Beach House album Bloom

It has been far too long since I last posted here.  Long story short; I bought a house, moved, and had knee surgery in the past six weeks.  Enough about me, time for the music.

The latest album from Beach House, Bloom (amazon) (itunes), picks up where Teen Dream left off.  Intoxicating, bordering on lackadaisical, lead vocals combine perfectly with well engineered melodies and hazy guitars and keyboards.  Although nothing this time around quite reaches the height of their brilliant track 10 Mile Stereo, the album as a whole is very well done.  If you’re looking for the perfect album on a drive to or from the beach (no pun intended) you need look no farther than Bloom.

mp3 : Beach House – Wild
mp3 : Beach House – Lazuli

I predict this album will make my best of list at the end of 2012 and it really deserves a full listen.  It’s simple, beautiful, layered music that is perfect for almost any occasion that involves hanging out.

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Zach Williams and the Bellow

If you have followed this blog over the past five years you have probably realized that I greatly enjoy the music created by Zach Williams.  You can see a collection of my posts about him here.  I remember that I randomly stumbled upon his music on myspace (yeah, remember that place?).  There was something captivating and honest about his voice.  Something earnest, honest, and at the risk of sounding cliche, something pure.

He’s gone through a lot in recent years.  He’s moved to New York.  He left his old band, found a new one.  And he successfully ran a kickstarter campaign to raise money for recording a new album.  The song below is ripped from a video update he provided for financial backers over on kickstarter.  Enjoy.  We all look forward to the album.

mp3 : Zach Williams and the Bellow – Teach Me To Know (Live)

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Gotye album Making Mirrors

Many of you have probably already listened to the latest album from Australian artist Gotye.  If you haven’t heard the entire album, Making Mirrors (amazon) (itunes), I encourage you to take a trip through each song.  Gotye is at his best when he’s creating new and unque sounds on tracks like Somebody That I Used To Know or Save Me.  Elsewhere on the album there are tracks, like I Feel Better or In Your Light, that feel like they’re paying homage to 80’s guitar pop or 60’s Motown.  He apes those sounds so well that if you close your eyes you could be convinced you’re listening to the jukebox at a throwback diner or the soundtrack to Three Men and a Baby.  Side note, Ted Danson is always great.

mp3 : Gotye – Eyes Wide Open
mp3 : Gotye – Save Me

The entire album is great and it spins effortlessly back and forth between various and obvious influences.  I can’t believe it took me this long to really review this considering it’s been on regular rotation in my car for the past few months.

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Streetlight Manifesto covers The Postal Service

This weekend I stumbled upon a great cover of the staple Such Great Heights.  Their take on the classic song from The Postal Service is skewed heavily toward the ska genre and the opening thirty seconds are brilliantly rendered by their horn section.  Honestly my only gripe is that the horns take such a back seat throughout the remainder of the song.  Enjoy.

mp3 : Streetlight Manifesto – Such Great Heights (The Postal Service Cover)

You seriously need to listen to this track.  At least the first thirty seconds or so.  It’s still amazing me after repeat listening.

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Sigur Ros upcoming album Valtari

On May 28th of this year one of my all time favorite bands will release their long awaited studio album.  After basically dissolving, following their brilliant Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (amazon) (itunes) in 2008, it seems the Iceland boys have finally come back together.  Over on their website they are currently playing a song from the album which I assume is the second track from Valtari.  If the rest of the album is anything like this song we can all look forward to another sparse, atmospheric, and quietly brilliant album from Sigur Ros.

mp3 : Sigur Ros – Ekki Mukk

On their website Georg had this to say about the upcoming album “i really can’t remember why we started this record, i no longer know what we were trying to do back then. i do know session after session went pear-shaped, we lost focus and almost gave up…did give up for a while. but then something happened and form started to emerge, and now i can honestly say that it’s the only sigur rós record i have listened to for pleasure in my own house after we’ve finished it.”

Preorder the album on Amazon here.

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Fun album Some Nights

The latest album from Nate Ruess’ latest effort, Some Nights (amazon) (itunes), is very easy to summarize.  Just imagine if Freddie Mercury and Paul Simon had a baby that grew up in the eighties.  Then that baby mined their collective database of melodies, drum beats, and creative pop songwriting.  Oh, and at some point they became sublimely infatuated with musicals.  That would sum up this album.

mp3 : Fun – Some Nights
mp3 : Fun – All Alright

There are moments throughout the album that make it almost feel as if it was tailor made to be part of a larger stage musical.  A few songs actually break down into spoken word, almost everything is told from a first person narrative (with true chorus backup vocals), and it’s obvious Nate really misses his mom.  He talks about her on a few tracks.  It’s like this grown up Mercury/Simon lovechild went off to camp and decided to write an album.  Except that they’re all circling thirty.

