve carved out in the land of dream pop? The band is staying put, venturing only to switch out some light bulbs (can these rooms seem even softer?) paint the trim, polish the silver and maybe set out some hallucinogenic potpourri. I thought, for a moment at least, that fellow Baltimore dream pop agents Lower Dens (with their release Nootropics)had possibly made another Beach House release unnecessary this year. Bloom, however, proves itself to be very necessary.

Free AOL Album Stream

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Tenacious D – Rize of the Fenix [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Best Coast – The Only Place [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Plushgun – Me.Me. [emusic] / “Waste Away” [mp3]
Cornershop – Urban Turban [emusic] / Free AOL Album Stream
Guided By Voices – Class Clown Spots a UFO (Single) [emusic]
Josephine Foster and the Victor Herrero Band – Perlas [Google Play]
MV & EE – Space Homestead [Insound]
Willie Nelson – Heroes [Google Play]
The Cribs – In The Belly Of The Brazen Bull [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Occupy This Album [Google Play]
Tu Fawning – A Monument [Google] / Free AOL Album Stream / “Anchor” [mp3]
Slugabed Time Team [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Mewithoutyou Ten Stories [Google Play]

Skin Yard – Skin Yard [Google Play]
Skin Yard – Hallowed Ground [Google Play]
Skin Yard – 1000 Smiling Knuckles [Google Play]
Skin Yard – Start at the Top [Google Play]

Drake’s Take: New Releases 05.01.12

Ex-Fleet Fox Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty
Father John Misty
Words: Drake Lelane

Welcome to the merry month of May, where promises of summer melt under clouds of impending rain. That’s Seattle, though… it’s enough to drive a Pacific Northwesterner south, like it did with J. Tillman, formerly the drummer for Fleet Foxes. Holed up in the sunnier environs of Laurel Canyon with “enough mushrooms to choke a horse,” Tillman took a different approach to songwriting, adopting some Harry Nilsson along other idioms previously made famous in Laurel Canyon. The result brought forth a new name (Father John Misty), attitude and sound which are on full display with this project’s debut out this week. Other notable new releases this week come from Lower Dens, Santigold, Ane Brun, Sea of Bees, Patrick Watson, Portland Cello Project, the Spinto Band and The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Enjoy in moderation.

Playlist: New Releases 05.01.12: Spotify

Father John Misty – Fear Fun [Insound]
LP/CD purchase via Sub Pop / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

cJosh Tillman always seemed like he was on loan to Fleet Foxes, having a semi-successful run as a solo artist (7 albums as J. Tillman). So when he left the band, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to fans of Tillman. But leaving Seattle for California surprised many. “I got into my van with enough mushrooms to choke a horse and started driving down the coast with nowhere to go,” relayed Tillman to Sub Pop. A shack in Laurel Canyon is where he ended up, writing a novel and finding his voice as Father John Misty. “I never liked the name Joshua, I got tired of ‘J'” he explains at one point during Fear Fun closer “Every Man Needs a Companion,” and there’s plenty of lyrical clues scattered throughout the album that suggest much of Tillman’s transformation. The album starts with the other worldly Fleet Foxes sound, but gradually moves further and further away, incorporating the sarcastic wit of Harry Nilsson, along with much of the musical variance he liked to employ in his recordings. For fans of Tillman, the stylistic changes can come as a shock, and coupled with his new found lyrical boldness, at times it’s about as far from J. Tillman as you could go. “Oh pour me another drink. And punch me in the face. You can call me Nancy,” opens the excellent “Nancy From Now On,” while “I’m Writing a Novel” starts with “I ran down the road, pants down to my knees, screaming please come help me that Canadian shaman gave a little too much for me.” It’s an awful lot of fun, the kind you have with enough mushrooms to choke a horse. The hallucinogens are optional, but ignoring this release is not.

