It’s quarterly release roundup time in what has been a dizzying 3 months of releases. We decided the only way to get through this was to keep the list lean and mean.
So without further ado let’s, uh, do it.
Arguably what’s been most noticeable about the last three months is the return of so many well regarded artists that have loomed large in our listening habits over the years or what you might call big hitters. Sorry Ringo, I don’t mean you. We’ve covered Broken Social Scene and Grizzly Bear on the blog already so no need to tell you how great those albums are (also check out Tyler, The Creator, Everything Everything, and Vessels), but what about the hotly anticipated Arcade Fire album ‘Everything Now’? Well I sensed something of a backlash against the group online. A lot of bands experience this as time ticks on. Whilst I don’t exactly have the record on repeat I don’t think it is all that bad. Check it out for yourself.
I also noted many Queens of the Stone Age fans are not all that happy with the group’s latest offering. ‘Villains’. Again, I don’t think it’s by any means awful but perhaps their hardcore fans are a tricky bunch to please.
Disrupting this trend of quality bands not quite doing the business are the following six which you really must check out. I never listened to LCD Soundsystem much the first time round and that’s my bad. I caught up with them later on and really enjoyed the film ‘Shut Up and Play the Hits’. I must admit I felt a little bit cheated after sitting through that and it suddenly being announced they were to reform but after listening to ‘American Dream’ I’m very much glad they did. Give it a spin. It reminds me of Talking Heads. Now there’s a band I’d really love to see reform. How amazing would a world tour recreating the ‘Stop Making Sense’ film at every venue be? I can dream.
Next comes Mogwai. Again a group I can’t say I’ve followed religiously but when I do dip into their music I’m never disappointed. Their latest record ‘Every Country’s Sun’ can be found on Bandcamp – nice to see more and more established acts using the platform.
The War on Drugs are often compared with Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen. But they also remind me a lot of Bob Dylan. Not simply the nasal vocal delivery but also the style of music which reminds me of the Dylan of the 1980s, see tracks like ‘Jokerman’ for example. ‘A Deeper Understanding’, on first listen, lacks some of the standout songs we heard in ‘Lost in the Dream’ but it’s a very solid record from start to finish.
One of my favourite bands of recent years has been The National. It’s hard to say whether I prefer ‘Boxer’ or ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ but what I do know is this new release ‘Sleep Well Beast’ means I now have three records by the group of which I can’t decide the one I like the best. If I had to pick my favourite record of the last quarter it would be this one or Grizzly Bear’s.
It’s good to live in a world where Sparks exist. Their new album ‘Hippopotamus’ is a breath of fresh air with its humour, wit and quirkiness. In these dark times it’s nice to have a chuckle.
Also no stranger to humour, wit and quirkiness is Ariel Pink. Latest LP ‘Dedicated to Bobby Jameson’ provides another example of an artist embracing the Bandcamp route and you can’t argue with $10 for 13 tracks can you? In the song ‘Another Weekend’ Pink might just have created the catchiest tune of the quarter. It’s one of those earworms that already sounds like a timeless classic.
I’m going to leave it there. To get to grips with our recommendations why not check out our YouTube playlist here?