New Musical Finds

I’m lucky that in my day “job” I am inun­dated with (free) new music. A lot of the time this means I can review albums that I know I’ll love (or at least would have picked up on my own), or some­times this means I’m exposed to a band I haven’t heard before. The last cou­ple of months or so have been extremely fruit­ful in musi­cal awe­some­ness and some of these albums have become influ­en­tial writ­ing part­ners for Book #4. Here are my reviews and picks:

What Didn’t Disappoint

Bohren & Der Club of Gore — Beileid
I heart this band. Ever since my friend Tami turned me onto Sun­set Mis­sion, one cold win­ter night in Seat­tle, I’ve been hooked on their smooth blend of hor­ror jazz. It’s instru­men­tal, dark, seduc­tive, creepy…it’s the music that would be play­ing dur­ing a revamped ver­sion of Twin Peaks (heaven for­bid). It’s min­i­mal, con­tem­pla­tive and some of the best music to write to. Beileid may only have three (long) songs but they make the album worth it (espe­cially “Catch my Heart” which actu­ally makes me really moody, sad and reflec­tive for some rea­son).
Full Review

Elysian Fields - Last Night on Earth
I wasn’t expect­ing too much from Elysian Fields. I love Jen­nifer Charles when she’s on Lovage, and from the songs I had heard from Elysian Fields, I knew I was going to prob­a­bly like this too. But I was blown away by how much I like the album. It’s funny because I am not a big fan of female singers. I like rock music and most chicks don’t cut it in that genre (except for Ali­son Mosshart — she rules all). But Elysian Fields isn’t really a rock band, per se, and Charles’s breathy vocals just work here. I said, “Last Night on Earth is rich and var­ied, yet leaves a peace­ful, spir­ited feel­ing behind when it’s over. Tak­ing a cue from the cover, it’s a gor­geous land­scape of music best suited for drink­ing under the stars, a sound­track for your mind to wan­der to.“
Full Review

The Melvin’s — Sugar Daddy Live
What can you say about the iconic sludge/grunge/stoner/shoegazer/punk/swamp/metal group, the Melvins? Well, you haven’t really heard them until you’ve seen them live and that’s what Sugar Daddy brings to your stereo. “What’s most strik­ing about the album is how well it cap­tures the spirit and frenzy of a Melvins show, yet show­cases in a very crisp and clean way (well, clean for the Melvins). The sound and the mix­ing of the album is per­fectly done, mak­ing sure the lis­tener hears every note as it was made to be heard: heavy, hard and fun.“
Full Review.

After “insert adjec­tive here” metal band ISIS broke up last year, fans were delighted to see that Ipecac released five live posthu­mous albums from them. Like the Melvins, ISIS is another one of those bands that flour­ish in a live set­ting and that comes through on each one of the albums, which “not only belong in every ISIS fan’s col­lec­tions but each one makes a good start­ing point for those just get­ting into the band. It may not fill the void that ISIS cre­ated when they dis­banded, but it’s a pretty good con­so­la­tion prize.“
Full Review

The Book of Knots — Gar­den of the Faint­ing Stars
OK, so this eagerly-anticipated exper­i­men­tal album did dis­ap­point me. But I’d still rec­om­mend it for peo­ple who love the weird and the strange (like me). Decide for your­self. I’m includ­ing it here though for two rea­sons: A) the song “Planemo” — yes, yes it fea­tures Mike Pat­ton and I really am try­ing not to be biased here cuz lord knows I don’t like every­thing he’s in. But unlike his guest vocals on, say, the new Praxis album, in Stars it’s not wasted. At all. You can’t deny it, “Planemo” is the best track on the album. It’s just the way it is. And I love it. Le sigh. Oh, and B) this album, with all it’s cos­mic idio­syn­crasies, makes excel­lent writ­ing music. It’s not in your face, it fes­ters in the back­ground and pro­vides a cru­cial sound­track for those creepy scenes I write.
Full Review.

New Love

Explo­sions in the Sky — Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
I hadn’t heard much about this band, aside from see­ing their name splashed on every fes­ti­val line-up, so I was tick­led pink when I dis­cov­ered they were a won­der­fully emo­tive band that is refresh­ingly vocal-free — the per­fect com­bi­na­tion for writ­ing. Here is what I said about their newest album “Texas instru­men­tal rock band Explo­sions in the Sky is back in soar­ing cin­e­matic ter­ri­tory with their sixth stu­dio album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. Like their pre­vi­ous offer­ings, the band explores the loud and soft dynam­ics of min­gling gui­tars and melodic push and pulls but with more empha­sis on drum work and a harder edge. The best way to describe Take Care is that it really does come off as the sound­track to a dra­matic film, explor­ing all emo­tive qual­i­ties from heart­break to redemp­tion to love to loss. There’s even a bit of ter­ror thrown in there.“
Full Review