See Jorge - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions: Working brilliantly in The Life Aquatic, this gimmick fails to succeed as an album.
Bell Orchestre - Recording A Tape The Colour Of The Light: If it hadn't been released, every indie-rock fan in the world would be clamoring for it, claiming its awesomeness. Because they released it, however, it loses some of it mystery. In the end, it's another mediocre addition to the very medicore genre of post-rock.
The Sunshine Fix - Age of the Sun: Another Elephant 6 Collective release means, you guessed it, Beatles-influenced pop. What's striking is how well they are influenced by the Beatles without ripping them off.
The Strokes - First Impressions of Earth: Not as good, or solid as Room on Fire (and it's been to long to compare it to Is This It?). Tries too much to vary their winning formula.
The Strokes - Room On Fire: I never liked Is This It? so I passed on this album when it came out a few years ago, but I now regret it. It's an extremely solid and likable rock record.
The Olivia Tremor Control - Music From The Unrealized Film Script, Dusk At Cubist Castle: When they're not trying to be artsy and suspsenseful, you get the feeling as though they could bust out Strawberry Fields Forever and not miss a beat. Ultimately, it's really, really good pyschadelic pop with aformentioned moments of suspense and artsy-ness.
Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island: A fine album, but had I listened to it before Aeroplane, I would have liked it better, but wouldn't have listened to Aeroplane.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Hype City Soundtrack: The real early stages of a NMH album. This lays the groundwork for On Avery Island.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Invent Yourself A Shortcake/Beauty: More unreleased/demo/live stuff from Jeff Mangum. It's not really a necessary listen, unless you're a very large fan as any good songs are marred by fidelity issues.
Elliott Smith - Basement Demos II: Fan collection of bootlegged demos with an unknown timeline for recording. While it's called the Basement Demos II, a lot of it comes from the Either/Or era, but still, I'm amazed every time I hear his voice how majestic it sounds. I didn't get a chance to check out From A Basement last year, but seeing such a strong set of demos makes me want to run out and pick it up.
Sleater-Kinney - The Woods: Grace Slick like vocals penetrate the air as Sleater-Kinney makes one of the best traditional rock-type albums the be released this year.
Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins: Sounding an awful lot like The Beatles, but with way more electronica, Of Montreal has created one of the finest albums of the year.
Imogen Heap - Speak For Yourself: I was completely blown away by its beauty. Hands down the best straight up pop album I've heard all year, even if there is too much bass.
Sage Francis - A Healthy Distrust: This would be the best rap album of the year if he would just get on the mic and rap. Instead, he tries to do some skits and some fancy production stuff and it comes across really low-rent.
The Drones - Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By: "Actually, on first listen the Australian quartet may seem like little more than an unhinged bluesy garage outfit" says Brandon Stosuy over at Pitchfork and I couldn't agree more.
Neutral Milk Hotel - Unreleased Demo 1 and 2: If you remove all of the excellent production from most of the Neutral Milk Hotel songs, you're left with a foundation of '60s pyschadelic pop, which is what is showcased here.
Shakira - Oral Fixation, Vol. 2: Shakira is a singles artist. I have always loved her singles, and Don't Bother is no exception. But twice now, I have tried to get into an album of hers with little luck. It's not as if it's bad, but the singles are where it's at.
Jeff Mangum - Live At Jittery Joe's: He sounds so unsure of himself on stage, until he starts singing his song, and then it's as if he's the only man alive. In the end, the acoustic renditions of Neutral Milk Hotel songs survive extremely well, if not better in some instances, over the fully-produced versions from which most people are familiar with.
Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent Jens: It's not as if Jens is this prophetic songwriter, it's that every word he sings just oozes charisma. This collection of singles, b-sides, EPs, et al is a wonderfully easy way to obtain everything he's done outside of When I Said I Wanted To Be Your Dog.
Jenny Lewis - Rabbit Fur Coat: I was a more than a little excited at the prospect of a Jenny Lewis solod album, just as I was for a Blake Sennett-fronted new band. I was a little disappointed in the results of the Jenny Lewis solo album, just as I was for the Blake Sennett-fronted band, The Elected. I was more disappointed with Blake's, however, as Jenny's isn't bad, it's just not Rilo Kiley and had it not been Jenny Lewis, I'd have really liked it.
Liz Durrett - The Mezzanine: Possessing a delicate, beautiful voice and sublime musical arrangement, this is the type of album that usually bores me. This time, however, I really enjoyed the listen.
The Darkness - One Way Ticket To Hell..And Back: The word sophmore slump gets thrown around too much in the media, so I'm going to avoid using it. Instead, I'll tell you how The Darkness' first record had amazing pop songwriting and excellent rock riffs that combined to make one of the most enjoyable rock records since Guns 'n' Roses. Their follow-up, however, is not only not as good as said record, but the songwriting is mediocre at best and the killer rock riffs have all but disappeared in favor of a more mainstream sound.
Chris Brokaw - Red Cities: Typically, you see a man (or woman's) name and you expect a singer-songwriter type record. Chris Brokaw is no such thing, at least on this release. Instead, he has created a post-rock record that while sleep-inducing, remains compelling. Not relying on strings and grandiose arrangements, he instead opts for solid simplicity.
Piebald - Killa Bros and Killa Bees: If you've ever heard Travis' solo project Totally Travis Y Las Marianas, you konw what to expect, albeit with a bit more fidelity. Most of the songs are throwaways, a few are demos of album tracks and a few are solid and should receive a rework for future release. And as a large Piebald fan, even I can't get into this release more than once or twice. I guess they're just not one of those bands who's demos and b-sides are all that appealing.
Thursday - War All The Time: Thursday has a huge fanbase, and it's easy to see why. They straddle the line between hardcore/metal and rock/pop, which gives them a large constituency in order to draw fans from. Some of it's a bit cheesy, but some of it's quite good. Overall though, I could live without it, but it's nice to know it's not all bad.
Thrice - The Illusion Of Safety: I can see why Thrice and Coheed and Cambria share a lot of fans. And while Coheed does it much better, Thrice is more than adequate. Granted, it gets a little cheesy going from metallic to melodic so many times, it's overall atmosphere succeeds into a solid album.
Neil Diamond - 12 Songs: Truthfully, unless you told me I was listening to Neil Diamond, I wouldn't know. But this collection of songs (12 of them, even), is very well done. Very well produced and songwriting is solid, if a little cheesy at some points.
Neil Young - Prairie Wind: It's a bit more melodic, and by extension, accessible than some of his other work. Still, if you're not a fan by now, I can't envision this changing that fact.
Various - the pAper chAse and Will Johnson Split: Each covering a song by the other. The Johnson song covered by the pAper chAse works, as almost anything by them does, but the country-folk version of I Did A Terrible Thing was different, but ultimately unappealing.
What am I listening to?
Blogs I Frequentbradley's almanac
Clicky Clicky Music