Playing catch up again with Drake, here’s the first of an Independence Day Weekend double shot. -ed
Drake’s Take: New Releases 06.23.09
This week perfectly illustrates what makes this such a great year for music. Looking at it on the calendar some time ago, there was some excitement, but who knew there’d be so many year-end list candidates from this crop. The latest from The Future of the Left, Sunset Rubdown, Dinosaur Jr., Foreign Born and Regina Spektor will undoubtedly make a few year end lists, and there’s also great new releases from Patterson Hood, The Gossip, Tortoise and God Help the Girl.
Playlist: New Releases 06.23.09
When mclusky broke up four years ago, smart-ass angsty noise rock lovers all wept (internally). In the past few years we’ve been forced to make due w/ offshoots (bass player Jonathan Chapple’s outfit) Shooting At Unarmed Men‘s debut and then the so-so debut (Curses) from the other 2/3s from mclusky, Future of the Left. With Travels With Myself and Another, though, the mourning period is officially over, because this album takes the clever angst that singer Andy Falkous perfected w/ mclusky and does it one better. From the opening screams of “COME ON RICK, I’M NOT A PRIZE!” (“Arming Eritrea”) speakers are ablaze with Steve Albini wet dreams and lyrical figure eights (how the song somehow ends up being about Darfur is beyond my talent, but Falkous is one who makes it work). Normally that much screaming just makes my head hurt, but Falkous’ rage is concise and, more importantly, intelligent. There are plenty of examples, but during the march of lead single “The Hope That House Built” there’s the line “Re-imagine God as just a mental illness… ” which is merely one of many couplets that cut to the heart of FOTL’s themes. TWMAA is 33 minutes of controlled rage w/ no fat whatsoever, so much so that the album houses several anthems that are guaranteed live staples for the life of the band, like “I Am Civil Service,” “You Need Satan More Than He Needs You,” “Drink Nike” and the stunning closer, “Lapsed Catholics.” When they play Capitol Hill Block Party next month it’s going to be insane (so fitting that The Jesus Lizard is reuniting and playing the night prior).
Download: “Arming Eritrea” [mp3]
When Dinosaur Jr. released Beyond two years ago, it was a pleasant surprise, like the cherry on top of the already incredulous occurance of J. Mascis and Lou Barlow buring the hatchet and reuniting. Now comes Farm and we have concrete proof this is no fluke – J, Lou and Murph are making vital music again. It’s not like Lou Barlow’s contributions are that great here, but there must be something to having him there, because Mascis’ songwriting just seems to elevate with Barlow on the bass. Lead single “I Want You To Know” ranks right up there with “Freakscene” and “Little Fury Things” from their glorious past, and there are plenty of other songs (“Over It” and “Plans” to name two) that slide nicely into an already impressive set list. Unlike the Pixies seem to be, Dino Jr are not content to just ride their reunion out playing their greatest hits, and there’s a lot to be said for that.
Download: “I Want You to Know” [mp3]
Dragonslayer marks the point in my mind where Spencer Krug’s Sunset Rubdown no longer seems like a side project to Wolf Parade, and appears and sounds like a real fleshed out band. Their debut was essentially a Krug solo album, and nothing against Random Spirit Lover, but compared to Wolf Parade, it still felt like Krug just letting off steam. Dragonslayer is six epic voyages plus two singles, and by singles I don’t necessarily mean radio-ready. “Idiot Heart” and “Paper Lace” are as close as Sunset Rubdown come to radio, even the dance floor: “I was never much of a dancer but I knew enough to know you’ve got to move your idiot body around.” Meanwhile, the rest of the album take the listener through various points in the musical spectrum, in epic fashion, without feeling like the point of the song has left. Like any Krug release, it’s a grower… repeat listens are recommended, but there’s more on first listen than previous Sunset Rubdown releases, if you’re looking for an easier entry point. Whatever it takes you to give it a spin (or two, or three) I say.
Download: “Idiot Heart” [mp3]
I’ve been listening to this album a lot lately, and it’s been hard to put down. It’s as if Sam Roberts were secretly writing music for Arcade Fire, combining blue cholar pop sensibility with an ambitious, possibly even grandiose reach. Singer Matt Popieluch never sounds over indulgent, though, and the songs walk that fine line, always pulling back before they go to far. With stunning songs like “That Old Sun” and “Early Warning” it’s hard to go wrong with this favorite of one Ed Droste (Grizzly Bear).
More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Regina Spektor – Far
Patterson Hood – Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)
The Gossip – Music For Men
Tortoise – Beacons of Ancestorship
God Help The Girl – God Help The Girl / “Come Monday Night” [mp3]
Birds Of Avalon – Uncanny Valley
Deer Tick – Born on Flag Day
Jets Overhead – No Nations
Girls At Our Best – Pleasure
The Bats – The Guilty Office / “Castle Light” [mp3]
The Lemonheads – Varshons
Alexi Murdoch – Away We Go (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Florence & The Machine – A Lot Of Love. A Lot Of Blood.
The Mars Volta – Octahedron
Spinnerette – Spinnerette / “Rebellious Palpitations” [mp3]
Bjork – Voltaic
Pete Yorn – Back & Forth
Tift Merritt – Buckingham Solo
Nosaj Thing – Drift
Amy Speace – The Killer In Me / “The Killer in Me” [mp3]
R.E.M. – Reckoning – Deluxe Edition