Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 17, 2017

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 17, 2017

Looking for the best New Music Releases on this New Music Friday? Below you will find My Top 5 New Releases for New Music Friday. I’ve scoured the lists, played the tracks, and put together the best of the best. Have a listen, play a featured track, and if you like what you hear go out and support the artists, and the Music. I would love to hear what you think of the selected songs, and album titles. Is there a New Music Release that you feel should be on this list? Comment below and let me know what you think.

Top 5 New Releases:

1. Spirit :: Depeche Mode

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Three-Sentence Review: Spirit is a welcome return of a beloved synth-heavy, new wave/alternative band that transcended the 80’s and 90’s in ways that many of the other invading British bands of that era did not. Though the album lacks any real musical surprises, the strength here is in the solid songs and sounds; a stellar collection of racks, from start-to-finish, the best all-around album since Songs of Faith and Devotion, actually. Gahan’s voice is still a standout, Gore remains a quintessential songwriter (“Cover Me” and “Eternal” are so recognizably Gore you can’t miss it), and the electronic feel that the band has always had has evolved into something that teeters between aural nostalgia and a right here, right now sound.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Where’s the Revolution”, “Cover Me”, and “No More (This is the Last Time)”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Cover Me”

2. Hot Thoughts :: Spoon

Spoon, Music, Album Review, Top 5 New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: I have been anticipating the release of “Hot Thoughts” since I heard the pre-album release of the title track/opening track, “Hot Thoughts”, a dance-able, catchy number that is indicative of how the rest of its namesake sounds. Nine albums in and Spoon manages to surprise, while still sustaining a recognizable, Spoon-sound that they have cultivated through the years. With the help of Flaming Lips’ producer Dave Fridmann, the songs are rife with trippy sensibilities and, at times, a dream pop electric edge (see “Whisperl’lllistentohearit” and “Pink Up”) that takes the Spoon-sound and elevates it, spinning it in new directions.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Hot Thoughts”, “Whisperl’lllistentohearit”, and “First Caress”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Hot Thoughts”

3. Salutations :: Conor Oberst

Conor Oberst, Salutations, Album Review, Top 5 New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: Salutations brings back the Conor Bright Eyes’ era, circa Lifted and I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning that I’ve been missing for quite some time. The opening track, “Too Late to Fixate”, caught my attention immediately, and reminded me why I used to “fixate” over Conor’s songwriting back in the early aughts. Recorded with a full band, and a myriad of guest musicians (The Felice Brothers, Jim Keltne, and more), Salutations carries with it a past sensibility, peppered generously with an older eye-view, a bit of a laugh at oneself, and a juxtaposition of jadedness and optimism, that creates a 17-song (yes, 17) collection that I’ll be “fixating” over for days to come.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Too Late to Fixate”, “Overdue”, and “You All Loved Him Once”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Too Late to Fixate”

4. In Mind :: Real Estate

Real Estate, In Mind, Album Review, Top 5 New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: There are so many interesting new albums out this week, all unique and listenable and very worth checking out – Real Estate’s In Mind is no exception, a daydreamy, pastoral indie pop collection of sounds that suits these longer nights and warmer (at least here in Southern California) weather. I want to spend a few afternoons swimming around in these songs, letting the harmonic melodies wash over me, and inspire me. Jangly, and sometimes fuzzy guitars (see “Two Arrows”) meet up with tinkling, often lush keyboards, which come together well with Martin Courtney’s vocals’; this album has survived losing one of their key members (guitarist Matt Mondanile), taken on two  new ones (guitarist Julian Lynch and keyboardist Matt Kallma), and created something equal to, if not better, than their past three albums.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Darling”, “Stained Glass”, and “Two Arrows”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Darling”

5. Room 29 :: Jarvis Cocker & Chilly Gonzales

Jarvis Cocker, Chilly Gonzales, Room 29, Album Review, Top 5 New Releaases

Three-Sentence Review: Completely unexpected and weird, Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzales release an album of songs inspired by the Château Marmont, Hollywood, California’s rumored to be haunted hotel. At times this feels like an audio book, poetry set to some stark and simple music unraveling a story that you are keen to hear, but never 100% sure of the plot or purpose. Jarvis and Chilly tell tales of the hotel using music, theatrics, clips from classic Hollywood movies, and their unmistakable piano (Chilly) and vocals (Jarvis), making this one of the more interesting albums I’ve listened to in a long while, while also reminding me, in theme and the sometimes ambient sounds, of Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Room 29″, “Tearjerker”, and “A Trick of the Light”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Room 29”

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 10, 2017

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 10, 2017

Looking for the best new album releases on this New Music Friday? Look no further. I have dove in and listened to the selections of albums, and singles, out today (there are so many this week) and selected my Top 5 New Releases of the week. So, relax, read on, and get ready to press play for the Top New Releases from this week’s New Music Friday.

