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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Releases from April - June 2012

Back in April, I recapped my favorite releases from the first three months of 2012. At the time, I mentioned how much good music had already been released already. I had a ridiculously hard time narrowing down my list for the second quarter of the year. Combine that with an insanely long list of albums I'm looking forward to in the next few months, and 2012 shows no signs of slowing down. Onto the music though. In parentheses after the albums is a link to the Amazon page to download, with especially good prices listed.

My Favorite Albums released April – June 2012

1) M. Ward - A Wasteland Companion (only $5)

This album may not be at the top of everyone's list, but it's more of M. Ward doing what M. Ward is great at doing. This album didn't hook me immediately. However, after buying the CD, I popped it into my car stereo and left it there for a while. Apparently that did the trick because when I went back to listen to all of these albums before writing this blog post, I couldn't find any fault with this record. It is just a really solid listen from beginning to end.

2) Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is An Animal (Amazon)

This is another album that the more I listened to it, the more I realized I enjoyed the whole thing quite a bit. "Little Talks," which I wrote about back in February, is still probably my favorite song of the year, but basically every track from "Dirty Paws" to "Yellow Light" is really solid. I don't know what it is about Iceland that lends itself to such beautiful music, but Of Monsters and Men carry the torch well with their indie pop sound.

3) Father John Misty - Fear Fun (only $5.99)

Father John Misty is the new moniker of Joshua Tillman, former drummer of Fleet Foxes. He had previously recorded music under the name J. Tillman as well, but this project was enough of a departure from previous releases that he wanted a new name for it. I was first introduced to this new project by the video for the single "Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings," which featured Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Recreation (and the awesome new movie Safety Not Guaranteed). I wasn't a huge fan of the song though, and I almost didn't bother listening to this album because of that. I'm glad I gave it a try though because the rest of the album has a pretty cool old school country type sound that is absent on that track and which I very much enjoy.

4) The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now (Amazon)

I've made my love of The Tallest Man On Earth well known. Before this album, I had remarked that I wasn't sure he was capable of writing a bad track because everything else he had released was so incredibly good. He received comparisons to Bob Dylan when he was first starting, but he's done a good job of crafting a sound that is his own. This album, which has seen him expanding his sound a bit beyond just guitar and vocals, hasn't immediately grabbed me. That being said, neither did "The Wild Hunt," which is one of my all time favorites now. Regardless, I've enjoyed this album more each time I listen to it, and it could still shoot up my end of the year list with some more time to listen to it.

5) Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls (Amazon)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about seeing Alabama Shakes perform at Sasquatch. The band garnered a lot of buzz over the past year or so for their live show and the EP they released in 2011. Because of that, expectations for their full-length were sky high. Since "Boys and Girls" contains all the songs on the EP, it seems that people who had spent a lot of time listening to the EP were disappointed and rated the album lower than if it was new to them (although it still got pretty good reviews). That's understandable (and also just speculation on my part), but coming from someone who hadn't listened to them much, this was a phenomenal album. Lead singer Brittany Howard has a great voice backed by some strong bluesy-rocky-souly music. "Hold On" is another song of the year contender for me, and the whole album is worthy of many listens. Beyond that though, this is a band that is still young and their potential seems worthy of the massive internet buzz they created months ago.

6) The Lumineers - The Lumineers (Amazon)

You may recognize Denver based folk-rock group The Lumineers from a Bing commercial that used their song "Ho Hey." Amusingly, the top comment on the YouTube page for their music video is someone claiming they heard the song on the Bing commercial and looked up who it was with Google. Microsoft may have an uphill battle to get more people using Bing... While "Ho Hey" is a great song, fortunately the rest of the album is also filled out with great tracks. One of the other highlights is album opener "Flowers In Your Hair," which gets all of its goodness taken care of in less than two minutes. The short song seems to be a lost art, but they pull it off well there.

7) Joe Pug - The Great Despiser (Amazon)

Joe Pug is another favorite artist of mine who puts out excellent folk music that deserves to be heard by way more people. I've talked before how much I admire the way he goes about connecting with his fans and spreading his music, so I'll just direct you here if you're interested. This is another album that I haven't listened to as much as I'd like to (mostly due to being busy and being addicted to Diablo III in my spare time), so I could see it moving up in my rankings too with more time.

8) Cold Specks - I Predict A Graceful Expulsion (only $5.99)

Cold Specks is 24 year old Canadian born, London based, singer Al Spx. She is a bit of a wildcard here because I just heard her music about a week ago. I haven't had much time to process her album (just a couple listens), but I am in love with the song "Blank Maps," and the rest of the album seems pretty fantastic too. She describes her music as doom-soul. I read that she doesn't want to be compared to Adele, but because I just don't know much about the genre, that's the closest comparison I can make. While I find Adele enjoyable here and there, I never got too into her music. I've already listened to Cold Specks about as much as I ever listened to Adele, and I plan to sail way past that amount. I can only hope Cold Specks finds even a fraction of the success Adele has found because her music is certainly worthy of it. Since I haven't talked about her before, here's "Blank Maps" for you to check out:

9) Julia Stone - By The Horns (Amazon)

I wrote about Julia Stone just a couple weeks ago, so I won't rehash all of that here. However, since then I have also checked out some of her work with her brother in Angus & Julia Stone and found that to be really enjoyable too. It looks like her brother also has a solo album coming out July 17 called Broken Brights, so I'll have to check that out too. Based on what I've heard so far, there's no reason to think it won't be a good listen.

10) Walk The Moon - Walk The Moon (only $5)

This album sort of snuck on here at the end. I saw Walk The Moon at Sasquatch and they put on a really fun show, but I wasn't sure how that would translate to a full-length album. Well... I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that they released a really fun album as well. It's not really my typical fare, but the energy is just infectious and it's hard to just sit still while listening to it. It may not be something that I'll listen to all the time, but it does a great job fitting a need whenever I want something to get me energized. "Anna Sun" and "Tightrope" are two of my favorite tracks.

Albums that just missed the cut

Reptar - Body Faucet
JD McPherson - Signs & Signifiers
The Mynabirds - GENERALS
Rocky Votolato - Television of Saints
Nick Waterhouse - Time's All Gone
Marching Donald - Marching Donald

Albums that need more listens and could move up

Jack White - Blunderbuss
Beach House - Bloom
Port St. Willow - Holiday
Sigur Ros - Valtari
Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...

Upcoming Releases for July through September

7/10 - Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo, Magellan

7/16 - Meursault - Something For The Weakened

7/24 - Passion Pit - Gossamer

7/24 - Fang Island - Major

7/24 - The Antlers - Undersea EP

7/24 - The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

8/21 - Yeasayer - Fragrant World

8/28 - A Thing Called The Divine Fits

9/4 - Animal Collective - Centipede Hz

9/4 - Stars - The North

9/4 - The Vaccines - The Vaccines Come Of Age

9/11 - The xx - Coexist

9/11 - Field Report - Field Report

9/11 - The Helio Sequence - Negotiations

9/11 - The Avett Brothers - The Carpenter

9/11 - The Raveonettes - Observator

9/18 - Grizzly Bear - TBD

9/?? - Band of Horses - TBD

April Through June Mixtapes!

As I've done before, there are two possible ways to listen to a mix of songs from the past three months. If you use Spotify, you can use the playlist below.

If you don't use Spotify, you can play a mix through 8tracks.com below. This mix is a bit shorter because they require you to upload tracks you have purchased, whereas Spotify allows you any tracks they have made available.

My favorite tracks from April to June 2012 from rynestonecowboy on 8tracks.

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