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Entries in Music Review (63)


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music

The days are getting shorter, and the music list grows longer, and my posts arrive later and later in the day. But there's so much to listen to! Plus it doesn't help that I rewrote a significant portion of today's post after realizing my tone might have been a little more negative than I like to use. So anyway, Round Two! (but it's like round one for you because you're never going to see the real round one.) Starting to feel like I'm writing in a hamster wheel, time to make a break for it - Highlights of the week!

Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne released new albums, 24 Karat Gold - Songs From The Vault and Standing In The Breach, respectively. Both albums are old songs revisited by the songwriters, like they somehow individually both decided to go out to the backyard and dig up that time capsule they buried way back when and share it with the rest of us. Weezer released Everything Will Be Alright In The End as well, which I haven't had the chance to give a full listen to but am intrigued by the 3 part suite at the end. It's hard to pull that off, and I'll give them the chance to succeed.

Later today though or maybe tomorrow, I mean there's like 150 releases on the list this week and my attention was focused on two artists: 1. Macy Gray's new album finally came out this week, The Way, and after being teased by all the singles I was ready for a listen. It's light, poppy, and switches between talking about drugs/lack of drugs and love. 2. Ex Hex, Rips. I really liked the EP and was hoping this would be another slam dunk like Clear Plastic Masks earlier this year. It's on my To-Listen list for another go-around. I need another go-around before I jump on the bandwagon I think. Or I have to see them live, not sure which. But it's one of those things. On the EDM side, Flying Lotus released You're Dead. New Found Glory released Resurrection, Bush has another new single promoting their upcoming album, and Yellowcard released Lift A Sail. Finally, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn cleverly titled their album, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, tune in here for your banjo and Americana fix.

Are you ready for this? The List.

80s Flashbacky
Peaking Lights, Cosmic Lights
High Ends, Super Class
Tosca, Outta Here
Yumi Zouma, "Alena"
Palate Cleansing Simplicity
Broods, Evergreen
O'Death, Out Of Hands We Go
Vashti Bunyan, Heartleap
Something Fun and Poppy
Streets of Laredo, Volumes I & II
Macy Gray, The Way
Alex & Sierra, It's About Us
Nikki Yanofsky, Little Secret
Odds and Ends
Shakey Graves, And The War Came - It has the same groove as the Macy Gray album but with less instruments and production. Might be fun to juxtapose the two by each other.
Tr3, Like Some Kind Of Alien Invasion - I really enjoyed the Latin-inspired guitar lines on "Mystery Calling"
Field Report, Marigolden - Is it Bon Iver meets David Gray? Maybe. I don't know. The wall I usually bounce these ideas off on was out of town before I wrote this.
Wampire, Bazaar - Again, bear with me, the wall I throw my spaghetti on to see if it's done was MIA, a jazzier T.Rex?
Dark Blue, Pure Reality - Who does the vocalist sound like? It's driving me bananas! It's on the tip of my tongue. I know I'll think of it after I post this. So I'm just going to move on.
Oh man, that Dark Blue thing is going to bother me the rest of the day. Hopefully it won't distract me from giving the shrubs a haircut, or a shrubcut I suppose. We've let them go all year and one of them is trying to take over the driveway. Unfortunately, the shrub doesn't realize we actually do own clipping utensils, we just never use them. Until today. Today, you shall meet your match driveway-taking-shrub! No more will you try to block us from our garage! Muahahahaha! Happy listening!

The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music

Still in the thick of it, music is being bombarded at us each week. This week includes the posthumous 50 St. Catherine's Drive album from Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees; Prince's Art Official Age; along with a release from his band, 3rdeyegirl, Plectrumelectrum; Bryan Adams has Tracks of my Years; Melissa Etheridge released This Is M.E.; and Engelbert Humperdinck dueting it up on Engelbert Calling. Pop country is alive and well with Blake Shelton's Bringing Back The Sunshine and Lady Antebellum is back with 747. On the Playground of Rock, The Preatures have Blue Planet Eyes; and Rural Alberta Advantage is out with Mended With Gold.

Heads up, it's the list.

So there are a lot of things to try out and listen to this week, but here are a few picks out of the bunch:


Tove Lo, Queen of the Clouds

Tragic Thrills, Tragic Thrills

Yelle, Complètement Fou - Fun French Pop

Folk/Old Country

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning

Alice Gerrard, Follow the Music


Estrogen High, Hear Me On the Number Station - No frills.