Top 5 New Releases:

1. Semper Femina :: Laura Marling

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Three-Sentence Review: Themed album, Semper Femina, began as a concept to describe women from the lens of men, but evolved into something different as Laura turned the gaze on herself, to delve into her perspective on women – turning women into the songs subjects and storytellers. Laura’s voice is as striking as ever, pure, raw and beautiful. The sonic mood shifts and melodies hit me in a way that I haven’t felt since her debut, in 2008.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Soothing”, “Wild Fire” and “Nothing, Not Nearly”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

 

“Nothing, Not Nearly”

2. Jawbone :: Music from the Film/Music by Paul Weller

Jawbone, Soundtrack, Album, Paul Weller, New Music, New Releases, Music Review

Three-Sentence Review: Seven tracks of score and song from the prolific musical genius Paul Weller. “The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe” has had my attention since the single was released a few weeks prior, and “Bottle” is just as emotionally rich, and beautiful. The score tracks, especially the electronically shaped “Jawbone”, are compelling and cinematic, and left me wanting more.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “The Ballad of Jimmy McCabe”, “Jawbone” and “Bottle”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Bottle”

3. The Order of Time :: Valerie June

Valerie June, albums, New Music, New Releases, Album Reviews, Music Reviews

Three-Sentence Review: I love when I stumble on an artist I’ve never heard of, spin the tracks of their album, and find myself being drawn in and won over. A little bit folk, a little bit torch song singer, a little bit alt-country, and a lot singer-songwriter stunning, Valerie’s voice is raspy and bluesy, vulnerable and soulful – I am definitely intrigued by this throwback meets right now collection of sounds. Songs like “Shakedown”, “Astral Plane” and “Just in Time” are instrumentally complex, stark at times, resounding at other times, and act as the perfect accompaniment to Valerie’s unique voice.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Long Lonely Road”, “Shakedown” and “Just in Time”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Shakedown”

4. 50 Song Memoir :: The Magnetic Fields

The Magnetic Fields, music, New Music, New Releases, Album Review, New Music Review

Three-Sentence Review: Autobiography as album, that’s what The Magnetic Fields 50 Song album is, or should I saw 5-albums is (that’s right, 50 songs, 5 albums, each song representing a year in Stephin Merrit’s life). The musical complexities and evolving differences, song-by-song, reflect the evolution of a life, as one might expect. This is an epic project, and an epic listen, one that will take more than one sitting – but it will be worth the time to take in the melodies and melancholy of Merrit’s first 50 years.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “How to Play Synthesizer”, “Dreaming in Tetris” and “You Can Never Go Back to New York”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“How to Play Synthesizer”

5. Yours Conditionally :: Tennis

Tennis, Album, New Music, New Release, Top 5 New Release, Album Review, New Music Review

Three-Sentence Review: This new album, the fourth from the husband and wife duo, Tennis, springs to mind the late seventies to me, and yes, i do mean in a good way. Yours Conditionally was self-produced, and sounds more stripped down and raw than the prior three. All the songs seem to overflow with that soft rock and soul that had me “nostalga-ing” about the late seventies (think AM radio, 8 Track and bins of 45’s), and thematically dissect the idea of marriage, individualism, and feminism within the construct of committed partnerships.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “My Emotions are Blinding”, “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar” and “10 Minutes 10 Years”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“My Emotions are Blinding”

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 3, 2017

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: March 3, 2017

It’s Friday. You know what that means? It’s New Music Friday again. Are you ready for the best of the new album releases for March 3? Are you ready for the first new music for March 2017?

I’ve sifted through the newly released albums, EP’s and singles, and come up with the five best of the week for your sonic enjoyment. So, sit back, secure your headphones, and have a listen to a few albums and a single, or two, that are the standout best Top New Releases for March 3, 2017.

