Amoeblog

Album Picks: Cat Power, The Fresh & Onlys, Jens Lekman, Deerhoof; Plus Albums and Movies Released Today

Posted by Billy Gil, September 4, 2012 03:35pm | Post a Comment
OK, too much amazing music was released today, but for me, the new albums by Cat Power, The Fresh & Onlys, Jens Lekman and Deerhoof shined above the rest. However, don’t sleep on great new albums by Animal Collective, Stars, Bob Mould, Two Door Cinema Club and Two Gallants, plus Blu-rays of Arachnophobia, Child’s Play, The Five-Year Engagement, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Hocus Pocus, Man on a Swing, Piranha 3DD, Safe and Umberto D., among others.
 
cat power sunCat Power Sun
 
Cat Power’s personal life — her admitted alcoholism, her erratic live shows — is a favorite topic of discussion such that it often threatens to overshadow talk of her brilliant music. Perhaps in an effort to curb that, Chan Marshall has created her least intimate, most globally accessible album with Sun. Marshall produced and performed almost everything on the album herself, but in lieu of the sort of austerity of an album like Moon Pix, we get a dark synth-pop record, spurred by Marshall’s desire to make something unlike anything she had done before. However, underneath the synths that spiral around the title track, for instance, this is still very much a Cat Power record — worry not, fans. In fact, the beginning of opener “Cherokee” begins in what sounds fairly typical for Cat Power — a simple, repeating guitar line, light piano touches and a steady beat — but it becomes clear that this is new territory as Marshall comes in with distorted, direct lyrics: “Never knew love like this.” However pop-oriented the song, with a beautiful synth melody making it sound a bit like ’80s Fleetwood Mac, Marshall’s meanings are still obscured: “Marry me to the sky … bury me upside down.” First single “Ruin” is similarly grabbing, but ultimately strange, unique; it’s piano lines and disco bassline dance up and down a bouncing beat while Marshall sings about various global locales like an indie rock “Kokomo,” but she’s singing about poverty, not vacation or the awesomeness of getting to travel while touring. It’s fun to hear her go pop-rock on “3,6,9,” which bounces along with chanted choruses and even sees Marshall take on the ubiquitous vocoder. Marshall can’t help but become increasingly personal as the album progresses, as live drums interrupt the digital beats of “Manhattan,” which glitters with heartfelt searching; “Silent Machine” returns to the bluesiness of her last few releases, but also has a startling computerized breakdown halfway through; and “Nothin But Time,” a duet with Iggy Pop, makes for the most beautiful, 10-minute Kraftwerkian ballad you’ll hear anywhere. The rock guitars and hip-hop delivery of “Peace and Love,” which closes the album, show Marshall is willing to go just about anywhere with her music if it provides new inspiration for her stirring voice and incisive lyrics; thankfully, on Sun, it nearly always does. She's signing copies of Sun today at 6 p.m. at Amoeba Hollywood for the first 100 people who buy the record!
 
The Fresh & Onlys Long Slow DanceThe Fresh & Onlys Long Slow Dance
 
The Fresh & Onlys were are always good, but Long Slow Dance takes the S.F. garage rockers to epic heights, with a newfound clarity to their vocals and straightforwardness of songwriting. “Yes or No” is divine romantic guitar pop, stringing a beautiful upward melody along a chugging backbeat that develops into a swooning chorus. The title track is the kind of campfire-friendly indie pop that bests the Shins at their game. “Presence of Mind” swirls around a picturesque college-rock backdrop but loops in perfect surf-rock riffs and another irresistible chorus. Every song seems to have some “how can that be new” moment, whether it’s a memorable line like “Dream girls don’t know what they’re doing/They go around doing anything they want,” or some elegant guitar riff, or laying out yet another perfect guitar ballad with “Executioner’s Song.” You just don’t want Long Slow Dance to end.

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New Preorders: Grizzly Bear, The XX, Bob Dylan, Two Door Cinema Club

Posted by Billy Gil, August 2, 2012 02:02pm | Post a Comment
grizzly bear shieldsGrizzly Bear have thus far released two songs from their upcoming album, Shields (preorder here), which comes out Sept. 18 and is now available to preorder at Amoeba.com. Whereas Daniel Rossen sings on the first single, the bizzaro country-jangle of “Sleeping Ute,” warm-voiced Ed Droste lends his vocals to “Yet Again,” which the band debuted today. Like most Grizzly Bear songs, it’s a grower and takes a few listens for everything to sink in. I’m picking up some Radiohead vibes on this one — nice downward-angling melody and shuffling drums, with some of GB’s now trademark harmonies and vocal acrobatics in the background. Judging by these first two songs, there could be a more laid-back vibe than on Veckatimest, which always suits this band quite well.
 
 





The XXAlso, The XX have begun the promotional push for their new album, Coexist (preorder here), out Sept. 11, debuting its first single, “Angels,” and playing it on the late-night circuit. The XX are pretty weird to have gotten this popular, but I think that says something good about people’s taste, right? The first time I heard this song, I thought it wasn’t so great. Kind of too slow and spacious for a single, even for them. Today I listened again and it had me within the first seconds, even before that hallowed out drum roll comes in and lifts Romy Madley Croft’s vocals skyward. Pretty, simple and pure. The fact that it will probably soundtrack a lot of breakup scenes in movies or whatever is irrelevant; the song sounds written from the gut, and that’s why people respond to this band.
 
 


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