By Thomas D. Mooney
This week’s releases seem to be dominated by folky singer-songwriters and hip-hop electronica artists, while light on your typical four-piece rock outfits. I mean, there are some, but they’re really not worth even mentioning (although, I’ll go ahead and mention them show you the level of shit I’m referring to: Mayday Parade- “Mayday Parade,” Jack’s Mannequin- “People & Things,” Reliant K- “Is for Karaoke EP”).
Most Likely to Succeed:
Alberta Cross- “The Rolling Thunder EP”
Alberta Cross is a real throwback to your late 1960s/early 1970s rock bands. They’re blues-based, half of them are English, they’re based in New York, and recorded their debut album, “Broken Side of Time” in Austin with legendary indie producer, Mike McCarthy (No, not the Green Bay Packers head Coach…think Spoon,…Trail of Dead, Heartless Bastards). Lucky for you, Alberta Cross uploaded the EP on Soundcloud the other day. You can listen to the five-song EP in its entirety.
If you like: The Raconteurs, My Morning Jacket, Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy- “Wolfroy Goes to Town”
Contrary to popular belief, Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams haven’t been our most consistent, dependable songwriters of the last decade. No, that award should go to Will Oldham, who has been making music since the early ’90s under numerous monikers, such as Palace Brothers, Palace Music, or simply just Palace (plus the aforementioned Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy). And while the singer-songwriter is most known by the world as Zach Galifianakis’ hype man in Kanye West’s “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” music video, Oldham has been releasing steady, balanced folk albums. I really can’t see “Wolfroy Goes to Town” as being any different.
If you like: Bill Callahan (Smog), Edith Frost
DJ Shadow- “The Less You Know, the Better”
Although you could have been listening to DJ Shadow‘s fourth studio album, “The Less You Know, the Better” since Sept 27, the physical copy of the album is releasing this week. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Shadow, he’s known for being one of instrumental hip-hop’s pioneers. He samples, samples, and then for good measure, samples once more. You shouldn’t expect actual vocals on much of this, but one of the highlights will surely be “Stay the Course,” which features Talib Kweli and Posdnuos.
If you like: Jay Dee (J Dilla), Dr. Octogon, DJ Spooky
Without a doubt, Leslie Feist is one of the most respected and beloved artists in the indie music universe. She’s one of the many musicians who contribute to the success of Broken Social Scene, and nobody really seemed to hate that “1234” was a giant crossover hit due to an Apple Ipod Nano commercial. But sadly, everyone who was introduced to Feist during that moment of pure marketing brilliance, will surely be expecting another “1234” on “Metals.” Which, it’s probably just not going to happen. In saying that, it’ll probably still be a great album and something genuine fans will enjoy.
If you like: Joanna Newsom, Laura Marling, Cat Power
You know you’re on the right path when your number one fan is Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. It means you’re getting a ton of free publicity, and more importantly, you can basically ask Yorke to sing on anything you want, and he’ll probably do it. But, let’s talk about Modeselektor. They’re trip-hop, they’re glitchy, and they’re IDM (intelligent dance music for you beginners). From what I’ve heard of “Monkeytown,” it’s probably not going to be anything hate (unless you hate the electronic genre as a whole) and it’s not going to be groundbreaking either. Probably above average.
If you like: Vitalic, Paul Kalkbrenner, Four Tet
Radical Face-“The Family Tree: The Roots”
I was just recently introduced to singer-songwriter Ben Cooper, more commonly known (although, not really known at all) as Radical Face. Cliche as it may be, Radical Face has a genuine “Dust Bowl Ballad” feel. His voice has this fragile quality that’s part haunting and part hesitant. It’s just a few notches louder than the Sufjan Stevens’ whisper. The arrangements on the album are also just graceful and complement Cooper’s vocals perfectly.
If you like: Angus and Julia Stone, The Tallest Man on Earth, Sufjan Stevens
Sarah Jaffe- “The Way Sound Leaves A Room EP/DVD”
Yes, you could have already bought this on iTunes on Sept. 27. But, for a physical copy, you’re waiting until Oct. 4. Sarah Jaffe has become one of Texas’ best overall singer-songwriters. She’s not afraid to expand her sound and push herself out of her comfort zone, yet she’s got a familiar sound everyone likes. And more importantly, she’s growing. The EP side of “The Way Sound Leaves A Room” isn’t necessarily something for new fans, since it’s filled with demos, alternative versions, and covers (Drake, Cold War Kids). The DVD side is a live set from the Wyly Theatre in Dallas and a documentary which follows Jaffe home and covers her songwriting process.
If you like: Jenny Lewis, M. Ward, Maria Taylor
Zola Jesus- “Conatus”
“Conatus” will be Zola Jesus‘ third album, but really, it’s doesn’t feel like it should. It feels like “Stridulum II” was released just yesterday. Regardless, I’m a bit interested in the latest songs from Nika Roza Danilova. And if your a bit unfamiliar and turned off by her moniker, which comes from Jesus Christ (supposedly God’s son) and Emile Zola (supposedly a Frenchmen’s son), then it’s doing its job. If it offends you, then dark and chilling vocals over hazy experimental electronica probably wasn’t your thing to begin with. But, still take a listen.
If you like: Cold Cave, Salem, HEALTH
Various Artists-“The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams”
I really have that “don’t be too excited for this compilation because it’s probably going to be disappointing you in the end” feeling in the pit of my stomach. On paper, it looks to be an above average-to-great tribute. But all too often, we’ve seen these things crash and burn. As much as I’m rooting for it, I’ve just got that feeling its going to be a blunder. I’ll go ahead and just list the pros and cons, then you can decide for yourself. Pros: Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Jack White, Jakob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell, Levon Helm. Cons: Old Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow (ugh), the fact they’ve not really been publicizing it’s release, and then there’s the fact that these were songs that Williams didn’t finish and/or thought were worth recording. Yes, Williams died at an early age and didn’t exactly have time to record everything he wrote (obviously). And Yes, Billy Bragg and Wilco took some unfinished Woody Guthrie songs and made them into awesome with “Mermaid Avenue” (and less awesome with “Mermaid Avenue Vol. II”). But, I’m just not really sold.
If you like:
Others of Interest:
Colin Stetson-“Those Who Didn’t Run EP”
Freestyle Fellowship-“The Promise”
Indigo Girls-“Beauty Queen Sisters”
Jason Boland & The Stragglers-“Rancho Alto”
Kronos Quartet-“Music by Glass, Nancarrow, Hendrix, Etc”
Loney Dear-“Hall Music”
Merle Haggard-“Working in Tennessee”
MGMT-“Late Night Tales” (Note: Not a studio album)
Misfits-“The Devil’s Rain”
Prince Rama-“Trust Now”
We Were Promised Jetpacks-“In the Pit of the Stomach”