March 20, 2011

In Bloom: AwkwardSound's Second Quarter Music Preview

It's only March, but the first quarter of 2011 has already brought enough solid listens, pleasant surprises and new faces into the fold that it has AwkwardSound very excited about what's in store for part two of four as we thaw ourselves out from winter's cold wave curse. There are plenty of brighter, sunnier sounds coming your way just in time for spring from big names, seminal vets and up-and-coming artists. With festival season just around the corner, many will be pushing to get their music out there to satisfy growing audiences at Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch! and Lollapalooza. It also looks like indie's love affair with '90s nostalgia is getting more serious. AwkwardSound gave due notice earlier to upcoming releases by Death Cab for Cutie, Black Lips, Crystal Stilts and Panda Bear, while Cold Cave and Low have already satisfied our eardrums. Here's what else is coming your way in the second quarter...

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light
Release date: April 12, 2011

Foo Fighters have been a cornerstone in modern rock radio for the past two decades, but in recent efforts, they've been driving toward a "dad rock" direction with adult-contemporary-like cuts worthy of Grammy Awards appearances. On their 7th studio album, Wasting Light, it's expected that Dave Grohl and company will be roughening up the edges once more with a return to their louder and heavier roots. A spring tour with metal makers, Motörhead, suggests that doesn't seem so far fetched. Chris Novoselic also reunites with Grohl on a track for a semi-Nirvana reunion.
Foo Fighters - "Rope"

Thursday - No Devolución
Release date: April 12, 2011

The buzz on Thursday's sixth album is that we're supposed to forget everything we've known about them being a post-hardcore band and expect some innovative changes to their sound. AwkwardSound has already taken a look at one of its tracks, "Magnets Caught In a Metal Heart," and noted that it very much reflects the glassy, cold feeling of Full Collapse's more melodic moments. Frontman, Geoff Rickly, has cited Portishead and The Cure as huge influences during No Devolución's writing process (Let's see if he delivers on those words or was just merely throwing big names around to broaden his band's appeal to a more mature audience.) For what it's worth, the barometer of all things awful in punk and hardcore, Alternative Press, has already given the album a 1/2 star rating (out of 5,) which means this may actually be really good.
Thursday - "Past And Future Ruins"

TV on the Radio - Nine Types of Light
Release date: April 12, 2011

2008's Dear Science was TV on the Radio's biggest album to date (both in sound and critical acclaim,) so it will be interesting to see which direction these five Brooklyn experimental rockers take things here on their fourth LP, Nine Types of Light. Based on what's trickled out thus far in "Will Do" and "Caffeinated Consciousness," TVOTR are leaning toward inserting a funkified, R&B groove into their multi-instrumental sonic palette. Then again, when it comes to one of alternative rock's biggest risk takers, you can't be so sure they're showing their full hand early on.
TV on the Radio - "Caffeinated Consciousness"

Cass McCombs - Wit's End
Release date: April 26, 2011

There's something uniquely different about the way Cass McCombs purveys his brand of melancholy folk that makes him stand out amongst the rest of his contemporaries. 2009's Catacombs included the brilliant singles, "You Saved My Life" and "The Executioner's Song," which integrated the slightest touches of dreamy, subtle synths on top of his Americana twang. His 5th LP, Wit's End, hopefully will capitalize on that confident sound and make up for the fact that Conor Oberst simply isn't pulling his own weight these days.
Cass McCombs - "County Line"

Explosions In the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care
Release date: April 26, 2011

How much post-rock can you stomach? Unless you're a die-hard consumer of the genre, hearing one Explosions In the Sky album may be enough to get your fill. If not, they'll be returning with another plate of emotionally-charged instrumental rock regardless on Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. The band has found themselves stuck in the same place ever since they soundtracked Friday Night Lights (blame that on the lack of lyrics to differentiate their sound from the many young copycats popping up all over the place.) Here's hoping their latest effort at least adds another dimension to the overwhelming energy found in their live show.
Explosions In the Sky - "Trembling Hands"

Times New Viking - Dancer Equired
Release date: April 26, 2011

Expect 25% better fidelity on the newest effort from Times New Viking. Among the first bands touted for resurrecting the lo-fi trend a few years back with their excellent, loud and noisy 2008 breakthrough, Rip It Off, they've remained on the down low lately. The lo-fi trend hasn't really gone anywhere since, which makes it perfectly understandable why the Columbus, Ohio trio opted to record this LP on VHS instead of cassette. It'll also be the band's first release via Merge Records after jumping ship from Matador earlier this year.
Times New Viking - "No Room To Live"

