Tag Archives: album

The Lone Bellow album Then Came The Morning

If you’ve been a reader here on TWF over the years you know that I have long been a proponent of Zach Williams.  His current band is The Lone Bellow and their sophomore album is widely available starting next week.  If you’d like to take a listen before you buy NPR’s First Listen is streaming the album now.

I highly recommend seeing them in a live setting as their energy and harmonies are infectious.  I’ve never again witnessed someone signing so passionately as I did when The Lone Bellow played a small concert venue here in Indianapolis.  For a hint at what you can expect take a second and watch their Tiny Desk Concert.

Enjoy the music.

Kishi Bashi album Lighght

Kishi Bashi has a fantastic new album called Lighght which is hard to describe.  Essentially it’s pure fun.  At times during the album you can hear influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver, and Phoenix.  If that doesn’t pique your interest know that he used to play violin with Of Montreal.  Oh, he also sings ~20% of the lyrics in Japanese.  What more could you want?

mp3: Kishi Bashi – In fantasia

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The Thermals album Desperate Ground

I sat down last night to write a brief and witty review of the newest album from The Thermals.  My internet connection rebelled and I think that might have been a good thing.  This album, Desperate Ground (amazon) (itunes), is great.  It’s really great.  For the past week I have been using it quite heavily in my playlist at work.  All day long I listen to albums.  Back to back to back albums.  Since Desperate Ground entered that list I have literally played it in direct rotation with all other albums.  By that I mean I listen to album A, then once through Desperate Ground, then album B, back to Desperate Ground, etc.

All told I reckon I’ve listened straight through this album at least twenty five times.  It helps that it runs a brisk 26+ minutes and no song clocks in longer than 3:20.  It also helps that every song is a perfect fit on the album.  There isn’t a moment that you begin to feel temptation to skip to the next track.  There are no low points to speak of.  This is pure guitar driven rock (or punk, or post-punk, or whatever label you can come up with) with no other purpose than to have a good time.  It will give you motivation on a Monday morning.  It will help you push through random paperwork.  It will keep your feet tapping and your head bouncing along to the beat.

mp3 : The Thermals – Our Love Survives

At the end of this year I can guarantee this album will still be in my top ten.  If you haven’t heard them before and you like this small sample go ahead and order their album from Saddle Creek (you get a load of swag for preordering).  Then stop and drop them an email or tweet and ask them why they’re not playing a show in Indiana.

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The Strokes new album Comedown Machine

The Strokes have unleashed a new album into the world and on first listen I can’t really grasp what their vision for the album was.  Their guitar/synth mashup style has now seemingly eschewed their wall of fuzz trademark and Julian’s vocals are even more unintelligible than usual.  On the opening track, Tap Out, it feels like the boys are gassed and are consciously trolling their fans, peers, and label.  The song has the pep and bounce you would expect, but the formula is missing something.  On previous efforts it felt as if The Strokes didn’t care an ounce and yet they combined that with an effortless sense of cool.  Here it feels, at times, like they genuinely just don’t care.

Elsewhere on the album you can hear their genius.  To be fair, I think this is the problem.  When viewing The Strokes through the lens of their previous efforts it’s easy to say they’re coming up short.  To label Comedown Machine (amazon) (itunes) as a poor effort is easy to do when you have Is This It sitting on the shelf.  It’s the same routine that has plagued other bands like Weezer or even Arcade Fire.  When your debut is so breathtakingly spot on everything you do after that will fall short of the impossible litmus test.

mp3 : The Strokes – One Way Trigger

All of that is true, and yet this is still a fun album from The Strokes.  It has some forgettable moments, but it also has a few songs that will stick with you and keep you trudging back through the full track list looking for that hidden spark.  Still it’s songs and demos like the following that make me wish for what could still come from the New York boys.

mp3 : The Strokes – I’ll Try Anything Once (You Only Live Once Demo)

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Cloud Cult album Love

With their latest album, Love (buy on their site) (amazon) (itunes), Cloud Cult continues to prove that some bands get better and better the longer they make music.  I have tried to come up with a witty review for this album and I find myself returning over and over again to this simple phrase; Love is a perfect Cloud Cult album.  On a track by track basis you can clearly hear their past musical styles shine through and ultimately blend together into what is essentially a “best of” album composed entirely of new songs.

