Boy am I on a winning streak with music I'm discovering. Much of this is might not be new to you, reader, but wow am I excited to have these new albums playing in my iTunes player as I sit here blogging (on my PC). It's like a license to a new life.
Nada Surf - Let Go: It's a wonderful romp that reminds me of Semisonic mixed with Wilco. The front man's voice is crystal clear, but the music is predominantly chunky and warm. Highlights are Fruit Fly, Blonde on Blonde, and Hi Speed Soul.
Eels - Souljacker: I have been a big fan of the Eels' Bright Lights and Other Revelations album, even seeing Mark Oliver Everett's Eels With Strings concert last summer. I just began exploring his other work and Souljacker is superb, while Shootennanny is very good. How do I describe the music? Hmmm...it's the musical equivalent of a dry-humored comedian. Everett's voice is kind of gravelly and measured, but he punches it up just enough to expose rare gems within his smart songs. Highlights are Dog Faced Boy (I challenge you not to at least rock your torso to this one), Woman Driving Man Sleeping, and Friendly Ghost.
Belle & Sebastian - The Life Pursuit: I am so excited about this Scottish band. I'd read a few good things about them in the last few months, then saw the great reviews on Metacritic and couldn't resist. The lead singer's alto voice is unique and takes a little getting used to, but once your ear attunes to it, the rest of the experience is infectious. My first impression of the album was that it sounded like the 80s English band, The Housemartins. That comparison doesn't hold up so well after several listens, but it's fair for an initial reaction. The whole album is a highlight, but to choose three: Act of the Apostle Pt. 1, White Collar Boy, Funny Little Frog.
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood: Neko is equal parts Patsy Cline, Mazzy Star and Loretta Lynn. I've heard the album described as the perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch movie. Although her roots are in country music, Neko's voice is universally good and the production of the album gives her voice kind of a dance-hall echo. It has an old-time feel that just make me feel good. Highlights are Star Witness, John Saw That Number, The Needle Has Landed.
The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics: This is a brand new album by the band that loves to experiment with computers, samples and other un-worldly sounds. I have been a BIG fan of Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, and decided to check out their new album. They left their concept album approach behind and put together 3 great tracks and 9 good ones. Highlights: Yeah Yeah Yeah Song, Free Radicals (I agree with a reviewer that said this song compares favorably to Prince in his prime), and -- check out this title -- "It Overtakes Me - The Stars Are So Big, I Am So Small. Do I Stand A Chance." I've also begun listening to The Flaming Lips most heralded album, The Soft Bulletin, and it is packed with lucious, interesting songs. There are so many different sounds and samples, that I often have to turn the music down to make sure my sons aren't making mischief in the next room or that an ambulance isn't fast approaching while I'm driving.