Black Crown Initiate, The Wreckage of Stars - I put this on first thing this morning so I can't completely say I'm unbiased. For some reason, 90% of the time, any metal I put on before breakfast on Friday morning makes my liked list.

Playground of Rock

Madi Diaz, Phantom - Give it a whirl and see what you think.

Filthy Huns, Leopard On My Right - it's pretty much instrumental, and there's not much that happens. It kind of builds on itself, but it's got this intensity to it.


Luke Winslow-King, Everlasting Arms - more blues than blues rock and just laid back.


Vaudou Game, Apiafo

Sally Nyolo, Tiger Run

Well there you have it, another list, another week. Hope you have a good weekend and happy listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music

Well last week I was a bit distracted lining all my ducks in a row for my piano studio recital picnic last Sunday. It was gorgeous, my students are fun and amazing, and it was worth it. But here we are again, another Friday, another refrain, and another week of amazing music being released. Like what?

Like everything on this list and more probably because it is pretty much impossible to catch it all. bam. Sneak attack list. You might notice the lack of listening to certain letters of the alphabet... 1. there is a lot of music again. 2. I kept getting entranced by an album and listening to 90% of it before moving on to the next.

Now let's get some highlights, you know, the big ones. Leonard Cohen, the writer of great things including "Hallelujah," released Popular Problems  to celebrate his 80th birthday. Let's take care of the rest of the L's while we're at it: pop star Lenny Kravitz, Strut; singer-songwriter Lori McKenna, Numbered Doors; country star Lee Ann Womack, The Way I'm Livin'; and if we just back up one letter, we've got country superstar Kenny Chesney out with The Big Revival. Jennifer Hudson seems to be taking a page from Jennifer Lopez with the title of her new album, JHUD. Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga teamed up to release Cheek To Cheek. Electronic music's Aphex Twin is finally back after over a decade with Syro. Imelda May with a strong rock pop release in Tribal. Oh wait, and John Mellencamp is back with Plain Spoken.

On the alternative or underground or playground side of it all, you know, those bands that easily fill a festival stage yet somehow aren't household names. Alt-J released their sophomore try, This Is All Yours. Jeff Tweedy and son join together with Tweedy, Sukierae. Sondre Lerche released Please. Perfume Genius with Too Bright. Finally Julian Casablancas + The Voidz released Tyranny because any longer and we would've had that entire album in singles. 

A Random Smattering of Recommendations From This Week

Christian Bland and the Revelators, The Unseen Green Obscene- Trippy rock

Cruel Hand, The Negatives - in case you just need to rock it out.

The Well; Samsara- I must have some pent-up something in me this week because the distorted guitar and heavy drums thing is really sitting well with me.

Danielle Woodrow, Turning - a little singer-songwriter for you this week.

Fickle Friends, For You - A little 80s heavy but in the good way like Haim. Not as complex as that though. So different but similar to Haim, got it?

Jack + Eliza, No Wonders - One of my weaknesses are female and male vocals paired up well, and this is definitely that. Playful, they have a good chemistry together with just a light accompaniment behind them. Give it a try if you are a She & Him fan.

DieAlps!, DieAlps! - Lighter fare that's got potential for multiple listenings.

Keys N Krates, Every Nite - to get your night/weekend started off right with some dancing and booming bass.

LIGHTS, Little Machines - a poppy little album

Goat, Commune - If you like Asian psychedelic rock of the 60s and always wanted to a new interpretation of that, here you go, this band from Sweden. Huh.

Aeges, Above & Down Below - Foo Fighters-ish in the good way.

Lighter and synthy these go together I think

Beach Beach, The Sea

Ennui, Telepathic Beat

Erasure, The Violet Flame

Astronauts, Etc.; Sadie

The Drums, Encyclopedia

Well that's some to start out with anyway. I have to go deal with some tomatoes now because it's that time of year and all. Chopping, sauteing, steaming, freezing, got to get the bounty into the freezer. And then we're off to go pumpkin picking for our annual engagement pumpkin because picking out pumpkins is way more fun than just getting a ring one year. Happy listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music

Hey ho music lovers! It's a big week in music, so let's get down to it with a bunch of fragmented sentences. Of course U2 dropped Songs of Innocence this week. Ryan Adams released the self-titled, Ryan Adams. Metal band In Flames had Siren Charms. Veteran pop-rock band Better Than Ezra with All Together Now. New pop up-and-comer Banks released Goddess. Rock legend Robert Plant keeps us all guessing with Lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. American Idol alum Lee Brice released I Don't Dance. Former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams released Journey To Freedom. Loudon Wainwright III  is back with Haven't Got the Blues (Yet).

