We picked a baker’s dozen of noteworthy albums out today. Okkervil River gets more ambitious and The Antlers get a little less so (because how else can you follow up an album called Hospice?). Plus 75-year-old Lee “Scratch” Perry keeps working his mojo.
The Antlers – Burst Apart
“It’s not often a band promises to scale down their dramatics on only their second label-released album. But then again, it’s not often a band starts a career with an immense, devastating concept record about a dying patient and a beckoning hospice worker as a metaphor for a soured, gothic relationship.” Read Luke Winkie’s review of Burst Apart.
Ben Sollee – Inclusions
“As a teenager, I remember being obsessed with Lauryn Hill’s music at the same time my grandfather was teaching me old-time fiddle tunes,” Sollee says his new record which combines urban elements and mountain music. “Then I’d go to cello lessons and study Bach.” Watch Sollee’s new video for ‘Embrace,’ which premiered at Paste.
Booker T. Jones – The Road from Memphis
“On The Road from Memphis, Jones ups the collaborator ante: the Roots are the backing band this time around, guests like Sharon Jones and Jim James make appearances, and Gabe Roth (Daptone Records) was brought in to man the boards. And, once again, the real stars here are Jones’ organ hands.” Read Jason Ferguson’s review of The Road from Memphis.
Christina Perri –
“In the summer of 2010, a heart-wrenching ballad of love and loss found its way, of all places, onto Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance?. The song, “Jar of Hearts,” was an instant hit, catapulting the unsigned young singer-songwriter Christina Perri from relative obscurity onto the Billboard Top 25.” Read Bo Moore’s interview with Christina Perri.
El Obo – Oxford Basement Collection
“El Obo is basically the one-man side project of Jesse Coppenbarger, frontman of Mississippi rockers Colour Revolt. Varying friends and musicians—from another buzzy Miss. rock act, Flight, to Junior Kimbrough’s son (!!!), Kinney—contributed to Oxford Basement Collection, the band’s several-years-in-the-works debut record, but it’s mostly Coppenbarger, laying his anguished singing voice over a myriad of folk-influenced arrangements and experimental sounds. And it’s a great rock ‘n’ roll voice, too.” Read Austin L. Ray’s review of Oxford Basement Collection.
Lee “Scratch” Perry – Rise Again
“At 75 years of age, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry should be declared a living cultural treasure and receive the protection and reverence usually reserved artists only after they are long dead. The only other musician of his age that comes close to matching Scratch’s output and longevity is Willie Nelson.” Read Doug Heselgrave’s upcoming review.
Man Man – Life Fantastic
“Man Man’s silliness has always been more captivating than the band’s music. Sure its records blaze by with unorthodox flash—but repeat visits tend to scrape away their idiosyncrasies. Luckily they’ve preserved themselves with a walloping live act and a self-imposed mythology (we’re talking about a quartet of Honus Honus, Pow Pow, T. Moth and Chang Wang after all), and Life Fantastic deemphasizes their goof a bit.” Read Luke Winkie’s upcoming review of Life Fantastic.
Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math
“Manchester Orchestra seem to have—gulp—figured out what sort of band they want to be. It feels sonically unified, working a consistent template throughout its 45 minutes: electric guitars alternating between distorted, palm-muted power chords and lightly spacey arpeggios, a sturdy rhythm section underpinning Hull’s emotive nerd-rock harmonies.” Read Ryan Reed’s review of Simple Math.
Okkervil River – I Am Very Far
“Give Will Sheff credit. Handed a big budget for his latest album, the frontman for Austin indie rockers Okkervil River may have single-handedly propped up the Texas economy. On several songs, he’s deployed a 13-piece musical army consisting of two drummers, two pianists, two bassists, and seven guitarists, all playing live at the same time. Several other songs incorporate a string section, a woodwind section, a ghostly choir, and a tympani. It’s an audacious, ambitious, maximalistic approach, and in the process Sheff has reinvented the sound of his band. Longtime fans may be initially dismayed, but the results are dazzling just the same.” Read Andy Whitman’s review of I Am Very Far.
Sam Roberts Band – Collider
Sam Roberts has always been a much bigger deal in his native Canada than in the States, but his album We Were Born in a Flame was one of our favorite albums of 2004. Read Jeff Leven’s upcoming review.
Sleepy Rebels – Yellow Tree
“When you first listen to the New York indie-pop trio Sleepy Rebels, they sound familiar. Not familiar in a monotonous daily routine kind of way, but rather in a manner resonating as both lighthearted and warm.” —Max Blua. Watch the premiere of Sleepy Rebels’ video for the song ‘Unbelievable’ exclusively at Paste.
Yael Naim – She Was a Boy
You might remember this Paris-born Israeli singer/songwriter from one of the catchiest Apple ads. She Was a Boy is her first album since “New Soul” was downloaded an impressive 1.5 million times from Apple back in 2008.
Wild Beasts – Smother
“Wild Beasts’ music delves into the cathartic and the reclusive, the visceral and the calculated. But rather than stirring up more raw emotion, the group’s mission for its latest record Smother was simple: to make something beautiful. And after hinting at its potential for two records, the English synth-crooners have not only created a beautiful album, but have expanded their musical repertoire.” Read Max Blau’s interview with Wild Beasts.