For the love for music.
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This album is lyric driven, with primarily guitar accompaniment. Each track has poignancy in its own right, but it was "Hanging Tree" that had me pause and literally, out loud, say "what the fuck?". I'm tempted to quote the passage, but I think this album will have personal impact for anyone who listens.
Reminiscent of The Thermals, a perhaps more obscure band that I adore, if you're looking for something that might help you vent some frustration without going for full on rage check this album out.
Attention player: skill check ahead, the difficulty level is 14. Your ability will be 'Music'. Roll your d20.
20! Critical hit!
If you weren't expecting a DnD reference in a Public Enemy review, that is my exact level of surprise when I found out Public Enemy's new album was about the (lack of) internet!
I've long associated Public Enemy with The Dominion of The Nerds because entered my life when I was playing SNES or N64.
The album itself is great: hook loaded, faithfully vintage while modern, thoughtful while easy to listen to.
Also this week I've been very busy and gotten a lot out of Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth)'s new album By The Fire
I had a mind blowing moment with a song this week, so while this is not (and never will be) 'The Song of the Week' I wanted to start this week by saying: Without Even Trying by McCall uses sound effects so rhythmically and melodically that it blew my mind.
That being said:
This week's choice is unique to my knowledge. Yusuf (Cat Stevens) went back to re-imagine one of his most influential albums, and --because I'm a noob-- I'd never heard the original.
So how does it compare?
Is it good?
> Its great.
I find myself setup by most of the album, and drawn, like a moth to the fire, to the last few tracks (aren't albums wonderful like that?). Father and Son and Tea For The Tillerman knock me down. Strike! 🎳💥
This album shown like a diamond in the rough for me this week. Overtones of Coldplay, jammy guitar rock with guitar solos reminiscent of traditional jambands like Phish and The Grateful Dead but smoothed and contoured to fit (in a good way), and a fair dose of modern strangeness in the form of samples and drops.
Though I don't know all the words yet, I suspect that it would make a great album to listen to on a long drive, to sing along with at times. And to just put some distance between you and what's got you down.
Reminiscent of The Strokes, Arcade Fire, and some Wilco, this is a solid guitar rock album worth your listening.
A futuristic album that avoids the clichéd post-apocalyptic acoustics common to the genre. This album is exactly what I was hoping to find when taking on this quest: new label defying music that I love. I expect to hear breaks on NPR between segments sometime this fall :P
Starting strong, you may be reminded of the Stranger Things theme, I certainly was. And at other points, you'll ask if this is part of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. The sound more than the arrangement or the content is reminiscent of Sohn, with delightful breaks and dropped beats formed from ultra-bass.
Incidentally, this week I experimented with all the contender's albums on speakers and headphones. I think the headphones time likely contributed to this albums overall score, and I will continue to think about if a choice for album of the week should be influenced by medium. I know that it matters, but would it ever shift the podium? Time shall tell.
A fun album, perfect for the end of summer.
Several songs stand out, Happy Song and I Think You're Great are fun guitar rock that makes you want to reach for a sangria. My absolute highlight though, is an exchange with the engineer or producer (?) at the end of I Think You're Great.
I like to Dance on the other hand (maybe) gives away the game. Not to put words in Alex's mouth, but i will say the pop feel of this album is related to Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys' often cited for being to sweet, but when you listen to the lyrics they reach into you and uncover a great dark abyss of feelings, and all of a sudden you're crying but you would never tell someone it was because of Pet Sounds.
Clocking in at 2 hours and 39 minutes on just 7 disks this album is a tour de force of neo-rock. Vaguely reminiscent of Sohn and the most interesting parts of Daft Punk, this album will doubtlessly polarize. However I'm into it. If you don't have nearly 3 hours to dedicate this week, I suggest the cover of Today and Official.
Also, spend some time with the album art. I'm not sure, but I believe it's designed to have different moriee effects at each resolution you can see Pitchfork has a super HD version.
This EP is full of great covers. It is a jammy rock tube floating down a lazy river of nostalgia. The cover of Take Me Home, Country Roads is my first time liking this song (de gustibus...). That track even features Waxahatchee who have the honor of being my first official Album Of The Week!
Oh, and, so it turns out: Whitney released an album of covers called Candid which is a candidate for Album Of The Week this week!
This week there are two more releases I have to mention. First, Pauline by Ashley Ray is an absolute ear worm that I'm adoring. I can't wait to review this album. Second is Little Idols by Jordan Lehning: Oolaloom alone makes the album an instant keeper. After only one week, I'm already singing along to much of the album, and if you have an extra slot in your rotation this week, its a strong honorable mention.
For me this album does one thing and does it well: rhythm and chorus focused fuzz-grunge-rock. This is an excellent album to Get Shit Done with.
This album is decidedly from the UK. The Streets say we are 'two nations divided, by a common language', which is to say: being from 'across the pond' leaves me unable to translate volumes of lyrics. Like a Stereolab album I let the words wash over me. There are depths to uncover here, I know.
Lupe Fiasco and Kaelin Ellis narrowly beat out Logic's New Album this week. The level of thought provoking rap lyrisysm and spoken word on both albums is fantastic. HOUSE -an EP- burns just bright enough to steal the spotlight to outshine every other album this week.
Chill-out and think with these deep tracks.