Free AOL Album Stream
Download: “Nancy From Now On” [mp3]
“Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” [mp3]

Lower Dens – Nootropics
Purchase [mp3 purchase via emusic] / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody or Stream via Spotify

Lower Dens - NootropicsLower Dens may operate within the same dream pop territory that Baltimore mates Beach House occupy, but with their sophomore debut, they’ve staked a new claim within the realm through an enticing mix of Krautrock and a heavy influence of the Eno/Bowie collaborations from the late 70s. Advance single “Brain” may have merely signaled their elevation, but most of Nootropics delivers on that song’s promise. “Brain” takes its Joy Division drive into “Stem,” “Propagation” provides a great change of pace that is nearly grinded down to a standstill with “Lion in Winter Pt. 1.” Thankfully, “Pt 2” makes the 4+ minutes of drone worth the trip. I’m less enamored with the nearly 13 minutes of meandering in the closer “In the End is the Beginning,” but your mileage may vary.

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Santigold – Master of my Make-Believe [emusic]
Sea of Bees – The Money Store [InSound]
Ane Brun – It All Starts With One [Google Play] / “Do You Remember” (with First Aid Kit) [mp3]
The Lumineers – The Lumineers [emusic]
Patrick Watson – Adventures in Your Own Backyard [emusic]
The Spinto Band – Shy Pursuit [Google Play]
Rufus Wainwright – Out of the Game [emusic]
Portland Cello Project – Homage [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Aufheben [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Archie Powell & the Exports – Great Ideas in Action [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Reptar – Body Faucet [Google] / Free AOL Album Stream
Avengers Assemble: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture [Google Play]

Drake’s Take: New Releases 04.24.12

Ty Segall and Timothy “White Fence” Presley
Ty Segall
Words: Drake LeLane

We’re [Drake et al. -ed.] back after taking a week off for a little R&R in Mexico last week (sorry Spiritualized and Moonface… we’ll get you next time). This week is marked by a lot of classic guitar-based rock influences. Ty Segall and White Fence hole up in a garage for 30 minutes of psych rock fun, while Jack White puts all his appreciation of rock history into his debut solo release. Elsewhere, White’s Raconteur partner Brendan Benson returns with an album, while there’s noteworthy new releases from Death Grips, Brad (Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard + friends from Satchel), Bad Veins, Diamond Rugs, Toro y Moi, Torche, Battleme, Human Don’t Be Angry (Arap Strap guitarist Malcolm Middleton), The Raveonettes, Eddie the Gun and a live album from Peter Gabriel.

Playlist: New Releases 04.24.12: Spotify

Ty Segall & White Fence – Hair [Insound]
LP/CD/FLAC/mp3 purchase via Drag City / iTunes

Ty Segall and White Fence - HairFor those already familiar with the psych rock of both Ty Segall and White Fence, the side project of Darker My Love’s Timothy Presley, than Hair won’t seem so much of a surprise as it is a realization of how two great tastes can taste great together. Sure, throwing the two in a room to jam in a room full of illicit drugs (of my own imagining) could have gone horribly wrong, but the Syd Barrett on speed mix of Hair is the kind of beautiful mess that a psych rock jam should shoot for. Joined by White Fence bro Sean Presley and Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin, Hair is further insurance (along with Thee Oh Sees, Davilla 666, etc) that the prolific SF Bay area garage scene isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Download: “I Am not a Game” [mp3]

Jack White – Blunderbuss
Purchase [mp3 purchase & stream via Google Play] / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody or Stream via Spotify

Jack White - BlunderbussWrote in some depth already about Blunderbuss‘ prevalent theme of relationships and the ensuing chaos, but it’s worth pointing out that White has made a point that his debut solo release has little or nothing to do with his recent ex, model Karen Elson. Considering how much of the album is dedicated to a man scorned by his love, Meg White appears to be the target of much of the fiery barbs and resulting melancholia. Besides the consistent ground covered via lyrics, White has varied up his sound enough here that you don’t feel too White’d out, a danger given how much of the same ground the blues-rock purveyor has had to tread over the years. It’s accessible, but just weird enough for it to seem like an odd introduction for the remaining few not familiar with White’s oeuvre — not that there are that many by this point. As with any White-related release, one of the highlights is what song he chooses to cover, and in the case of Hair, it’s no exception — “I’m Shakin'” was originally a hit for Little Willie John, and hin White’s hands, it’s a moving tribute to the power of rock from that era of time. And reminds us that those bouncy numbers sung by the brothers Miser were cribbed a bit from Little Willie.

