Author: Gavin Sheehan

They Might Be Giants
Glean
Idlewild Recordings
Street: 04.21
They Might Be Giants = Jonathan Coulton + Moxy Früvous – nerdcore

With 33 years under their belt as a band, They Might Be Giants have survived the alternative landscape longer than genre busters, genre changers, pop sensations and even grunge. The formula to their success has always been the partnership between the duo of John Linnell and John Flansburgh, perfected with their DialASong service that ran from the mid ’80s until the early ’00s. They’ve since returned that phone service back to full order and have embarked on a major project for 2015: releasing three albums of new material before year’s end with new songs all made within a week. Glean is the first of these releases and it a transitions perfectly to their 2013 album Nanobots, with the majority of the songs coming in under three minutes in what feels like a return to days of old. Songs like “Madam, I Challenge You To A Duel” and “Aaa,” feel as if I’ve gone back to the John Henry era of their music, but still feel in the present with awesome tracks like “Erase” and “Unpronounceable.” This is truly an awesome era to be a TMBG fan! –Gavin Sheehan

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Foo Fighters – St. Cecilia

Foo Fighters
St. Cecilia (EP)

RCA
Street: 11.27
Foo Fighters = Nirvana + Them Crooked Vultures

Seemingly out of the blue we received Saint Cecilia, a brand new Foo Fighters EP—the first true EP from the band that wasn’t just a pile of previously released material or live tracks in a decade. As both appreciation to the fans and in tribute to the lives lost in Paris earlier that month, Dave Grohl and company decided to release this free album, containing five brand new songs recorded in short order in November in Austin, Texas. Everything about this screams old and new Foo music, from the hard and heavy music found in “Sean” and “Savior Breath” to the long rock ballads of the title track and “The Neverending Sigh.” It’s like having a quick history lesson in the evolution of the band’s music taste, style and transformations since 1995, compacted into a simple release that contains no greatest hits as examples. But much like a Foo Fighters release of any kind, it still contains the staple of having tracks you know you’re never going to hear live. They were created to be complex masterpieces that the band loves to death after making them, but the odds you’ll actually ever hear them play it are slim. That being said, St. Cecelia is a fine followup to Sonic Highways with appeal for fans of every incarnation the band had ever had, and fits perfectly into their catalog without sounding out-of-place or force. If you didn’t snag it when it was free, that’s a shame, but it’s not a waste of money to purchase even if you’re a casual Foo Fighters fan. –Gavin Sheehan

They Might Be Giants

Idlewild

Idlewild Recordings

Street: 05.28

They Might Be Giants = Jonathan Coulton + Moxy Früvous – nerdcore

They Might Be Giants are no strangers to compilations, with 10 of them in a career spanning over four decades, Idlewild adds to their already extensive catalog. Taking the name of their self-created record label, the album spans 15 years of their career, picking up both obvious choices and a strange collection of works going as far back as 1999’s Long Tall Weekend to 2013’s Nanobots. The band didn’t create a “best of” album, but more an introduction to their most recent work, with specifically chosen tracks that still sound superb. This is actually a good thing because, while their 2002 compilation Dial-A-Song covered their first 20 years extremely well for anyone looking to jump into the music, it doesn’t give insight to their current material. Idlewild serves more as a fantastic-sounding bridge to guide older fans into their newer catalog and for potential new fans to discover the band. –Gavin Sheehan

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They Might Be Giants

First Album Live

Idlewild Recordings

Street: 07.08

They Might Be Giants = Jonathan Coulton + Moxy Früvous – nerdcore

It’s been almost 28 years since They Might Be Giants release their debut self-titled album, launching a career that would span over four decades and earn a legion of dedicated fans. Now that the group are running their own label, they’ve started doing some cool things with their catalog, including having released this album for free in July 2014. This is a live album and a compilation rolled into a fine musical sushi roll, as it contains live performances of their first album’s tracks, all taken from their 2013 tour at various stops, and arranged in the original order. With nearly three decades of time since the original recordings, it’s interesting to see how the duo has changed some of the compositions over time to make the familiar bits interesting again. With how good this sounds, it wouldn’t surprise us if you saw live versions of Lincoln and Flood in the near future! –Gavin Sheehan

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Jack White

Lazaretto

Third Man Records

Street: 06.10

Jack White = The White Stripes + The Dead Weather – punk + folk/’60s blues

Ever since the release of Blunderbuss in 2012, Jack White’s solo career has been very unpredictable and almost a major step away from everything else he was doing in his various bands. That’s reflected greatly in Lazaretto, where White’s style has morphed to be a pseudo country/blues/garage rock theme that sounds far more enthralling than anything he did in the previous decade. White’s chaotic style is finely tuned with an array of musicians who give his riffs and lyrics more depth and meaning than if they were being cranked out of 100 Peavey amps in radio-style repetition. The fact that these songs were all based off of teenager writings he found in his attic is a nice addition to the story of the album’s metamorphosis, but ultimately, the selling point is the musicianship, which has escalated White into a league few others can play in. –Gavin Sheehan