I have long talked about Cloud Cult as the best band you’ve never listened to.  This album proves it and would be an excellent starting point for any new fan.

mp3 : Cloud Cult – Complicated Creation
mp3 : Cloud Cult – Meet Me Where You’re Going

If I’ve piqued your interest in the least you can sample more of their music in a rather long ode I wrote about the band a few months ago (click here).

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The Lone Bellow Debut Album

I have been following a musician named Zach Williams almost as long as I’ve been writing this blog.  I first stumbled upon his music when his moniker was Zach Williams and The Ramparts.  Those were the heady days of Myspace and random music links that led you farther and farther down the rabbit hole.  I followed his career as he made the move to NYC and at one point we started to email back and forth occasionally.  I recall vividly a time when he was playing a lot of local shows in the New York area and I convinced an old high school chum to go and see a show.  He ended up staying after the concert and meeting Zach in person; he described Zach as personable, friendly, and a very emotional performer.

After awhile my correspondence fell off and there were rumours that Zach was done with his pursuit of music.  And then the latest chapter in his career started with The Lone Bellow.  Originally running as another “Zach Williams and the” effort they eventually settled on the simpler moniker of The Lone Bellow.  Eventually they decided a full length album was worth a try and they raised funding on kickstarter to get it made.  Those of us fortunate enough to support the album were treated with digital and physical media alongside some magnificent live recording sessions that really captured everything I’ve always been told about their live sets.

mp3 : The Lone Bellow – Tree To Grow

If you haven’t heard of this band yet rest assured that they will be growing in popularity in the months and years to come.  They’re at their best when Zach is emotionally filling out a lyrical melody and the music swells to meet his voice.  Go buy their album from Amazon or iTunes today and keep supporting great music.  (And Zach – you need to play a show in Indianapolis)

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The Best Albums of 2012

This past year (well past by this point might I add) provided us with a slew of good to great music. There were new albums from Ben Gibbard, Muse, The Killers, and B.o.B. to name a few. They all made solid efforts in 2012, but they didn’t quite crack the top ten albums. Below is my list, long overdue.


01: Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal

From the opening of the first track you can almost sense that this is a special effort. There is a quiet intensity, a captivating beauty, that threads through every melody and harmony on this wonderful debut album from Iceland. By the time you get to the final track you’re only thought will be to press play again.

mp3 : Of Monsters and Men – Yellow Light


02: The Lumineers – The Lumineers

Another brilliant debut album on the list. Bursting with raw emotion and well written lyrical vignettes this album is filled with driving drumbeats and folk fueled romance. Although a few of their tracks are more aligned with radio friendly airtime it’s when they slow down that their true talent shines through.

mp3 : The Lumineers – Submarines


03: John Samson – Provincial

Many of the songs that appear on his debut solo effort closely mirror his top shelf work with The Weakerthans. While some reviewers this past year found this off-putting I find John Samson’s lyrical storytelling to be just as captivating with or without his regular band.

mp3 : John Samson – Heart of the Continent


04: Mumford and Sons – Babel

Not much needs to be written about this band or this album. They’ve grown up from an indie darling quartet to a full on success recognized the world over. This album is a worthy continuation of their career.

mp3 : Mumford and Sons – Where are You Now


05: Sufjan Stevens – Silver and Gold

I know; this is a Christmas album that’s actually a collection of five separate EP’s that were written over half a decade and they just happened to be released as a box set in 2012. I know all the reasons that this technically shouldn’t be on a list, but the entire collection is simply so good that it can’t be relegated to one month of listening every year. On top of that you can listen to each EP in chronological order and follow along with the evolution of his musical style.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Christmas in the Room


06: The Walkmen – Heaven

On this album The Walkmen continue their waffling between being effortlessly cool and trying really hard to channel Bob Dylan. The magic is when both of those efforts combine into a single glorious song. This is their best album since Bows + Arrows.

mp3 : The Walkmen – Line by Line


07: Beach House – Bloom

Although not quite as captivating as their previous effort (Teen Dream) their latest effort provides the same breathy vocals and building crescendos that have become their trademark.  This music would fit in almost any scenario.

