Albums Out Today: Reissues From Blur, Yaz, At the Drive-In, Plus New Albums and Preorders

Posted by Billy Gil, July 31, 2012 01:11pm | Post a Comment
This week sees a huge set of reissues from Blur, among others ...

at the drive-inAt the Drive-InIn/Casino/Out
Though At the Drive-In’s third and final full-length, Relationship of Command, gets more attention for being the post-hardcore band’s breakthrough, At the Drive-In’s second album, In/Casino/Out, is the best representation of the band at the height of its powers. The album was recorded live to capture the band in its native environment, as the band had begun to make their name on explosive live shows that would lead to word-of-mouth expansion of their fanbase, and true to form listening to In/Casino/Out now feels like travelling back in time to when the band was playing basement shows, before Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodríguez-López’s The Mars Volta would play to massive crowds in the following decade. You see the beginnings of that band in how Bixler-Zavala crams verbiage into “Alpha Centauri” and the band makes the 3:13 song feel like an epic, but the live recording makes it feel manageable, most of the lyrics spat out quickly and its movements more memorable than the Volta’s proggy opuses. It’s also easy to forget how catchy the band could be, and a run of mid-album cuts proves this, including “Pickpocket,” with its instantly memorable, if incomprehensible screamed chorus. The band would also slow down to great effect on “For Now…We Toast,” which clips the distance between the band’s more melodic and aggressive leanings. But the album stands together as a whole, as well, with song after song coming at you with a warm assault of visceral guitar attacks and complex wordplay.
blur 21Blur Reissues

Blur releases a mass of reissues on LP today, as well as its Blur 21 box set, celebrating 21 years of the Britpop band. To these ears, the incredibly solid Parklife and relentlessly experimental 13 have always been the essential Blur albums, but I also have a newfound appreciation of Leisure, their first album. Before they were kings of Britpop, Blur were a fresh-faced band of whelps wielding shoegaze guitars and madchester beats into a neat package, no better than on the funk-inspired “There’s No Other Way” or throbbing “Bang.” Yes, Leisure is sort of Blur’s Pablo Honey, where the band was still finding its footing, but Leisure also stands on its own, thanks to the fact that Damon Albarn and co. had more personality than most of their countrymen in 1991. You saw the beginnings of Albarn’s experimentalism in the percussive elements underpinning the slow-burning alt-rock of “Repetition” and accordion riff looping under the dream-pop guitar squalls of “Bad Day.” Even at its most derivative, such as the “Only Shallow” aping riff of “Slow Down,” Leisure is still a an early ’90s time capsule of a record with plenty of pleasure to spare, and one that hinted at the heights Blur and Albarn would achieve later on. Maybe I just like it now because every song sounds kind of like My Bloody Valentine's "Soon." Regardless, all of the albums are worth checking out, including Blur, Modern Life is Rubbish, The Great Escape and Think Tank.
yaz upstairs at eric'sYaz Upstairs at Eric’s
In these days of excellent darkwave revivalists like Light Asylum, Yaz and its best album, Upstairs at Eric’s, seem more prescient than ever. The albums big hits all have a certain desperation that often underpins some of the best pop songs. “Don’t Go,” despite its memorable synth hook, boasts lyrics like “I turned around when I heard the sound of footsteps on the floor/Said, ‘He was a killer,’ now I know it's true/I'm dead when you walk out the door.” Vince Clarke, who penned early Depeche Mode classics like “Just Can’t Get Enough” before splitting for Yaz (and later Erasure), offers spare backdrop that favors tiny, interlocking synth riffs rather than big blankets of chords for Moyet to pour herself over. Moyet’s deep vocals hit hard throughout, especially on “Midnight” and the classic “Only You,” slow, sad new wave ballads that would be nowhere without Moyet offering some much-needed soul to a genre often saddled with wispy male vocals. Upstairs at Eric’s is a lot of fun, too, even with its more emotional tunes — Clarke’s synths mimic ’50s rock tropes and disco shimmer to great effect on “Bad Connection” and “Goodbye Seventies,” respectively, while Moyet’s exuberant kiss-offs and creepy laugh make “Situation” one of the best feel-good breakup songs around.

Also Out Today:

thenewno2 thefearofmissingoutthenewno2thefearofmissingout
The second album from the British band featuring Dhani Harrison (son of Beatle George) features samples, electronics and guitar-based sounds wrapped into hooky songs that sounds as radio-ready as they are experimental. Check out the band LIVE at Amoeba Hollywood at 6 p.m. today! And check back at my blog later today for an interview with the band.

the pondThe PondThe Pond
The debut release by the trio formed by folkie Kathryn Williams, Simon Edwards of neo-skiffle group Fairground Attraction and British singer-songwriter Ginny Clee offers soothing folk harmonies with light electronic touches. The album was mixed by Portishead's Adrian Utley.


PonderosaPonderosa Pool Party
David Fridman (MGMT, The Flaming Lips) guides these Atlanta country-rockers through psychedelic territory with their roots intact, delivering shivery harmonies over faded country soundscapes.



rick ross god forgives i don'tRick RossGod Forgives, I Don’t
The fifth album by rapper and label boss Rick Ross features contributions from Jay-Z and Dr. Dre (“3 Kings”), Andre 3000 (“Sixteen”) and Usher (“Touch’N You”).


Sparkle Soundtrack Whitney HoustonSparkle Soundtrack
The film Sparkle and its soundtrack feature some of the final performances by the late Whitney Houston. Her smokier drawl on the spiritual “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and the joyful R. Kelly-penned “Celebrate” are heartbreaking to hear in such a context. The soundtrack features remade songs written by Curtis Mayfield from the original film upon which this remake is based, plus new songs written by R. Kelly, as performed by Cee Lo Green, Carmen Ejogo, Goapele and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, who also stars in the film.


rough guide chinaRough Guides: China, Scandinavia, Undiscovered World
The indespensible Rough Guides series serves as sort of a Not For Tourists in the musical sense, offering a better glimpse of the music of diverse countries and regions without the sort of soft “world music light” cushion of a Starbucks release.



the locustThe Locust – Molecular Genetics From the Gold Standard Labs
Whatever you think of The Locust and their alien-insect costumes and under-a-minute songs with titles like “Psst! Is That a Halfie In Your Pants,” it’s tough to ignore their music when it’s on, which sounds like the musical equivalent of being eaten alive by fire ants. This 44-song album collects some of the hardcore band’s outtakes, which don’t have the catchy hooks of a typical Locust song, I guess.

New Preorders

mumford & sonsMumford & Sons Babel
Out Sept. 25
$13.98 CD
$15.98 Deluxe Edition CD (Includes three bonus tracks)
$18.98 LP

Band Of HorsesBand of Horses Mirage Rock
$12.98 CD
$18.98 Deluxe Edition CD
$29.98 LP

Relevant Tags

New Releases (214), New Albums (213), At The Drive-in (2), Blur (13), Yaz (8), Thenewno2 (3), Mumford & Sons (6), Band Of Horses (12), Whitney Houston (9), The Pond (1), Ponderosa (1), Rick Ross (9)