Working for a Nuclear Free City – Businessmen & Ghosts
- Groove-centric acid jazz rock-tronica with a dose of indie folk pop-rock. Bang this one at your next hipster cocktail party. Highly recommended. US release comes with an album length bonus disc of new tracks recorded since the original UK release of the album. Word! A US release actually has more cool stuff than the import! No way!
The Field – From Here We Go Sublime
- An unfortunately flawed album. Beautiful ambient/folk-tronic musical compositions are mysteriously anchored by thundering club track bass lines. This jarring combination at its best seems to aspire to Bible of Dreams-era Juno Reactor, but in general falls short. Next time The Field, drop the repetitive, throbbing electronic bluster and perhaps the result will be sublime.
Fields – Everything Last Winter
- On to greener pastures…from The Field to Fields. Fields and their album Everything Last Winter are a perfect representation of my ever increasing enjoyment for the genre of music referred to as “shoegaze.” Last year, I discovered Film School’s self-titled release (they now have a new album, Hideout, it rocks) and many reviews cited the influence late 80s/early 90s bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive had on Film School’s music which was being called “nu-gaze” (vomit in my mouth). I’d cursorily listened to MBV in the past, but I went back and discovered how brilliant they were (and, rumor has it, they have a new album in the works!). Anyway, Everything Last Winter features lush guitars, catchy pop hooks, and is simply an awesome album. I’d call it “indie,” but indie no longer means anything (in the way that alternative lost all meaning in the 90s). If anything, it’s what I would expect to hear a good college station playing, and unfortunately, not on the regular radio. Check them out, it’s worth it. My favorite tracks: The Death, Song for the Fields, You Don’t Need this Song (to Fix Your Broken Heart).
Sigur Ros – Hvarf/Heim
- While not technically a new album, anything new by Sigur Ros is a good thing. Classic tracks live! Old, “hard to find,” tracks re-released! Woot! Be sure to also check out the documentary Heima, where the live tracks come from. Great music, beautiful country, fascinating look at a fascinating band.
Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs
- More lush guitars and catchy alterna-pop-rock place this one right up there with Fields’ Everything Last Winter for me. At times epic, but also close and intimate. Favorite tracks: Barnes, From Nothing to Nowhere, Off by 50, Good to Sea.
Jay-Z – American Gangster
- Proving once again why he’s the greatest rapper alive, American Gangster is simply one of the most completely listen-able Jay-Z albums to date. Anyone, I think, could dig this. Hot 70s sounds combine with hot beats as Jigga’s flow presents some of the freshest rhymes out there, from a man who basically $#!7’s fresh rhymes. I haven’t seen the film that inspired the album yet, but Jay-Z’s presentation of the rise and fall of a drug dealer is spot on. Favorite tracks: Party Life–perfect snapshot of someone at the top, and full of himself to the point where he quotes himself to make sure people heard the oh-so-clever remark he just made; Ignorant Sh*t–a brilliant commentary on the rap/hip-hop industry-the music it produces, the image it promotes, and its success.
The Electric Soft Parade – No Need to be Downhearted
- The third part of the triumvirate that has been my steady listening lately (along with Everything Last Winter and Autumn of the Seraphs, The Electric Soft Parade’s No Need to be Downhearted falls into the same vein of shoegaze-indie-alt-rock, but with some electronic flourishes added. There is a melancholy happiness to both the music and lyrics, and the mix of, at times, lo-fi instrumentation, bells, and soft singing is infectious and moving. The album has a winter feel to it. [An aside…I don’t know if anyone else categorizes music this way, but music tends to feel like a specific time or place to me. For example, Jamiroquai’s song “Feels Just Like it Should” is a bright summer day driving in a city with the windows down, whereas Goldfrapp’s “Number One” is a clear urban night…make sense?] The Electric Soft Parade could make one cool Christmas album if they wanted to. Favorite tracks: Woken by a Kiss; Misunderstand; Shore Song; If That’s the Case, Then I Don’t Know.
Menomena – Friend and Foe
- A recent listen, along with Businessmen and Ghosts, Friend and Foe will be in my car CD player for a long time to come. It sort of reminds me of a cross between Mogwai and The Arcade Fire (which should give you some indication of how cool this album is). I described the album to one of the teens at the library the other day as “loud but soft, experimental but catchy, epic yet intimate.” It is, essentially, an album of contradictions. Sonic bombast gives way to hushed thoughtful piano ballads. Classic Jimmy Page-esque rock swagger is tempered with highly experimental production as songs seem to skip, almost rewind, click and blerp. Check it out. Favorite tracks: The Pelican; My My; and West, with its fractured, pained guitar. Oh, and the cover art is fantastic. It’s by Craig Thompson who did Blankets and Goodbye, Chunky Rice.