Top 5 New Releases:

1. Bruises :: Dia Frampton

Dia Frampton, Albums, My Top 5 New Releases, New Releases, Album Reviews

Three-Sentence Review: This album is a collection of gorgeous, cinematic, emotionally rich songs that I can’t get enough of today. Dia has come a long way from the early aughts emo duo with her older sister, as well as from her stint on The Voice. Produced by Dan Heath (known for work with Lana Del Rey and Skylar Grey), Bruises feels like a little Lana, a little Birdy and Banks, and some Damien Rice thrown in, too. Dia has been one to watch for some time now, but this album really solidifies it.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Hope”, “Dead Man” and “Crave”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Crave”

2. Full Closure and No Details :: Gabriella Cohen

Gabriella Cohen, Full Closure and No Details, Albums, Album Reviews, My Top 5 New Releases, New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: An interesting combination of indie dram pop and 1950’s rock sensibilities, Australian singer/songwriter, Gabriella Cohen’s debut album has me pressing play over and over again. This is a slow burn of an album, but not in the case of taking time to warm up to it, no, more like it sits there, simmering, sending out hunger inducing scents (and senses), swirling around you until it has all your attention. This is definitely infused with a bit of Nico, of Hope Sandoval, of The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Best Coast, as well as an assortment of 50’s-60’s girl groups – turn it up, and I bet you hear it, too.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “I Don’t Feel so Alive”, “Feelin’ Fine” and “Downtown”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Downtown”

3. Last Place :: Grandaddy

Grandaddy, Album, Album Reviews, My Top 5 New Releases, New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: Grandaddy has been on my musical peripheral for almost a decade, but they never got any closer to me until now. Last Place has me paying attention, and pulling the band, and their music, in closer – listening closer, feeling the connection finally. The album has straight forward, alternative rock tracks, emotionally dense ballads, and vulnerable, hypnotic ballads peppered with a dream-pop’s lighter touch – I think I get this Grandaddy thing now.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Way We Won’t”, “The Boat is in the Barn” and “This is the Part”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Way We Won’t”

4. Blood Jungle :: Johnossi

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Three-Sentence Review: Swedish-duo Johnossi brings with their new album “Blood Jungle” a ready-for-alternative-radio collection of 10 tracks that are strong, catchy adn palpable. Some tracks stand farther out then the rest, shedding some of the predictability in exchange for a bit of angst and melodic complexity. Singer John Englebert has been compared vocally to Dave Grohl, and I can hear it on this album more than other past releases, especially with the song “Tall Dark Man”.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Air is Free”, “On a Roll” and “Tall Dark Man”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Air is Free”

5. Sensorimotor ::: Lusine

Lusine, Albums, Album Review, My Top 5, My Top 5 New Releases, New Releases

Three-Sentence Review: The songs on Sensorimotor teeter on the edge of Techno and Ambient, creating a very pleasing mix of the two styles. At times the songs are soundtrack score cinematic (see “Chatter”), at other times they are dance infused (“The Level”), but my favorite moments are the tracks that feature vocals, adding a melodic layer to the already stunning electro-sounds. Texas-raised/Seattle-based Jeff McIlwain has another stellar release here, my favorite, so far, of his musical creations.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Ticking Hands”, “Just a Cloud” and “The Lift”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Just Like a Cloud”

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: February 24, 2017

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday ::
February 24, 2017

It’s New Music Friday again. Are you ready for the best of the new album releases today? I’ve sifted through the newly released albums, EP’s and singles, and come up with the five best of the week for your perusal. So, sit back, secure your headphones, and have a listen to a few albums and a single, or two, that are the standout best Top New Releases for the week of February 24, 2017..

Top 5 New Releases:

1. Sick Scenes :: Los Campesinos!

Los Campesinos!, New Music Review, New Album Review, Top Five New Releases, albums, new albums, music, band, lyriquediscorde, Top 5, Top Five

Three-Sentence Review: Immediately catchy and accessible, Sick Scenes reminds me of what I saw in Los Campesinos! back in 2007, with the songs “We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives” and “You! Me! Dancing!”. Indie in its sensibilities, but pop/power pop in the delivery, this album has the potential of being bigger than their recent releases. I’m awfully fond of the slower, softer moments, too (see “The Fall of Home”), with its waltz-feel, and late night confessional lyrics.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Sad Suppers”, “The Fall of Home”, and “A Litany/Heart Swells”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“The Fall of Home”

2. “Can I Sit Next to You?” :: Spoon

Spoon, single, Can I Sit Next to You, My Top 5, Top 5 New Releases, New Releases, albums, singles, lyriquediscorde

Three-Sentence Review: Can the new Spoon album be out today? This is the second pre-album single to be released, and it is a stunner. I was immediately grooving to it from the first notes, and as the song went on I knew I’d be hitting repeat as soon as it was over.

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Can I Sit Next to You?”

