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Sunday, July 29, 2012

This week in music (week of 7/24/2012)

I've gotten into a pretty good rhythm and pattern of writing my "This week in music posts." Usually there are two, three, maybe four albums that come out in any given week that I'm interested in hearing. I'll listen to them each once, decide which ones I want to hear more, and then listen to those a few more times before writing this post (usually on Fridays). This week there were about five or six albums I REALLY wanted to hear and another five or so that I was curious to check out. What this all means is that I was unable (or unwilling) to choose just one (or two, or three, or four...) albums as my album of the week. Therefore, this marks the first time there have been five co-albums of the week. To further prevent having to make any sort of ranking choices, they'll be presented alphabetically by artist. Also because this is so much music for me to process, I'll highlight reviews of these albums by other publications. This will help focus on what's being said by those who I'm sure have had much more time to listen to these albums than I have.

New release of the week #1 - Undersea EP by The Antlers

While this album is only four tracks long and clocks in at under 25 minutes, it makes the most out of it. A few months ago, I discovered the blog Listen Before You Buy, and they quickly became my favorite of the music blogs I read. Their take on the EP:

Frontman Peter Silberman uses his voice less to tell a story, and more to provide a feeling, creating an organic atmosphere that penetrates boundaries that aren’t usually associated with EPs. It’s this freedom that not only makes Undersea an exciting turn for the band, but complements their staggeringly impressive catalogue.
Another point (although not a musical one) in Undersea's favor is how amazing the vinyl for the album looks (here is a pic). I don't even own a record player (although I really hope to get one soon), and I still couldn't resist pre-ordering the vinyl because it just looked so awesome.

New release of the week #2 - Major by Fang Island

This is Fang Island's second release. I really enjoyed the track "Daisy" from their debut, but the whole album never really clicked for me. With that said, their followup Major seems to have built on that promising debut really well. The album is basically non-stop energy. This is largely due to relentlessly catchy guitar hooks and just exuberant singing / shouting of the vocals. The whole album sounds like it was made to soundtrack a group of people's zany summer adventures in a movie. As Paste Magazine puts it in their review:

Major knocks aside other similar solo-heavy endeavors with its honesty. Packed with simple, poignant lyrics, the record keeps things awesome without falling prey to its own overindulgent qualities.
Honestly, "awesome" is about the best way to describe the music. This may not end up being my favorite album of the bunch, but right now it's the only one I can't get through without constantly nodding my head, tapping my foot, or drumming on something nearby. The energy is just really something else. Here is a track from the album, but I think it is really best experienced as a whole.

New release of the week #3 - Handwritten by The Gaslight Anthem

The Gaslight Anthem are back with their fourth album. Just like the previous three, they've churned out another album of unabashed Springsteen-esque rock. Their previous album "American Slang" was good, but after the bar was set so high by "The '59 Sound," it left me a little disappointed. However, after a few listens of "Handwritten," I can see myself really getting into this new one. Stereogum seems to agree, and they gave it their album of the week designation, saying:

They’ve slowed things even further on Handwritten, washing away nearly ever trace of their basement-hardcore past. Handwritten is an unflinching, unapologetic arena-rock record, with all the blazing solos and grunge-derived riffery that the term implies. And it works. The band hammers away at that style with the same grand, severe sincerity that they brought to their old hearty bashcore. Their old Jersey punk connection lives on in the whoa-oh-ohs that they love injecting into their songs — the single most classically commercial thing that the Misfits gave punk rock. But they’re aiming for bigger targets: Road-trip playlists, sports-highlight-reel soundtracks. And amazingly enough, they never overreach
Here is "45", the lead track from the album:

New release of the week #4 - Gossamer by Passion Pit

Pitchfork ruled the news coverage surrounding the release of "Gossamer." A week or so before the release of the album, they posted an in depth interview with lead singer Michael Angelakos. The interview is exceptionally well done and gives a peek into the many struggles that he has dealt with including his bipolar diagnosis when he was 18 and suicide attempts since then. He speaks frankly throughout and adds insight to their music that was missing before this interview. If you're at all interested in their music or a very personal interview about those issues, I highly recommend reading the whole interview. When the album was released, they gave it their coveted best new music designation in their review. While, Pitchfork may not be the most unbiased reviewer after having scored an exclusive interviewer, that shouldn't take away from this album. Even without getting into the lyrics or the man behind the music, the album is still just an undeniably catchy, dancy, pop album. Fans of previous Passion Pit music shouldn't be disappointed by the newest addition to their discography. Here is "Take A Walk" from the album:

New release of the week #5 - Shrines by Purity Ring

And finally we arrive at the final new release of the week. Purity Ring has been generating a lot of buzz for quite some time by slowly releasing track after track ahead of their debut album. Because of that, some fans may be disappointed to not be hearing new material. But for anyone like me who hadn't been paying attention, there is a lot to like here. The album is an electronic based bit of dream pop. In Consequence of Sound's review, they call it "legitimately one of the only albums that I can both sleep and run to." There's certainly something to be said for making music that can be enjoyed in different ways. If you like The xx, I would recommend checking out Purity Ring. You can click here to download one of my favorite tracks "Fineshrine" courtesy of the band's label 4AD.

If you're looking for more about new releases, KEXP rules the weekly roundup coverage by listing a whole ton of new releases with either videos, mp3 streams, or mp3 downloads for almost every release. It is usually the first place I look when deciding what to listen to each week. Check out this week's here.

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