Each week, we preview a handful of notable albums scheduled to hit the shelves, plus offer a full list of the current new releases.
Love is Simple
A young band just starting up and trying to decide what musical direction to go in could do worse than settling on "shambolic folky collective," a bin that would include Vetiver, Oakley Hall and Akron/Family, among others. That particular type of musical group is on a roll right now. Love Is Simple is a full Akron/Family long player after last year's mini-album Meek Warrior. The band records for Young God, the label run by former Swans leader and current Angels of Light main man Michael Gira, who calls Akron/Family "one of the best bands on the planet." (Akron/Family served as Gira's backing band on Angels of Light's 2007 album, We Are Him.) Praise like that from a legend like Gira is nothing to sneeze at. ~John Zeiss
Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew
Spirit If . . .
Arts and Crafts
It comes as no surprise that, as Canadian indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene officially remains "on hiatus," the group's members remain as busy as ever. This is the first in a planned series of albums that will focus on a single member of the band. First up is singer and guitarist Kevin Drew, who you may also know as Leslie Feist's boyfriend. Feist guests on the album, as do other Canucks in the Broken Social Scene orbit, including Amy Millan and Emily Haines. But the more interesting guests are those who come from outside Drew's inner circle -- including guitar god J. Mascis and ex-Pavement guitarist Scott Kannberg. ~John Zeiss
What's not to like about rap's (literally) nicest rapper, Chamillionaire: He is releasing the follow-up to a Grammy-winning album; he claims there's no cursing on the entire record; he doesn't dole out any new beef; and, most important, the album is about him enjoying his life. Surely, this has never been done before. Oh, wait. . . . In truth, Chamillionaire garners more respect than the typical Mr. Nice Guy by flowing like a champ and hustling like a beast. As expected, he pulls out the big guns for Ultimate Victory: He drafts heavyweight production (Dr. Dre, Cool and Dre, and Scott Storch, among others) and major guest talent, from both commercial celebrities (Snoop Dogg, Kelis, and Currrtis!) and critical mainstays (Pimp C, Devin the Dude, and Weezy F). ~Dan Nishimoto
The Complete 'On the Corner' Sessions
Although Miles Davis's seminal "fusion" album, Bitches Brew, can be credited with introducing him to a new (i.e., younger) audience, On the Corner should be cited as the album that officially divided his fan-base. On the surface, the 1972 album continued Davis's exploration of the latest popular music idioms (rock, world, et cetera), but its cut 'n' paste approach immersed him a whole new world of music making. In other words, the album was not shocking simply because it was "funky"; instead, it fucked with the funk. Columbia/Legacy concludes its Grammy Award-winning Miles Davis Series with this six-CD box set dedicated to Davis's final album before his mid-'70s retirement. Complete and previously unreleased sessions of album cuts as well as follow-up sessions that stretch into the mid-'70s (some permutations of this material appears on the compilations Big Fun and Get Up With It) fill up the discs, and a plump 120-page booklet filled with liners and photos fills out the set. ~Dan Nishimoto
Lou Donaldson, Gravy Train [RVG Edition]
Kenny Dorham, Afro Cuban [RVG Edition]
Herbie Hancock [RVG Edition]
Takin' Of [RVG Edition]
Lee Morgan, Delightfulee [RVG Edition]
Evidently, engineer Rudy Van Gelder knows not the meaning of rest. The technical guru behind a large chunk of the best '60s jazz recordings continues to re-master his resume, and he unleashes a potent batch of period swingers. The two trumpeters, Dorham and Morgan, check in with uniquely fiery sets. Afro Cuban (1955) takes broad cues from its namesake, featuring "Patato" Valdes on congas, but it mostly lights up with the help of Art Blakey's ferocious drumming. On the other hand, Delightfulee (1966) explodes with a handful of tracks including Joe Henderson and McCoy Tyner and another half that features a large band conducted by Oliver Nelson. Donaldson's Gravy Train (1961) and Hancock's 1962 solo debut Takin' Off take kinder approaches to grooving. Donaldson blows soul over a mellow mix of PBD and congas, while Hancock employs heavyweights (Dexter Gordon, Freddie Hubbard, Billy Higgins) to lay down his now-classics "Watermelon Man," "The Maze" and "Empty Pockets." ~Dan Nishimoto
Between Daylight and Dark
Mary Gauthier is one of those singer-songwriters who gets heaped with praise from music critics and her fellow musicians alike yet still remains under-known. Her intensely personal songs are fueled from the fire that has been her often turbulent life: a hard upbringing in rural Louisiana that she ran away from; struggles with alcohol and drugs; coming to terms with her sexuality. Gauthier only came around to making music in her mid-thirties, after first establishing a well-liked Cajun restaurant in Boston. Between Daylight and Dark, recorded in Pasadena, California, is her fifth full-length and second for Lost Highway. As with most her music, it's best compared to that of Gauthier's Lost Highway labelmate, Lucinda Williams. ~John Zeiss