3. Don’t Get Lost :: The Brian Jonestown Massacre

The Brian Jonestown Massacre, albums, new albums, new releases, new release albums, new release reviews, My Top 5, My Top Five, My Top Five New Releases, lyriquediscorde

Three-Sentence Review: A new album only four months after their last, Don’t Get Lost continues with the band’s electronic experimentations, fusing it with the psychedelic sensibilities that have always been a big part of their sound. Tim Burgess, of The Charlatans, guests on the track “Fact 67”, one of the strongest song songs on the album. The album itself gets lost in its own wanderings at times, lacking a cohesion that at first glance the song titles would presume it has, but there are some interesting, stand-out moments to stop on along the way (see especially “Fact 67” and “Dropping Bombs on the Sun”).

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Fact 67”, “Dropping Bombs on the Sun”, and “Acid 2 Me is No Worse than War”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Fact 67”

4. S/T :: Dirty Projectors

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Three-Sentence Review: Dirty Projectors’ so-called “break up album”, which I picked up on in first line of the opening track, “Keep Your Name”, which feels and sounds like Bon Iver, to me. The production, and electro-infusions, keep this album from sinking too deeply into melancholy, while not completely taking away the expression of heartbreak. This album works best when the beats and vocals are messed with, causing lifts and falls in sound, and where the Indie R&B styles are allowed to flow through.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Keep Your Name”, “Death Spiral”, and “I See You”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Death Spiral”

5. Wilderness of Love :: Shadow Band

Shadow Band, music, albums, new releases, new release album, My Top 5, My Top Five, My Top 5 New Releases, lyriquediscorde

Three-Sentence Review: Late sixties psychedelia influenced, dark and dreamy, I feel like I want this album in Autumn, but I’ll take it for now (and most likely revisit it in October). This debut album is a DIY/home recording musical offering; close your eyes and can’t you just see the smoke-filled rooms they created, and recorded, this in? “Morning Star”, my first listen favorite, reminds me a lot of the Zombies.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Endless Night”, “Morning Star”, and “Daylight”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 3

“Daylight”

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: February 17, 2017

Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: February 17, 2017

It’s New Music Friday. Are you searching through the rain (if you are here in Southern California, at least), or through the endless record bins of the internet to find what the best of the new releases are today? To help on your new music search, here is this week’s Top 5 New Releases.

This week’s list has a few stellar albums among the Top 5, as well as two hard to miss singles. Get ready to crank up the volume, press play and indulge in some of the new tunes that just arrived today.

Top 5 New Releases:

1. Prisoner :: Ryan Adams

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Three-Sentence Review: I’ve spent some time with the singles that Ryan has released pre-album, and without exception, each song has been a “grower” to me, and the album, Prisoner, in its entirety, is no exception; it is a grower, too. The songs feel denser than previous Ryan songs, sonically complex , but with a lyrical distance that I’m not used to with his music – I feel as if I have to lean in closer, push repeat more often, and let these songs make their way in to me slowly. “To be Without You” is the most immediately accessible of the bunch, but the others are a bit more hard to get, though I do believe they are worth the time, the re-listens, and the “throw the album on, get in the car, and drive” effort taken to get this album under my skin.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Do You Still Love Me?”, “To be Without You”, “Broken Anyway”, and “We Disappear”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“To be Without You”

2. Fields of Love :: Mozart’s Sister

Mozart's Sister, music, albums, new release, new albums

Three-Sentence Review: Immediately reminiscent of Kate Bush, with perhaps a little Bjork and St. Vincent (sans guitar) thrown in to the mix. Mozart’s Sister’s Field of Love is electronically-infused indie pop with a very off-kilter edge, some that seems made for a crowded dance floor (see “Bump”), and some that feels set for a more isolated introspection (see “Baroque Baby”). Caila Thompson-Hannant brings something different to the pop-landscape of her second album under the “Mozart’s Sister” moniker -songs that are both catchy and different, and seem  ready made for remixing.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Angel”, “Who are You”, and “Baroque Baby”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Angel”

3. “Always Sad” :: The Jesus & Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain, new singles, singles, music, new releases

Three-Sentence Review: This second pre-album released single (new album, Damage and Joy, out March 24) is even better than the last, and has me seriously anxious and excited for the album to finally arrive. I love the inclusion of Bernadette Denning in this track, it takes the song into a conversational place that works perfectly here, both melodically, and lyrically. The trademark jangly guitar and fuzz, along with the dueted voices, adds an interesting lightness to the sad of “Always Sad”, the mood juxtaposition (and the inclusion of a female vocalist) calls to mind “Sometimes Always”, JAMC’s earlier duet with Hope Sandoval, that also mixed up jangle-pop lightness with a sung story of melancholy.

