It's officially festival season and we're in the midst of Coachella (preceded by Fauxchella in the Bay Area). Whether or not it's related, April is a big month for new music, and we are seeing tons of great new releases. So if you can't afford to go to a festival to find your new favorite band or alternatively sweating and freezing isn't your thing, just keep reading for your dose of what new releases are worth listening to in the comfort of your own home.
The Knife, Shaking the Habitual, April 8
The Knife is another band I came to a bit later than most, understandably so since it's been seven years since they've released an album. Their explosive new record, Shaking the Habitual is as addictive as it is energetic. This Swedish duo has delivered once again. Pitchfork describes The Knife as post-human, and I tend to agree. The band brings androgynous vocals, an otherworldly stage show, and charged commentary on the human condition. Shaking the Habitual is an awesome album, enough said.
The Villagers, Awayland, April 9
The Villagers' Conner O'Brien has been compared to the likes of Damien Rice and Conor Oberst. With his new release, Awayland, the album's musical fabric takes on the melodic quality of Andrew Bird and My Morning Jacket. A little heavier in nature, this album feels like it has one perfect little cloud hanging over it keeping the hooks from gaining too much momentum. This record is worth picking up for its charm and absorbing orchestration.
Kurt Vile, Wakin' the Daze Away, April 10
Kurt Vile's Wakin' The Daze is a wise album that takes its time to lead us through a warm rock atmosphere. Electric guitar parts ground the album, keeping it from fully entering the dream realm where Vile's voice resides. Wakin' The Daze reminds us music can be patient and we have the time to listen. This chill new release needs to enter your music library as a soundtrack for both celebrating the good days and turning around the bad.
James Blake, Overgrown, April 11
James Blake's self-titled debut album impressed the world, but it didn't grab me until about a month ago. There was a lot of press and teasers surrounding the April 11 release, Overgrown so I gave the old one a listen. I was struck by how much of the album was about working his voice and arriving at certain personal vocal accomplishments. Overgrown seeps into every molecule in the air, hovering. There isn't much deviation in the instrumentation, but Blake's voice offers a sense of perspective inside swirling melodies and cardinal drum beats. It doesn't hurt that this 22-year-old Brit landed Brian Eno and Wu Tang Clan as collaborators. Overgrown will easily top best of lists for 2013. It's seminal, so believe the hype, but give this one some time -- it's haunting.
Flaming Lips, The Terror, April 12
The Flaming Lips' newest project, The Terror, is quite possibly their gloomiest, most philosophical album to date. For an entire dissection of their discography check out this great article by Consequence of Sound. Grappling familiar Flaming Lips themes in a dusky way, The Terror might be the album that polarizes fans, but it's certainly worth the effort.
The Thermals, Desperate Ground, April 16
Desperate Ground is The Thermals to a tee. The sound is classic with rock drums, solid bass lines, and ripping electric guitars, not to mention Hutch Harris' distinct vocals. If you are a fan, like me, I recommend picking up this album. It doesn't deviate or demonstrate any huge evolution in the group's resonance, but it's a darn good listen.
Thee Oh Sees, Floating Coffin, April 16
It's thrashy, it's garagey, it's gritty, it's Floating Coffin and it comes from our hometown heros, Thee Oh Sees. From what I can gather, this LP is very listenable, which isn't always the case with some of the band's earlier output. They've stayed true to their garage-rock roots, thrown in a dash of black metal, and a concentrated amount of punk delivering a strong sound and an even stronger record.
Tumbleweed Wanderers, Worn Down Welcome, April 26
Bay Area favorite Tumbleweed Wanderers are known for melding bluegrass and soul with alt-rock. Their live set is full of energy and warmth, which usually ensures everyone in the audience is dancing. They are releasing their new EP, Worn Down Welcome, at The Independent on April 26. This compilation showcases songwriting we haven't seen from them yet -- the hooks are emotive and a touch more mellow, presenting an additional breadth to their music. Singer Jeremy Lyon notes that they "wanted to maintain the 'raw, band in the room' vibe of the album, but with a more intimate, tighter and textured sound. The songs we wrote were a little more chill and melodic, calling for a focus on groove, subtlety, and sparse arrangements, as opposed to the epic arc of the album." Depth is a tricky thing to convey in subdued songwriting, but like the plains a tumbleweed would travel, this addition to their discography will take us for miles before we sleep.
Phoenix, Bankrupt, April 23
It's been four years since Phoenix's last full-length release, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and they're coming back at us with a bang. The new album, Bankrupt! sounds just like a Phoenix album. The band may not be bankrupt, but the purchase of the recording console used in Michael Jackson's Thriller set them back a pretty penny. They just had to have it to mix the new record, so they bought it on eBay and had it shipped to Paris. Dream pop is their jam, and if that happens to be your jam too, Bankrupt! won't disappoint.
Ola Podrida, Ghosts Go Blind, April 30
I have been in love with Ola Podrida since their first self-titled album. David Wingo's voice confidently meets shimmering folk arrangements with clever lyrics. That debut album from this Austin-based crew has been in my top ten since it came out. Ghosts Go Blind is expected to carry the charisma and quirkiness found in the Ola Podrida oeuvre with just a hint more oomph. This record was recorded live in a studio to tape, a first for the band. It's a story we can all relate to, one about emerging from the transition between youth to adulthood.