Friday, September 21, 2012

Frequent Spins (2012.4)

It's fall—well, technically not until tomorrow, but it sure feels like it—and that means it's officially new release season. Of course, in the music industry, this season comes twice a year, with the first being in the spring. [Imagine if there were two baseball seasons a year. That would be awesome.] What this also means is I've got some serious catching up to do with a lot of new albums that have piqued my interest, but here is what I've been listening to leading up to this point.

Bloc Party - Four
This band produced three really good albums in their first four years, but it's taken another four to get to this one. In the meantime, lead singer Kele Okereke released a pretty lackluster solo record, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. What I got was a harder rocking affair than their previous efforts, and one that does not disappoint, even if it might rank fourth in their discography, in my opinion

Bill Fay - Life is People
Lee Mazzola and I love to engage in various nonsensical music-related discussions—although he's better at it—like bands named after someone other than the lead singer, bands who replaced a significant member and became better in the process, etc. One that recently occurred to me thanks to this album—although I think it's actually a spinoff of one of our previous topics—is cover songs that are better than the original, with the qualification that the original is good too. Worded differently...covers that blow you away by the realization they're better than the already excellent original. Fay's rendition of Wilco's "Jesus, Etc." falls into this category for me.

Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
I read somewhere this six-piece chamber pop outfit from Iceland are being called the next Arcade Fire. I'm not sure about that, but everywhere I looked, the band kept turning up, so I figured it was a sign I needed to check out this April release, even if I was a bit behind the curve. It turned out to be a good idea.

Passion Pit - Gossamer
I loved their debut, but this is one of those bands I kind of figured would be exposed by extended playing time. You know the type; good in a platoon role, but not a legitimate full-time performer. There's no doubt more time is needed to officially make that assessment, but they've made significant progress towards proving they're no Joe Charboneau.

Stars - The North
This is more of the same from the Canadian outfit who Of Monsters and Men remind me more of than they do Arcade Fire. When I say "more of the same," I basically mean that in the best way possible.

Sun Kil Moon - Among the Leaves
Pre-LC, my commute typically consisted of a nearly 20-minute walk home from the T station in the afternoon (in the morning, there was a bus that fit nicely with my schedule). This allowed me the opportunity for a little quiet time with my music, without it having to compete with the sounds of the train, people talking (and otherwise being annoying) on the train, the conductor yelling over the loudspeaker on the train, etc. Recently, I had a day in which I didn't have to take LC to or from day care. As a result, I was able to spend that 20 minutes with this album, allowing me to further appreciate the lyrics of a couple of its better songs: "Song for Richard Collopy," an ode to Mark Kozelek's late guitar tech; and "Track Number 8," which name-checks troubled singer-songwriters who passed prematurely, including Elliot Smith, Shannon Hoon and Mark Linkous. I kind of miss that 20-minute walk, but I wouldn't have it back for anything.

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
I've been listening to this one on and off all year, never to the extent that made it legitimately Frequent Spin-worthy, but enough in total to make it finally worthy of the distinction.

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