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

“Always Sad”

4. Plural :: Electric Guest

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Three-Sentence Review: Electric Guest’s new album, Plural, combines electronica, funk, soul, pop and disco, elevating the tracks into something more palpable than straight to the floor dance music. There is songwriting here, a bit of humor (Asa Taccone is brothers with Jorma of Lonely Island, and has produced songs such as “Dick in a Box” in the past), and a complexity of melody, lyric and sound that begs for multiple listens. Some songs veer heavily into radio-friendly R&B (see “Back & Forth” and “Dear to Me”), but I prefer when they take an older soul sound and marry it with an indie pop sensibility the likes of MGMT and Bastille (see “See the Light” and “My Omen”).

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Zero”, “I See the Light” and “My Omen”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“My Omen”

5. “Thick Girls Knock Me Out (Richard Starkey)” :: The Dandy Warhols

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Three-Sentence Review: Listen to that opening guitar – it is definitely the strongest part of this new single. As for the rest, there is something slightly off with the vocals to me, I’m not sure if it is the production, or tone, but it just does not connect with me the way I’d want it to. Musically, this is a hit to me, but the vocal arrangement and recording takes it too far away from what I know this band can do (think “Godless, or “Get Off”, or last year’s “All the Girls in London”). Maybe this is a turn up loud in the car and let it grow on me, too?

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“Thick Girls Knock Me Out”

My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 1/2/17

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My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 1/2/17

1. All Disco :: Elbow

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Three-Sentence Review: Oh Elbow, how you emotionally skewer me and break me into little, tiny, shattering pieces in the best of ways. A new album is coming (February), and I am full of anticipation and impatience, but I woke today to find another new single (check out “Magnificent (She Says)” which dropped in December) released from the album which definitely had to land in the #1 spot this week. “All Disco” is said to be inspired by a conversation that Elbow frontman Guy Garvey had with Pixies’ Black Francis (Francis quoted as saying “you have punk rock, you have rock, you have blues, you have soul, it’s all disco.”), and is already giving my emotions emotions (I’m telling you, Elbow knows how to mess me up good, all while I’m singing-a-long).

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

“All Disco”

2. Clinic Hope :: The Gift

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Three-Sentence Review: Reminiscent of 80’s electronica, akin in sound and sensibility with Perfume Genius and Passion Pit, and produced by the great Brian Eno, what is not to love about this single? The Gift is well loved and celebrated in their home of Portugal, and have been making noise elsewhere with past releases, and with recent projects with Eno (check out “Love Without Violins, as well, you won’t regret it). Eno brings magic to this already eclectic and alt-pop wonder that The Gift gifts us – and if you aren’t turning this track up and dancing around to it (or at least wishing you could dance around to it) I will be very surprised.

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

 “Clinic Hope”

3. Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect :: Sundara Karma

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Three-Sentence Review: First album for a very youthful, guitar led, alt/indie band who may be living that retrospect fun as we speak (and turn their tunes up loud). Vocally they seem older than they appear, and bring to mind Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Killers and Franz Ferdinand (2004-2005 era, early aughts anybody?) shaken and stirred with some fellow youth up-and-comers like The Wrecks and Clean Cut Kid. This is catchy stuff, full of premature jadedness (littered sparingly with hope, and dare I say again, “youth”) and edgy guitars that solidify this band as “one to watch”.

Initial Favorite Track(s): 4+

Rating (1-5 Stars): “Loveblood”, “Flame” and “Watching from Great Heights”

“Loveblood”

4. The Drifters :: Zooey

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Three-Sentence Review: Low-fi, electroica-ly deft, indie pop goodness that lands the first blow covered in sugar and open air ocean breezes, but comes back later with something a bit stronger, perhaps a whiskey, a sedative and a well placed “french” kiss. Matthieu Beck and Marie Merlet are the French couple musicians who recorded the album in their London home studio, in the midst of a big city, yet somehow captured wide spaces, the ebb and flow of the sea, and summery soft materials blowing off warm skin. When listening to the album, Rosie Thomas come to mind, as does Dove and the Wolf, Camera Obscura, and even a bit of Brian Wilson.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Realise Realise”, “The Country Song” and “Oh Stop!”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

“The Country Song”

