Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Now Downloading: New Releases 05.22.07

When you get down to it, the only release I really need to profile this week is The National's Boxer. But it'd be criminal not to throw some love to the debut from The Handsome Furs and the latest from Wheat. Also coming out this week is Voxtrot's full-length debut, but we breached that one a week early.

Playlist: New Releases 05.22.07

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Album: The National - Boxer

The National - BoxerAround four years ago when I saw The National play The Tractor Tavern (October 23, 2003) here in Seattle, there were maybe a dozen people in the audience, which allowed for an intimate evening with Matt Berninger's lyrics that's probably not as easy to get nowadays (see La Blogtheque's amazing Takeaway Show from March.) Of course they've come a ways since Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers, but the same reflective look at city life is there in the lyrics, and Boxer might even be closer to Sad Songs in theme then 2005's equally amazing Alligator, which put them on the map. There's nothing that grabs you as instantly as Alligator's "All the Wine," but this one works better as a whole, and like the best albums, reveals more and more through repeated listens. The first four songs are The National at their best, starting with the slow building opener "Fake Empire," which like a few songs on the album, benefits from the piano play of Sufjan Stevens (the song even ends in a Stevens'-like orchestrated flurry.) "Mistaken for Strangers," the first single, then ups the post-punk ante and contains some of Berninger's best lyrical turns. "Brainy" continues the great ride, with drummer Bryan Devendorf driving and pushing right into the next great song "Squalor Victoria."

I've only had the opportunity to listen for the past week or so (it gets better and better,) so I feel at a loss to say more, just that I'm looking forward to getting even more familiar.

Free Album Stream via AOL
Download: "Fake Empire"

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Album: Handsome Furs - Plague Park

Handsome Furs - Plague ParkDan Boeckner is best known for being one-half of the songwriting team that makes up the band Wolf Parade, Boeckner being the one who hasn't collaborated with nearly every Canadian side project out there. Boeckner's side project Handsome Furs is a duo with his fiancee (a short-lived title) Alexei Perry, who mans drum sequencer. Whereas Spencer Krug's side projects march in all directions upbeat, Boeckner doesn't mind stripping his songs down a bit, and follows more traditional song structures. The opener "What We Had" is an obvious pick, with lyrics like "It’s the old flame and diamonds/But there’s nobody here just empty space" it evokes old country... matter of fact, ease off on the distortion and add a steel guitar (and real harmonica) and you'll whistle this on the dusty trail. "Dead + Aural" is the other track I suggest you digest, if not the whole album. It proves Boeckner certainly holds up his end of Wolf Parade. His voice still reminds me of Beck, though.

Free album stream from AOL

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Album: Wheat - Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch Square

Wheat - Everyday I Said A Prayer For Kathy And Made A One Inch SquareWow, that album title is really long.... it's choice, and the whole 'throw the songs on the wall and see what sticks' ethos feels like a reaction to their major label dance with mainstream, that crashed and burned. They signed to John Mayer's imprint on Columbia, toured with Toad the Wet Sprocket and even had a song on Elizabethtown, but you'd never believe it from listening from this album. Is that good? Is that bad? Depends on your perspective, but I think there's a common ground between the two that would find a pretty good audience right here. "move=move," "i had angels watching over me" and "what you got" walk this tightrope really well, I just wish so much of the album didn't feel like it was constantly trying to slide out of view. Maybe the next one will stick.

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Released this week that didn't make it into Rhapsody:
Battles - Mirrored (free album stream)
Loudon Wainwright III - Strange Weirdos: Music from and Inspired by the Film 'Knocked Up' (free album stream)

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More going (or already in) the Sansa
Black Moth Super Rainbow - Dandelion Gum
The Bravery - The Sun and The Moon (Free album stream from AOL)
Jeff Buckley - So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley (Free album stream from AOL)
The Stars - Do You Trust Your Friends?
My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats
Ben + Vespar - All This Could Kill You
Parts & Labor - Mapmaker
Tim Armstrong - A Poets Life

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

New Releases - 05.22.07

1. Mistaken For Strangers - The National
2. Dead + Rural - Handsome Furs
3. i had angels watching over me - Wheat
4. Reception - My Teenage Stride
5. This Is Not The End - The Bravery
6. Set Yourself on Fire - Stars
7. An Honest Bluff - Ben + Vesper
8. Forget Her - Jeff Buckley
9. Fractured Skies - Parts & Labor
10. Hold On - Tim Armstrong
11. Jump Into My Mouth and Breathe the Stardust - Black Moth Super Rainbow
12. Paint It Black - Hayseed Dixie
13. Medusa (Edit) - Ulrich Schnauss
14. Blue Car - Greg Brown
15. Cream Dream - Joan Osborne