Free AOL Album Stream

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Brendan Benson – What Kind of World [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Death Grips – The Money Store [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Brad – United We Stand [Google Play]
Toro y Moi – June 2009 [emusic]
Bad Veins – The Mess We’ve Made [Google Play]
Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs [Google Play]
Battleme – Battleme [iTunes] / Free AOL Album Stream
The Raveonettes – Into the Night [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
Human Don’t Be Angry – Human Don’t Be Angry [Google Play]
Waco Brothers and Paul Church – Great Chicago Fire [Google] / “Chicago Fire” [mp3]
Torche – Harmonicraft [Google Play] / “Kicking” [mp3]
Eddie the Gun – Kids [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream
The Macabees – Given To The Wild [Google Play]
Peter Gabriel – Live Blood (Live In London/2011) [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream

Drake’s Take: New Releases 04.10.12

Alabama Shakes
Alabama Shakes
Words: Drake Lelane

Alabama Shakes dish some soulful rock on their debut release.There’s plenty of post-Easter, post-Passover new releases to sneeze at as you reach for the Clariton amidst all the bloomage (YOU SWORE, NO MORE FLOWER METAPHORS!). It’s Spring Break somewhere, so pop in a few of these tasty offerings in your portable media player choice (is it any wonder folks will write ‘iPod’ even if they don’t own one?) and lie back in the break destination of your choice. I’m off to San Jose del Cabo, myself, for a few days of carpel tunnel recovery rest and relaxation from all this unemployment I’ve been filling my day with. Highlights this week include the anticipated debut from Alabama Shakes, and the latest from M. Ward, Amandou & Miriam, Graham Coxon, Black Dice, Choir of Young Believers, Emily Wells, Grand Duchy, Pelican, Eternal Smmers, Alex Winston, Dinosaur Feathers, Sleepy Sun and a compelling collaboration between Trembling Bells and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Playlist: New Releases 04.10.12: Spotify

Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls [Insound]
Stream or mp3 purchase via Google Play / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

cThe Muscle Shoalsish rock and soul of Alabama Shakes has been the talk of the music industry leading up to and since last month’s SXSW music festival in Austin, so to say that their debut was anticipated is a bit of an understatement. Their live shows have become revivals of sorts, building audiences into sweat-infused calls of “Amen.” While on the surface, their debut does nothing to disappoint in its content and execution, but you still can’t feel like something is missing. All the buzz around the quartet is behind its energetic live shows, and Boys & Girls, while perfunctory in content and execution, feels like it’s missing some of the fire that their stage performances have. Since B&G was recorded before all the buzz and industry build up, their debut perhaps serves as a sort of prequel to the real thing, and in that regard, it’s a perfectly good introduction to the band. “You Ain’t Alone” is the centerpiece of the album, with singer Brittany Howard’s throaty delivery begging and pleading the listener onto their knees, as close to an approximation to their live show as we’ll get. All told, B&G is fine album that only buckles a bit under elevated expectations.

Free AOL Album Stream

M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion
Purchase [Stream or mp3 purchase via Google Play] / iTunes / Stream via Rhapsody or Stream via Spotify

