As you might have noticed, I fell a little behind with the “Drake’s Takes”, and that’s why you’re seeing the reviews from the mammoth week of Feb 17 just now. For me, eventhough this week was impressively deep, I was knocked out by Dark Was The Night from the moment I heard it and very impressed by Alela Diane‘s To Be Still as well as Beirut‘s March of the Zapotec, (Realpeople: Holland, not so much). -ed.
Drake’s Take: New Releases 02.17.09
It’s another big release week highlighted by new releases from M. Ward, Morrissey, Alela Diane, Robyn Hitchcock, Sam Roberts, Beirut (which I highlighted a couple weeks ago,) Jason Isbell, Asobi Seksu, Vetiver and Tommy Keene. There’s also the Red Hot Compilation album Dark Was the Night, curated by The National‘s Bryce and Aaron Dessner, which would have merited an entire post unto itself, had I not run out of time.
Playlist: New Releases 02.17.09
Portland’s Matt Ward is a busy man these days, what with all the producing, guesting and side projects (She & Him with Zooey Deschanel). So it’s no wonder that he wants to Hold Time, as I imagine it’s quite a commodity for the in-demand musician. Ward’s timeless production is on full display here, and it’s what put him on the top of more than a few artists list as producer they’d like to work with. As a result, Ward has a lot more friends now, which is why this album comes off as more a M. Ward and Friends album than a normal stellar Ward release. Deschenal sings on a couple songs (more Him than She,) Lucinda Williams lends her pipes to another, and Granddaddy‘s Jason Lytle brings his ELO fascination Ward’s production (“To Save Me” — and the results would make Jeff Lynne proud). I like the album, but it falls a little short of the bar Ward set with his last two releases.
Everybody has a band or artist they love that sometimes defies explanation, and Sam Roberts is like that for me. I first found myself in his clutches after he put out the Inhuman EP, and have been following him since. His third proper release takes a step back from the concept-y Chemical City and returns a bit to the first album, We Were Born in a Flame, relying more on singles than a whole album’s connecivity. Aside from the fun “Them Kids,” there’s nothing here as catchy the singles from WWBIAF, but that doesn’t matter to me, since everything he records seems to bypass my critical ear. I think it may be a live thing, as Roberts turns it up on notch on stage. Catch him on his current tour, you won’t regret it.
Alela Diane comes across as a sort of female version of Nick Drake, or dare I say it, a young Joni Mitchell. With that comes the good and the bad, the good being the benefits from such favorable comparisons, the bad being the feeling that you’ve heard it before. But the self-produced release is more than up to the comparisons, just listen to “White Diamonds” once, and it’s hard to deny the talent. It’s a release that promises great things to come for the folk chanteuse.
More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Dark Was the Night / “Knotty Pine” (Dirty Projectors w/ David Byrne) [mp3]
Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 – Goodnight Oslo / Free AOL Album Stream
Beirut – March of the Zapotec & Realpeople: Holland
Morrissey – Years of Refusal
Jason Isbell – Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit
Asobi Seksu – Hush / Free AOL Album Stream / “Me and Mary” [mp3]
Vetiver – Tight Knit / Free AOL Album Stream / “Everyday” [mp3]
…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Century of Self / Free AOL Album Stream
Tommy Keene – In the Late Bright
Throw Me The Statue – Purple Face EP
Abe Vigoda – Reviver / Free AOL Album Stream / “Don’t Lie” [mp3]
Benjy Ferree – Come Back to the Five and Dime, Bobby Dee Bobby Dee / Free AOL Album Stream
Ana Egge – Road to my Love
Psapp – The Camel’s Back / Free AOL Album Stream
William Elliott Whitmore – Animals in the Dark / Free AOL Album Stream / “Old Devils” [mp3]
Iran – Dissolver / Free AOL Album Stream
Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs – How To Get To Heaven From Scotland / “Big Blonde” [mp3]
The Acorn – Heron Act / “Big Blonde” [mp3]
Architecture in Helsinki – That Beep (AOL Stream)
Appleseed Cast – Sagarmatha (AOL Stream)
The Deep Dark Woods – Winter Hours / “All the Money I Had is Gone” [mp3]
Weird Owl – Ever The Silver Cord Be Loosed / “Mind Mountain” [mp3]
Lal Meri – Lal Meri / “Dreams of 18” [mp3]
Fol Chen – Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune’s Made / “The Believers” [mp3]
Eleni Mandell – Artificial Fire / “Artificial Fire” [mp3]