Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.05.08

Drake waxes political about this week’s new releases (well, at this point, they’re last week’s new releases actually) and he and I have and ideological disagreement about Canadian chanteuse, Basia Bulat.

Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.05.08

I think a lot of folks immediately crossed Super Fat Tuesday off their release date calendar, as it’s a date that’s incredibly claustrophobic, as far as getting word out. I conducted my own caucus yesterday, and while none of the candidates impressed me like some from the past few weeks, I still must nominate the new releases from London’s Hot Chip, Baltimore psych-rockers Dead Meadow, and Canadian folkie Basia Bulat.

Playlist: New Releases 02.05.08

Album: Hot Chip – Made in the Dark

Hot Chip - Made in the DarkThe Early Frontrunner:
Hot Chip made a name for themselves with 2006’s The Warning, an album that nearly perfected their electronic-meets-indie-pop sound, taking center stage with the songs “Over and Over” and “And I Was A Boy From School.” 2008 seemed like the year for them to make their run, and Made in the Dark certainly has enough inspirational moments to make that run. Advance single “Ready for the Floor” contains all that makes Hot Chip so endearing: synchopated rhythms, catchy chorus, and quirky turns. “One Pure Thought” has great lyrical turns backed by the kind of chorus that may have New Order thinking, “why didn’t we do that?.” Meanwhile, “We’re Looking for Love” shows that they’ve now perfected the electro-indie pop ballad. And “Hold On” happily revisits the Talking Heads’ Fear of Music white funk vibe that their sister band in NYC mined so well on last year’s Sound of Silver. Unfortunately, too much of the album tries to do too much, especially kitchen sink of songs like “Shake a Fist” and “Bendable Posable,” both of which are still fun songs… just seems at time to pander to the rave, the quirky and the pop sensibilities all at once. Just ask Mitt Romney… if you pander to too much, you might end up on the wrong end of Super Tuesday.

Free album stream from AOL

Album: Dead Meadow – Old Growth

Dead Meadow - Old GrowthThe Outsider:
After five albums over ten years, the psychedelica/stoner rock trio from the DC region seem like the Dennis Kucinich of this week’s race, as they’ve stuck to their guns, winning over the kind of fans that will go to war with you — but not enough to actually win said war. For Old Growth, they’ve softened their edge a bit — there’s no songs here that unmercifully pummel your eardrums — instead expanding their sound to incorporate more of the sounds that inspire them. Like last month’s contender Black Mountain, DM are influenced by original blues as well as Black Sabbath. Sure, the Sabbath still finds it’s way through in obvious and not so obvious ways, but now there’s room for an acoustic ramble like “Down Here,” or the poppy jangle of “Keep on Walking,” and the focused “I’m Gone”… all songs that in the past would’ve been dragged through to (dare I say ‘tedious’?) lengths. True DM fans are probably fine with it either way, because when you’ve lit up, it’s sometimes hard to tell when they’ve moved on to another song anyway.

Download: “What Needs to Be” [mp3]

Album: Basia Bulat – Oh, My Darling

Basia Bulat - Oh, My DarlingThe Populist:
Oh, My Darling is kind of like a politician’s speech, in that the opening is so crucial, and can hook you in, even when it ends up betraying the rest of what follows. Ok, I’ve stretched the political metaphors such that their translucent at best, but bare with me on this one. The Canadian songstress’ opening song “Before I Knew” is a tremendous song, opening with a ukelele and a sing-songy verse ala Kimya Dawson, with handclaps and gospel-like background vocals. But just as you’re ready to sing “hallaluea!” the song ends, leaving you wondering if anyone got the license plate on that feather-light bus that just ran you over. “I Was a Daughter” follows, and you’re thinking you’ve discovered a new favorite. But “December,” the fourth song, the feeling starts to sink a bit, and then the wheels just seem to come off that feather-light bus, and much of the core of the album is exposed as well executed MOR folk songs. Bulat’s distinctive voice, which at first floats along with the songs, takes on too much work, having to often carry a weak song while also competing with the extra orchestration added to mask said weakness (see “Little One.”) All in all, it’s not a bad debut, falls just short of winning over this voter.

Download: “In the Night” [mp3]

More on the radar this week
School Of Language – Sea From Shore (Field Music’s David Brewis – the album I wish I’d written about here)
Jason Collett – Here’s to Being Here / Free album stream from AOL
Sons & Daughters – This Gift / Free album stream from AOL
Lightspeed Champion – Falling Off Lavender Bridge / Free album stream from AOL
Bob Mould – District Line / Free album stream from AOL
Die! Die! Die! – Promises, Promises
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis – Music From The Motion Picture The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford
Kelley Stoltz – Circular Sounds
Sheryl Crow – Detours
Horrorpops – Kiss Kiss Kill Kill
Air Traffic – Fractured Life / Free album stream from AOL
Say Hi – The Wishes and the Glitch
Lenny Kravitz – It Is Time For A Love Revolution
k.d. lang – Watershed
The Loved Ones – Build & Burn / Free album stream from AOL
Jack Johnson – Sleep Through the Static / Free album stream from AOL