M Ward - A Wasteland CompanionIf 2006’s Post-War may have seemed like M. Ward’s breakthrough release, but looking back, that was just for those who follow indie rock (basically, those who matter — am I right?). It’s his side projects that have garnered the most attention, first as the instrument of She & Him with Zooey Deschanel, and then as part of the supergroup of sorts, Monsters of Folk (with Coner Oberst, Jim James and Mike Mogis). Add to that all the sideman work (he’s also played with Norah Jones, Neko Case, Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis) and production and it’s hard to imagine Ward’s spent more than a minute alone in the last decade (which is really something considering how introverted Ward seemed when he first came on the scene). So it’s no surprise that his latest solo release is like a parade of guest stars (18 in total), featuring Zooey Deschanel, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Howe Gelb, Mike Mogis, Tobey Leaman (Dr. Dog), Tom Hagerman (Devotchka) among others. As such, A Wasteland Companion is stylistically all over the place, yet under the steady hand of Ward’s production, it all comes across organic and, well… very M. Wardish. Highlights include the Zooey Deschanel duet and Daniel Johnston cover “Sweetheart” (someone should get Johnston and Deschanel together for a wide-eyed quirk-off), the easy picked/strum of opener and Big Star name check “Clean Slate (for Alex & El Goodo)” and the breezy “The First Time I Ran Away” (video below).

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Graham Coxon – A+E [Insound]
Trembling Bells & Bonnie “Prince” Billy – The Marble Downs [emusic]
Amadou & Mariam – Folia [emusic] / Free AOL Album Stream
Black Dice – Mr. Impossible [emusic] / “Pinball Wizard” [Soundcloud]
Choir of Young Believers – Rhine Gold [Google Play]
Pelican – Ataraxia/Taraxis [Google Play] / Free AOL Album Stream / “Lathe Biosas” [mp3]
Emily Wells – Mama [Google Play] / “Passenger” [mp3]
Grand Duchy – Let the People Speak [Google Play] / “Silver Boys” [mp3 via Facebook]
Eternal Summers – Dawn of the Eternal Summers [Google Play]
Dinosaur Feathers – Whistle Tips [Google] / Free AOL Album Stream
Alex Winston – King Con [Google Play]
Sleepy Sun – Spine Hits [Google Play]
Florence + the Machine – MTV Unplugged [Google Play]
Zambi – House of Baasa [Google Play]

Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.27.12

Justin Townes Earle
Justin Townes Earle
Words: Drake Lelane

I’m mostly back after an Amazon-related debacle. You’ll notice there’s no more links to Amazon here going forward, which has been a hassle, but the switch to in links to emusic, Insound and others should be better in the long run for users. I’ll grant that Amazon was convenient, but a case can be made that they aren’t good for the user or the artist. Missed The Shins last week, but our return is marked with Justin Townes Earle and Miike Snow, so it can’t be that bad. Also of note this week are releases from the Seattle hip hop THEESatisfaction, La Sera (Vivian Girls bassist Katy Goodman), Paul Weller, Retribution Gospel Choir, Poor Moon and the Mars Volta.

Playlist: New Releases 03.27.12: Spotify

Justin Townes Earle – Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About me Now
Purchase via emusic / itunes / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

cIt’s odd that it takes a move to London for Justin Townes Earle to sound more like his old Memphis home than ever, both in horns and attitude. Sadly, most of the stylistic change for Earle on Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now is feels a bit stagnant and predictable, unlike his previous offerings (especially 2010’s excellent Harlem Blues River). Thankfully, even a predictable JTE release can work some magic (see “Memphis in the Rain”), even when it’s only 30 minutes in length.

Justin Townes Earle, “The Good Life”

Miike Snow – Happy to You
Purchase [mp3 vie emusic] / Stream via Rhapsody or Spotify

Miike Snow - Happy YouKnowing two-thirds of Miike Snow is producers Chris Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg (Bloodshy & Avant — hitmakers for Britney Spears [“Toxic”], Madonna and Kylie Minogue), it’s hard to believe that Happy You should feel so restrained. Their sophomore release,Happy You, is still full of potentially exciting hits (see “Waves,” “Paddling Out), but so much of the release just washes over you and is forgotten after listening. I’m still listening, though.

