We’re 2 full months into the new year, and the new music has been rolling in. While we’re looking forward to the rest of the year (new release on the way from the likes of The Shins, Miike Snow, Here We Go Magic, and others) there are already a few releases you should be listening to right now. (Edit from Sissyphis: and if the Freelance Whales don’t release a new album this year, I will cry. That is all.)
Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory
Cloud Nothings latest release, Attack on Memory is a huge departure from the band’s prior work. Opening with a nearly 5 minute dark, brooding and torturous track, the album doesn’t let down from there. Attack on Memory falls in line with the recent trend of bringing back the sound of the 90s, particularly in the vein of harder alt rock and grunge. Songs like “No Future/No Past” and “Stay Useless” (coincidentally also the album’s two singles to date) paint the picture of one on the cusp of reluctantly moving past a responsibility free experience towards something more typical and tame. This album takes a few listens to really understand – but once you do, you’ll want to put the sucker on repeat. Standout tracks include “No Future/No Past”, “Stay Useless”, and “Wasted Days”.
Grimes – Visions
Grimes is a bit of an enigma. Some says she’s weird just for weird’s sake – and others are massively in love with her music. I probably fall somewhere in-between. My first exposure to Grimes at 2011′s Gorilla vs. Bear fest was not a pleasant one. Technical gaffes and (let’s be honest) a lack of quality material at the time left me unimpressed. Spending time with her back catalogue was equally lacking. Sure, there was the occasional complete song (Vanessa), but it was the exception to the norm.
Still, buzz for Grimes remained high – enough to make me investigate her set at the 2011 Fun Fun Fun Fest. By this time, Grimes had added a backup dancer of sorts to her one-woman act, and seemingly, more songs to her repertoire. I left Fun Fun Fun Fest much more impressed then I had been previously.
Her latest release, Visions, is a huge step forward and adds more pop sensibilities while maintaining the artistic and creative edge that drew many to Grimes in the first place. Standout tracks include “Genesis”, “Oblivion” and “Nightmusic”.
And if you wanted an example of Grimes’ eccentricity, this Wikipedia blurb should do the trick:
“In 2009, Claire Boucher and her then-boyfriend from Tennessee constructed a 20-foot houseboat, named the “Velvet Glove Cast in Iron,” with the intention to sail it down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis to New Orleans. The cargo included chickens, a typewriter, 20 pounds of potatoes and a gifted copy of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Boucher and her companion adopted the names “Varuschka” and “Zelda Xox” for the trip. Due to engine trouble and subsequent harassment from the Minnesota police, the journey was cut short and the houseboat and chickens were impounded.”
The Weeknd – Echoes of Silence
Technically speaking, Echoes of Silence was released at the tail end of 2011, but we’ll overlook that for the sake of this post. Echoes of Silence is the third album in The Weeknd’s excellent trilogy (all of which can be had for free online). Along with folks like Frank Ocean, The Weeknd (aka the 22 year old Abel Tesfaye) are working to bring new life into the R&B genre, moving away from the oh babys and pop shlock of yesteryear and back to a critically acceptable state. If you haven’t listened to any of the first three albums from The Weeknd (House of Balloons, Thursday or Echoes of Silence), we highly recommend you get started today. Going with a single highlight track from this album – the bone rattling homage to Michael Jackson, “D.D.”.
Chairlift – Something
Some may immediately dismiss Charilift as yet another byproduct of the Apple iPod/iPhone commercials. After all, many would no doubt recognize the opening beats from “Bruises”, featured heavily in the launch of the 2008 iPod Nano. But unlike many bands who came before them, Charilift have been able to break out of the Apple stereotype to carve their own place in the indie-pop landscape. With the release of Something, Chairlift is showing they’re a force to be reckoned with. “Sidewalk Safari” and “I Belong In Your Arms” are the standouts, but there really isn’t a bad track on the album.
Tennis – Young and Old
Count me among the folks who felt that 2011′s Cape Dory was just a tad overrated. Sure, “Marathon” was a fun little summer jam, but the album had a tendency to blend together after awhile. And not that Young and Old doesn’t occasionally suffer from the same malady, but on the whole the songs are tighter, the composition is more varied and the album feels like it has more depth. Highlight tracks include “Origins” and “Petition”.
What albums are you listening to right now?