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New Music Tuesdays – Original Rhythm & Blues Edition


Musicheads,

The countdown continues, only two #NewMusicTuesdays left!  Even with that all said, we are already seeing a gradual transition on the digital front of albums dropping on Fridays.  This week we have a nice mix of new music to take a look at.  We begin with sophomore releases from Conor Oberst’s punk side-project Desaparecidos with Payola as well as sophomore effort from California surf rockers Cayucas with Dancing At The Blue Lagoon.  Also out this week is the début full-length album from Nashville punkers BullyFeels Like.  If you are a fan of abrasive hard punk rock, that album is for you.  I however, prefer a much smoother musical blend, and this is why I picked up the much-anticipated début album from Texas solo artist Leon Bridges titled Coming Home.

Leon Bridges is what you would call a retro artist.  His musical style and sound is that of the “original Rhythm & Blues” artists of the Mississippi Delta region most prominently developed in the 40s, 50s and 60s.  His retro R&B style brings you back to an older and slower time.  His soulful voice and crisp retro fashion put you at ease as he easily blends soul and gospel into his primarily rhythm and blues music.  The album has been hotly anticipated for the past couple months after his first track was released back at the beginning of the year.  He also made quite the splash at this year’s SXSW and was a hot ticket performer at this year’s festival.  The album features a number of spectacular tracks, beginning with the opener and title track Coming Home.

This is immediately followed by the buzz track and lead single Better Man.

The next single comes fourth on the album, Smooth Sailin’.  This track features a jazzy saxophone riff and Leon’s vocals remind me of another Texas native known for a retro-fitted sound, Gary Clark Jr.

The album’s closeout track, River, is yet another example of why this album is just sooo damn enjoyable to listen to.  It’s so pure of feeling and mood, and its bible belt gospel roots stand up strong against the slow-paced tambourine beat and lightly strummed guitar.

The album is a wonderful piece of work for those that love that original R&B sound.  It’s classical structures and familiar rhythmic patterns melded with a little soul does wonders on the ears.  My biggest concern, which has been accentuated over the past couple of years, is the staying power of Leon Bridges sound.  While the sound on this album will never get old, whether Leon will ever follow it up with another album of a similar style or strength is yet to be known.  Oftentimes, artists like this get their name out their with a retro release and then proceed to change their sound to something more modern following some commercial success.  Gary Clark Jr. is the perfect example of this.  His original release, The Bright Lights EP was a magical and incredibly catchy collection of virtuoso classical Eric Clapton-styled blues (hell, he even made a name for himself thanks to Clapton’s Crossroads Festival ).

However, by the time his début full-length, Blak and Blu released in 2012, the album was an over-produced, collaboration-filled let down after expectations were set so high from the EP.  He then followed that up only with a live album and so no new material has since been furnished going back to that true blues style he became so immensely popular for.  This is the cautious cynicism I have when it comes to the fate of Leon Bridges.  I hope he doesn’t follow along a similar path, but only time will tell.


Next, we move along to the singles.  A number of tracks have hit in the past week deserving your attention.  We start with new music from Atlas Genius who also announced they would release their next album this Fall:

Another track that crossed my path was the newest track from New Mexico band Beirut.

The last thing I will share with you is from the most recent Grammy winner for Album of the Year and his latest release from what we would expect to be his next album.


And now, as always, here was everything acquired on this New Release Tuesday:

and be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Spotify Playlists:

-Akwitz

Now Playing: Beck – Dreams

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New Music Tuesdays – March’s Madness Edition


Musicheads,

We are four weeks into March and the music just keeps coming.  While most of the US spent this past weekend fretting over basketball brackets, the music industry was scheduling music delivery for today.  Am I complaining? Heck no!  This week marked my biggest haul of the year so far, with 7 albums purchased (5 of which released this week).  I felt the urge to buy everything that came out this week, and that’s a great thing to say for the music industry.  Well, who needs a long introduction, let’s just get into the music already, right?

We start with what has to be the album of the week, and a definite Album Of The Year contender, Courtney Barnett’s début full-length LP, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.

