Well, my friends, it’s a beautiful day and there is a good amount of
great new music out today. There is also a very sad review that I have
to give. Just as I’m sure I’ve given a lukewarm review to a band that
some of you love, today I have to give a bad one to one of my all-time
favorite bands. At least you’ll all know that I don’t play favorites up
in this piece. Let’s rip that band-aid off quickly, shall we?
Gossip — A Joyful Noise (Columbia Records)
Photo courtesy of Gossip/Facebook
I can’t even begin to tell you how depressed I am to have to write the
words immediately following this sentence, but I must. One of my
favorite bands, and certainly favorite live bands, has put out a shitty
album. A Joyful Noise sounds
like it was uninspired, easy to make but sloppily thrown together and,
at best, a collection of songs discarded from Music for Men.
Beth’s voice is overshadowed by way too much synth but the times her
voice is able to peak through, it almost sounds as though she strains
be on key in vocal ranges that shouldn’t need straining. I feel like
I’m betraying a friend by writing
these words; but knowing what they are capable of and comparing it to
this release, the differences are jarring.
This album will be played
and remixed on dance floors and there is nothing wrong with that. When
I listen to a Gossip album though, I want more than just music that
will make me dance (which it does, like no other and I don’t care how
much of an asshole I normally look like in the crowd at their concerts,
it is the only place I’ve ever allowed myself to act like a fool and
not care). Their music makes you feel things, mostly it makes you feel
strong or powerful because even if the divine Ms. Ditto is singing
words of being lied to or being cheated on, the power of her voice
bowls you over with the sense that everything’s going to be OK. This
makes me wonder where
the love went. I hope they can come back with a vengeance — even if it
takes them just as long between albums. Don’t worry Hannah Blilie, you’re still one of
my Hot 100 picks. Stream the album over at Spinner.
Thunder — CVI (Relapse)
Photo courtesy of Royal Thunder/Facebook
This band has taken me by surprise in so
many ways. The sound pouring through my headphones when Royal Thunder’s
debut album is on is a much harder one than I’m used to enjoying, but
this album is so enjoyable that it makes me want to explore more of the
acts that might fall into the same genre. There are glimmers of Led Zeppelin, Alice in Chains, Metallica and Grace Slick throughout CVI, but the album remains unique,
powerful and soulful through the hard rock. Spinner is letting you all
take it for a test drive at their site.
Ladyhawke — Anxiety (Modular Recordings)
Photo courtesy of Ladyhawke/Facebook
surpasses the expectations I had set for it after what seemed like an
excruciatingly long wait. Her mixture of pop rock and soft electro-pop
sweetness is a great sound to have in your ears on a sunny day or when
you’re getting ready to go out at night. The out artist from New Zealand has delivered
the goods and somehow managed to make depression and anxiety sound kind
of sexy. Stream and enjoy her second single,
“Sunday Drive” on Soundcloud.
Kimbra — Vows (Warner Bros.)
Photo by Thom Kerr
All of you outside of the U.S. and
Canada have had access to Kimbra’s album for quite a while now and it’s
been a long time since I last visited her solo tunes so it was a tad
bit weird to hear her outside of Gotye-mania.
Once I let go of the voice and painted face firmly ingrained my mind, I
was able to let this great album sink in and appreciate the fun and
somewhat theatrical debut from this versatile artist. Stream it here.
Wilson — Two Adult Women in Love (Jealous Butcher)
Photo courtesy of Riot Act Media
When I think of Kaia Wilson, I think of a music
legend responsible for helping usher me into both the queer scene and
the punk scene. What I do not associate with her, regardless of any
backing she has done for Amy Ray‘s
band, is singer-songwriter and alt-folk tunes. Or, I should say, I didn’t associate those genres with
the Team Dresch and The Butchies co-founder, but all of
that has changed. Two Adult Women in
Love is a soft toe-tapper with folk-style storytelling and
literally made me flash back to the song circles we used to have every
week at the Jewish overnight camp I went to as a young teen. For lovers
of Kimya Dawson, this might be
your alley. Check out the music video Kaia shot and edited on her
iPhone for “Canopy.“
Exitmusic — Passage (Secretly
Photo courtesy of Exitmusic/Facebook
It took a little while for this album to grow on me but I feel like my
patience has paid off. There is an androgyny to the music that I find
really intriguing, not only in the voice of singer Aleksa Palladino, but also in the
way the music pulses and swells; is a beauty and a beast. I have a
feeling I’ll be bringing this back out once the fall comes. You can
stream the album in its entirety over at NPR.
Honorable Mentions: Sara
Bareilles (EP), Laid Back (fans of Jarvis Cocker, check out their song “Cosyland” — I love it), Amon Tobin, Tom Jones, Chris Baio (EP), Saint Etienne, Joey Ramone,
El-P, Kitsune America sampler, Kris Allen, Guided By Voices,
Other Music-Related Things: You
can listen to the last recording of the late, great Whitney Houston
performing with Jordin Sparks.
Garbage is playing Webster Hall
tonight and you can stream the show courtesy of MTV Hive.
Download Diplo’s remix of
“Demons” by Sleigh Bells:
That’s all for this week but as always, feel free to drop me a note, friend me on Facebook, Tweet me or subscribe to my Spotify playlists. If any of you live in Chicago, you should come on out to The L Stop’s 1-year anniversary party and say hello!