As diverse a collection of beats as featured artists. Most songs fall inbetween dance and trance, while avoiding the pop of the former and the fog of the later. An excellent soundtrack for getting shit done.
This album was fought hard to the front of my selection. Some other Album Of The Week contenders were EPs*, an album from an artist that I adore**, and (this week's choice) an album of covers.
My love of covers choose this album. Covers seldom make the charts, have licensing issues, and remain common fixtures on albums. Part loving homage, part musical prowess, and part adaptation: these common but seldom heard tracks come from a raw artistic affection.
I have no idea which tracks you might like on this album, but I can rest assured, there is at least one.
*: I had to debate if EPs could be albums of the week I've decided that they can, but that neither of this weeks contenders were successful in the rest of the decision making process.
**: The Streets - None of Us Are Getting Out of This Alive I may have just not had enough time with this album. Rest assured, I'll be coming back to it.
A truly international effort. The sounds of African instruments and rhythms are influenced by jazz. Artists from across the world collaborated here to create music that draws people together. This album introduced me to the organization: In Place Of War. Please consider buying the album or making a donation to support their cause.
HAIM's sound is cohesive, on the surface is a very familiar 'Classic lyric rock' vibe but they go much deeper. In The Steps I caught overtones of The King of Pop, then I know alone sparkled a memory of WHY?. And thats just the first 3 tracks. The melange is strong. I imagine they're fun live.
In the liked tracks for this week is First Time by Becca Mancari, which has a lyric I just had to share:
I remember the first time my dad didn't hug me back Under porch lights with my sister's old cigarettes With your hands hanging to your side and my face to your chest
Thought provoking and beautiful with more than a hint of whimsy. A Dylanesque protest-rock-folk album in 2020 that is shockingly by Bob Dylan himself.
Several weeks ago Bob Dylan tracks started appearing in my feed. I assumed they were unreleased tracks. But they turn out to be promo tracks for his 39th studio album.
As a lifelong fan, nothing could make me happier than to pick this as the album of the week.
Norah's beautiful voice and jazzy rhythm defy time. Toss in some modern boho sensibilities and an experimental layer and you've got "Pick Me Up Off The Floor". Put this on for a chill evening. Pair with an old fashioned and a joint for the full effect.
This album is not offensive. It is the world it describes that is offensive. Everyone, especially Karens, should listen to this album. Here's a snippet from 2 songs to sell you on the album:
Funny fact about a cage, they're never built for just one group
So when that cage is done with them and you're still poor, it come for you
The newest lowest on the totem, well golly gee, you have been used
You helped to fuel the death machine that down the line will kill you too (oops)
The way I see it you're probably freest from the ages one to four
Around the age of five you're shipped away for your body to be stored
They promise education, but really they give you tests and scores
And they predictin' prison population by who scoring the lowest
And usually the lowest scores the poorest and they look like me
Mastered economics 'cause you took yourself from squalor (slave)
Mastered academics 'cause your grades say you a scholar (slave)
Mastered Instagram 'cause you can instigate a follow (shit)
Look at all these slave masters posin' on yo' dollar (get it, yeah)
Look at all these slave masters (ay)
Posin' on yo' dollar (get it, yeah)
Jake Blount brings us an album of tracks with Black histories. Songs with stories that deserve recognition.
Take "Where Did You Sleep Last Night" for example. This is a song that has a long history, longer than any one who credits the song to Nirvana or Lead Belly knows. In 2017 Fantastic Negrito released a new interpretation that sets the song in Oakland CA.
If you only listen to 'top tracks' you are missing out lesser known side of album listening: covers. Album after album has one or two deep cuts that send you back, but only you knew the original song. For some tracks on this album I was singing along before the chorus hits, often with arm hair standing on end.
This is an album I expect people will talk about. An emotion stirring arrangement of Greta Thunberg speaking over a minimal soundscape. I imagine as I listen half remembered scenes from Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest and Pink Floyd's The Wall: crumbling ecospheres giving way to dystopian smoke stacks. But thats just the first track. After that a rock hard punk track brings the energy level back to the top.
The diversity on this album is what locked it in my mind as shoe in for this week. However, the truth is there was just so much good music released this week that I've decided to implement a Runners Up section for each week. I haven't quite figured out what that means today, but check back soon for more from this week, future weeks, and perhaps even a retcon of sorts.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down manage to hit a groove on this album over and over. Echos of your favorite jam band album (or mine) updated and mashed up with Tune-Yards. That said the rhythm and arrangements contained in this record are bound to get you grooving and thinking at the same time. Two things that I love an album to do.
Rhythms soothed my soul. Lyrics instigated my emotions, and the story telling kept me hooked.
Influenced by, and featuring on the track "MEATHEAD" , MF DOOM. Including a broad range of instrumental accompaniment: Act II begins with a trilling flute and dialog based segments. All of this that contributes to a concept album that works.
"Too Lost" has my head bobbing every time I listen to it.
An tribute to the absolute train wreck of a year. I'm reminded of my father's musical taste, but of the man himself listening to "Peace in our Heart". "My Heart Aches" follows with a sentiment that stirs a sorrow, for the isolation that keeps us a part. 2020's tone is perfectly matched to how we're all feeling right now. Not purely sorrowful: complex and at times with the irreverence of a Jimmy Buffet song, some times as annoyingly catchy.