5. 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory :: Dropkick Murphys

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Three-Sentence Review: Though not as spirited and riotous as past releases, there is still spirit and punch and alcohol-infused reverie within the songs on this new record from Dropkick Murphys (their 9th release). At times sea shanty pirates come to mind (especially “First Class Loser”), at other times the punk sensibilities take center stage, and I can almost see the fists in the air, and the bodies slamming together. I like when the lyrics go heartfelt/heartbroken, when you can feel Boston and the bar in the melodies, and when I feel my body wanting to jump, and jump, as my voice cracks from scream-singing-a-long.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Rebels with a Cause”, “First Class Loser” and “Paying My Way”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 3+

“Paying My Way”

Brian Matthew :: Now Is Good :: Now Hear This

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Now Hear This :: Brian Matthew :: Now Is Good

Discovering music is a favorite pastime of mine, one that has taken a bit of a pause of late due to the push and pull of the holiday season, as well as some personal shifts and changes that had me burning the proverbial candle at both ends. But, as the year winds down, and the air clears, I find myself diving back into my quest for new sounds and wanting to share the gems I pick up along the way. So, settle down somewhere comfortable and prick up your ears, because some new, and some new-to-me music, will be coming this way over the next week, and well into the new year, when this space will be buzzing and spinning on the regular again.

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As the sun is setting just outside my favorite window, the air warmer than its been lately, but still with a wisp of Southern California December slight chill, I find myself listening repeatedly to track 4 and 5 of a new CD that fell into my hands this week. I keep trying to weigh in on which of the two songs are my favorite, but honestly I just can’t say. They seem to flow into each other perfectly, swirling about in my ears while I watch the world outside turn on, the moon taking over and saying “goodnight” to the sun.

Trailer Man

“Trailer Man” feels like a ride through the desert, the long stretches ahead and behind, the unknown just off the next exit, my gypsy soul turning the volume up while getting lost in that very best way. There is something late seventies in the vibe that permeates from this track, something reminiscent of the songs from the Laurel Canyon era, a little Crosby and Nash, a little Morrison and Manzarek, and a little Taylor and Mitchell. There is definitely a bit of Steely Dan in here, too (like I said, late seventies), and peel back the surface a little further, too, and there is definitely a Grateful Dead sensibility going on here which flows beautifully into that next track I find myself so fond of.

Passion & Chemistry

“Passion & Chemistry” take a slight turn from that desert road, upping the tempo just a bit, and pulling the sun out from behind the clouds. There is a sense of the ocean here, of movement and color. That Dead sensibility I mentioned before takes a harder hold of the reigns with this track, so much so that if you close your eyes you can almost see the crowds gathering, hands reaching out to smoke and sing and dance. This one almost requires getting up and taking the car out for a drive, turning the wheel to face the sun’s descent, hopefully somewhere over the ocean. Perhaps a drive to Venice Beach is in order with this one blasting out the open window.

Groovin’ On

Track 10, “Groovin’ On” is a close second (or is it third?) favorite on this album. Definitely the “jamiest” on the album, I’m tempted to play this one right after track 5, as it feels almost organic to come after “Passion & Chemistry”. Although this is a Winter discovery for me, I can’t help but think the entire album is ready made for a late Summer getaway. I may just have to have this on hand, and plan a slightly out of season road trip somewhere.

The album, “Now is Good” is available at iTunes here. Brian is a local Los Angeles singer-songwriter who also plays with the local band Harmonious Fits. You can catch up with where to see them, and listen to some other music on Facebook here.

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If you are in the Los Angeles area you should start off your new year with some  live music and check out the next Harmonious Fits show in Santa Monica, on January 2nd, at TR!P.

Keep updated on future shows by following here for Brian, and here for Harmonious Fits.

Grow With Me :: Harmonious Fits

My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 10/28/16

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My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 10/28/16

1. Apocalypse Fetish :: Lou Barlow

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Three-Sentence Review: Bring to me low-fi, mid-to-late-nineties goodness, along with the memories of witch boots and crushed velvet leggings and baby doll dresses, and the heartbreaks and heart-bursts of that era…please. Oh Lou, you know I still listen to Sebadoh often (just this morning I was blasting “On Fire” and “Willing to Wait” in the car), and have really missed your voice and style and lyrical delivery. On this 5-song EP (why only 5? Why, oh why?), Lou plays everything, and produces along with Joyful Noise Recordings, and makes me feel awkward and emotive, and twenty-something, all over again.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “The Breeze”,“Apocalypse Fetish” and “Pour Reward”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