Then there are all the alternative/Playground of Rock releases this week. The Kooks are back with Listen - and you should, it's pretty good. Delta Spirit is bringing it with Into The Wide. Interpol - they're back! They made an album! It's El Pintor. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz released another single, "Where No Eagles Fly," in the lead-up to the new album. Speaking of singles, Ariel Pink put out "Put Your Number In My Phone" ahead of the November 18th, pom pom. Most importantly though, Karen O released Crush Songs which is kinda like an entire album of the end of Yeah Yeah Yeah's Fever To Tell. So pretty much awesome.

Watch it - it's the List

Sure, there's all that but what about...

Popular Classical artist duos? Dos! Francesco Tristano, Scandale and Chris THile & Edgar Meyer, Bass & Mandolin

World music perfect for a dinner party or a romantic evening? Moreno Veloso, Coisa Boa

something synthy? Try Megan Washington, There There; Ballet School, The Dew Lasts An Hour; Lemonade, Minus Tide

Mumford & Sons sounding? Judah & The Lion, Kids These Days

Some angsty music? Tiny Moving Parts, Pleasant Living

Noise Rock? PC Worship, Social Rust

if Wilco and Flaming Lips combined? Avi Buffalo, At Best Cuckold specifically the track "Oxygen Tank"

if Conor Oberst fronted Sigur Ros? Maybe it'd sound like Vio/Miré, You Will Be Spending Time Outdoors, in the Mountains, Near Water

Well that's about all I have. Though it is a lot, so much big stuff and all. Mainly I was distracted all week. Distracted by what you might ask? Well, like where did candy corn come from? Why don't they just have plain shortbread cookies at Trader Joe's?  Is grapefruit the best fruit ever? (yes is the answer) And trying to figure out how long it will take me to remove all the staples and reupholster a chair in my garage. You know, a real nail-biter of a week. Happy listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music

Happy first Friday of September! There is a chill in the air, the leaves across from us are turning yellow and it seems that the seasons are ready to change. I love fall, it's my favorite season. I love the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet. The air smells wonderful. Apples, pumpkins, nights gathered around a fire, there is so  much to fit into such a short season.

We're in the home stretch of music for this year as well. It's a pop heavy week this week. Maroon 5 released V. Nick Carter teamed up with Jordan Knight to release Nick & Knight. Counting Crows are back with Somewhere Under Wonderland. On the more alternative side of the pop/rock spectrum, Blonde Redhead released Barragán - which made me super excited. However everytime I tried to listen to the album, I kept getting interrupted so you can bet that this girl is going to be unplugging from everything, putting on the headphones and not giving up until I have listened in full to the new album. (I might really really like Blonde Redhead a lot, and can't even believe I saw them the first year I went to Lollapalooza oh so many years ago...) I digress. The Vines released Wicked Nature also this week. Macy Gray is gearing up for her new album out in October with the release of the single, "Hands" this week.

Bam. The List.

A few more I'll be tossing on this weekend

TOPS, Picture You Staring - Listen to the first track "Way To Be Loved." The guitar riffs are fun and playful, just a great song. I noticed that future tracks lean a bit more 80s but I still think this will pair nicely with the new Blonde Redhead album this weekend.

Coves, Soft Friday - It's got that rocky vibe with shimmering synths and reverbed vocals on the top.

The Canyon Rays, West Coast Babes - I bet you can guess the sound of this album just by looking at the band and album names.

Zeus, Classic Zeus - Psychedelic and fun. Give it a try if you like later MGMT.

Serenata Guayanesa, Canta Con Venezuela! - Acoustic Venezuelan music, yes.

Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department - Not what I was expecting. With the band name, I figured something harder not the hippie laid back music that came on.

Alexis Cole, A Kiss In The Dark - some jazz for your weekend. Seems like a good dinner party prepping segue to beginning of dinner party music.

To-Listen (the list of those I didn't give a good listen or need a second listen)

The Roys, The View

Jim & Jesse, I'm Gonna Sing, Sing, Sing

Homeboy Sandman, Hallways

Helado Negro, Double Youth

Half Japanese, Overjoyed

Grey Gordon, Forget I Brought It Up

Anthony D'Amato, The Shipwreck From The Shore

Mutual Benefit, The Cowboy's Prayer


Well that's it for this week. I hope everyone has lovely weekend and happy listening!

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