Each week we highlight notable albums we care about. Today’s dozen releases include great offerings from TV On the Radio and Alison Krauss and a disappointing effort from Vivian Girls.
Alison Krauss and Union Station – Paper Airplane
“If Alison Krauss felt any pressure when she went in to record Paper Airplanes, her follow-up to 2004’s triple Grammy-winning Lonely Runs Both Ways and Raising Sand, her collaboration with Robert Plant—which went on to garner an additional six Grammys—it’s impossible to hear it anywhere on the album. Whatever blood, sweat and tears were shed during the creation of this beautifully realized cycle of songs are invisible as each performance comes off as exhilarating, natural and blissfully unforced.” Read Douglas Haselgrave’s review of Paper Airplane.
Bell X-1 – Bloodless Coup
“Bell X-1 demands comparisons to Coldplay as much as Talking Heads. Like the former, Bell X1 packs its rafter-reaching choruses with sweeping statements. But singer Paul Noonan backfills the rest of his songs with Polaroids of the mundane. On Bloodless Coup, Noonan and his characters eat sandwiches and salads, clack on computers and roll their trousers.” Read Joel Oliphant’s review of Bloodless Coup.
Brett Dennan – Loverboy
“California iconoclast Brett Dennen is an anomaly in today’s musical landscape, carving out a niche for himself with his self-titled first album back in 2004 and proceeding to spin out funkily elegant strands of timeless pop that turn on heart, hooks and the total absence of irony.” Read Bud Scoppa’s review of Loverboy
Damion Suomi – Go, And Sell All Your Things
“Damion Suomi and The Minor Prophets have this prophesying thing down. The majority of their latest album, Go, And Sell All Your Things sounds like a musical sermon directed at humanity and a triumphant battle cry aimed at evil forces. It’s chock-full of Biblical references, but for the most part, Suomi manipulates the allusions enough to suit the album’s folk-rock concept and keep from alienating listeners averse to heavily religious music.” Read Nathan Spicer’s review of Go, And Sell All Your Things
Elbow – Build a Rocket Boys!
“The quintet’s brand-new Build a Rocket Boys! is a fitting primer for freshmen fans, for whom “The River” and “Open Arms” should prove that these fellas from Ramsbottom are so much more than the missing link between Peter Gabriel and Radiohead.” Read Kristi York Wooten’s interview with Guy Garvey or Bud Scoppa’s review of Build a Rocket Boys!.
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit – Here We Rest
“There were a few songs that were a little bit more socially conscious on a person-to-person level on the songs on this album. But that came from spending as much time as I did at home. ... I spent more time talking to people who are working-class, nine-to-five manual labor kind of folks. And I think that really helped me to stay in touch with what most people are concerned with. I was inspired more by people who don’t do what I do, don’t live in the world I live in.” Read Nathan Spicer’s interview with Jason Isbell.
Low – C’mon
“Low already gets plenty of credit — and dismissal — for doing that slow, elegiac, crumbling beauty thing so well. But that’s only half the story. As with “Try to Sleep” and much of C’mon, there’s often something turbulent, even dangerous, beneath the placid surface.” Read Jeremy Goldmeier’s review of C’mon.
Panda Bear – Tomboy
“On Tomboy, Panda Bear mastermind Noah Lennox’s fourth album away from Animal Collective, he scales back on many of the infectious samples that made Person Pitch such an appealing record, instead inviting us into his lush ambient-pop landscapes. While not as immediately accessible as its predecessor, Tomboy rewardingly unveils itself with each passing listen.” Read Max Blau’s review of Tomboy.
The Del McCoury Band and the Preservation Hall – American Legacies
“The intersection of bluegrass and jazz isn’t exactly a bustling one, but the successful fusions of the past – Bela Fleck’s genre-defying albums, David Grisman’s Dawg music – have placed a heavy emphasis on improvisational interplay and breakneck solos. So the meeting of Dixieland revivalists The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and bluegrass traditionalists The Del McCoury Band is more than a little perplexing and intriguing. Both have had their forays into adventurous musical waters, but both are primarily known for their excellence in strict, formal, and relatively hidebound genres. Foggy mountain breakdown on Basin Street, anyone? Just how does that work again? As American Legacies amply illustrates, the answer is that it works just fine.” Read Andy Whitman’s review of American Legacies.
Thursday – No Devolucion
“Through a megaphone of enveloping reverb, Thursday frontman Geoff Rickly kick-starts his veteran band’s excellent new album with a strangely spacey chorus: ‘Ice crystals on the windscreen / You’re in the pilot’s chair.’ Wicked stuff, man. Especially for Thursday, who have been, prior to 2011, the world’s finest (and least annoying) hardcore band.” Read Ryan Reed’s upcoming review of No Devolucion.
TV on the Radio – Nine Types of Light
“Where Dear Science emphasized groove and density, Nine Types of Light is more restrained and elegant. There’s a sense of nakedness here that renders its results more personal and directly affecting. Sitek’s production is still trippy and headphone-worthy, the songs still arranged in colorful swirls of instrumentation, but the layers are easier to pick apart, the catapulting rhythms and noises given more space to breathe.” Read Ryan Reed’s review of No Devolucion.
Vivian Girls – Share the Joy
“These Brooklynites built a reputation on the short shrift of soda-pop rock on their self-titled debut in 2008. The follow-up, 2009’s Everything Goes Wrong, an arguable victim of the sophomore slump, continued playing with the same old garage addled girl group sounds. On this latest effort, the girls—Cassie Ramone, Katy “Kickball Katy” Goodman, and Fiona Campbell— attempt to stretch their songwriting, but end up muddying the water.” Read Ashley Melzer’s review of Share the Joy.