The Australian songstress is just that.  Exploding on the scene in 2013 and releasing a double EP last year, her first official LP hits with as much ferocity as the previous releases.  Courtney has already become known for her deadpan storyteller delivery and her imaginative, self-deprecating lyrics.  Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit follows in the same footsteps in terms of writing style and maintains that fuzzy garage-styled aesthetic sound.  The album is an enjoyment to listen to and features the lead single Pedestrian At Best.

There is much more than just that track however.  I thoroughly enjoyed An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York) and the track Depreston is getting a lot of airplay which will probably result in it being named the second single (if not already).

The entire album is a work of master craftsmanship for something that has been termed “slacker rock”.  Courtney is far from lazy on the album and apparently was the talk of the town this past week at SXSW.  I also can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about a song on the album named Debbie Downer.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/debbie-downer/n11825

When you pen a song and name it after a familiar trope that spurned a hilariously over-the-top SNL skit, how can you not succeed?  The most ironic part of the track is that it is quite the uplifting and happy song, completely counter-intuitive to its title.  It’s simple things like this that show off Courtney Barnett’s wit and clever songwriting.  She doesn’t utilize complicated licks or even instrumental solos, but prefers simple transitions and easily replicated riffs to aid the listener in honing in on the important parts of her music, the words.  In perfect contradiction to my previous sentence, I also enjoyed the track Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party, which sure enough, has a small (yet still there) guitar solo in it.  Discover the rest of the album for yourself, I can assure you, it won’t be a waste of your time.

 

Next on the list today is another début full-length album.  This one comes from Big Data with their album 2.0.

Yes, that is in fact the album cover pictured above.  The début features the tracks you no doubt have more than likely heard on major radio by now, Dangerous (feat. Joywave) and possibly even The Business Of Emotion (feat. White Sea).

There is much more to this album however.  The electro-pop producer intended to capture a humans vs. technology theme on the album, and he pretty much succeeded.  Loaded with features, including the likes of Jamie LiddellRivers Cuomo (of Weezer), KimbraTwin Shadow, Bear Handsand even Jenn Wasner (of Flock Of Dimes and Wye Oak) each track has a unique feel to it.  The underlying connection however is the supporting instrumentation, put together by Harvard grad and primary creative lead for the group Alan Wilkis.  The lone track not including a feature is the track Big Dater and is a effects-laden track, computerized bass-heavy track which even includes a bridge featuring the original internet dial-up sound (remember those AOL disks anyone?)

 

Next, we’ve got the “next big thing” in the terms of the potential of following in the footsteps of a Phillip Phillips or Vance Joy type musical character (although Spotify wants to tie him to Foy Vance, Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard), Mr. James Bay.  His début album out this week is Chaos And The Calm.

His foot-stomping début features the lead single Hold Back The River which has (as of  03.24.2015) over 41 million streams on Spotify already.  Based on those numbers, if you have yet to hear him on radio, you aren’t listening.

The album is much more than just that single track however.  The opening track Craving is a high-energy heartfelt track that gives the listener an immediate example of what to expect on the entire album.  Let It Go (no it’s not a Frozen cover) was the buzz track from his EP of the same name that truly broke the English boy onto the scene.

The boy really has some pipes on him, and just enough rasp to add a bit of sex appeal.  Meanwhile, tracks like If You Ever Want To Be In Love and When We Were On Fire add a wholesome and happy summer vibe to the album.  The album ranges from softer, soulful ballads like Move Together and Scars to the upbeat romps like Best Fake Smile and .  The album is folk/country pop through and through.  It’s been produced in a way that it is easily digested by the mass audiences that you can hear in similar music from the likes of Ed Sheeran and Kid Rock.  Is this a bad thing?  Yes and no.  James Bay is talented, without a doubt, and it is a bit of a shame that he has been shaped into this pop mold, but you can tell his live show has to be top-notch.  He sings with too much raw emotion not to perform well live.  Outside of the out-and-out singles from the album (which are stellar), my next favorite track is probably Collide.  It has that classic Rhythm & Blues feel to it with the keys that takes you back to all the great original rockers.  This album is definitely a Summer album and going to get a lot more spins as the weather heats up and more time is spent outdoors.

