Here is the first in my six part series of new music in 2017, obviously very late; which is my modus operandi. I decided to whittle it down from a blog post every month, to doing one every two months. Even though my posting fell by the wayside last year, I am still determined to become more prolific in my music posting. I just need to find the right balance of life, work, music, writing, etc. One of these days I’ll get it down. Until then, on to the music!
2017 is shaping up to be a killer year of music. Some much anticipated releases from artists I enjoy are slated for this year, including Japandroids, Father John Misty, Alt-J, Future Islands, Pond, Mac DeMarco, Gorillaz, Arcade Fire, St. Vincent, My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse, and Queens of the Stone Age just to name a few. Hell, a release from half of those bands would make it a great year; all of them together could make it a fantastic year.
My favorite album of the first two months of this year goes to Japandroids’ Near To The Wild Heart Of Life. This was the highly anticipated, five years in the making, follow up to Celebration Rock. I was quite curious to see what Japandroids would do on this record. Would they stay with the same sound? Would they venture out of their tried and true two piece garage rock that blasts you upside the head? The answer lies somewhere in between. While sticking with the fundamentals of what works best for them, Japandroids also dabbled in expanding their sonic landscape by adding a few synthesizers and acoustic guitars.
While I keep waffling about which Japandroids album I like better, I strongly believe that this was the exact album that they needed to make. It stays true to their original sound while venturing outside of that box and exploring new territories that might serve them well on future releases. It shows that they’re not afraid to go away from what garnered them so much attention to begin with.
Other albums that have sonically crossed through my earway in January and February:
- Allison Crutchfield – Tourist in This Town – solo debut from the Alabama born musician who opines about losing her former band and boyfriend in the typical moods that accompany a jilted lover. Through all the despair, a positive light streams its way through the music and lyrics to give the listener the sense of hope that Allison Crutchfield is feeling.
- Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound – fifth studio album from the lo-fi Cleveland outfit that tones down some of the sharp edges of their previous releases. A minor departure from their previous sound doesn’t necessarily mean a change of pace; a slightly more mature sound is played with the ferocity that Cloud Nothings is known for. I really enjoyed this album and the direction that Cloud Nothings veer towards. Though the last two albums are killer, I liked the slight switch up, while still maintaining their distinct sound.
- Delicate Steve – This Is Steve – the third album from songwriter and guitar player Steve Marion, under his musical pseudonym Delicate Steve. I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I first went to play this album; what drew me to it was the artist’s name and album cover. So sometimes I choose music to listen to like I pick out wine; if the name and artwork capture me, I am in. What I came upon was a pleasant instrumental album with contagious hooks sung to me by Delicate Steve’s guitar.
- The Molochs – America’s Velvet Glory – debut album from the Los Angeles trio, led by lead singer and songwriter Lucas Fitzsimmons. A collection of songs that combine the sound of 60’s garage rock, a sprinkle of folk, and a dash of the Velvet Underground.
- Son Volt – Notes of Blue – eighth album from the Jay Farrar brainchild Son Volt. This album builds on much of what Son Volt, and for that matter Farrar, are known for; well-crafted songs both musically and lyrically, with Farrar’s reflective lyrics.
- Tinariwen – Elwan – African refugee band hailing from northern Mali are back with their seventh studio album. For this album and the one prior, Tinariwen had to record in exile due to ongoing conflict plaguing their country. I was introduced to Tinariwen on their album Tassili, which was an instore play at Barnes & Noble when I was working there. I was immediately enthralled with their sound and though I don’t quite understand what is being sung, it doesn’t matter, the music is just that good.
- the XX – I See You – third album from the indie pop group hailing from London. Five years since their last album, the XX have returned with a moody, atmospheric vibe, but push their sound forward with a fuller sound than was seen on the first two releases. I had mostly considered the XX as mood music to be heard in the background, but on this album there is much more to sink your teeth into.