After having successfully recovered from last week’s famine, Drake has cherry picked a few key releases for this week’s “take”. -ed.
Drake’s Take: New Releases 01.22.08
Once again, last week stole some of this week’s thunder, but I like to look at it as a form of socialism. This week of the year traditionally is too rich for it’s own good, and it’s still a fine week without Cat Power and Drive-By Truckers, so everyone wins. Besides Black Mountain, this week also has great releases from Times New Viking, MGMT, Bodies of Water and The Whigs.
Playlist: New Releases 01.22.07
An awful lot has happened in the music landscape since Black Mountain‘s self-titled debut release three years ago. That release felt almost fresh even in some of it’s recycled elements. Now, there’s a classic rock revival — thanks in part the popularity of Guitar Hero — so the pressure of following up a great debut is almost doubled in expectation. BM easily could’ve turned over the same blues-y classic rocks, but instead they expanded their sound to include a wide swath of 70s rock, including dangerous prog elements – they are from the same country that brought us Rush, lest we forget. For the most part, it works better than a list of influences (Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, ELP, Jethro Tull, Led Zep, etc) because it’s all covered with a mellow gloss that feels… well… organic. Only quibble for me, albeit a major one, is that the epic nearly 17 minute long “Bright Lights,” kind of derails the flow of the album.
Album: MGMT – Oracular Spectacular
Thanks in part to great production from Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev,) MGMT sound a lot less ‘electronic’ than 2005’s Time to Pretend EP had me to believe. The duo of Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser walked that line between rock and electronica, ala LCD Soundsystem, but the drum sound that Fridmann gets puts MGMT firmly in the rock sphere to my ears, at times similar to what Grandaddy tried to do mixing old synth with Kinks-like rock. Besides the Kinks, the other classic reference here has to be alien period Bowie, with the faux strings and spacey drums. The first half of the album — especially opening track “Time to Pretend” — is pretty incredible, but it sort of falls apart after that, without much to sustain your attention past the fifth song (“Kids”). Not bad for a debut LP, but it could’ve been so much more.
I’m still not sure what to make of this… first listen had me thinking there was a lot more to this that I needed to check out, so I bumped some other albums from my que and spent some time trying to get inside it. Unfortunately, there’s not much here beyond The Polyphonic Spree/Arcade Fire/Up with People moments that are thrown against the wall here with symphonic glee. Instead I feel like I wasted time better spent on the latest from Times New Viking, or even the agreeable Foo Fighter-like rock of The Whigs would have been a more fruitful endeavor.
More on the radar this week
Drive-By Truckers – Brighter Than Creations Dark / Free album stream from AOL
Cat Power – Jukebox
Times New Viking – Rip it Up
The Whigs – Mission Control / Free album stream from AOL
Biirdie – Catherine Avenue / Free album stream from AOL
The Whitsundays – The Whitsundays
Shelby Lynne – Just a Little Lovin’ (in Rhapsody a week early)
Barton Carroll – The Lost One / Free album stream from AOL
North Mississippi Allstars – Love Behind The Melody
Buzzcocks – 30
Dengue Fever – Venus on Earth
Get Set Go – Sunshine,Joy & Happiness- A Tragic Tale Of Death,Despair And Other Silly Nonsense
Steve Aoki – Pillowface And His Airplane Chronicles
Matt Costa – Unfamiliar Faces / Free album stream from AOL
Dead Confederate – Dead Confederate