What smacks most oddly throughout the entire album is just how well it all works.  It feels like a run away train wreck of an album that somehow caterwauls into a musical that you can listen to over and over again.  Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the hooks or the pure sugar rush of admitting pop isn’t dead.  Perhaps the band mines just enough from their aforementioned fathers to keep us interested and a bit nostalgic.  Perhaps it’s something else entirely.  At the end of the day this album is simple genuine fun and is worth a listen.

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Shearwater album Animal Joy

On their latest album, Animal Joy (amazon) (itunes), it can be easy to dismiss a full listen because if you’re not paying attention it almost sounds like a satire of other bands.  I don’t mean that in a bad way, but the vocals tiptoe along a very very fine line between unique and so-distinct-they-must-be-doing-this-on-purpose-right?  When you tread beyond that first impression you will be rewarded with a fantastic album from start to finish.  At times a few tracks drag on (until put down down by the classic studio fade), but overall this album is filled with energy, depth, and unique musical moments that highlight the bands decade long career.

mp3 : Shearwater – Animal Life
mp3 : Shearwater – You as You Were

Animal Life is the lead off track for the album and it does a great job of putting a listener in the right frame of mind for the remainder of the 45 minutes.  You as You Were is the fourth track on the album and is arguably my favorite.  It could flippantly be described as a sort of Baba O’Riley as interpreted by The Decemberists.  And that is probably the most apt description I could give to this album.  As I described it to a coworker a few weeks ago I feel like this album is what you would get if you took all the best parts from The Decemberists (and left out all of their rather annoying songs) and made an album with that talent.  It’s weird to always compare bands to one another, but in the end everything is influenced by and derived from something else.  Even opinions of aging bloggers.

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First Aid Kit album The Lion’s Roar

First Aid Kit first splashed into my consciousness when they produced an excellent cover of a Fleet Foxes track last year.  With their second album, The Lion’s Roar (amazon) (itunes), they continue on in familiar territory.  Combining a little bit of 50’s vibe with modern folk harmonies they often come across as a cross between the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack and Kings of Convenience.  Both, admittedly, great things.

mp3 : First Aid Kit – Emmylou
mp3 : First Aid Kit – To a Poet

If there is one negative to this album it would be that upon repeat listens it starts to lull you to sleep.  It is a beautiful and elegant sleep filled with peace, but at the same time it’s a sleep that you never wake up from.  The only way to break the trance is to jump to another artist for a jolt of energy.  With that one very minor issue out of the way I am confident in saying that this is a great album.

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James Vincent McMorrow covers Steve Winwood

A day late and a dollar short is better than never posting at all.  James Vincent McMorrow (think Bon Iver style vocals from across the pond) has covered the Steve Winwood classic Higher Love.  It’s worth a listen if you haven’t heard it before.

mp3 : James Vincent McMorrow – Higher Love (Steve Winwood Cover)

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Random Song Dump

A long time ago in our galaxy I used to create monthly lists that I referred to as Best of the Month (BOTM).  Along the way life became more filled and music gathering, curating, and dissemination became more and more pushed to the periphary.  Today as I was cleaning up a personal hard drive I stumbled upon these tracks that at some point I thought worthy of being shared.  So I’ll just dump them here (mostly so I can empty that folder from the drive).

Enjoy the music.

mp3 : Cee Lo – Radioactive (Kings of Leon Cover)
mp3 : Childish Gambino – Break (AOTL)
mp3 : Crooked Fingers – Under Pressure (Queen Cover)
mp3 : Deer Tick – Dirty Dishes (Live on MOKB Radio)
mp3 : Elbow – Running to Stand Still (U2 Cover)
mp3 : Ingrid Michaelson – Can’t Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley Cover)
mp3 : KiD CuDi (feat Vampire Weekend) – Cudderisback
mp3 : Mochi Beats – Gifted Stop
mp3 : Serena Ryder & The Beauties – The Funeral (Band of Horses Cover)
mp3 : Willy Wonka – Pure Imagination

Yes I understand that “Willy Wonka” above is actually voiced by Gene Wilder, but keeping it as Wonka adds more whimsy to the piece.  And we could all use a little bit of whimsy.  Also the Childish Gambino lyrics are absolutely not safe for work, or really any sort of public consumption, but this is one of the shining examples of his trademark flow.  Same goes for the KiD CuDi track (amazing flow, don’t let your mom hear it).  The Mochi Beats track is a mashup combining too many influences/sources to name (including Glee).

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