Drake’s Take: New Releases 06.19.07

Once again, here’s Drake, with the week in new releases.

There’s been an air of seriousness with indie rock releases of late, so new releases this week from White Stripes, Art Brut and The Polyphonic Spree are a welcome breath of fresh air. Not that Icky Thump is all fun and games, as the lead single has Jack White taking a political stance about immigration: “White Americans, what? Nothing better to do? Why don’t you kick yourself out, you’re an immigrant too.”

Playlist: New Releases 06.19.07

Album: White Stripes – Icky Thump

White Stripes - Icky ThumpOver the past few years, it’s easy to get the impression that Jack White had gotten bored of the confines he’d set forth with the White Stripes. Limited colors, instrumentation and influences seemed to box him in such a way that he needed to break free. The collaborations with Loretta Lynn (Van Lear Rose) and Brendan Benson (The Raconteurs’ Broken Boy Soldier,) seemed like a signal, and right in the middle of that came the odd Get Behind Me Satan,) which experimented with keyboards and more sounds outside the lines formerly drawn. The album sounded great, but felt like it was missing something. Icky Thump seems to realize this and fills in that hole, coloring on and around the lines but keeping the spirit (and songwriting) of fave prior releases like White Blood Cells – they’re back writing blues in the basement. More then any prior release, it demands to be played loud, and while there’s no obvious hit like in past albums (“Rag and Bone” comes closest,) it should still rank with their best. So perhaps White wasn’t bored with the Stripes at all, and instead just needed an outlet?

Album: Art Brut – It’s a Bit Complicated

Art Brut - It's a Bit ComplicatedAs I was saying before, all this serious indie rock of late sets the stage perfectly for Art Brut’s sophomore release, and where their debut had Eddie Argos genuinely excited about forming a band and seeing his girlfriend naked (TWICE!) it’s hard to pull off knowing he’s now a rock star (and has his pick of naked women.) With experience comes indifference, “I can’t say I’m not enjoying the kissing/But I’ve a sneaky suspicion that you’re not really listening” (“Pump Up the Volume;”) and of course a growing number of women he’s seen naked “I’m nothing to my peers but envy and hatred/How many girls have they seen naked?” (“Nag Nag Nag Nag.”) So while Art Brut pull off the same trick musically, lyrically it doesn’t have the same enthusiasm – which honestly is an unrealistic expectation. It’s still a lot of fun, though, and if you’re already a fan, there’s a lot to love.

Free album stream from AOL

Album: The Polyphonic Spree – Fragile Army

The Polyphonic Spree - Fragile ArmyThe 24-piece ditch the multi-colored choir robes for black army garb which seems like a signal that they’re abandoning the joyous naivete of past releases and getting down to business. Unfortunately, while the music is still all there, the attempt at depth in the lyrics don’t work as well. It feels, at times, like an homage to Arcade Fire, when they were better at stealing from The Flaming Lips and Danielson Famile. The theme of optimism in turbulent times is one that is ripe and ready to be cut up into a salad, and I applaud (and salivate at) the thought. Just forgive me if I pick out the peppers.

Free album stream from AOL

More going (or already in) the Sansa
The Mooney Suzuki – Have Mercy (Free album stream from AOL)
Robert Forster – The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997
Grant McLennan – The Best of the Solo Recordings 1990-1997
Digitalism – Idealism (Free album stream from AOL)
Jennifer Gentle – Midnight Room
Savath & Savalas – Golden Pollen
Grand National – A Drink and a Quick Decision (Free album stream from AOL)
Maps – We Can Create (Free album stream from AOL)
Bumps – Bumps
The Lovetones – Axiom
Kinky – Rarities
Misha – Teardrop Sweetheart
Straylight Run – The Needles, The Space
Benji Cossa – Between the Blue and the Green (Free album stream from AOL)