Here are the best of the April new releases!
During what sounds like an exhaustive three years of touring, Alabama Shakes squeezed in time to write and record an album. Brittany Howard (lead vocals, guitar), Zac Cockrell (bass), Heath Fogg (guitar), and Steve Johnson (drums) show maturation as musicians in this sophomore album. Their roots rock is very multi-dimensional with a symphonic feeling at times. The harnessed raw talent here is fully interpreted through a historical context which lends it a sophistication.
Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color
- Genre – Indie Rock, American Trad Rock
- From – Alabama
- Fav Tracks – Don’t Wanna Fight, Future People, Gimme All Your Love, Guess Who, The Greatest, Shoegaze, Miss You, Over My Head
- Recommended Tracks – Don’t Wanna Fight, Future People, Gimme All Your Love, Guess Who, The Greatest, Shoegaze, Miss You, Over My Head, Sound & Color, Dunes, This Feeling, Gemini
Young Fathers is a trio of childhood friends. Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole, and G. Hastings formed their band in Scotland in 2008. Their 2015 release is met with much anticipation since their last album, Dead, won the Mercury Award for best album in 2014. Young Fathers does not disappoint this year. They skillfully inject tried-and-true components of classic rock and roll into modern electronic music to make an infectious album.
Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Men Too
- Genre – Left-field Hip-hop
- From – Edinburgh, Scotland
- Fav Tracks – Shame, Rain or Shine, Still Running, Nest, John Doe, Liberated
- Recommended Tracks – Still Running, Shame, 27, Rain Or Shine, Sirens, Old Rock n Roll, Nest, Liberated, John Doe
- Singles – Shame, Rain or Shine
Blur, of “Song 2” fame, re-emerges after a decade hiatus. Play that track from 1997 at your own risk because it will burrow itself a home in your brain for at least a week. This new album was preceded last year by a solo album by lead singer Damon Albarn. I hear similarities both to the solo album (especially in the overall mood of the lyrics) and with Blur’s output of past decades. I find it impressive when a band can move through three decades with ease. Other recent examples of quality third decade albums are Spoon’s They Want My Soul, Sleater-Kinney’s No Cities to Love and Built To Spill’s Untethered Moon. With this 90’s revival wave, we have both new bands that sound like they are from the 1990’s (Speedy Ortiz and Waxahatchee) and 90’s band that have evolved to keep from getting stale.
Blur – The Magic Whip
- Genre – BritPop
- From – England
- Fav Tracks – Go Out, My Terracotta Heart, There Are Too Many of Us, Ong Ong, I Broadcast
- Recommended Tracks – Lonesome Street, Go Out, Ice Cream Man, I Broadcast, My Terracotta Heart, There Are Too Many of Us, Ghost Ship, Ong Ong
- Singles – Go Out, There Are Too Many of Us, Lonesome Street, My Terracotta Heart, I Broadcast, Ong Ong
Best Retro Revival
Speedy Ortiz, a fav from 2013, returns with a sophomore album. Last year, they released an EP that sounded like a direct extension from 2013’s Major Arcana. This time, they add complexity that helps them transcend from their type-cast as 90’s retro rockers. Front woman and songwriter, Sandy Dupuis, is known for her lyrics. Of note, she recently earned a Master’s degree in poetry.
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
- Genre – Indie Rock
- From – Massachusetts
- Fav Tracks – Raising the Skate, The Graduates, Dot X, Puffer, Ginger
- Recommended Tracks – Raising Skate, The Graduates, Dot X, Homonovus, Puffer, Swell Content, My Dead Girl, Ginger, Mister Difficult
- Singles – Raising Skate, The Graduates
Katie Crutchfield was raised in Alabama near Waxahatchee Creek but more recently has found her way to urban Philadelphia. Ivy Tripp is her third release. According to Pitchfork, Crutchfield said the title of the record is “just a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complacent life path of our parents and grandparents.” In the song, “Poison,” she uses it as a verb: “While your short-term memory’s slipping, You’ll improvise, Travel the world ivy tripping, With no spotlight.”
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
- Genre – Indie Rock, Lo-fi
- From – Alabama
- Fav Tracks – Under A Rock, Blue, Poison, <
- Recommended Tracks – Under A Rock, Poison, The Dirt, Blue, Air, <, Summer of Love,
- Singles – Under A Rock, Air
William Doyle, a.k.a East India Youth returns with a sequel to his buzz-creating 2014 debut, Total Strife Forever. Similarly to the debut, one will find a variety of musical styles and tempos on Culture of Volume. On this go-around, vocals take a more prominent role.
East India Youth – Culture of Volume
- Genre – Electronic
- From – England
- Fav Tracks – Turn Away, Carousel, Entirety, Don’t Look Backwards
- Recommended Tracks – End Result, Turn Away, Hearts That Never, Entirety, Carousel, Don’t Look Backwards
- Singles – Turn Away, Carousel
Best Classic Indie Rock
Built to Spill is part of the three decade club. Still going strong.
Built to Spill – Untethered Moon
- Genre – Indie Rock
- From – Idaho
- Fav Tracks – All Our Songs, Living Zoo, C.R.E.B., Never Be The Same, Another Day
- Recommended Tracks – All Our Songs, Living Zoo, On The Way, Some Other Songs, Never Be The Same
- Singles – Living Zoo, Never Be The Same
Best Nerd Music
Colleen is the stage name for Cécile Schott. In this album, the multi-instrumentalist explores the treble viola da gamba from the Renaissance.
Colleen – Captain of None
- Genre – Experimental Electronic, Ambient
- From – France
- Fav Tracks – Captain of None, Holding Horses, I’m Kin, Salina Stars, Lighthouse, Eclipse
- Recommended Tracks – Holding Horses, I’m Kin, This Hammer Breaks, Salina Stars, Lighthouse, Soul Alphabet, Eclipse, Captain of None
Best Indie Folk
Singer-songwriter Conor J O’Brien penned a pensive and melodic folk album.
Villagers – Darling Arithmetic
- Genre – Indie Folk
- From – Ireland
- Fav Tracks – Courage, The Soul Serene, Dawning On Me
- Recommended Tracks – Courage, Everything I Am Is Yours, Dawning On Me, Hot Scary Summer, The Soul Serene, Darling Arithmetic, So Naive