Best New Releases – The Kills, Raveonettes, Cold Cave, Scattered Trees, Maritime, Code Pie, Amores Vigilantes, Cursed Arrows
While this time of year brings warmer temperatures and more hours of daylight, this week’s new releases are thematically more fitting for the dead of winter – with its unforgiving and bitter cold, asphalt grit and grime, absence of leaves, grass and flowers, and the long, harsh hours of darkness.
On that note, and leading the way for this week’s new releases, are The Kills. Their spectacular new album, Blood Pressures, capitalizes on the duo’s innate ability to craft harsh, gritty, bluesy, dark songs. They are just masters of their domain, and the new LP reaffirms the legitimacy of their reign.
It’s been three years since the release of the last Kills’ album, so it really wasn’t a surprise to the indie press and blogsophere that the official release of Blood Pressures was proceeded by weeks of chatter and buzz around a couple of killer advanced singles, the first being “Satellite.”
“Satellite” was The Kills throwing a beat-up, but still fresh bone to the junkyard dog. And they left plenty of flesh to chew. The average Kills’ fan appreciates this, and “Satellite” turned out to be the perfect tease for the release of Blood Pressures.
On the surface, “Satellite” sounds like the title of a song that is perhaps warm and fuzzy, an atmospheric tune filled with treble-heavy, spacey synthesizers and peppy surf-rock guitars.
But instead, The Kills’ “Satellite” is industrial-style rocker that swaggers and romps from the start, and grows even more dark and sinister as it stomps along. It’s a powerful track that sounds like it belongs on a mixtape for the younger biker generation, and, in some cases, the tie-at-work-only office dweller who likes to unravel and let it rip and rumble in the off hours.
The Kills are easily one of the best kick-ass revivalist garage rock duos of the past decade. The duo is American singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and indie A-list celeb Alison Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie Hince. They formed The Kills in 2000 and have released four albums, including their latest. The prolific Mosshart is also a band member of the supergroup, The Dead Weather, with Jack White of The White Stripes, another bluesy garage rock boy/girl duo The Kills are often compared to. However, The White Stripes announced their official breakup a couple of months ago. Mosshart has also been a studio and tour member of The Raconteurs.
The Raveonettes Add More Noise and Synth Pop To The Rock
And as if a new album from The Kills is not enough for fans of indie rock male-female duos, the Danish noise pop and garage rock duo The Raveonettes, dropped their new, and more noise pop-oriented LP, Raven In The Grave, this week. In fact, The Raveonettes’ new album is not nearly as a consistent cut-throat garage rocker as The Kills’ Blood Pressures, but it definitely has its moments.
The first official single, “Forget That You’re Young” is a well-crafted noise pop track and one of the album’s highlights. But, it’s the track “Recharge and Revolt,” that is perhaps the album’s stand out track, yet that’s a bit difficult to say until we listen to the entire album more than a couple of times. “Recharge and Revolt” is an inspiring, uptempo gem mixed nicely with lo-fi guitar strumming, a blazing background, one note feedback riff nearly drowned out by glimmering new wave style synth pop, wonderful reverb vocals and a melodic bass line. It’s The Raveonettes at their finest, and one of 2011′s best tracks.
The new album is the duo’s fifth LP since their 2003 highly acclaimed debut, Chain Gang of Love. The release of Raven In The Grave marks The Raveonettes’ third LP release with Vice Records.
Sidebar – Close Lobsters: We couldn’t help but to think of the terrific 80′s post-punk band, Close Lobsters, while listening to “Recharge and Revolt” (above).
So, we’ve included a track from CL for the hell of it. In case you are interested in hearing more from CL, we recommend Foxheads Stalk This Land, (1986).
The Close Lobsters were a Scottish band who were only together for four years (1985-1989). They were instrumental in the C86 movement. On the NME‘s free 22-track C86 compilation, which features some of key bands who profoundly influenced the emerging indie rock genre, especially in the U.K., the Close Lobsters are included among many other great bands like The Soup Dragons, The Pastels, The Mighty Lemon Drops, Primal Scream, and The Wedding Present, among others.
OK, so back to the new stuff. In addition to The Kills and The Raveonettes, the third album out this week that we strongly recommend is the sophomore LP from the experimental new wave/darkwave band Cold Cave. The lead single, “Great Pan Is Dead” is a towering wall of rushing sounds, exploding with immediacy and fueled by high octane synth pop and driving percussion.
