Best New Releases, Week of Jan. 17 – Guided By Voices, Howlers, Paul Brill, Frankie Rose, Old Monk, Buried Beds, Ani DiFranco
Now that we’re coming up on the end of the first month of 2012, the number of new releases from indie and alternative rock artists and bands are starting to stack up. Last week, we featured new releases from a bunch of DIY bands – most of who sent us fresh, legal tracks from just dropped albums, EPs and singles, and were not posted anywhere else online but IRC.
Based on the number of page views, streams and downloads, plus, ‘Likes’ and Tweets for that first Best New Releases post of 2012, it is fair to say that many IRC listeners and new visitors were giving the thumbs up to fresh drops from artists and bands like The Sanctuaries, Paper Lights, Tito Ramsey, Gary Go, The Set, Graham Repulski, Songs for Sleepwalkers, and Mythologies, among others. If you missed that playlist post, we recommend giving it a spin.
Now on to the week of Jan. 17th releases; we’re playing catch up, and we’ve mustard up our resources to do a complete review of the best releases dropped last week. It was definitely a meatier week for new releases; there are a number of drops in particular that caught our attention from the start, including fresh tracks from Paul Brill, Howler, The Breakups, The Duke Spirit, Frankie Rose, and of course, the first album of two planned for 2012 from the reunited and legendary lo-fi trail-blazers, Guided By Voices, dropped last week via their own label, GBV Inc. In addition to the songs themselves, we dig the eccentric naming conventions that Robert Pollard and his GBV band mates employ for the album title – Let’s Go Eat the Factory – and song titles, including tracks like “Doughnuts for a Snowman,” and the lead single below, “The Unsinkable Fats Domino.”
The Unsinkable Fats Domino – Guided By Voices from Let’s Go Eat the Factory
“Doughnut For A Snowman” – Guided By Voices from Let’s Go Eat the Factory
The new track from the Rough Trade Records recording artist, Howler, “Back of Your Neck,” is one of the more memorable tracks out this week. With full force rock guitars blazing and drums and cymbals crashing, intertwined with “oo-oooo-ooo” choruses and the almost punk style lead vocals, Howler is definitely in our scope as an IRC Radar Band of 2012. Looking forward to listening to the full album, America Give Up. Expect to hear more about Howler on IRC in 2012.
“Back of Your Neck” – Howler from America Give Up
Louden Swain is a Los Angeles indie band that we are really digging after hearing the two tracks below that the band sent directly to us to share with IRC listeners. On January 17th, the band released the album, Eskimo, via the indie record label Carwreck Records. Eskimo isn’t what you might think of when you think of ‘indie rock’. The songs are well-crafted with accessible lyrics and melodies, layered with harmonies, and full of sonic clarity thanks to the contributions of renowned mixer Joe McGrath (Ryan Adams, Morrissey) and Grammy-winning master engineer Gavin Lurssen (Eric Clapton, Lenny Kravitz, Ben Harper) after producing the album themselves. With that kind of talent helping them out, it’s nearly impossible not to end up with some great tracks, two of which are featured below.
“Eskimo” – Louden Swain from Eskimo
“Cigarette” – Louden Swain from Eskimo
Swain’s influences include Wilco, Dr. Dog, Tom Petty, Spoon, Kings of Leon, The Beatles, and they have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, CMJ, Music Connection, and Popmatters.
Paul Brill, an indie pop artist who is making waves as of late, delivers the two most upbeat tracks of the week, which are perhaps better suited for a summer time release. But at the same time the two tracks, “Sunny Side” – a melodic, sing-a-long song that is hard to get out of your head, and “The Royal Oui,” the second released single from Breezy, is short and memorable. We hope to hear the entire album sometime soon.
“Sunny Side” – Paul Brill from Breezy
“The Royal Oui” – Paul Brill from Breezy
Stream Breezy via Spinner
The Duke Spirit Release New Album – Bruiser, plus, Frankie Rose, The Breakups and More
Ever since they broke out as an increasingly popular indie band during 2009 and 2010, The Duke Spirit have been increasing their fan following, blogger love and even mainstream press coverage – something that only happens for a relatively small percentage of the thousands of bands trying to get noticed. The Duke Spirit don’t need to get noticed, but just like every band that is popular nowadays, they have to keep working hard to remain relevant because there are new, talented bands breaking out all of the time (we’ll continue doing our part to expose talented, ‘new’ bands throughout 2012).
