New Release Tuesday :: June 17, 2014

new-release-reportNew Release Tuesday :: My Top 5 :: June 17, 2014

1. Lana Del Rey :: Ultraviolence

1I know that Lana can be polarizing, and that people seem to either love her, or hate her, but I’ve always loved her and her music, and this new album, Ultraviolence, has my love still going strong. Lana’s voice is part lounge, part blues, part David Lynch dark, part 80’s deathrock, and part something undefinable, something that feels very Los Angeles after dark, the underground part of Los Angeles, a side to it all that harkens passion, desire, regret, sadness, intoxicated bliss and a little bit of danger.

Shades of Cool is my first listen favorite. I love the haunting musical intro, the lilting vocals of Lana, and the mysterious mood that the song itself instills. I want to keep listening, keep replaying, and I want to write a characters that resonate these “shades” and moods that this song is overflowing with. I can almost see them, these fictional characters waiting to have life written into them; they are off in the distance, if I squint I can see them up ahead at the creative horizon.

Brooklyn Baby is amazing, as well. This reminds me of long drives in the late Summertime, back when I still smoked. Sometimes we would buy packs of clove cigarettes, and that sweet taste on my lips, and the infectious smell it would fill my car with, and permeate my dresses in, my sense memory is alight from this song. It reminds me, too, of the lovers I have had that were in bands, the way it felt to be loved by them, to love them back, to have songs that sometimes I still play that I can hear myself in, and that I can recall bearing witness to their musical births, how sometimes I sang along while they strummed out the next lines of the song on acoustic guitars.

I am not initially crazy about Money Power Glory or Fucked My Way to the Top, but they both may have to grow on me. There is something to distanced in the music, not the lyrics or the vocals, but the actual music. Lana often has that far away sound to her voice, and that is something I love, but there is a musical disconnect in these two songs that make me feel disconnected.

I absolutely love Old Money, enough so that it may have to be tied with Shades of Cool as my first listen (and second, third, fourth) favorite.  There is something about the song that reminds me of Laura’s Theme from the film Doctor Zhivago, though I’m not quite sure why. It is such a hypnotic song, addictive, lush – this song reminds me of what I felt when I first fell in love with Lana’s music.

As a whole, this album was what I wanted and waited for. Though there are a few tracks that have yet to grab me, I will let this album play and resonate, and give it time to breathe into me. This will also be an album I’ll play while writing, I can already tell.

Shades of Cool

2. Big Freedia :: Just Be Free

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The best dancing I have ever experienced were in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I frequented various underground Hollywood clubs. These were pre-raves, held in various restaurants, clubs, warehouses, even in office building cafeterias, and were run and DJ’ed by a couple of club geniuses who knew the right mix of magic to conjure.

These clubs were full of remixed music, the extended 12″ single versions, and the music that was created for club life. Big Freedia’s Just Be Free reminds me of those “made for the clubs” albums, and yes, these songs make me want to dance.

This album reminds me of late 80’s techno and house music, mixed up with some 90’s Prodigy and Fatboy Slim, with some of the current club DJ’s that frequent a new breed of weekly Hollywood club scene, where the music is spun out on laptops, along with the two-turntables and a microphone combination.

Turn Da Beat Up, and the very New Orleans’ sounding N.O. Bounce, are my first listen favorites. They have both been immediately slipped into my workout playlist.

Explode

3. Willie Nelson :: Band of Brothers

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Growing up, my Mom went through a country phase right around my elementary school years, which introduced me to country artists such as Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Crystal Gayle, The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama…among others. My Aunt also was a country fan, and she introduced me to Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Johnny Cash…among others. I took from both and kept some of my “favorites” with me, tucking them into my musical taste and never letting go. Willie Nelson was, and is, definitely in that group. Willie’s voice sounds like home to me, the good parts of home, snapshots of some of my happier childhood memories.

The album opens up with Bring It On, which feels like a proper introduction to the album itself, and to Willie’s music, in general. It is a song that reflects a lifetime of living, that slightly jaded, ever hopeful, way of seeing life, greeting it with everything you have, saying well, whatever it is, bring it on. This song resonates with me in a big way. Maybe its my own period of self-reflection, perhaps it is me getting older and a little wiser, but I am finding myself looking at life, more and more, with the attitude of “whatever happens, happens…I will survive it.”

Whenever You Come Around is my favorite, from the first listen, to this third time I’m spinning it while writing this review. It reminds me of the melancholic, heart splitting, storytelling that led me to fall in love with Ryan Adams music, as well as Wilco’s and Dawes. Willie laid the groundwork back when I was a little girl, and this song sounds like the ones I grew up loving. It feels like that meeting place between love and loss that we all end up at sometimes, and revisit in the middle of a sleepless night.

The album ends in a similar vein to the album start. It sings like a goodbye, a see you later, a “I have a lot of life left to live”. I’ve Got a Lot of Traveling to Do calls to my gypsy soul, and makes that itch for the road intensify on my skin, and in my guts. This is a definite must add to my road trip/”on the road” playlists, and makes me want to do just that – go on the road.

Band of Brothers (live)

4. Shark? :: Summer Ale

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Even though Autumn is my favorite Season, there is something about Summer that gifts me a boost of boundless energy, and makes me long for “Summer” feeling music. I’ve been bouncing around ideas for a new set of Summer playlists, and in my search I stumbled upon this new release from a band I’d never heard of before called Shark?

The EP’s title fits the sound and feel of this album – it does feel like Summer, a mid-90’s, flannel now wrapped around your waist kind of Summer, with a style reminiscent of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth and Sebadoh.

This EP is full of lo-fi charm, with catchy, sometimes sentimental lyrics and buzzy guitar riffs. Money Matters is my first listen favorite. It hints at a Pixies influence, so much so that I can almost picture Frank Black singing it. I love the slow build the rises into a burn at the end.

Game of Pricks is great, too, and seriously has me in 90’s nostalgia mode, as does the entire EP. If you feel like reminiscing with your 90’s Summertime self, give this three-song EP a spin.

There is no videos available to embed, but you can listen to the EP at Spotify, or take a listen to the song Big Summer here at Sound Cloud.

5. Alexis Taylor :: Await Barbarians

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Another solo release from the Hot Chip frontman, Alexis Taylor’s Await Barbarians reminds me of a more electro-infused Modest Mouse, a little more cerebral Kavinsky, and a bit more indie than Hot Chip. I keep hitting replay on this album, not because I have fallen hard for it, but because I can’t decide what I feel about it.

I feel like I’m right on the edge of really liking the album, but something is holding me back a little. Sometimes the album veers too much into the realm of experimental jazz, which is definitely not a favorite genre of mine, quite the opposite, really. Sometimes, though, the indie folk sensibilities, especially on the track Without a Crutch (2), really win me over.

Dolly and Porter is my favorite of the album, at least, so far. I like the storytelling aspect to it, and the softness and vulnerability of the production. It is dreamy and lulling, and is one of those songs that is begging to make its way into a “sleepy-time” playlist (hey, maybe I need to put one of those together to help combat my insomia?)

Without a Crutch (2)

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