Best New Releases – Week of Feb. 7th: Dr. Dog, of Montreal, The Duke Spirit, Ben Kweller, Sharon Van Etten, The Twilight Sad
With February already in full swing, the 2012 music release calendar is really starting to shape up thanks to a jackpot of new albums released this week, and over the past couple of weeks. There are so many new albums that have released this week that decided to split this installment of the Best New Releases playlist series into two parts.
Part One, here within, features fantastic new singles from an impressive variety of indie bands and genres, including Dr. Dog, of Montreal, A Place to Bury Strangers, Bahamas, Blondes, The Duke Spirit, Ben Kweller, Sharon Van Etten, The Twilight Sad, Fredrik, Dada Trash Collage, and Chuck Prophet. We’ve already streamed all of the singles in the two parts of this week’s new releases and enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s an impressive variety of excellent tracks by an array of talented artists, both familiar and obscure.
Part Two, set to be published on Saturday, contains even more lead tracks from new releases by Lightouts, Wire, Big Sir, Mux Mool, and The Plimsouls, among others.
The lead track, “That Old Black Hole,” from the latest album by Philly’s rock band, Dr. Dog, is our favorite single of the week, even though there is stiff competition from of Montreal, A Place to Bury Strangers, Fredrik, Bahamas, and many others. “That Old Black Hole” is a catchy, but edgy rock song, featuring memorable melodies and hooks, well honed percussions, and the unique vocals of lead singer/guitarist Scott McMicken – the kind of song you can play again and again, and still love it.
Note: We were surprised how many people commented about no longer being able to click on album titles to buy them from Amazon. Last fall, Amazon, in a dispute about a California Internet tax, suddenly shut down affiliations with all California publishers (including us). But, the state recently reversed that decision, and so we can once again provide album title links that make it fast and easy to purchase them from Amazon. Plus, compared to iTunes, Amazon’s prices and overall experience is better, so we use them. Back to the music.
The second featured track, “Warrior Man,” together with the terrific lead track, is perfect bait for anyone who is undecided about purchasing Be The Void. We think it’s one of the band’s best albums, and one of the best albums of 2012 (so far). In regards to “Warrior Man,” 365 Days of Music, wrote: “[it] embodies everything I love about the psychedelic rock genre…odd-textured production, electric guitars, mesmerizing vocals. This whole album does that actually.”
The A.V. Club made it clear what they think of Be The Void, writing: “That Dr. Dog has written some supremely catchy tunes isn’t too surprising, but few would expect its (or any band’s) fifth record to be every bit as exciting as its first.” Even though the majority of online reviews we read or scanned ranged from enthusiastically positive to commendable; there were also a few that were not feeling it, like Exclaim and Pitchfork.
Dr. Dog 2012 Tour Dates from their website, DrDogMusic.com
Note: The band was forced to cancel a show on Feb. 3rd in Boulder due to the snowstorm that closed roads around the region. Still no info yet on when that date will be rescheduled.
The lead single, “Wintered Debts,” from of Montreal‘s new album, is also a top track of the week, and proof that the band is getting better with age. “Wintered Debts” is a new song to add to of Montreal’s extensive discography in which musical creatively, talent and infusions of various genres and styles produce memorable results – in this case, the weaving of psych pop and indie rock that produce one of the best album singles of 2012, so far. Part of the reason that the band has been one of the most consistently popular indie bands since 1996 is the continuous experimentation with various sounds and styles – from blends of twee pop, psychedelic rock and electronica to funk, glam rock, R&B and Afrobeats.
The Athens, Georgia band took from almost all of these influences to produce the new album, Paralytic Stalks, with enthralling and infectious results. We wouldn’t be surprised at all if of Montreal add thousands of new fans to their already huge following, based solely on the release of Paralytic Stalks. The only downside is that there hasn’t been an official video released that we could find for either one of the tracks below, or any of the other songs on the album. Hopefully one is in the works.
A Place to Bury Strangers bring on the high-octane dark rock that we expect with the blistering track, “So Far Away” from the new EP, Onwards to the Wall EP . It is a bit strange, but the first 15 seconds of the track are nearly silent, and then the song builds into a the full-on rocker. Following APTBS, are tracks from artists like Fredrik, Bahamas, Blondes and Sharon Van Etten.
Singles from The Twilight Sad, Ben Kweller, The Duke Spirit, Dada Crash Collage and Chuck Prophet
The Twilight Sad first caught our attention in 2007 with their widely praised album, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, and since then, they’ve been building a following of pretty dedicated fans. This week, the band released their third album, which like their 2008 debut follow, is a stylistic departure. Interestingly, the band has embraced a darker, more sparse krautrock and industrial sound with some moments of 1980’s synth-pop throughout No One Can Ever Know. Credit has to be given for taking such a risk, and pulling it off. Chromewaves wrote of the album: “It’s an unexpected turn from the Scots, but a rewarding one – and that’s coming from someone who loved their guitar-centric approach.”
Part of what makes the band interesting to a lot of music lovers is the fact that they cannot be pinned down, even though they are often categorized genre-wise as “indie rock” and “shoegaze.” Last week, The Twilight Sad had the unique honor of being the musical guest on the 30th anniversary of The Late Show with David Letterman. That’s an impressive notation in the history of any band, but especially for a band that is not yet widely known.
See Chromewaves review, additional tracks and the video for “Another Bed”
Ben Kweller returns with his fairly well received new album, Go Fly A Kite, the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2009 album, Changing Horses, which was one of our, and other music sites’, favorite albums of 2009. The lead track from Kweller’s new album is the ’70s-sounding pop rock track, “Mean To Me.” There are also some catchy guitar riffs, melody-driven choruses and Jerry Lee Lewis-style piano playing. This song could have fit in perfectly on an episode of That ’70s Show. There is also a flashback track, “Sundress,” from Kweller’s eponymous 2006 debut.
London alternative rock band, The Duke Spirit, won critical acclaim as far back as 2003 for their debut EP, but since then has only released three albums. While their latest album may not win the same level of acclaim as their previous two releases, it definitely has its notable moments. it is encouraging to see the band is still together and releasing new music.
One of our favorite new DIY bands of the past 18 months, Dada Trash Collage, dropped a new EP this week, Fun Fund. And finally, none other than Chuck Prophet closes out Part One of this weeks’ Best New Releases playlist with the terrific, and entertaining, “Castro Halloween” from his new album, Temple Beautiful. A Bay Area music legend, Prophet said of the new LP: “made in San Francisco, by San Franciscans about San Francisco.”
“Migraine” – Dada Trash Collage from Fun Fund EP (self-released)
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