The Breeze

1. In the Middle :: Mona

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Three-Sentence Review: Indie-Alt rock/pop, with a bit of that mid-nineties memory recall I mentioned above? Yes, yes, and yes, but more, as well – a bit of early 2000’s Jimmy Eat World, Brand New and Creeper Lagoon, a bit Neutral Milk and Guided By Voices, and even some of the pop-infused Rooney in here – but still more, still something more right now – a bit of Airborne Toxic Event, early Killers and The Joy Formidable. “Ain’t It Sick” I can’t stop playing, and “In the Middle” (PLAY IT LOUD) slips in under my skin in all its anthem-glory, and gives me a combo wallop of skin prickles, heart-racing-wanting-to-scream-and-soar, and a feeling that I may break into tears – good, good stuff.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Ain’t It Sick”, “Bones” and “Judas”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

In the Middle

3. La La La :: Priscilla Ahn

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Three-Sentence Review: What if Cocteau Twins made a album of children’s lullabies,, with a little help from Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz (circa “The Girl from Ipanema”)? You would wind up with something akin to Priscilla Ahn’s album, “La La La”, which is a departure from the music and style I knew her from her work with Cary Brothers and Joshua Radin. There is a French pop feel spinning through most of the album, as well as this dreamy/dreamlike lulling pop melodies that makes you want to curl up in a warm blanket and drift off into the neverland of subconsicous fantasies.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “All By Myself”, “Leaves” and “Desert Lullaby”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

Desert Lullaby

4. Home On Native Land :: The Hidden Cameras

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Three-Sentence Review: I just read a blurb about this album that describes The Hidden Camera’s music as “Canadiana” (as in “Americana”, or folk/roots/alt-country), and now I’m curious of what other bands fit under this geographic-sub-genre. This is indie-pop, to me, more than any “ana”, reminded me more of The Magnetic Fields and Belle and Sebastian, than say Ryan Adams or The Avett Brothers, but maybe “Canadiana” hits more in that esoteric poppy indie gooey/goodness? Their cover of “Dark End of the Street” is pretty keen, I must say, as is the more “twangy” than “twee”, “Counting Stars”.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Dark End of the Street”, “Counting Stars” and “Twilight of the Season”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

Twilight of the Season

5. saintmotelevision :: Saint Motel

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Three-Sentence Review: Catchy, sticky taffy sweet, indie pop – Saint Motel is addictive and sugar-laced, and really should be a Summer album. That said, we can all use some feel good alternative pop music, especially as the nights get shorter and the weather chillier (at least everywhere besides Southern California). The album, and band, get “cinema”/”cinematic” affixed to them in most reviews, most likely because they are made-up of ex-film-students, but to me I hear more of a seventies soft pop, eighties radio-friendly pop, and the more indie side of current pop, along the lines of fun., Matt & Kim and Neon Trees.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Sweet Talk”,  “Born Again”, and “Happy Accidents”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

Sweet Talk

My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 9/12/16

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My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 9/12/16

1. Shape Shift with Me :: Against Me!

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Three-Sentence Review: I have big love for Against Me! and Laura Jane Grace, and many of the AM! albums were in heavy rotation this past summer, for me, especially in my car. I’m excited about, and digging their newest album – and have been anticipating it since the early release of “destined to be a summer must” song, “333”. There is emotional depth with the rifts and the raucous rock, a combination I’ve come to expect, and happy to see continue – a definite contender for my list of 2016 favorites.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “333”, “Dead Rats” and “All This (And More)”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

333

2. Redemption & Ruin :: The Devil Makes Three

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Three-Sentence Review: Americana drowning in twang and drunken nights and women and the devil (some would say those two are the same). This is a “take with three shots of Bourbon” kind of an album, play loudly and contemplate the existence of angels and devils  (brush the losing hand off your shoulder) and love, while loaded. Driving to this album is pretty keen, too, maybe sans the three shots I recommended before – just sayin’.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Chase the Feeling”, “I’m Gonna Get High”, and “Waiting Around to Die”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

Waiting Around to Die

3. Secular Hymns :: Madeleine Peyroux

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Three-Sentence Review: Oh my stars this is good – Madeleine’s voice with these songs – her chosen “secular” songs. A sonic spiritual experience, best shaken and stirred, especially if you are inclined to wear your heart a-dangling on your sleeve. This one requires whiskey, kissing, and nights that go on until the morning.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Got You On My Mind”, “If the Sea was Whiskey” and “More Time”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

If the Sea was Whiskey

4. Kindly Now :: Keaton Henson

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Three-Sentence Review: Keaton sometimes gets me, hitting those squishy, emotional spots, making me cry, and other times he veers a bit too far into the hipster zone – when he hits the spot though…I feel it. This new album has the same hit/miss feel to me. There are some emotional punches here, songs that are stripped and delicate and beautiful, and there are some that just feel  a bit too much of the contrived cool, and a bit too “one note”.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Old Lovers in Dressing Rooms” and “How Could I Have Known”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4-

