Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.31.09

Being an unabashed Great Lake Swimmers fan, I had been anxiously awaiting the release of Lost Channels since I first learned of its release. Having already heard a few cuts live, like “Concrete Heart” and “Palmistry”, I was a little bit aware of what I was in store for song-wise with this album, but what really threw me for a loop when I first heard it was the overall production on this record. The immediacy and the intimacy of Tony Dekker‘s past recordings (his self-titled debut being famously recorded live in an abandoned grain silo) seemed to be almost entirely missing here. What I got instead was a production sheen that reminded me a bit of REM’s Out of Time, minus the “Shiny Happy People” of course (maybe it’s just the prevalence mandolin that’s making me equate the two). Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is a terrible record, it’s the lushest and most “band-like” Great Lake Swimmers album to date, but it also represents an evolution in the group’s sound which some older fans may not be used to (or entirely comfortable with). The lyrics are still top notch, and songs like “Concrete Heart”, “Stealing Tomorrow”, “Unison Falling Into Harmony” and “I’m Still” echo of past Great Lake Swimmers “solo” albums, but this time around, no song screams instant classic like “Your Rocky Spine” did when I first heard it. -ed.

Drake’s Take: New Releases 03.31.09

Blame the Winter Music Conference for this week’s more paltry offerings, but there’s still plenty to poke sticks at. The new one from Yeah Yeah Yeahs has been in Rhapsody for nearly a month, but I’m finally getting round to it here, along with the latest from Peter Bjorn & John, Great Lake Swimmers, Malajube, P.J. Harvey, Adam Franklin, Gomez and a live album from legend Leonard Cohen.

Playlist: New Releases 03.31.09

Peter Bjorn & John – Living Thing
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Peter Bjorn & John - Living ThingIt’s inevitable that folks will want to compare the songs in Living Thing to that one song (“Young Folks”) that has (unfairly) shaped US perception of PB&J, a band who’s now been around for ten years already. Seeming almost like a reaction to the immense popularity of Writer’s Block, Living Thing makes no effort to equal it’s predecessor in carrying any radio radio songs. Sure, there’s a couple that will be popular in smaller circles, like “It Don’t Move Me” and “Lay It Down,” but even the latter song has a radio-repellent refrain of “Shut the f*ck up boy, You are starting to piss me off.” It joins Lily Allen’s “F*ck You” as another profane song that my 4-year old dangerously would start singing upon first listen.

Free AOL Album Stream

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz
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Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's BlitzIt’s Blitz leaked earlier this year and forced YYY’s hand in pushing the release date, so as a result it’s been available digitally for three weeks already. Just one more curveball for the band, whose last album, Show Your Bones, started out as a Karen O solo project. After weathering calls of sellout after that subdued release, the art-punk trio roard back with Is Is, and once again are on the move. It’s Blitz is undoubtedly their pop album, with a bit more emphasis on synth sounds and some more dance-friendly rhythms backing the guitars. The first two songs set this stage, with “Zero” and “Heads will Roll” shedding all signs of their garage revival sound. After that, though, the songs move back into more familiar YYY territory, but on the whole it’s still far more commercial sounding than past releases, and that’s not such a bad thing, seeing as where they started.

Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels
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Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels1000 Islands is an archipelago on St. Lawrence River, that lies between Canada and the US. GLS use this as the backdrop for their latest release, Lost Channels, both in concept and in where they recorded it. As such, the album straddles the border between US and Canadian folk inspirations. It’s a mostly solid listen, with highlights being the tracks “Pulling a Line” and the opener “Palmistry.”

VIDEO: “Pulling On A Line”

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Malajube – Labyrinthes
P.J. Harvey and John Parrish – A Woman A Man Walked By
Adam Franklin – Spent Bullets
Gomez – A New Tide / Free AOL Album Stream
Jim Gaffigan – King Baby / Free AOL Album Stream
Leonard Cohen – Live in London / Free AOL Album Stream
Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade
The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
Thunderheist – Thunderheist
Flo Rida – R.O.O.T.S. / Free AOL Album Stream
thenewno2 – You Are Here (Free AOL Album Stream)
Pansy Division – That’s So Gay / “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” [mp3]
Queensr├┐che – American Soldier / Free AOL Album Stream
Bob Dylan – New Morning
Bob Dylan w/ the Band – Before the Flood
Bob Dylan w/ the Band – The Basement Tapes
Bob Dylan w/ the Grateful Dead – Dylan and the Dead