Drake’s Take: New Releases 06.07.11

Black Lips, Cults, Fucked Up, Tom Vek, Battles, Arctic Monkeys and Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr headline the week, but it goes deeper than that as well. New releases from The Rosebuds, Frank Turner, Givers, The Postelles, Sondre Lerche, Peter Murphy, Oneida, City and Colour all make it a pretty deep week for ear spins. Have at it.

Playlist: New Releases 06.07.11
Playlist: New Releases 05.31.11 (missed last week)

Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Black Lips - Arabia Mountain

When word leaked out that Black Lips were working with the Grammy award winning producer Mark Ronson, there was understandable worry that the antics and noise that the Atlanta quartet had become famous for would get lost. Ronson, however, let the band do their thing (almost killing him in the process), leaving his contributions to cleaning up the sound a bit. As a result, the drums are punchier, and the vocals front and center, and with Ronson’s classic attention to ‘classic’ sound details. Arabia Mountain is Black Lips’ best album thus far, both artistically, and likely, commercially.

Cults – Cults
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Cults - Cults

They mystery behind the New York duo Cults has been built up since the gleeful “Go Outside” started making the rounds last year. With it’s Shuggie Otis’ glockenspiel-like intro and 60s pop sound, it had everyone asking “Who are these people?” Outside of the names Brian O’Blivion (guitar) and Madeline Follin (singer), never bothered to answer, instead laying low after signing on Columbia. Now their self-titled debut answers a few questions, like “will they be a one-hit wonder?” The easy answer there is “No.” The advance second single, “Abducted” should’ve already answered that question, with it’s driving chorus and continuation of 60s pop sensibilities. Aside from the unneeded recorded cult leaders interweaved throughout the album, the rest of the album sets up the duo nicely for a career beyond their debut, even if it loses a bit of steam in the second half.

Fucked Up – David Comes to Life
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life

Hardcore Canadians Fucked Up aren’t just punk because Damien “Pink Eyes” Abraham screams up a lung in every song. It’s also the constant defying of expectations time and time again. Since the release of their critically acclaimed last release, The Chemistry of Common Life, the band has released a series of Chinese Zodiac themed singles, played with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and, more unexpectedly, Nelly Furtado and actress Shenae Grimes. So when it was revealed their latest, David Comes Alive, was a rock opera, it was expected unexpected news. Telling the story of a light bulb factory worker, David, in love with an activist named Veronica (voiced on the album by Cults’ Madeline Follin, conveniently enough for our purposes here), who tragically dies pretty early in the action. The story gets convoluted, as most rock opera’s do, but there’s incredible ambition here, and if it weren’t for the rock opera aspect, the headline here would be that Fucked Up have become accessible. The need to display guitar prowess has been reined in, Pink Floydian meanderings cut almost entirely, and songs tightened to the point that you can recognize pop structures at work. Of course, nobody’s going to put Pink Eye’s screams on middle American radio stations anytime soon, but without his bravado, this album probably wouldn’t work (you’d need another distinct voice — in fact, throw Craig Finn in the mix and you’ve got a more masculine riff-heavy Hold Steady album).

“The Other Shoe” [mp3]
“Queen of Hearts” [mp3]
“A Little Death” [mp3]

Tom Vek – Leisure Seizure
Stream / Purchase [mp3]

Tom Vek - Leisure Seizure

Back in 2005, Tom Vek seemed to come out of nowhere with his idiosyncratic punk funk debut, We Have Sound. The one-man band then went back to nowhere for nearly six years — nowhere being a place where he built his own studio, taught himself production techniques, and spent time writing new material. Listening to his long awaited follow up, Leisure Seizure, it’s like Vek was locked up in his recording studio for the majority of the time, just trying to get the sounds in his head on recording, as the album is pretty well removed from sounds and trends that have occurred in the six years he’s been absent. The difference for Vek is a more polished sound, punchier drums and less tinny guitars. Advance single “A Chore” is the perfect (re)introduction to Vek’s sound, with the big ringing drums and disjointed keyboard and guitar interplay, while “Aroused” sounds a bit like Yeasayer roofied Joe Jackson into a guest vocal. But really, Vek sounds like nobody else, so comparisons are just silly. It’s great to have him back, and hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2017 for another release.

More on the radar (and in the mp3 player) this week:
Battles – Gloss Drop / Free AOL Album Stream
Arctic Monkeys – Suck It and See
Dale Earnhardt, Jr Jr – It’s a Corporate World / Free AOL Album Stream
Givers – In Light / Free AOL Album Stream / “Up Up Up” [mp3]
Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones / Free AOL Album Stream
The Rosebuds – Loud Planes Fly Low / Free Album Stream on SPIN / “Second Bird of Paradise” [mp3]
Atari Teenage Riot – Is This Hyperreal?
Oneida – Absolute II / Free AOL Album Stream / “Horizon” [mp3]
Sondre Lerche – Sondre Lerche / Free AOL Album Stream
City and Colour – Little Hell / Free AOL Album Stream
The Postelles – The Postelles / “123 Stop” [mp3]
Tech N9ne – All 6’s and 7’s
Peter Murphy – Ninth
Nels Cline/Tim Berne/Jim Black – The Veil
The Wooden Birds – Two Matchsticks / Free AOL Album Stream
Joe Ely – Satisfied at Last
Hospital Ships – Lonely Twin / “Honey Please” [mp3]
Jessica 6 – See the Light / Free AOL Album Stream / “Prisoner of Love” [mp3]
Daniel Isaiah – High Twilight / “Naked Night” [mp3]