Best New Releases – Week of Jan. 31 – Imperial Teen, Leonard Cohen, Pacific UV, Hospitality, The Library Is On Fire, Night Beds
The lead track in this week’s new releases playlist post is indie pop band Imperial Teen‘s first single, “Runaway,” an infectious, catchy, and heavily melodic song – perfectly sunny for what has been a strangely mild winter for much of the country. “Runaway” is probably the most memorable song from the album, Feel The Sound (great deal for $5.99 via Amazon).
If it were up to us, the next single to be released from Feel the Sound would be “Overtaken,” a track that is almost sure to put you in a better mood if you’re feeling a bit down, or dragging at work in the afternoon hours. In fact, almost the entire album is a sugar high, but without the coma-like crash that follows.
However, there are other tracks on the album that fall flat, such as “Out From Inside,” “Last To Know,” and “Over His Head.” All in all, it’s a great album, especially for indie pop lovers.
What else can anyone say about Leonard Cohen that hasn’t already been said, or isn’t already well known. Cohen, 77, is nothing less than a legend in popular music, a status that he has achieved record by record over the past 45 years. Cohen, whose fans range from teens to retirees, has had more influence on singers and songwriters during the past four decades than just about any other artist alive today, and he is easily one of the most respected Canadian artists ever.
After an eight year lapse since the release of his last album, Cohen officially released his latest body of work, Old Ideas (not the most marketing-friendly title, but hey, at his age, do you think he cares) this week to an eager fan base spread around the world, from Tokyo and Paris, Johannesburg and London, to New York and Buenos Aires, and all places big and small between those points. The huge amount of interest in Old Ideas is not just because it is Leonard Cohen and his first album since 2004, but perhaps more so based on early indications that have been leaking for a few months now that the album was going to be a blockbuster release consisting of some of his best new material in decades.
And so it is. Old Ideas is simply brilliant, and a testament that age is not an impediment to creativity and talent, nor the quality and depth of one’s work; in fact, in Cohen’s case, it is just the opposite, as the album so clearly demonstrates. Old Ideas is perhaps precise in that there is a wonderful metamorphosis of jazz, gospel, blues, and folk-rock, masterfully woven with witty and poignant lyrics about broken relationships, alcohol, religion, mortality and reflection delivered with Cohen’s distinct deep vocals, as evidenced on tracks like “Amen,” “The Darkness,” and “Crazy To Love You.”
Special deals from Amazon for MP3, CD and Vinyl versions: Get Old Ideas with a digital booklet for $10.99 (MP3 version). This is the perfect deal for die-hard fans who may be almost as enamored with the snazzy digital booklet as they are with the album itself. The CD version of Old Ideas by Mr. Cohen is currently on sale for $8.99 (free shipping for orders $25+), and not surprisingly, No. 1 in sales on Amazon at press time. Last, but definitely not least: vinyl lovers! You have not been forgotten; afterall, it would be completely moronic if one of Cohen’s greatest albums wasn’t printed on vinyl – everyone who’s ever compared all three formats – MP3, CD and vinyl – knows well that vinyl is superior in sound on many levels. It will cost you a little more – $19.85 for the vinyl – but you’re sure to get your money’s worth out of it, and more so, for years to come – there’s not many things we can say that about these days.
Having just been officially released, the praise and kudos continue to pour in. We like reading ‘regular people’s critiques on Amazon. According to the Metacritic website, Old Ideas scores an overall rating of 85 (out of 100) among 26 different reviews. Paste magazine declared it a “masterpiece,” The UK Telegraph called Old Ideas “a work of genius,” and Spin praised the album as “wonderfully sentimental, beautifully tuneful. The all-important All Music Guide was more cautious, writing “Old Ideas is a very good Cohen album; it may be great, but only time reveals that when it comes to his work,” and similarly, Pitchfork was commendable, but seemingly split, commenting: “The songs are decent, the singing is stunning.”
