Best New Releases for Week of April 17th – Maps & Atlases, Make Out, Absolute Monarchs, Dry The River, Mean Jeans, Peasant
It’s a big week for music in a number of ways – Record Store Day and Coachella are both this weekend (actually an unprecedented Weekend 2 at Coachella) as well as our favorite new singles from Best New Releases of the week. A great way to kick-off this playlist mix is with Maps & Atlases’ fresh single, “Winters,” from the band’s new LP, Beware and Be Grateful. Along the song title may indicate a certain type of feel and sound, “Winters” is actually an upbeat song that seems more fitting on a mixtape for a spring vacation.
New York Band Make Out Drop New Double Single
Make Out is a New York pop/rock band, featuring Jesper Mortensen (ex-Junior Senior), lead vocalist Leah Hennessey, and Chase Stauffer on drums. The band plays fast, manic, and condensed pop songs, as the new single, “Maybe I’m The One (For Me).” The track is a punk pop song with a catchy beat and song title; the drawback though is that the song is only one minute and 17 seconds. So, just as you’re getting into it, the song ends. We first featured the band in 2010 when they released the single, “I Don’t Want Anyone That Wants Me.”
Last October, Make Out released another fast, short single, “You Can’t Be Friends With Everyone,” which was produced by MNDR.
Seattle’s Absolute Monarchs Release Debut LP, ’1′
We had heard of Seattle folk rock band Absolute Monarchs here and there, but hadn’t had a chance until this week to listen to their music enough to get a feel for their sound. Verdict: We like what we hear; the KEXP Song of the Day below, “Attack,” has a memorable, sweet melody, with explosions of raw energy thanks to the brilliant and raw acoustic guitar playing of Shawn Kock and Miki Sodos, as well as the impressive, stand out vocals of Joel Schneider. Absolute Monarchs remind us of performers like fellow Seattle folksters, Fleet Foxes.
They’ve previously opened for Red Fang, Les Savy Fav and Cold Cave, and were chosen as one of the best local bands in 2010 by City Arts Magazine. Could they be on the cusp of hitting it big, or as the blog, Big Tea, put it, “the next big thing from Seattle?” As the old adage goes, only time will tell, but they are definitely a band to watch in 2012.
Dry The River Drop Debut Album, New Single, to Mostly Rave Reviews
Rising indie folk band Dry The River dropped their anticipated debut album, Shallow Bed, this week to mostly positive reviews on indie blogs and music websites. The British-based band combine elements of “gypsy swagger with tremulous sensitivity and gothic rock drama” (The UK Telegraph) and includes a mix of “fearlessness, craft and believability [that] is irresistible” (Q Magazine).
In our own view, the uncompromising LP is ripe with authentic folk rock references that are unmistakably modern and fresh, agreeably familiar and ethereal, making it truly one of the best folk rock albums of the year, and easily one of the most uplifting debuts of 2012 (so far). Dry The River, founded and fronted by Norwegian singer/songwriter Peter Liddle, possess a penchant for tracks that start out slow and mellow, and eventually build into a full-on stomping, romping blitz of bold notes and extraordinary vocals.
The Boston Phoenix called it a “late-aughts hipster cocktail.” But not all reviews of Shallow Bed are flattering; Rolling Stone gave the album 4 out of 10 stars, adding: “It’s like a Portlandia satire of the world’s most studious band,” and The UK Guardian criticized the album as a “bit hollow” because of lyrical content of “Bible belts, railroads and medicine” that does not come from “some remote Appalachian cabin but a shared house in Stratford, east London.”
Worthy Singles from New LPs by Mean Jeans, Grave Babies, Moonface, Spiritualized, Horse Feathers
The new single, “Anybody Out There,” from the popular Portland band Mean Jeans, is not reflective of its name at all, but instead is an upbeat punk pop track with choruses reminiscent of 70′s radio punk; in fact, they started out as a Ramones “copycat” band, but unlike hundreds of other such bands, Mean Jeans are true to form. They also have a retro 80′s nerd punk (think Devo in spacesuits) video of “Anybody Out There,” which you can view on the music videos page.
The equally uptempo track, “Nightmares,” by Grave Babies, is also not indicative of its title, nor the band’s gloomy name. The track features hazy, reverb-heavy guitar and vocals, and fits within the realm of the garage surf rock sound that has been a popular music craze over the past three to four years. Some say that the resurgence of surf pop rock during recent years is starting to fizzle out, but, at least within the cafe, the revival is still riding a pretty big wave.
The new single, “Teary Eyes and Bloody Lips,” from the new LP by Moonface, is a semi-dark composition brimming with a sense of urgency based on a fast, fat bass, spacey sound effects, crazed synthesizer riffs, and Bowie-like vocals from well-known musician and collaborator Spencer Krug. He’s best known for his work with bands like Wolf Parade, Frog Eyes, Sunset Rubdown and Swan Lake. His debut album as Moonface was recorded in collaboration with Finnish krautrock band Siinai.
Following Moonface is a fresh single from a band we’ve followed for a long time – Spiritualized. We have not yet heard the new album, Sweet Hearth, Sweet Light – it’s one of many in the list of “to listen to”.
“Hey Jane” – Spiritualized (NSFW!) from Sweet Hearth Sweet Light on Fat Possum
Next, yet another Portland band, Horse Feathers – the animal-naming of bands in indie and folk rock is as ubiquitous as oxygen, or at least it seems that way for anyone who follows music – present their new single, “Fit Against The Country” from the album, Cynic’s New Year. The song is a perfectly composed and executed indie folk track, complete with mandolin and guitar plucking.
JD McPherson Channels Chubby Checker and Carl Perkins on New Track
The lead single, “North Side Gal,” from JD McPherson is a blast from the past – a great ode to the blues and rockabilly of the 1950′s in spirit of legends like Chubby Checker, Carl Perkins, and many others from that epic time of change in American popular music that was the spring board for so much of the iconoclastic music we’ve loved over the decades.
It’s practically impossible not to want to get up and dance when listening to “North Side Gal.” While this thrilling track from the Oklahoma singer/songwriter and musician is a gem that pays homage to a bygone era, it is still relevant and fresh today as an old-style song can be, bursting with Les Paul guitar licks, sock hop rhythms, thumping stand-up bass, rattling drums, and convincing vocals that capture perfectly the memory of such greats as Checker and Perkins.
Note: In the original publication of this post, we messed up and linked to the wrong song titled “Flask.” Rather than linking to Peasant’s song above, “The Flask,” we instead linked to “Flask” by the band The Nod. The latter is still a good track, so we kept it here on the page, and also because that is how we originally published it. Thanks to IRC listener Steve for pointing out our error.
“The Flask” – The Nod from Easy, Maverick
If you like the track above from Peasant, and want to listen to – and download – more tracks, we recommend checking out Peasant’s Bandcamp page. For comparison purposes, and also because we like it, here is the track, “Those Days,” which is from the Free Singles EP released last summer.
Another impressive track is “Too Young to Break.” The title itself reminds us of songs like Fun‘s “We Are Young” and Sonny and the Sunsets “Too Young To Burn,” among others.
Playlist Within a Playlist: King of Prussia, Coke Weed, Sidi Toure and The Forty Niners
One of the things that is cool about making playlists is that you can set up the order of songs however you want, not to mention pick and chose which songs to include. We dig sometimes creating mini-playlists within playlists – especially when it comes to the weekly new releases. So, here’s another mini, with fresh tracks from King of Prussia, Coke Weed, Sidi Toure, and The Forty Nineteens.