Overwhelmingly melodic and metallic at the same time (a feat very difficult to pull off, even by seasoned pros), “The Great Pan is Dead” has already made its way on to our Best Songs of 2011 (So Far) draft mix, which we hope to have completed and posted sometime in the next seven to ten days. Cold Cave is the musical project of New York musician and Matador artist Wesley Eisold. In live shows, Eisold is accompanied by Dominick Fernow and Jennifer Clavin. Also recommend catching them live when they come around to your city.
As we were putting together this weeks’ recommended best releases, we quickly realized that all of the official singles from new albums in and of themselves make for a fantastic mix of superb 2011 tracks. The next two singles from Chicago band Scattered Trees, and the Milwaukee band, Maritime, are easily at the top of this list for good reason.
Scattered Trees’ lead single, “A Conversation About Death on New Year’s Eve” is a mellow and shimmering indie electropop tune thick with synthesizers, mastered vocals, and subdued percussion that builds as the song progresses. Interestingly, the band self-describes their genre on their MySpace page as “glam,” which is sort of close, but an unusual proclamation.
Unlike the other albums mentioned above, we’ve not yet had a chance to listen to all of Sympathy, but would love to hear comments from those of you who have. We were a bit surprised to see that Scattered Trees does not yet have a Wikipedia entry. We can’t imagine that being the case for much longer. Hello Chicago?
The single, “Paraphernalia,” from Maritime‘s new LP, Human Hearts, is a catchy pop rocker that is not quite the stoner track the song title may imply to some people. In fact, singer and guitarist, Davey Von Bohlen, told Spinner about the single: “This is one of those songs that arrives by almost accident where it becomes a finished song and we all realize it together at some point in the middle of playing it.”
Awesome Singles from Bands New-To-Us
The string of great singles continues with fresh tracks from new releases by a trio of bands we never heard of (but are glad we did) until receiving the official singles recently from their new albums, out this week.
Although the new-to-us Montreal band Code Pie have been around since 2002, we only heard of them for the first time after they sent the official first single, “North Side City View,” from their third album, and their first LP since 2007.
Originally founded in 1999 as Love Vigilantes after the New Order song of the same name, yet another duo, this time from San Francisco, have a new album out this week. Amores Vigilantes eventually changed their band name by simply translating it into Spanish. Little over a year ago, in December of 2009, the band released the album, West Coast Kingdom, from which many of the songs received heavy rotation on college radio, the web and music blogs, and even in Starbucks store playlist. Amores Vigilantes include among their influences – and often sound like – The Stone Roses, New Order, and even Velvet Underground.
One of the themes running through this week’s Best New Releases is that of grit, darkness and saber-cutting rock.
Add to the list the band Wolf Ram Heart.
They solidified their case for being included among our recommended releases by supplying two tracks from their album Betrayal of Hearts via Sovereign States Records.
Husband-and-Wife Garage Rock Duo, Curse Arrows
And now, we’d like to introduce yet another rock duo from Canada. Just in this post alone, we have like four duos, and over the past few years, there has been a virtual deluge of rock duos. Cursed Arrows is one of the latest. The husband-and-wife band hail from Halifax-
via-Ontario, and belt out scuzzy, noise rock, on their new album, The Madness of Crowds, while on other tracks of the LP, they present more poetic lyrics and passionate keys. We’re stoked to be able to present two tracks from The Madness of Crowds, plus a convincing cover of the PJ Harvey track, “Rid of Me,” which is not available on the new album.
Apparently, the album is only available for a name-your-price checkout on Cursed Arrows Bandcamp page. We’ll definitely be keeping an ear out for their head-crushing, kick-ass bluesy garage rock.
Bonus: “Rid of Me” (PJ Harvey) – Cursed Arrows
Also, check out these fresh singles from new releases by Glasvegas, Jeff Beam, as well as from solo albums by Bill Callahan of Smog, and singer/songwriter and musician Alela Diane.
“People Places” – Jeff Beam from Venus Flying Trapeze
The following singles require that you click on the single to either listen via Soundcloud or download the single on another page, including Timber Timbre, Blueprint, and Erza Furman & The Harpoons
“Black Water” – Timber Timbre from Creep On Creepin’ On
“My Culture” – Blueprint from Adventures in Counter-Culture
“Hard Time in a Terrible Land” – Ezra Furman & The Harpoons from Mysterious Power
Other New Tracks That Some Folks Might Like
This section includes new singles from new releases that are not part of our recommendation for new albums to purchase, but some of our readers might enjoy these tracks, so we include them for that reason only.
“Steam” – Hammer No More The Fingers from Black Shark
“Usual Suspects” – Ha Ha Tonka from Death of a Decade