Each week we highlight notable album releases we care about. This week’s baker’s dozen is packed with good music including the latest from Those Darlins, Southeast Engine, Mountain Goats and Peter, Bjorn and John.
Amy Speace – Land Like a Bird
We’ve been following Amy Speace’s music since we heard her playing a hotel room at the Folk Alliance back in 2003. Her third album comes after a move from her hometown of New York to East Nashville, where Nielson Hubbard (Kim Richey, Matthew Ryan, Glen Phillips, Garrison Starr) produced Land Like a Bird. Richey guests on three tracks.
Band of Heathens – Top Hat Crown & the Clapmaster’s Son
Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist and Colin Brooks met at a songwriter’s night in Austin back in 2006. Since then, they’ve taped an Austin City Limits episode with Elvis Costello and topped the Americana charts. The band’s latest album was produced by George Reiff (Chris Robinson, the Courtyard Hounds, Ray Wylie Hubbard) and shares the same Southern swagger as Reiff’s other collaborators.
Erland & the Carnival – Nightingale
“Erland & the Carnival obviously loves a lot of music. The band’s name comes from a Jackson C. Franks song, and like their self-titled 2010 debut, Nightingale is crammed with references to spectral UK pastoral folk, silky French pop, the works of pop composers like Alain Goraguer and Phil Spector, and Britpop acts like Blur and Pulp. In range it’s a wildly ambitious record.” From Stephen M Deusner’s upcoming review of Nightingale.
Five Eight – Your God Is Dead To Me Now
The Athens band’s seventh album is also its first with the four founding members since 1997’s Gasolina. Watch for a video debut from the album coming tomorrow.
Generationals – Actor-Caster
One of the hits of SXSW, Generationals’ Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer have known each other since they were middle-schoolers in New Orleans learning Beatles tunes on guitar. They’ve incorporated decades worth of Britpop in their second full-length Actor-Castor. (Their debut Con Law was part of the Paste VIP album discovery series.)
Hunx and His Punx – Too Young To Be In Love
“Backed up by a revolving-door cast of bandmates, Seth Bogart croons three-minute pop songs with the same sincerity, fun and teenaged whine of the era, singing about longing, love, and heartbreak. That he often does so in flamboyant costumes—and sometimes no clothes at all—means Hunx and His Punx are compared to cult filmmaker John Waters as often as they’re compared to ’60s girl-groups.” Read Evan Minsker’s Best of What’s Next piece on Hunx and His Punx.
Los Lonely Boys – Rockpango
“t’s been seven long years since Los Lonely Boys’ self-titled 2004 breakthrough and their mega-single (and still calling card) ‘Heaven,’ a lightweight and inoffensive pop ditty that, outside of a nimble guitar solo, failed to represent their core sound. The Boys are clearly pop fans—their sky-high harmonies demonstrate that much—but as a whole, this is a trio aiming more for the guitar festival crowd than Top 40 lovers. If you’re to judge the band based on that shining moment of chart success, you’ll be mostly confused by the contents of Rockpango.” Read Ryan Reed’s review of Rockpango.
Micachu and The Shapes – Chopped & Screwed
Recorded with the London Sinfonietta at Kings Palace, Chopped & Screwed is concept album inspired by the “chopping and screwing” of Houston hip-hop in the 1990s. If that sounds intriguing, check out the mini-documentary on the project.
The Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
“On any Mountain Goats record John Darnielle’s unflinchingly elegant lyrical turns of phrase are all but given. On All Eternals Deck, the first Goats effort for Merge, they’re also packaged in effortlessly clean trappings, culminating in the album’s gorgeous centerpiece, the gospel-infused ‘High Hawk Season.’ Living in the same sonic pocket as more visible acolytes like The Decembrists or Death Cab for Cutie, the album plies far deeper waters.” Read Jeff Leven’s review of All Eternals Deck.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong
“The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is named after an unpublished children’s book. A track on their debut was titled “Young Adult Friction.” Their latest album, Belong, features an Anne of Green Gables reference (“Anne with an E”). The Brooklyn quartet is twee-er than hand-knitted leg warmers, but their music is strong, which covers a multitude of cutesy sins.” Read Rachel Dovey’s review
Peter, Bjorn & John – Gimme Some
“Long before they were a band, Swedish indie-pop hipsters Peter Morén, Björn Yttling, and John Eriksson were just three songwriters and soundmakers, bashing around classic pop forms, trying to find something that sounded cool. But on their sixth full-length studio album, the energy level is up; the production is clanky and raw; the guitars ring louder, and the drums hit harder. For the first time, Peter Bjorn and John actually sound like—dare we say—a rock band.” Read Ryan Reed’s review of Gimme Some
Southeast Engine – Canary
“Through 11 songs, Canary follows a family in rural Ohio as they confront the devastations of the Great Depression, and songwriter Adam Remnant depicts their plight through dusty Americana rock and evocative lyrics full of natural imagery. When so many groups are mutating old-time American music into pedestrian pop, Southeast Engine distinguish themselves by gently updating these traditions to the 21st century, nodding to Harry Smith and the Band along the way. For all its careful historical detail and empathetic characterizations, Canary is decidedly topical: This historical setting becomes a means for a band of bookish young men to understand their own place and time.” Read Stephen M. Deusner’s review of Canary.
Those Darlins – Screws Get Loose
“Whether you thought they were a quirky-obnoxious novelty act or a gang of infinitely charming, boots-are-made-for-rockin’ Americana party girls, forget your initial impression of Those Darlins. Because, over the last few years, the band has become the spirit of rock ’n’ roll incarnate—a slightly older, wiser, modern-day Southern-garage incarnation of The Runaways. Why should the boys have all the fun? their mere presence seems to shout. We will out-drink, out-party and out-rock all of you! And anyone who’s witnessed the runaway-train-wreck amphetamine cattle prod of their live performances knows they take this fearless, let-it-ride approach with them on stage every night.” From Steve LaBate’s upcoming review.