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
THEESatisfaction – awE naturalE / Free AOL Album Stream
La Sera – Sees the Light / Please Be My Third Eye [mp3]
Paul Weller – Sonik Kicksall / Free AOL Album Stream
Retribution Gospel Choir – the revolution ep / “The Stone (Revolution)” [mp3]
Poor Moon – Illusion / Free AOL Album Stream / “People in Her Mind” [mp3]
Rocket Juice & the Moon – Rocket Juice & the Moon
Zeus – Busting Visions
The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet
Rusko – Songs / Free AOL Album Stream
Macy Gray – Covered / Free AOL Album Stream
Cowboy Junkies – The Wilderness / Free AOL Album Stream

Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.13.12

Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit
Words: Drake Lelane

Daylight savings is a bitch, man [I call it the worst day of the year. -ed.]. I still miss that hour I lost, and have been trying to get it back all week. New releases this week seemed to ‘spring forward’ as well, leaving us with scant to digest. Of the releases, Delta Spirit’s third (and eponymous) represents the cream of this crop, but there’s also new releases from Lucero, The Megaphonic Thrift, Spoek Mathambo, Shooter Jennings, The Ting Tings and a slew of live albums — from The Decemberists, Le Tigre, Dropkick Murphys and especially the special Carnegie Hall performance of Caetano Veloso & David Byrne.

Playlist: New Releases 03.13.12: Spotify

Delta Spirit – Delta Spirit
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit
Beginning with their excellent debut, Ode to Sunshine (2008), lead singer and principle lyricist Matt Vasquez has always seemed to shy away from getting cast in the alt country category, despite that album’s roots-rocking energy. They followed that up in 2010 with the slightly less rootsy History From Below, introducing some atmospheric elements (like in album highlight “Devil Knows Your Dead”). After that, guitarist Sean Walker left the group, allowing Will McLaren to step in, bringing with him a crate of guitar pedals and effects to the mix for Delta Spirit — self-titled to announce that this is how they sound. The result is not unlike the transformation that Kings of Leon and Cold War Kids made, with much of the soul being lost in the trade, only Delta Spirit manage to at least remember to keep it about the songs and not the effects. While “Home” picks up where “Devil Knows Your Dead” left off, the casually cool break up song “California” should be the blueprint for the band going forward, layering guitar atmospherics over upbeat drums juxtaposed by Vasquez’s matter of fact lyrics and delivery. This song is begging to be a soundtrack to just about every drama on TV, and I’m betting I’ll be sick of it by summer, but if there’s any justice, the song should propel the band into the mainstream. I’ll go on record and say that I prefer the sound of Ode to Sunshine, but I’m rooting for them to get that damn brass ring, and Delta Spirit might just achieve it.

Free AOL Album Stream

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Lucero – Women & Work / Free AOL Album Stream
The Megaphonic Thrift – The Megaphonic Thrift
Spoek Mathambo – Father Creeper / Free AOL Album Stream / “Put Some Red on It” [mp3]
Caetano Veloso & David Byrne – Live At Carnegie Hall
The Decemberists – We All Raise Our Voices To The Air (Live Songs 04.11 – 08.11) / Free AOL Album Stream
Le Tigre – Le Tigre Live!
Dropkick Murphys – Going Out In Style – Live At Fenway Edition
Shooter Jennings – Family Man / Free AOL Album Stream
The Ting Tings – One Second of Love / Free AOL Album Stream
Tribes – Baby / Free AOL Album Stream
Feedtime – the Aberrant years (Limited Edition) / Free AOL Album Stream
Freshkills – Raise Up the Sheets
Drowner – Drowner / Free AOL Album Stream / “Never Go Away” [mp3]
Once: A New Musical (Original Cast Recording) / Free AOL Album Stream

Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.06.12

The Men
The Men
Words: Drake Lelane

What’s the saying? “March enters like a lion and leaves like a lamb?” Between the sophomore releases from both The Men and Mike Wexler, we’ve certainly achieved the first part of that equation. Other artists with new releases this week include Andrew Bird, Bruce Springsteen, The Magnetic Fields, Bowerbirds, Time Fite, White Rabbits, Yellow Ostrich, Pond (no, not that one), Xiu Xiu, Nite Jewel, Kaiser Chiefs, Miniature Birds and Said the Whale.

