Thanks mostly to the soon-to-be-defunct Lala, I've listened to well over 100 albums so far this year. But honestly, it's been pretty overwhelming. That is, after listening to a bunch of pretty good albums once, it's really hard to decide what's worthy of further listens, even though I feel like my taste is fairly mature and I generally don't have to listen to something over and over again—like I did when I was a kid—to know that I like it.
Still, I'm sure there are albums that I've dismissed prematurely. So, while I'm disappointed at the shutdown of Lala, I'm relieved in a way that I'll be forced to focus on a much smaller selection of albums that I can preview multiple times over periods of a week or more.
For this round of Frequent Spins, I'm linking to the albums on Rhapsody, where you get 25 free track previews per month, with the option to upgrade to unlimited online listening for $9.99 per month.
Black Prairie - Feast of the Hunter's Moon
I've already heard this one referred to a few times as The Decemberists' bluegrass album, although that's not entirely accurate. The band name is apt, though, as this is bluegrass that's kind of dark, not surprisingly considering three of the five members are from a band whose most radio-friendly hit from last year's The Hazards of Love was about filicide.
Drive-By Truckers - The Big To-Do
After the first few listens, I thought that I was kind of tiring of this band—the emphasis here is on "kind of." But, the more I listen, the more I realize that, despite the fact that both Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have the same voice recognition problem as Jay Farrar, this is not just the same old thing from these indie Southern rockers. Of course, there are a lot of the same familiarly great tales of working class suffering, but the songs rock harder, which makes some of the material feel a little darker—but, in a good way.
Jónsi - Go
The first solo album from the Sigur Rós frontman is just as symphonic as his main band's sound, but is a little less post-rock and a little more orchestral indie pop, a la Sufjan Stevens. Either way, it lives up to the expectations created by the Icelandic band's recent work and any comparison to the midwestern songsmith's ambitious output.
She & Him - Volume Two
It's not that I didn't like She & Him's Volume One, but it never really sucked me in. With the release of Volume Two, I made a more conscious effort to understand what the rage was all about, and it appears to have paid off. These wonderfully retro-sounding songs include "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" and the oddly titled "Over it Over Again." I'm not exactly sure whether they hearken back more to the '60s or the '70s, but I'm leaning towards the former.
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