Gang Gang Dance - Eye Contact
Release date: May 10, 2011

NYC's Gang Gang Dance have a distinct sound that's fluctuates between being both experimentally challenging and euphorically melodic, so there's really no telling what you can expect from the quintet when they release their fifth LP, Eye Contact. 2008's Saint Dymphna was perhaps their most cohesive output yet, but considering the band just released an 11-minute-plus opus called "Glass Jar" (listen below) that whirls around said-experimentation and electronic-driven pop, perhaps they've found a happy medium between artistic adventure and accessibility.
Gang Gang Dance - "Glass Jar"

Tyler, The Creator - Goblin
Release date: May 10, 2011

AwkwardSound's very first BUZZSound, OFWGKTA, has blown up pretty big since that post was published and it appears to be all for the best. On top of being one of this year's most talked about new acts and hottest festival gets, the SoCal rap collective's default leader will be releasing his sophomore effort through an actual record label instead of a free download via OFWGKTA's Tumblr site. Tyler, The Creator's filthy-mouthed XL Records debut is simply titled Goblin, and will likely be the biggest building block that ensures he and his boys are grouped right up there alongside hip-hop's biggest names.
Tyler, The Creator - "Yonkers"

Thurston Moore - Demolished Thoughts
Release date: May 29, 2011

A new proper solo album from Sonic Youth leader, Thurston Moore, is something worth anticipating in itself, but when it's also one produced by his good friend and '90s alternative all-star, Beck, we have the makings of a potential Album of the Year here. Moore can obviously do know wrong whether it be crafting a collage of noise with SY or being stripped down to just himself (2007's Trees Outside the Academy did not disappoint.) Mr. Beck Hansen has been proving himself to be a much better asset behind the scenes than on the front line lately (See: Last year's Charlotte Gainsbourg release, IRM,) so it will be incredibly interesting to hear what these two musical geniuses have put together.

Battles - Gloss Drop
Release date: June 7, 2011

Following the departure of vocalist, Tyondai Braxton, experimental art rockers, Battles, will attempt to show the music world they never needed a lead man to begin with on LP 2, Gloss Drop. In fact, they've recruited legendary synth pop vocalist, Gary Numan, alongside Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino, Boredoms’ Yamantaka Eye and Matias Aguayo to fill the void Braxton left behind (The latter has already proven himself worthy on "Ice Cream.") In a recent interview with Pitchfork, guitarist David Konopka said making the album was emotionally taxing on the trio and that it contrasts greatly with their outstanding debut, Mirrored, by taking on a poppier direction.

Fucked Up - David Comes to Life
Release date: June 7, 2011

Fucked Up are more than just a hardcore band. Their 2008 breakthrough, The Chemistry of Common Life, proved this crew of Canadian punks were in the business of pushing the genre into uncharted territories with a dose of art rock and shoegaze. They'll be doing the same to a certain extent on their fourth release, David Comes to Life, which is said to be rock opera set in a fictional British town during the reign of former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. "Concept album" can be a dirty phrase, but who better than the band that titularly glorifies the f-bomb to redeem it?

Woods - Sun & Shade
Release date: June 14, 2011

Last year, jangly lo-fi pop act, Woods, released At Echo Lake, an album filled with enjoyably sunny campfire jams that found a warm spot on AwkwardSound's 25 Best Albums of 2010 list. Considering the band has put out a new release each year since 2006, it shouldn't be surprising that these fuzz-folkers from New York are already set to release its follow up, Sun & Shade. Not much is known as to where Woods will be leading listeners here, but perhaps the album's title indicates a vibe that perfectly captures the spring to summer transition.

Wild Flag - TBA
Release date: June

Sleater-Kinney were once one of the most ferocious, noisiest all-female indie rock bands out there. Since their breakup in 2005, female-fronted acts have literally been set back a few decades thanks to the likes of the Dum Dum Girls, Best Coast and Vivian Girls, whose penchant for '50s girl-group pop infused with lo-fi shoegaze has become a somewhat annoying cliché. Hopefully this will change for the better come springtime when two-thirds of S-K, Carrie Brownstein (a.k.a. the funny chick from Portlandia) and Janet Weiss, join forces with Helium member, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole of The Minders on Wild Flag's as-yet-to-be-titled debut. Early impressions of the band's live show have been nothing but praising, and with a supergroup filled with this much talent, it's hard to see this project being a disappointment.
Wild Flag - "Glass Tambourine"

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