mp3 : Beach House – Myth


08: Matt & Kim – Lightning

If you didn’t feel like dancing you will after a single listen to this album.  Or you might have a seizure.  It’s honestly a tossup.  Matt & Kim put out a solid album this time around and their one weakness (vocals on slower tracks) is kept to a minimum this time around.

mp3 : Matt & Kim – Now


09: fun. – Some Nights

It began for most people when their song We Are Young was featured prominently in a primetime commercial (possibly debuted during the Big Game?)  If you were daring enough to jump into the full album from that snippet you would find yourself treated to a modern day pop musical; complete with letters to moms, hanging out with friends, and pleas to find true love.

mp3 : fun. – All Alright


10: Jack White – Blunderbuss

I feel like I’m breaking an unwritten rule putting Jack’s first solo album this far down my list.  The problem is that for every brilliant track on the album, there is another track that reminds you how great Jack White is when he’s surrounded by other creative people.  This is a solid album, but it’s not his best effort.  I’ll go ahead and label it the Josh Ritter effect whereby an album starts off brilliantly and then veers into head scratching territory.

mp3 : Jack White – Freedom at 21

 

Sufjan Stevens upcoming album Silver & Gold has a free single entitled Christmas Unicorn

Sufjan Stevens has a new Christmas/Holiday album coming out this November. It is called Silver & Gold and will have a total of fifty eight songs.  If you head over to his streaming page you can download the last track from the compilation for free in high quality digital format.  Appropriately it’s entitled Christmas Unicorn and it sprawls for a full 12+ minutes.  I would expect nothing less from Sufjan at this point.  Take a listen below and then head over to his page to preorder the digital version or the vinyl limited edition if you have money to spare.

mp3 : Sufjan Stevens – Christmas Unicorn

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Coldplay album Mylo Xyloto

Despite what you may think the latest Coldplay album, Mylo Xyloto (amazon) (itunes), is a decidedly Coldplay effort.  Sure it is an evolution and continuation of their sound.  Granted it might not be their greatest work, but it’s not their worst album either.  Maybe we should call it what it is; an experiment.  And to be quite fair, they should be allowed to experiment.

Unless, of course, that experiment leads to collaborating with Rihanna.  If you strike that one song (Princess of China) from the record it’s mostly a solid Coldplay set list.  Their previous work, Viva la Vida, grouped song pieces together to make short audio plays such as the extended tracks Yes and Death and All of His Friends.  On Mylo Xyloto the boys instead opted to separate all tracks into more radio friendly segments and as such we’re treated to short 45 second lead in songs such as Mylo Xyloto, M.M.I.X., and A Hopeful Transmission.  So while at first blush these song segments may appear “new” to Coldplay, they’re really just repackaging their own system.

Where the band really experiments is with their sound.  Although a large part of the album is pure and simple Coldplay they do find some room for a new vibe.  On the fourth track, Us Against the World, the opening thrity seconds could have come directly from Explosions in the Sky.  The track Paradise feels  like a rnb deconstruction of classic symphonic Coldplay.  Major Minus comes across as a tribute to U2.  The album’s closing track Up With The Birds has a brief flirtation with sparse atmospheric rock before galloping back into a standard Coldplay close.

mp3 : Coldplay – Charlie Brown

At the end of the album you’re left with the feeling that this is undoubtedly another Coldplay effort.  There is enough new material to stay interesting (and sell tickets on their next tour), but it’s also familiar enough that they won’t be alienating any of their fan base.  Well, except for the one track Rihanna.  That track is an aberration and should probably be erased from your memory.

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Cults debut album Cults

The debut album from Cults (amazon) (itunes) is the type of sound that makes you nostalgic for an era you never lived through.  At times it feels like I’m sitting in a retro 50’s throwback diner, spinning singles in a genuine jukebox.  A handful of tracks bring me back to the mid seventies (which I never experienced), wistfully slotting wildflowers into rifle barrels.  Yet, at the same time, this album is grounded in today; each song is unique, breezy, and easy to listen to multiple times.

mp3 : Cults – Go Outside
mp3 : Cults – Bad Things

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