Playlist: New Releases 03.06.12: Spotify

The Men – Open Your Heart
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

The Men - Open Your HeartOpen Your Heart carries on the tradition of the beer-swilling party anthems of The Replacements. It’s as if the Brooklyn quartet set out to create an accurate document of the glory days of Homestead Records, occasionally switching up the party rock for some on target space jams (the “Country Song”/”Oscillation” combination) ala Sonic Youth or Spaceman 3, bouncing into some shoegaze before galloping off into some alt country punk. Open Your Heart has something for everyone without pandering to any genre, and that’s something to be celebrated.

Download: “Open Your Heart” [mp3]

Mike Wexler – Dispossession
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody or Spotify

Mike Wexler - DispossessionSpeaking of Spaceman 3, Wexler’s latest traverses some of the hallowed ground that the aforementioned band pioneered, taking his freak folk leanings to s place that the great Scott Walker might have gone if born 40 years later. Dispossession marks a giant leap forward for his sophomore release, acting as both dream and reality bleeding together for a otherwordly listening experience.

Free SPIN Album Stream

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:

Andrew Bird – Break it Yourself / Free AOL Album Stream
Yellow Ostrich – Strange Land / Free Paste Stream
The Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea / Album Stream from Merge [mp3]
Bruce Springsteen – Wrecking Ball
Bowerbirds – The Clearing / Free AOL Album Stream / “Tuck the Darkness In” [mp3]
White Rabbits – Milk Famous / Free AOL Album Stream
Tim Fite – Ain’t Ain’t Ain’t
Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim
Xiu Xiu – Always
Nite Jewel – One Second of Love
Kaiser Chiefs – Start The Revolution Without Me / Free AOL Album Stream
Miniature Tigers – MIA PHARAOH / Free AOL Album Stream
Said the Whale – Little Mountain / “Heavy Ceiling” [mp3]

Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.28.12

New Multitudes
New Multitudes
Words: Drake Lelane

A new Anais Mitchell album is always something to look forward to. -ed.

February ends with a shiver, a cough, unwanted mucus on seemingly every child’s sleeve, and a handful of releases to welcome a hopefully warmer March. This year marks the 100th year since Woody Guthrie’s birth, so we’re blessed with a super folk ensemble interpreting more lyrics from Guthrie’s songbooks, the Jay Farrar-led New Multitudes. Elsewhere, there are new long players to be found from Anais Mitchell, Plants & Animals, Dirty Three, Fanfarlo, School of Seven Bells, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Chiddy Bang and The White Buffalo.

Playlist: New Releases 02.28.12: Spotify

Jay Farrar/Will Johnson/Anders Parker/Yim Yames – New Multitudes
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

Farrar Johnson Parker Yames - New MultitudesSome 15 years after their breakup, there have been countless dissertations concerning the legacy of Uncle Tupelo, with much of it concerning how the group’s second fiddle (Jeff Tweedy) surpassed its perceived star in Jay Farrar. The Wilco vs Son Volt conversations are well past their sell by date, but it’s worth bringing up here only in the context of Farrar following Tweedy in interpreting lost Woody Guthrie lyrics. Tweedy & Wilco’s collaboration with Billy Bragg on the Guthrie venture Mermaid Avenue was a critical success, and helped push Wilco further into the music world’s conscious. It also kickstarted the Guthrie estate into inviting more artists (The Klezmatics, Rob Wasserman) to interpret Guthrie’s vast collection of yet unused lyrics and poems, with predictably mixed results. Whether the estate was thinking of catching lightning in a bottle again or just liked Farrar’s approach, they approached the other Uncle Tupelo songwriter about taking a crack at it as well, and he brought in a dream team of Guthrie fans to share the wealth. The hard working Will Johnson (this is the 17th long player Johnson has had full contribution to, being the frontman of Centro-Matic and South San Gabriel), Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James, working his contractual work around name changing magic again) and the Varnalines‘ Anders Parker. The resulting New Multitudes is conceptual in nature, with a much darker tone that previous Guthrie interpretations have attempted. Combing through lyrics, the quartet culled the more introspective bits, focusing much of it on his stay in Los Angeles. Each song takes on the style of the vocalist singing it (especially Yames’ “My Revolutionary Mind”), but Guthrie’s timing rings true in each — except for Farrar’s songs, which stick out in their stubbornness to bend to whatever the deceased collaborator’s wishes might have been (opener “Hoping Machine”). It’s no Mermaid Avenue, but a worthy entry into the Guthrie cannon, in this the 100th year since the folk legend’s birth.