Close to seven years after his Mobb Deep compadre debuted his solo effort, H.N.I.C., producer and emcee Havoc finally goes for self on The Kush. The effort is timely considering the flak leveled at the Queensbridge duo. Entirely self-produced and featuring only a handful of guests (mostly familiar only to fans of QB's finest), the album appears to return to form the recently beleaguered artist. Granted, indie-label distribution hardly promises a broad salvo against the chorus of hating critics. Perhaps baby steps can steer the group back on track. ~Dan Nishimoto
Health comes from the same noisy, DIY Los Angeles underground scene that has gotten a big boost from No Age's recent rise in popularity and also features bands such as Mika Miko and Abe Vigoda. The center for all of that action is a small club called the Smell (which the members of No Age help run), where Health recorded this, its debut album. The band consists of four youngsters with penchants for glitchy sounds and aural discord. The drums are tribal, the guitar lines serrated, and the vocals mushy in the mix. And the songs are short: Here you get eleven songs in less than a half hour. Health is starting to get noticed outside its home base; the band will soon play shows with the likes of Dan Deacon and Aa. ~John Zeiss
This Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter comes with the seal of approval from none other than Tom Waits. Hoop was a nanny for Waits's children for half a decade. (Nannying is seemingly a job of choice for L.A.'s female musicians; it's also what Midnight Movies' Gena Olivier does when not making music.) Waits eventually got to know Hoop's music, passing on a recording of hers to influential KCRW deejay Nic Harcourt. And now we have Hoop's debut album, full of folkiness not unlike what Waits winds up in his more tender moments. Also in the mix are the sounds of Germany, Ireland, and New Orleans, as well as beats by Police drummer Stewart Copeland on "Seed of Wonder." ~John Zeiss
A Constipated Monkey [Reissue]
First, Common nods to Money Boss Players. Now, Amalgam reissues Kurious (Jorge)'s A Constipated Monkey. Could 2007 be the renaissance of New York City's '90s renaissance? These two instances more likely point to the numerous cracks the fertile scene encountered, invariably sparking the "What Happened to Fill-in-the-blank Rapper?" conversation. While Money Boss Players languishes on the Net, Kurious answers questions with this long-awaited reissue and a new album in early 2008. His 1994 debut features choice production from the Beatnuts and Pete Nice and guest spots from Casual, MF Grimm and Lord Sear; in other words, primo listening for today's retro-minded. ~Dan Nishimoto
Ben Lee has been around for a while, but he still seems like a ripe young music maker. So I suppose that's what he's hinting at with the name of this, his sixth full-length. Ripe was produced by John Alagia, who has also worked with Ben Folds and John Mayer. And plenty of guests help Lee out, including Mandy Moore, Nickel Creek violinist Sara Watkins, Benmont Tench (longtime keyboardist for Tom Petty and others), members of Rooney, and Good Charlotte's Benji Madden, who co-wrote one of the songs. ~John Zeiss
Les Savy Fav
Let's Stay Friends
Everyone's favorite indie merrymakers, the boys of Les Savy Fav are back with their long-awaited new album. Long in the making, Let's Stay Friends is the follow-up to 2001's Go Forth. Les Savy Fav's rabid fan base obviously extends into the musicians in other contemporary bands, because many of them guest on the album. Metric's Emily Haines twinkles some keys, the Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger adds some vocals, Fred Armisen plays some percussion, and other appearances come from members of Islands, Enon, and Black Heart Procession. Even the band's more ordinary enthusiasts get in on the contributory fun; "Scotchguard the Credit Card" features voicemail vocals left by fans. ~John Zeiss
Trees Outside the Academy
Pretty hard to believe, but this is only the second solo album released by indie-rock god Thurston Moore. The only other lone recording of the Sonic Youth singer and guitarist, Psychic Hearts, came out way back in 1995. John Agnello produced Trees Outside the Academy, which was recorded in J. Mascis's home studio. Mascis shows up to shred the guitar on one song, and he's far from the only guest on the album. Also showing up are Moore's Sonic Youth compatriot Steve Shelley on drums (except for on the song "Wonderful Witches," which features Sunburned Hand of the Man's John Moloney manning the kit), MV/EE and the Golden Road's Samara Lubelski on strings, and Charalambides' Christina Carter on vocals. ~John Zeiss
"When I . . ."
