Best New Releases, April 3rd, Vol. I – Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Max and the Moon, Lux, Black Mountain, Twin Steps
Last week, IRC presented nearly two dozen MP3 singles from the latest best new album drops via Volume One and Volume Two; this week’s new releases highlight singles from bands to watch Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Max and the Moon, plus Lux, Black Mountain, and Twin Steps among others. Volume Two will be out shortly, but in the meantime, this playlist of a dozen MP3 tracks contains some of the best new music of the spring. Volume Two will feature Great Lake Swimmers, AU, Zammuto and others.
There’s been a ton of buzz around the Icelandic indie folk pop band Of Monsters and Men in the past year or so, but most especially in the past few months, with their first U.S. tour kicking off at SXSW 2012 in Austin last month.
After winning a popular annual battle of the bands competition in Iceland in 2010, Of Monsters of Men went on to become one of the most popular new bands in their homeland, and were invited to perform at the 2010 Iceland Airwaves Festival, where Seattle‘s KEXP recorded the band performing the track, “Little Talks,” which quickly provided the band with their first significant U.S. exposure. By February of 2011, the band signed with Record Records to begin recording their debut album.
But it was the spinning of “Little Talks” on Radio 104.5 in Philadelphia in August of 2011, that propelled the band to nationwide popularity. Soon the song started popping up on radio stations across the country, and throughout the blogosphere. With the wind at their backs, Of Monsters and Men released their debut album, My Head is an Animal, in Iceland in September of last year, where the LP, and the single, “Little Talks,” rocketed to No. 1 in the country that gave us Bjork, Sigur Ros, and dozens of other popular artists and bands.
This week, some six months later, the album officially dropped in the U.S., and is currently in the Top 20 on the Amazon music charts, where the album is available with two additional tracks not found on the Icelandic release. SideOneTrackOne.com wrote: “Their folksy Scandinavian sets are as playful as the dynamics between the boy-girl vocals they utilize, and with a penchant for anthemic chorals and relentlessly upbeat rhythms.”
One thing that can’t be said about Of Monsters and Men is that they are hyped and over-rated. They are one of the best ‘new’ bands of the year since this their debut album was just released this week in the U.S.
Band to Watch in 2012: Denver’s The Lumineers
While other bands move to New York from all points around the U.S. to pursue their musical ambitions, The Lumineers left New York to settle down in Denver. This week the band dropped their anticipated, self-titled debut LP, featuring the lead single, “Hey Ho,” which was recently featured as the Song of the Day on Seattle’s KEXP.
In fact, stay tuned because The Lumineers will be featured in the upcoming Bands to Watch in 2012 series we’ve been working on. In the meantime, to hear more of the band, listen to more songs on their official website, where you can also get news, view videos, and check The Lumineers 2012 tour schedule to see if they’re stopping by your city.
The album, The Lumineers, is on sale for only $6.99 via Amazon, where it is #10 on the Amazon MP3 album charts.
This next track is from a DIY album release that came out last week, and which was meant to appear in either volume of the Best New Releases for March 27th. The unsigned Fullerton, California indie pop/piano rock band, Max and the Moon, got our attention right away when we heard the track, “Light House,” from their new album, The Way I See, which they had sent in for review.
The single is an impressive track from a band that, of the people we asked, no one had heard of before. But no worries there – that’s one of the great things about indie rock; there are so many artists and bands that can be like your own little secret favorites, and that of few other people – because they don’t know about them – can compete for that exclusivity , whether it’s real or fantasy, or somewhere in between.
“Light House” – Max and The Moon from The Way I See
Seattle‘s electro-dance, dream pop boy-girl duo, Lux, have been popping on indie music blogs in recent weeks in a lead up to their debut release, We Are Not the Same, dropped officially this week. Lux have been compared to other duos like Cults and Sleigh Bells for their blending of pop, C-86 vocal delivery and, as described by The UK Independent, “Phil Spector-via-Jesus and the Mary Chain walls of sound.”
However, much of the criticism, even from reviewers who like the album overall, is that the album lacks “the focus and urgency that have made their peers so blog-worthy.” While there are still plenty of decent to good tracks on the LP, there are too many songs that are aimless, sloppy and under produced. Still, it’s a decent start for an unsigned band that self-recorded and released their first record.
The first single, “The Window,” profiles the charming vocals of singer Leah Rosen, surrounded by washy synths and drum machines. The second track, “Coroner’s Office,” is presented to give you a better idea of the band’s sound, and what is a fairly good debut, considering that it was self-recorded and released.
Black Mountain, Brenton, Caltrop, Twin Steps
Once again, Black Mountain take another step forward as one of the top psychedelic, hard rock bands around today with a new single from the Year Zero soundtrack. The track delivers pulsating jam rock laced with explosive, killer guitar licks, powerful drumming and a dark, nefarious overtone. This nearly eight-minute nail bitter might just make you feel like your on a Harley blazing through some tripped out landscape until the gas runs out and petters to a stop.
If you liked “Mary Lou,” you’ll probably also dig the long, meandering track, “Blessed,” with its dark rock guitar jams at the core. The song is from the new single, “Blessed,” off the band Caltrop’s new LP, Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes. And Breton finishes up this mini three-track playlist of hard rock, which only made sense to group together
“Blessed” – Caltrop from Ten Million Years and Eight Minutes on Holidays For Quince Records
This next track, “Pinkie Promise,” by Twin Steps, is a blast to the past of the doo-whop era combined with some Phil Spectorish elements. It’s a track that stumbles along with a lead vocalist that sings “Iiiii” over and over, and presumably a small collection of female and male back up singers.
And just when you thought you were on your little retro cruise down the boulevard, about half way through the six-minute long track, the singing stops and there’s a momentary jam from the band – which doesn’t allow it, along with the duration, to be a radio track – for about 15 seconds until the track returns to it’s previous drunken ballroom stupor, except this time there’s giggling girl loops, which go on for a bit too much.
Who knows if they pulled it off (depends on who you ask), but Twin Steps definitely take an unconventional approach to what would otherwise be an ode to the oldies but goldies that your parents, or grand parents, grew up with. The band’s new EP, Serial Parade, is out now.
Hollis Brown has been inching up the so-called indie folk/country rock charts in recent years, and now he’s, back with another folksy country rocker that would be just fine on a soundtrack of a movie about a cross country journey, or something to that nature, especially with a title like “Ride on the Train,” and the added lyric, “and baby, don’t look back.” While there is not much in the way of lyrical content, or storytelling here, it’s still a fine tune.
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