The Albums You Need to Know About Every Week
As per usual, this week’s releases are a mix of veterans and rookies dropping hand-crafted works from their world into ours. This certainly isn’t a week to slack off on your listening homework — the rock and pop presented here is nothing short of righteous. Be sure to give each record a listen because you might find a new favorite or even re-discover an old one.
UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – II
These psych-rockers signed with JagJaguwar, toured with Grizzly Bear and Liars and are now placing their highly-anticipated sophomore album into our eager hands. Unknown Mortal Orchestra have remained planted in the same sonic ground that gained them notoriety, but they’re digging deeper and further down into fuzz and funk. II is “more thoughtful, more dynamic” than their debut. The themes on the album stem from massive tour exhaustion and experiences — it’s funky, soulful, groovy and gritty. It’s also a must-listen.
THAO & THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN – WE THE COMMON
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s fourth studio album is straight-up impressive. The record was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Walkmen) and boasts a duet with folk-rock goddess, Joanna Newsom. We the Common presents us with Nguyen’s most mature themes to date and proves that “mature” doesn’t have to mean boring — the sound is more of the same brassy, upbeat folk we’ve come to love from her. Nguyen has stated that, throughout the recording of the album, she became strongly involved with her community and also did volunteer and non-profit work. These experiences color the record with overarching themes of justice and society, and, although the themes are heavy ones, her spunk provides a buoyant, delicious listening experience.
JIM JAMES – REGIONS OF LIGHT AND SOUND OF GOD
The wait is finally over for the My Morning Jacket frontman’s debut solo album, and what a stunning debut it is. With Regions of Light and Sound of God, Jim James is allowing us to tag along on his soul-searching journey where the themes of light and dark are conveyed through soulful, echoing vocals and a conglomeration of all sorts of 60s and 70s sounds. James’ first solo attempt is captivating, particularly since he recorded all the instrumentation himself. Honest and contemplative, this is a different side of Jim James that you’re going to dig.
EELS – WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS
Mark Everett, aka “E”, of Eels has been making indie rock for over twenty years and is now dropping his band’s tenth studio album. Wonderful, Glorious is a positive, bluesy pop-rock record that both long-time fans and newcomers will appreciate. E delivers familiar sonic territory, but blends it with several surprisingly heavier rock tracks that will have you jamming and leave you satisfied.
MATT POND – THE LIVES INSIDE THE LINES IN YOUR HANDS
This album is all Matt Pond (sans the PA after his name). Filled with catchy pop songwriting, he clearly wrote The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hands with the goal of getting people up, dancing, moving and connecting. He’s achieved just that with his upbeat brand of indie pop, perfect for sunny Saturdays and car rides with friends. “Love to Get Used”, the track below, is particularly sweet and catchy as hell.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT – PEDESTRIAN VERSE
Scottish rockers, Frightened Rabbit, are back with their fourth full-length in three years. Sticking closely to the original sound and honest songwriting they’re known for, the band isn’t trying to go in a different direction — they believe in the rock and roll music that they’re making, and if nobody digs it, then that’s okay. People are digging it, though, and their fanbase continues to remain very loyal. With pounding drums and grungy guitars, Pedestrian Verse is rousing, raw and 100% Frightened Rabbit.
THE SPINTO BAND – COOL COCOON
Simply put, The Spinto Band rule. The second release on their own label, Spintonic Records, Cool Cocoon is not only inventive pop rock and insanely fun to listen to, it’s smart. In other words, it has staying power. The tracks are diverse, textured, and demonstrate that the band has been together for over fifteen years. The Spinto Band have honed and honed their sound into honey. It’s sweet, and we’re definitely big fans.
DOG & PANTHER – OUR BODIES
Our Bodies, the sophomore release from Dog & Panther, is the album on this list that’s going to BOWL YOU OVER, leaving your mouth unsure of whether to drop its jaw or don a dumb grin. Dog & Panther write pensive, sincere, experimental pop that’s so good, it’s likely to make your stomach hurt. Like a recent post of ours stated, they sound like Death Cab for Cutie meets Sigur Ros, creating something entirely unique and entirely wonderful. Listen on the immediate.