". . . first met . . ."
". . . Percee P . . ."
". . . I . . ."
Thus, begins a conversation countless hip-hop heads have had. From hustling for a deal as a teen to hustling on the doorstep of Fat Beats to hustling through his Stones Throw affiliation, emcee's emcee Percee P has touched millions of hip-hop fans yet fallen just shy of success. That said, his constant grind has earned him a modicum of recognition, which is finally being rewarded with a title shot. Like a true champ, he marches the path to the ring draped up with Madlib production and dripped out with support from Aesop Rock, Chali 2na, Diamond D, and more on his solo debut (if you can call a twenty-year-in-the-waiting album that). Regardless of whether the album actually meets expectations, sates curiosity, or fulfills destiny, any self-respecting hip-hop fan needs to be front-and-center to at least applaud the brother: P, you're the legend we've been waiting for. ~Dan Nishimoto
Asleep at Heaven's Gate
Zach Rogue and the rest of his rogue warriors in Rogue Wave return with Asleep at Heaven's Gate, the band's third full-length. Some changes have happened with Rogue Wave since 2005's Descended Like Vultures. For one, the band moved from indie stalwart Sub Pop to Brushfire, the imprint run by surf-pop softie Jack Johnson. For another, Patrick Abernathy now plays bass for Rogue Wave, which he used to do for Beulah. Guest appearances come courtesy of John Vanderslice and Matthew Caws of Nada Surf. Roger Moutenot, who has also worked with Sleater-Kinney and Yo La Tengo, produced the album. ~John Zeiss
Jackals and Vipers in Envy of Man
If you think Sixtoo scarcely takes a break, you are likely correct. Fresh off the Six Vicious "alter-ego" project and his Megasoid collaboration with Hadji Bakara of Wolf Parade, the producer returns to his original moniker to follow-up his Ninja Tune debut. And, much like that 2004 record Chewing on Glass & Other Miracle Cures, Sixtoo also returns to his live sampling emphasis. However, he switches the technique and toys with samples and sounds he originally crafted for his live shows. Still, fans can expect more boom 'n doom. ~Dan Nishimoto
There the Open Spaces
Sleeping States is the solo project of Markland Starkie, who you may know as a member of experimental noise outfit Kaito. Starkie has been doing the lone singer-songwriter thing through Sleeping States for a while now, releasing hard-to-find recordings on extremely small European labels. The genial pushing of a couple of Starkie's friends has brought him to Misra, through which his music can become better known. Those pals are Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear and Simon Taylor-Davis of the Klaxons, both of which have name-dropped Sleeping States. ~John Zeiss
Songs of Green Pheasant
Songs of Green Pheasant is the musical project of British musician Duncan Sumpner. The smaller-is-better folkie is really going all out with his new album. Forget four-track-recording simplicity. On Gyllng Street, Sumpner is going to . . . wait for it . . . eight tracks. A veritable wall of sound. And Sumpner even brought in backing musicians to help him craft his new record, rather than overdubbing his own sounds on top of themselves. Changes aside, Songs of Green Pheasant still retains the sound of other contemporary singer-songwriters such as Devendra Banhart and Mark Kozelek. ~John Zeiss
Into the Wild [Soundtrack]
Who might have guessed that Eddie Vedder's first solo album would be a movie soundtrack? Given that said movie was directed by Sean Penn, maybe the circumstances aren't that surprising. You might remember that Vedder provided vocals to two songs on the soundtrack to Dead Man Walking, one of the films that helped bridge Penn's gap between being known as Spicoli and being known as a respected, serious actor. Penn reportedly gave Vedder free reign to contribute whatever he felt like adding to the soundtrack to Into the Wild, a filmic account of Jon Krakauer's book of the same name. Corin Tucker, formerly of Sleater-Kinney, adds vocals to first single, "Hard Sun." ~John Zeiss
*Release dates may change. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with corrections or additions.
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