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Download: “Old L.A.” [mp3]

Anais Mitchell – Young Man in America
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody or Spotify

Anais Mitchell - Young Man in AmericaProbably the best way for Anais Mitchell to follow up the awe-inspiring-to-the-point-of-exhausting epic tale of the Greek underworld (2010’s Hadestown) is to take a step back, which Mitchell understandably does on Young Man in America. With it, though, Mitchell still works that potent mix of childlike naivete with a wisdom of the ancients for full effect. Throughout YMiA a theme emerges of a child’s ill-fated trust in their parents, as a possible metaphor for our current economic strife. “Your daddy didn’t leave a will/he left a shovel and a hole to fill,” she sings on album highlight “He Did.” That her own father appears on the cover (and she adapts one of his short stories for the song “Shepherd”), suggests that “Daddy issues” are more than just a metaphor here. “Now that he’s gone away there isn’t anyone to tell me if I’m a diamond or a dime-a-dozen” Mitchell sings in the song “Tailor” about a lover that left, but it’s obvious her lack of identity came prior, as she sings in the bridge: “Didn’t I gleam in my father’s eye? Who am I, who am I?”

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More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Plants and Animals – The End of That / Free AOL Album Stream / “Lightshow” [mp3]
Dirty Three – Toward the Low Sun / “Rising Below” [mp3]
Fanfarlo – Rooms Filled With Light
School of Seven Bells – Ghostory / Free AOL Album Stream / “The Night” [mp3]
Carolina Chocolate Drops – Leaving Eden / Free AOL Album Stream
Chiddy Bang – Breakfast
The White Buffalo – Once Upon a Time in the West / Free AOL Album Stream
Robert Glasper – Black Radio
Cuff the Duke – Morning Comes / “Standing on the Edge” [mp3]
Ólafur Arnalds – Another Happy Day / Free AOL Album Stream

Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.21.12

Damien Jurado
Damien Jurado
Words: Drake LeLane

Seattle Folk pioneer Damien Jurado releases Maraqopa this week. Another week in the shortest month sees plenty of fine releases fall into our laps. From Damien Jurado’s magnum opus to the sophomore release from the sugared razor blades of Sleigh Bells, it’s not a bad week at all. There’s also new releases from Lambchop, Grimes, Frankie Rose, Tindersticks, Perfume Genius, Cursive, Leland Sundries and a Deluxe Master reissue of 1995’s great Vee Vee from the so-far-still-reunited Archers of Loaf.

Playlist: New Releases 02.21.12: Rhapsody / Spotify

Damien Jurado – Maraqopa
Purchase [mp3] / Stream via Rhapsody / Stream via Spotify

Damien Jurado - MaraqopaAfter fifteen years of releasing folk in the (now) folk-heavy Pacific Northwest, Damien Jurado has experienced a rebirth of sorts, and like it is for many artists at the mature stage of their career, a lot of this second life is due to finding the right producer/collaborator/muse. In that, Jurado found Richard Swift, who helmed his magical 2010 release Saint Bartlett. They pair up again for the follow up, Maraqopa, expanding on the slight studio experimentation of Saint Bartlett. While the previous release had the benefit of surprise, Maraqopa raises the stakes, with Jurado and Swift now in lock step at the height of their talents. Just so there’s no mistaking it, they open with psych-burner “Nothing is the News,” effortlessly building guitars, keys and reverb-thick background vocals until you awake to find Commander Flashback from across the street has broken into your house and is trying to climb inside your computer speakers (your experience will vary, obviously, depending on your neighborhood). The next track, “Life Away From The Garden,” brings with it the spectre of Christianity, a common theme of Jurado’s throughout his career. The singer-songwriter confesses being influenced this time out from the Crescere free mix The End is Near: Jesus Music, Vol 1 & 2, and while religion does indeed permeate throughout, it’s merely a launching point here for Jurado’s confident songwriting. “Working Titles,” another highlight, sees Jurado employing a Leonard Cohen trick of inventing another self to make pointed observations on his true self. “What’s it like for you, in Washington?” his invented self asks of Jurado, moving from accusations and demands to a mild form of jealousy. Where Jurado in the past might have pointed out things aren’t that great, he doesn’t even need to answer to show that things are indeed pretty good where he’s standing. While it’s not an easy achievement to get Jurado to crack a smile, Maraqapo stands to suffice, as it induces plenty in it’s nearly 37 minutes.

