Just when you thought I wasn’t going to post anything today, Drake saves my ass with the weekly roundup. -ed.
The dog days of summer are now over, and this is the last sparse week for some time as next week we get bevy of great releases. That’s not meant to be a slight on this week, though, as we still have great new releases from Junior Senior, Angels of Light, and a haunting release from Nina Nastasia & Jim White.
Playlist: New Releases 08.14.07
NY singer-songwriter Nina Nastasia already utilizes a certain amount of minimalism – having Steve Albini as your engineer for all your releases guarantees at least an amount of it. This time out, though, she’s stripped even more bare, with only her voice, guitar and and the drums of Jim White (The Dirty Three,) who’s no stranger to the skeletal system (or Albini production.) White co-writes the songs here, and the marriage between his drumming and Nastasia’s guitar & vox is stunning, especially housed in Albini’s delicate production. “The Day I Would Bury You” is a fine example of this combination, as both White’s drumming and Nastasia’s voice build and build throughout the song, until both lay down heaving in exhaustion. Other highlights include the haunting opener “I’ve Been Out Walking” and “In the Evening,” the fullest song in the sparsely arranged bunch. It’s truly a beautifully sounding record.
Download: “In the Evening” (Salon Audiofile)
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Junior Senior are pretty good songwriters. They’re cannon of work is so wrapped in high energy dance and kitcsh-y camp that it’s sometimes easy to overlook. It’s taken nearly two years now for Hey Hey My My Yo Yo to make it’s way to our shores, but it still sounds fresh (even if single “Take My Time,” which features B-52s’ Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson, was in drake’s high rotation soooo long ago.) The energy of their debut D-d-don’t Don’t Stop The Beat is still there, but they’ve distilled down some of their distractions to make the songs even better. There’s no song like “Move Your Feet” here to push this over the top, but the album is chock full of near-smashes like “We R The Handclaps” and “Itch You Can’t Skratch” (along with the aforementioned “Take My Time.”)
Album: Angels of Light – We Are Him
Ex-Swans and Young God Records head honcho Michael Gira returns again with his Angels of Light project, this time managing to be darker, louder, and more accessible all in the same stroke. We Are Him again employs Akron/Family has his backing band (see Akron/Family and Angels Of Light) and while they’re recognizable in their sound, it’s definitely a Gira record. Opener “Black River Song” sounds remarkably like Gira was sharing notes with Nick Cave and Grinderman, with it’s raw and sexy drone, while “Not Here/Not Now” sounds like Gira was channeling Lee Hazlewood from his deathbead, with it’s dark western scope backing his baritone incantation. But it’s two songs near the end that draw me back over and over. “Sunflower’s Here to Stay” at one point becomes a Polyphonic Spree song – a piano-driven bouncy ditty, featuring some fluffy trombone work and a chamber choir, and hearing Gira sing over that is truly weird. Yet it works. Similarly, “Good Bye Mary Lou” is a dark old school country tune about a woman who done ya wrong, and Gira handles the transition from “Mary Lou, I renounce you” to “Mary Lou, fa-fa-f*ck you” building to the final capitulation of “Oh Mary Lou, I forgive you.” It’s a confident release that sees Gira at his best since his seminal days in Swans.
More going (or already in) the Sansa
Linda Thompson – Versatile Heart
The Rentals – The Last Little Life EP Free album stream from AOL
Galactic – From The Corner To The Block
Giant Bear – Giant Bear
Floratone – Floratone
Turbonegro – Retox
Matt Nathanson – Some Mad Hope
Terrene – The Indifferent Universe
Mae – Singularity
Dollar Store – Money Music
Paul Van Dyk – In Between
Danbert Nobacon – The Library Book of the World
Lori McKenna – Unglamorous
Recoil – Subhuman (Bonus Tracks)
Eric Copeland – Hermaphrodite
You Say Party! We Say Die! – Lose All Time