This week the band officially released the MP3 edition of their new album, Bruiser, and what we’ve heard so far, we are digging it. However, the CD version of the album was released last November; some of you probably have seen an increasing trend in recent years in which bands have multiple release dates for a new album – one date for the CD; another date for the MP3 version, and sometimes, another date for the vinyl edition. This practice is done for a variety of reasons by labels, but it makes it difficult for bloggers and web publishers to decide what qualifies as the actual release date. Bruiser is one of those cases, but since the promotion of the album has more often mentioned Jan 17th, 2012 as the release date, that’s the one we’re going with.
The album, which was mixed by Alan Moulder (U2, My Bloody Valentine, TPOBPAH), and is another solid collection of big riffs, anthemic choruses and the powerhouse vocals of pistol Liela Moss. To hold you over, at the top of this post there’s a live MP3 of new single “Don’t Wait” recorded for Later With Jules Holland. Additionally, The Duke Spirit are also have a track on the soundtrack of the new Dark Night: Arkahm City videogame, which also includes songs by Noel Gallagher, MGMT, Florence and the Machine, and Adele.
“Don’t Wait” (Live) – The Duke Spirit from Bruiser
Worth noting is the fact that a number of the lead singles from new releases dropped last week feature female vocalists. Brooklyn songwriter and vocalist Frankie Rose is definitely one of the best female singers in last week’s new releases, as the short-but-sweet lead single, “Know Me” demonstrates – an airy pop track with the perfect amount of reverb and lo-fi for Rose’s impressive vocals.
“Know Me” – Frankie Rose from Intersellar
Old Monk, Paul Brill, Lunarin, Buried Beds, Ani DeFranco, Cate Le Bon, and More
A few months ago we profiled Brooklyn artist Old Monk and the release of the album, Birds in Belize, released via Eenie Meenie Records. However, last week was the official U.S. release of the MP3 version of the album. This is a new single that we did not have available for the original release of the CD.
“Sacred Birds” – Old Monk from Birds of Belize
It’s not often that we receive submissions of new releases from bands in Singapore, but the DIY alternative rock band Lunarin sent in a couple of tracks from their new album dropped last week, The Midas Sessions. Formed in 2003, Lunarin consists of an unholy trinity of Linda Ong, Ho Kah Wye and Loo Eng Teck. They have been playing together for more than 15 years. Initially inspired by grunge bands such as Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, the band has since expanded their musical horizons to create a soundscape reminiscent of the progressive art-rock/heavy metal stylings of Tool, A Perfect Circle and PJ Harvey.
“Right of Sleep” – Lunarin from The Midas Sessions
“Wednesday” – Lunarin from The Midas Sessions
Other singles from new albums dropped last week include MP3s from Rags & Ribbons, Walter Rose, Ernest Gonzales, Matthew Dear, Ani DiFranco, Cate Le Bon, Herman Dune. But first, we’ll kick off this mini-playlist with a new track from the debut album from Buried Beds, an indie Americana band that is completely new to us, and have quickly become, at the least, an IRC Radar Band of 2012. The EP is also the soundtrack to an indie movie they produced. The lead track, “Ivory Towers” is wonderfully crafted and performed, uplifting at times, full of masterful drumming mixed with a horn section, and impressive vocals and choruses; at other times, the song mellows out considerably, at which time the vocals carry the tune
“Ivory Towers” – Buried Beds from Small Stories EP
“The Glass Masses” – Rags & Ribbons from The Glass Masses (self-released)
“Drive South” – Walter Rose from Cast Your Stone (self-released)
“Headcage” – Matthew Dear from Headcage EP
“Which Side Are You On?” – Ani DiFranco from ¿Which Side Are You On?
“Puts Me to Work” – Cate Le Bon from CYRK
“Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” – Herman Düne from Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
“Dies in 55” – Trailer Trash Tracys from Ester
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