Download: “Nothing is the News” [mp3]
Download: “Museum of Flight” [mp3]

Sleigh Bells – Reign of Terror
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Sleigh Bells - Reign of TerrorWhen Sleigh Bell’s debut Treats snuck up on listeners in 2010, the slash-and-dash nature of it’s red-line production made it an album less about songs then the sound engineering of the thing. With their sophomore release, there’s still the necessity to “crank it,” but Reign of Terror is far more reliant on songcraft, for better and worse. It might have been easier to churn out a Treats II, but gone is the debut’s element of surprise, and so guitarist Derek Miller and singer Alexis Krauss went about the business of rebuilding their sound. Don’t get me wrong, nobody but Sleigh Bells could have created Reign, and that’s a good thing. It’s still pointy guitar metal, girl group vocals, cheerleader call and response backed by hip-hop inspired beats — a niche they pretty much own. But it was evident on the first tracks released, “Born to Lose” and “Comeback Kid” — predictably the album’s highlights, that Krauss’ pop sensibilities were moving to the forefront with Reign. While the results never quite reach the dizzying heights of their debut, that was going to be a tall order, and Reign is instead content to get you to turn it up and bang your head.

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Archers of Loaf – Vee Vee (Deluxe Remaster)
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Archers of Loaf - Vee Vee - Deluxe Remaster

The underground is overcrowded.
“Greatest of All Time”

Released in 1995 as the follow up to the much heralded and poppy Icky Mettle, Vee Vee was Archers of Loaf at the peak of their ferocity (look no further than the one-two punch of “Fabricoh” and “Nostalgia”). Fresh off the amazing and raw EP Vs the Greatest of All Time (which got inclusion in the Icky Mettle reissue last year), Archers went for an even more unpolished sound, bending guitars like Chapel Hill neighbors Polvo and even opting to open and close with wordless choruses (“Step Into the Light” and the whistle chorus of “Underachievers March and Fight Song”). Like with last year’s Icky Mettle reissue, much of the magic lies in the second bonus disc: 4-track demos, remasters of fantastic b-sides like “Telepathic Traffic” and “Smoking Pot in the Hot City” along with a previously unreleased cover of John Coltrane’s “Equinox” and a Red Sovine via Tom Waits cover of “(Big Joe And) Phantom 309” (from the Step Right Up Tom Waits tribute album). It’s probably worth owning the physical copy of this as well, thanks to the brilliant new artwork re-imagined by graphic artist Jay Ryan — necessary because the original work was lost by previous label, Alias Records.

Download: “Harnessed in Slums” [mp3]

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Grimes – Visions / “Oblivion” [mp3]
Lambchop – Mr. M / “If Not I’ll Just Die,” “Gone Tomorrow” [mp3]
Frankie Rose – Interstellar
Tindersticks – The Something Rain
Cursive – I Am Gemini / Free AOL Album Stream
Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It / “All Waters,” “Hood” [mp3]
Leland Sundries – The Foundry EP / Free AOL Album Stream / “Apparition” [mp3]
Josh Ritter – Bringing in the Darlings
Galactic – Carnivale Electricos
Kevn Kinney & The Golden Palominos – A Good Country Mile / Free AOL Album Stream
Terry Malts – Killing Time / “Nauseous” [mp3]
Speech Debelle – Freedom of Speech
My Best Friend – In Ghostlike Fading