Lastly, we’ve got the physical release from everyone’s favorite kooky Icelandic lady, Björk with her album Vulnicura.

The album featured two images (shown above) with the first one being the official album cover, and the latter being the cover sleeve.  After the album leaked online more than a month ahead of the official release, Björk released it online for purchase, but refused to post it publicly on Spotify for streaming purposes.  The album itself features the lead single and kickoff track Stonemilker.  The track features a full orchestra and utilizes classical volume transitions to add a level of depth that is too often forgotten about in the new music of today.  The album features only 9 tracks, but the album comes in at just under an hour in length (0:58) with all but two songs being 6 minutes or longer.  In reality, a majority of the album is orchestral based, and this is personally a welcome change of pace to listen to in today’s Indie/Electronic/Underground/Pop/Rock environment.  I also thoroughly enjoyed the tracks Lionsong, FamilyAtom Song (which is the only track on the album which features additional vocalists) and Black Lake. If you can find them online, I strongly urge you to listen to them.

Björk is definitely not for everyone, and I did not really take a liking to her music until relatively recently, but if you do quirky, complexly comprised musical structures outside of your standard 4/4 meter, you could definitely find joy in this album.

At this time, I will skip over the other albums I picked up today, but that is not because they are not worth mentioning.  Each of the remaining purchases from today is worth more than one listen and could easily make the end-of-the-year Best Of… lists.  Also, in an apparent oversight, I missed out on picking up the new album from Washington all-girl group Chastity Belt but did listen to it today on Spotify and it is definitely worth a listen as well.

Finally, I will leave you with a track that will be featured on the upcoming new album from the Brooklyn-based band San Fermin which, from the sound of the single, may go in a vastly different direction than their début album.

And now, as always, here was everything acquired on this New Release Tuesday:

and be sure to follow on Facebook and on Twitter @AudiofileAkwitz to get even more music updates that don’t make the posts.

Spotify Playlists:

-Akwitz

Now Playing: San Fermin – Jackrabbit


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Artist Spotlight – Jungle


Musicheads,

I was going to use this group as the Artist Of the Week  for one of my upcoming segments with Everything Random, but just couldn’t wait.

The artist I want to spotlight is Jungle.

Jungle - The UK's Most Mysterious Act Finally Come Out Of The Shadows

This London-based duo make some very catchy, very enjoyable music.  Their “brand” of music, if you’d like to classify it, is electro-soul.  The group currently has only released 5 tracks to this date, but all of which are worth your ears’ attention.  Not only do these songs get you moving, but they also have put together some incredibly fun to watch music videos to accompany their 3 singles currently out.  All the videos include choreographed dancing and all are in the post so you don’t even need to go seek them out yourself.  The group came together last year and released their first track Platoon in July.  They followed that up with The Heat in October last year.  Early this year, their third single was released to the world, Busy Earnin’.   All these tracks are immediate earworms.  For this exact reason, they were put on the long list of BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll.  The group has garnered a lot of attention and to this date, the videos have all received about 600,000 views on YouTube.  NME over in the UK even picked them up back in October last year on their NME Radar: NME Radar – Jungle.

The group recently opened for Haim on part of their European tour and this past March they performed at South By Southwest.  Look for a big 2014 from these guys as they start to pick up steam just in time for the summer months.  The only scheduled performance they have over here in the US as of now is a lone performance in June at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.  If you are in town, June 6th, you may want to grab some tickets. Jungle @ The El Rey Theatre, Friday, June 6th 

 

 

Band Info:

Band Site: http://www.junglejunglejungle.com/

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/jungle-8

YouTube: 4evaJungle / Jungle VEVOcropped-audiophile-akwitz-headphone-logo-blue.png

Facebook: Jungle 4 Eva

 

 

-Akwitz

Now Playing: Jungle – Platoon