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Sinkane
Mean Love
DFA Records
Street: 09.02
Sinkane = Elder Island + Salt Cathedral + Nick Hakim

It’s difficult for me to think back to the last album that constantly had me dancing. Grooving, sure. But there’s something about the latest Sinkane album that struck a heavy chord in myself to move. Ahmed Gallab did a fantastic job of taking his sound, stripping it down to the bare bones and building it back up into a more precise mixture of pop, jazz and funk. While the song “Yacha” may serve as the primary single, tracks like “New Name” and “Young Trouble” serve as a better representation to the new musical direction he’s taken since Mars was released back in 2012. But then there are true oddities that will get you listening repeatedly, such as “Galley Boys” which incorporates more of a country-twang, or “Moonstuck” that operates more as a last-call song to dance to before you hit the sack. It’s a fine album that shouldn’t be overlooked. –Gavin Sheehan

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Thurston Moore
The Best Day
Matador Records
Street: 10.20
Thurston Moore = Sonic Youth – the rest of the band + Free Kitten / Chelsea Light Moving

It’s really difficult to listen to a Thurston Moore project and not instantly be transported back to the day Sonic Youth’s Goo came out. This may sound detrimental, but it’s actually a great thing, knowing that Moore has such a distinct sound and that it transcends decades and projects. When you hear Moore play, you know who the fuck it is, and that sound instantly gives you chills as you know there’s something cool coming if you just kick back and let it play. The Best Day is no exception, and while it may be just 8 tracks long, you get your money’s worth as some of these got from eight to eleven minutes long. This is an old-school alternative album at its finest, not grunge or experimental, but a very cool vibe of simple guitar/bass/drum combos. If chilling in your apartment had a soundtrack, this would be it. –Gavin Sheehan

 

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Foo Fighters
Sonic Highways
Roswell / RCA
Street: 11.10
Foo Fighters = Nirvana + Them Crooked Vultures – metal + arena rock

The Foo Fighters have become a band where every time a new album is released, it becomes an event. However, if you strip away the band’s history, the HBO special and the “eight songs in eight cities” aspect to this record—you’re getting what sounds like an average Foo Fighters album. Considering that the band came off of Wasting Light, a critical mega-success of a record, Dave Grohl and company earned leeway in wanting to try something different with their music. It all sounds fantastic, and the work Butch Vig did is amazing on the production end but, for true fans, you know you’re not going to hear them play more than two of these new songs in live gigs a year from now, much like 2002’s One By One, which mostly sounds like filler. It’s an amazing album and fine achievement in recording, but ultimately depressing when you can hear the album’s fate. –Gavin Sheehan

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Various Artists
RadioWest: Live In Studio
KUER 90.1 FM
Street: 12.03.12
RadioWest: Live In Studio = Band Of Horses + Devil Makes Three x Allison Krauss + The Black Lips
 
KUER’s RadioWest has been more prominently known for its journalistic integrity and willingness to poke the proverbial bear when it comes to politics. But show host Doug Fabrizio and his talented staff love local music and have made it a point to bring on the latest acts to talk about their craft and play live cuts of music for their listening audience. The lineup for this compilation includes names like Band Of Annuals, The Moth & The Flame, Holy Water Buffalo, L’anarchiste, Spell Talk and The Legendary Porch Pounders. Simply put: This is the best music that came out of their studio, wired and recorded with the finest care from professional studio techs who know how to get the best out of a live performance. It’s about as close to having John Peel put a local album together as we’ll ever come. –Gavin Sheehan

Purchase a copy of the album for $10 at KUER.com

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Upset – '76

Upset
’76

Lauren Records
Street: 03.31
Upset = Potty Mouth + All Dogs / Joyride!

It’s always been great for me to find all-women rock bands who play music like they don’t give a fuck about you or what you think of them. Upset’s pop-like vocals from Ali Koehler (Vivian Girls, Best Coast) shine as she strides through every song, as if telling you a story on a walk through the city with her own soundtrack. But the secret to the group comes in the trio behind her—the mix of Rachel Gagliardi (Slutever), Lauren Freeman (Benny The Jet Rodriguez) and Patty Schemel (Hole) form a fantastic quick-paced dirty rock trio that put a lot of high-profile bands making the same music to shame. ’76 is short and sweet—there isn’t a lot of glam, there’s not much for solos, and there’s certainly no big-band feel—but that’s what makes it so fucking awesome. This is a group that could play your house show, drink your beer, make you fall for them and then knock you out on the porch before leaving town—and this album captures that feeling perfectly. –Gavin Sheehan