**********Get Guilty by AC Newman
I never listened to The Slow Wonder, but I imagine it sounds quite a bit like this. Fans of The New Pornographers, especially their last album Challengers will find a lot to like here. Newman specializes in the kind of pop music that is smart and catchy, but not always constraining itself to 4/4 time or set patterns like verse / chorus / verse, which can sometimes get a little grating. Its not hard to see Newman making this kind of good, not great album every four years for the rest of his life.
**********Noble Beast by Andrew Bird
I saw Andrew Bird in concert once, and it was far and away my best experience with him. Watching him build loop layers and harmonize with himself is captivating. Sadly, that performance didn't transform into an appreciation for his album work. I get why people like his soundtrack-ready chamber pop, it's pretty and soft and nice to listen to, but too much of it runs together for me. A friend of my mine compared him to Sufjan Stevens, which is accurate if you take away Steven's prose and replaced them with a lounge voice and a killer set of whistlin' lips. More of the same from Bird, so if you were on board before, you'll be on board now.
The Last Pale Light in the West by Ben Nichols
By all accounts, Cormack McCarthy is taking the demise of the American frontier harder than everyone, but Ben Nichols of Lucero is a close second. Inspired by one of McCarthy's novels (I'm too lazy to look up which one), Pale Light is one of the better offerings of the year. Nichols strums an acoustic guitar, sings in his lonesome raspy way, and makes an album of somewhat tragic, somewhat good country-alt-folk-punk songs. I'm a little confused as to why this is a solo EP and not a Lucero album since they sound fucking identical, but whatever, it's a good listen. Put in on when you are sad and it'll make you want to go to Montana.
Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future by The Bird and The Bee
Boy girl electro-dance-pop. This is what happens when you listen to too much Jenny Lewis. If you like this, you just aren't trying anymore. Music for idiots.
Liferz by Blood on the Wall
I suspect this is a pretty cool album, but really I haven't taken enough time with it. Whenever one of their songs comes up on my shuffle, I usually skip it. When I don't I am treated with some low budget indie punk that never leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but never really hits me hard enough to come back to it. I guess the jury's still out, but in the back of my mind I don't really see myself ever listening to this album more than once. Sorry, Blood on the Wall.
Working on a Dream by Bruce Springsteen
In two songs, Springsteen obliterated all the good will he had built up with me with The Rising and Magic. Those two songs are "Outlaw Pete" and "Queen of the Supermarket," the latter being one of the worst Springsteen songs ever and the former being one of the worst rock songs ever, probably in the top 20. Turns out Springsteen is one of those songwriters who can't operate without something to push again (like the Bush administration). I see two more albums like this, followed by some long hiatus and one final old man album that Rolling Stone praises as the finest piece of music of all time, ever.
Gutter Tactics by Dalek
The reminds me of one of my favorite albums ever, El-P's I'll Sleep When You're Dead, and as such gets much love from my ipod. Not really a rap record, seeing as the vocals are fuzzed out and pushed way back in the mix, Gutter Tactics is a producer's record all about immersion and oblivion. The opening track, featuring an exert from that crazed priest that gave Obama trouble last year, sets an urgent and Dystopian tone that is appealing as fuck to me. "We Lost Sight" is one of the only tracks not about how fucked we all are, and it's about how fucked rap is. Not a feel good record, but definitely an early highlight.
**********Already Free by The Derek Trucks Band
Dave Mathews Band type horse shit. If you like Mathews, The John Butler Trio, or any other of those "chill" frat bands, this shit will appeal to you. Also, please get better taste in music.
Tonight by Franz Ferdinand
Another early highlight, Tonight is the disco album than answers the question "What would happen if the guys from Franz Ferdinand spent the last three years fucking groupies instead of writing an album?" Thank god these guys are so good with hooky pop music. With it's drums and bass much more pronounced and obvious and their guitars scaled back for a more synthesized sound, this is about as well made a party record as you'll find this year I suspect.
**********Major General by Franz Nicolay
I'm actually going to flesh this out tomorrow. In the mean time, check this dude out.
**********Glasvegas by Glasvegas
More hyper-pop from the Scots. If you liked Frightened Rabbit or The Shout Out Louds, you'll probably like this. Is it wrong of me to lump all these Scottish bands together into one cloud? No, since they all make pretty pop music in varying degrees of coolness. Glasvegas is the weakest of the three, I wouldn't recommend it unless you REALLY like Scot-pop or unless you REALLY love the idea of mixing Coldplay with The Killers.
The Mountain by The Heartless Bastards
It's hard for me to recommend this given my deep distaste for The Black Keys, especially since both these bands make blues revival rock, but fuck it, The Mountain is a pretty cool record. The lead singer has a really neat voice, the guitars sound cool, the bottom end is as heavy as it should be, and you can listen to the whole goddamn thing without changing a track and have a pretty good time of things. The Mountain is a great sitting around record.
**********For(n)ever by Hoobastank
Hoobastank is still making records?!
S/t EP by Iwrestledabearonce
You ever hear one of those hardcore bands that all play at the exact same time as loud and as sloppy as they can while someone grunts and screams along with it and you can never really tell exactly what is going on and you suspect that it's all very technical and professional musicianship but who the fuck cares because how can anyone tell in this tangled swamp of assault noise? That is what this sounds like, expect different than the rest of the bands. I mean, don't get me wrong, if that sentence above made any sense to you, you've got a pretty good idea of what to expect, but something about Iwrestledabearonce stands out to me, makes me think they might be a little better than the rest of the noisemakers. I don't know, get this if you like Dillinger Escape Plan and punching yourself in the face.
Fantasy Black Channel by Late of the Pier
Fantasy Black Channel is definitely hipster dance music ala Does it Offend You, Yeah?, but a little more interesting. LOTP seem a lot more occupied with trying new arrangements and changing directions mid song then they actually are with making people dance. Kind of a fun listen, but nothing to get too occupied with.
Ludacris - Theater of the Mind
Mi Ami - Watersports
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - S/t
I'll flesh these out. I love me some Luda, and Mi Ami is too weird not to be discussed. As far as Pains goes, I'll get to them.
Well, that's about all I feel comfortable covering right now. Hopefully, regular broadcasts will resume by next week.