Alright

5. We’re All Gonna Die :: Dawes

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Three-Sentence Review: Oh Dawes, you know I love you, you know how long I’ve loved you, and how many live shows, long drives, and replays we’ve shared, so maybe you’ll understand how much I want to love this album…but, I don’t. Its hard for me, I think, especially when I fell hard and fast for your last album, and loved every-single-song on it, and maybe that’s part of the problem, maybe we need to get to know each other more, maybe this one is a slow paced contender that will get me later, I don’t know. There are a few stand-outs, songs I liked well enough, but this is the first time I’ve had a mediocre and disconnected feeling about any of your albums – I won’t give up yet though, maybe more listens will change my mind.

Initial Favorite Track(s): “Roll with the Punches”, “Roll Tide” and “When the Tequila Runs Out”

Rating (1-5 Stars): 3

When the Tequila Runs Out

My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 7/4/16

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My Top 5 New Releases :: New Music Friday :: Week of 7/4/16

1. Town + Country :: The Rave-Up’s

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Three-Sentence Review: An unexpected re-issue of a favorite band of mine from the eighties, and a bigger favorite band of my best friend, who this band/album/songs on the album will always remind me of. This was their debut album, and along with their appearance in the John Hughes’ film, “Pretty In Pink”, they became one of those bands that take me back to who, where and when I was when I fell for their music; they remind me of Lone Justice, of The Del Fuegos, Guadalcanal Diary and early Throwing Muses, oh, and they also remind me of the now gone venue, Bogarts, as well as (always) my best friend. The album includes early versions, demos and live recordings of songs from their debut, as well as the album itself.

Initial Favorite Track(s): Positively Lost Me, Radio and Rave-Up/Shut-Up

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

Positively Lost Me

2. Descending :: Butch Walker, featuring Ashley Monroe

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Three-Sentence Review: Another released single from Butch’s upcoming album, “Stay Gold”, and this one is a heart breaker of a duet, one that I fell HARD for after my first listen. It is full of that kind of uncertainty that love can sometimes arrive at, teetering precariously between the hope of carrying on/starting again and the sadness of maybe needing to (finally) let go. This is just making me more excited for the new album – please get here soon.

Initial Favorite Track(s): N/A (Single)

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5+

Descending

3. Acoustic Coffee House (Live) :: Callaghan

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Three-Sentence Review: I came for the breathtaking Dylan cover of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”, poured myself a cup of coffee and stayed for the entire album. I’ve been a fan of Callaghan’s since we featured her in the Keep Art Alive series back in 2013 (see her 10 questions here). The album was recorded in Nashville with musicians Okorie Johnson and Mike Gallagher, from her touring band, and include beautiful covers and original songs that will make you want to catch Callaghan the next time she plays in your town (see upcoming tour dates here).

Initial Favorite Track(s)Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, Till I Hold You Once Again and First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright (live)

4. Hit Reset :: The Julie Ruin

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Three-Sentence Review: High energy, witty and intelligent, dancable, punkish, a bit retro, and a whole lot of fun, “Hit Reset” is the perfect throw your cares out the window and just enjoy summer kind of album. It reminds me of some of the girl bands I loved in the 80’s and 90’s, and some of the punk/riot grrrl/new wave shows I went to within those two decades. So catchy, empowering and perfect for getting over an ex and/or taking over the day/night with your friends, this album is going to get a ton of play/replay from me the rest of this summer, and beyond –  you should consider doing the same.

Initial Favorite Track(s): Hit Reset,  I Decide and I’m Done

Rating (1-5 Stars): 5

I Decide

5.  Take Her up to Monto :: Róisín Murphy

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Three-Sentence Review: The first thing I think when I listen to “Take Her up to Monto” is St. Vincent, second I am reminded of Róisín’s work with previous EDM group, Moloko. I’m honestly not usually one for EDM, but this album is more than that, it transcends, borrowing from indie pop and experimental jazz sensibilities (with a side order of ELO – I get such a “Xanadu” vibe sometimes), as well as the obvious background in EDM. My only wish is that it veered a bit more in to the Trip Hop zone because I think Róisín’s voice is just made for it (listen to “Nervous Sleep” and you may hear it to).

Initial Favorite Track(s)Mastermind, Ten Miles High and Nervous Sleep

Rating (1-5 Stars): 4

Ten Miles High