Drake’s Take: New Releases 09.09.08

Though I’m still a little undecided about the new one from Calgary’s Chad VanGaalen, Okkervil River‘s The Stand Ins (which was mostly admired by Drake) and Calexico‘s Carried To Dust (which was curiously unreviewed by Drake) both get the ‘shine nod of approval from me. Anyway, as he correctly pointed out in last week’s comments, I was lapped — I’ll try to be a little more snappy this time around. -ed.

Drake’s Take: New Releases 09.09.08

It’s a big week for releases as we run into the fall season, second only to spring in it’s capacity for ‘best of the year’ list entries. Some possible competitors in this crop include the latest from Okkervil River, The New Year, Chad Vangaalen, Kimya Dawson (poached in last week’s edition,) Damien Jurado, Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez, Horse Feathers and The Lovely Sparrows.

Playlist: New Releases 09.09.08

Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Okkervil River - The Stand InsYou could call The Stand Ins a sequel to 2007’s excellent The Stage Names, and it would be kind of accurate. But it’s probably more like it’s conjoined twin separated early and now making it’s own debut, as it the album was originally meant to be the second half of a double album, looking at the art and entertainment world. So if there’s one flaw, it might be that it suffers from being a slight repeat of a theme we’ve already heard, that of the soul-crushing nature of the entertainment biz (a theme, however, that is worthy of a second album). “Lost Coastlines” is easily the album’s highlight, and it also marks a farewell of sorts to Jonathan Meiburg, who shares vocals on the song with Will Sheff and has since moved on to make his band Shearwater a full-time gig. The song seems to be about trying to keep a band together, so it’s bittersweet, to say the least. The next song features some tasty guitar lines from guest guitarist Charles Bissell (The Wrens), making the medicine of Sheff’s heady lyrics go down easier, like jelly with crushed aspirin. The whole album features moments like this — “Starry Stairs” immediately follows complete with horns, and then there’s including the meta-inducing “Pop Lie,” which admonishes the audience for singing along to the pop singer who lies. It’s a song that’s sure to have fans complicitly singing along.

Download: “Lost Coastlines” [mp3]

The New Year – The New Year
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

The New Year - The New YearThe Kadane brothers’ previous incarnation of Bedhead made great use of space within the notes of a song, making melancholy out of what you didn’t hear. In their third album since forming The New Year, with slowcore drummer Chris Brokaw (Come, Codeine,) the band nudges further away from the anti-sound they cultivated, filling in the spaces with (gulp)arrangements. Like fellow Steve Albini recorded act Silkworm did towards the end of their run, the band has added piano to their sound, adding some depth to songs that border on feeling too slow for their own good. The build and release of any good The New Year song is present, though, and between “The Company I Can Get,” “Seven Days and Seven Nights” and “The Idea of You,” the Kadanes have created some of their best work yet.

Free album stream from AOL
Download: “The Company I Can Get” [mp3]

Chad Vangaalen – Soft Airplane
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Chad Vangaalen - Soft AirplaneComing across this time like a spooky version of Neil Young, Chad Vangaalen‘s sound has matured a bit in the two years since Skelliconnection, but his recording techniques remain as lo-fi as ever. Where his previous albums came across as scattered, it was because they were culled from hundreds of songs in his basement, whereas Soft Airplane was written and recorded with the album in mind (even if it’s still in his basement). Three of the first four songs sound , in structure at least, remarkably like Neil Young songs, and while the album is his most straight ahead album yet, by the halfway point (“Phantom Anthills”) strays briefly into electronica, with danceable drum beats and the odd analogue synth sound here and there. But it bounces back into the CVG trademarked spooky with the ghostly murder ballad “Molten Light,” featuring the repeated refrain “I’ll find you and I’ll kill you.” Cue chills.

Free album stream from AOL
Download: “Willow Tree” [mp3]

More on the radar this week:
Fujiya & Miyagi – Lightbulbs / Free album stream from AOL
Calexico – Carried to Dust / Free album stream from AOL / “Two Silver Trees” [mp3]
Kimya Dawson – Alphabutt
Damien Jurado – Caught in the Trees / “Gillian Was a Horse” [mp3]
Mogwai – Batcat EP
Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez – Why is Bear Billowing / “Mostly a Friend” [mp3]
Sam Champion – Heavenly Bender / Free album stream from AOL
Tricky – Knowle West Boy / Free album stream from AOL
The Lovely Sparrows – Bury the Cynics
Horse Feathers – House With No Home / Free album stream / “Curs in the Weeds” [mp3]
Angela Desveaux – The Mighty Ship
Parenthetical Girls – Entanglements / “A Song for Ellie Greenwich” [mp3]
Bound Stems – The Family Afloat
Michael Franti & Spearhead – All Rebel Rockers / Free album stream from AOL
Hallam Foe: Original Soundtrack
Steve Wynn – Crossing Dragon Bridge
Colourmusic – F, Monday, Orange, February, Venus, Lunatic, 1 or 13
The Subways – All or Nothing
LL Cool J – Exit 13
Greg Camp – Defector
Locksley – Don’t Make Me Wait
Emiliana Torrini – Me and Armini
Matt Bauer – The Island Moved in the Storm
Gym Class Heroes – The Quilt
Metallica – Death Magnetic
Stereophonics – Pull the Pin
People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon
oRSo – Ask Your Neighbor
The Low Lows – Shining Violence
Growing – All the Way
The Sound of Animals Fighting – The Ocean and the Sun
Hal Ketchum – Father Time
Callers – Fortune
Joan Baez – Day After Tomorrow / Free album stream from AOL
Civet – Hell Hath No Fury
ZZ Top – Eliminator [Expanded Edition]