And, of course, there were a few critics who had a different take on Old Ideas than most of their contemporaries. The Independent in the U.K. wrote: “Not to say Cohen is not an artist to be treasured, just that Old Ideas may not e entirely essential.” While it’s important to also report the ‘other side’s’ analysis of any high-profile work of art, clearly the vast majority of critics, bloggers and fans are raving all about Old Ideas. Yes, it was worth the eight year wait. You know the saying about Rome – it certainly wasn’t built in a day (or a month, or a year). We guarantee Old Ideas will be in the top halves of best albums of 2012 starting in about seven months from now, and it also wouldn’t be a surprise if it was nominated for one or more Grammy’s later this year.
Stream “Crazy to Love You” via Shelter From The Norm blog
Athens Psych Pop Band, Pacific UV, Drop Amazing Album, Weekends
Athens, Georgia psych pop band, Pacific UV, have been around for more than a decade, but they’re new to us. Because of that, and their amazing new album, Weekends, we’ve tagged Pacific UV as a Band to Watch for 2012. Usually when applying that designation, it is for usually focus on relatively new bands who have recently released their debut album, or are planning to, when qualifying a “radar band,” but sometimes we’ll add bands that we really like but have only heard recently – regardless of how long they’ve been active. That is the case with Pacific UV, thanks to their new, and only third, album, Weekends.
The lead single from the band’s new album, “Funny Girl,” has a sound that is reminiscent of bands like New Order with a more modern indie twist. Pacific UV has impressed us so much with Weekends that we are now adding their first two albums, their self-titled debut, PacificUV (2003) and Long Play 2 (2008) to our music collection.
Weekends will appeal most to fans of experimental, electronic psych pop – it’s full of hazy day atmospheric synth keys, remarkable vocals, dubs and occasional choruses, plus distorted electric guitar riffs, drum machines, thumping bass lines and sound effects of all sorts, as tracks like “I’m Here (But It’s Not Me),” “Just For Kix,” and “Be My Only Shallow Love” demonstrate.
While listening to Weekends, you’ll hear each of the following genres: indie rock, space rock, shoegaze, dream pop, post-rock and slowcore; the band wonderfully weaves these elements into the songs on the album, creating experiences that range from uptempo, foot-tapping synth pop songs to tracks which are clearly esoteric, dreamy and enchanting. It’s rare to come across an album in which we like every song, some more than others. Perhaps a better way of phrasing it, is that there is not one song on the 10-track album that we do not like.
If the two tracks included here, and the band’s profile, are enticing, we recommend getting a copy of Weekends (disclaimer: We receive about 6% of each purchase). Don’t be surprised if you find yourself playing Weekends again and again, and making what for us was an easy decision to buy Pacific UV’s previous two full-length albums (as noted earlier) and two EPs – 2006′s self-titled Pacific UV EP via Warm Records, and last year’s Chrysalis on Athen’s label, Mazarine Records.
Indie Trivia: Pacific UV’s song, “Alarmist” was featured on the 2009 season-finale of Californication.
After Years of Waiting, Fans Finally Get Their Hands on Hospitality’s Debut Album
Brooklyn indie pop trio, Hospitality, officially dropped their self-titled debut album this week via Merge Records, to positive reviews from the all-important blogosphere and the mainstream press, including NPR, USA Today, Wired and many others. In addition, Pitchfork gave the album a 7.4 rating; Rolling Stone, 4 out of 5 stars; the AV Club published a grade of “A-.”
Early fans of Hospitality, including those who were with the band from the start in 2007-2008, patiently waited nearly a half decade for a proper album to be released. In fact, it doesn’t make much sense that a band who released a fantastic EP in 2008, was named a band to watch from Stereogum in 2009, and the blogger buzz was at full throttle. But, after the initial success of their 2008 self-titled EP, a death in the family of vocalist and guitarist Amber Papini set the band back right when they were rising. Meanwhile, the other band members worked on side projects. Ordinarily, such a long hiatus for a band that was ascending fast would have been the end of the story, but when Merge signed the band in September of 2011, that was a signal to fans and the critics that Hospitality were back in the game.
On the album’s first official single, “Betty Wang”, Hospitality deliver a bright, cheery and catchy sound that some guys might not want their friends (or girlfriends and wives) to know they like, even though it’s popliciously upbeat, and somewhat addictive. Other tracks to take note of include “Friends of Friends,” which we think is a fantastic pop rock track that perhaps should have been released as the lead single, but we can also understand how it must have been a hard call because the album contains a number of stand-out tracks. Hospitality is on sale as an immediate download for only $5.00 via Amazon for a limited time.
The Library Is On Fire received a good amount of coverage on indie music blogs and some mainstream sites in 2011, so it is no surprise that their new single, and new self-released album, is already looking like it could be one of the best early album favorites of 2012. We thought the band name was a commentary on the Internet and how it has pretty much made the library obsolete to so many people. The Library Is On Fire burst onto the blogosphere in 2011 with a couple of DIY tracks that gave the band a lot of mojo. Now their self-released album, Works On Paper.
“Your Eyes Were Shining” – The Jealous Sound from A Gentle Reminder
“Ramona” – Night Beds from Country Sleep
Cyber Me – Night Genes from Like The Flood (self-released)
You’d Think This Was Easy – Adam Arcuragi from Like a fire that consumes all before it
Let’s pick up the pace. For fans of funky mixed with rock and a dash of soul, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, consistently deliver through the years, and so it is no surprise that the band’s first new single, “Major,” sticks to the format. Still, “Major” rocks it strong with a big or ‘major’ sound, soliciting a brass section, various types of synchronized drum instruments and heavier, steady bass lines – all geared to support the well disciplined, almost hip-hop like, attitude-laden vocals of the female vocalist.
The next single from Black Bananas has a similar funky sound, but it’s much more integrated with rock, as exemplified by 80′s style guitar licks; the song is much more instrumentally focused as opposed to singing. The Big Sleep, a new band to us, covertly deliver brooding, dark tinged notes in OMD meets Bjork style on the lead single “Ace.” While we haven’t heard the whole album, if the single is any indication of the other tracks on the album, Nature Experiments, then
Major – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour from Out of Frequency
Ace – The Big Sleep from Nature Experiments
Backseat – Carsie Blanton from Idiot Heart (self-released)
“The Witch (The Sonics)” – The Ex-Girlfriends Club from Boo Hoo Hoo (self-released)
100 Acres of Sycamore – Fionn Regan from 100 Acres of Sycamore
< Work – The 2 Bears from Be Strong
“Keep You” – Class Actress from Music From the Motion Picture Chronicle
Other Singles Out This Week
This section usually refers to new singles that are OK, but probably won’t remember a few months from now. We include them because you guys often surprise us and elevate a song to the Top Ten Songs playlist for the week they were released. Enjoy.
Makeover - Escort from Escort
Singles We Don’t Have MP3 Links For:
“Animatic” – One Model Nation from Total Werks Vol. 1
“Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)” – Gotye from Making Mirrors
“Usurper” – Prinzhorn Dance School from Clay Class
Listen/download the previous Best New Releases for January
Best New Releases for Week of Jan. 24th – Fresh tracks from new albums by Cloud Nothings, Porcelain Raft, Nada Surf, Cardinal, First Aid Kit, Big Deal
Best New Releases for Week of Jan. 17th – New songs from fresh releases by Guided By Voices, Howlers, Paul Brill, Frankie Rose, Old Monk, Buried Beds, Ani DiFranco
Best New Releases for Week of Jan. 10th – Top singles from new albums by The Sanctuaries, Gary Go, Paper Lights, The Set, Graham Repulski, Songs for the Sleepwalkers, Mythologies
- dirtyrockmagazine.com » Best New Releases – Week of Jan. 31 – Imperial Teen, Leonard Cohen, Pacific UV, Hospitality, The Library Is On Fire, Night Beds