Our current Pandemic status hasn’t really done much to delay the normal chain of new releases so far. Yes, a few items have been bumped, but most have continued to come out with maybe a slight delay in the release of the physical product. I’m going to try and highlight a few recent releases and hopefully send you rushing out to pick up at least one or two of these.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Chunky Shrapnel - Recorded live over the course of their 2019 European tour, Chunky Shrapnel finds the ever changing King Gizzard doing what they do best, which is blowing minds with their live shows. This record features more of the, I would say, “louder” end of the musical spectrum with some emphasis on last years phenomenal “Infest The Rats Nest” LP, which was a decidedly more metal affair. That’s not a bad thing in my opinion, because it was one of my favorite albums in their catalog. It’s a must have for fans and one I’d recommend checking out if you wanted a bit of an overview of their work.
Hazel English - Wake UP! - The debut album from Australian via Los Angeles singer-songwriter Hazel English is one of my favorite records of the first half of this year. There are parts that delve into a very coachella-esque vibe, but the overriding feeling is more dream pop than pop. Think a bit of First Aid Kit, but filtered through the sounds of Beach House and you have the general feel of this one. The songs are great, the production is fantastic and her voice is definitely the anchor for this record. I highly suggest grabbing this one if any part of that sounded like your kind of thing.
Car Seat Headrest - Making A Door Less Open -
*pink Car Seat Headrest Vinyl in store now!*
Saying that Will Toledo, the man behind Car Seat Headrest, is hard to pin down would be quite an understatement. In some ways he’s a modern day Jonathan Richman with the amount of quirkiness and mystery behind some of his work. His last LP, 2016’s Teens of Denial, was finally his breakthrough of sorts after 6 years of releasing material as Car Seat Headrest. It’s quirky, indie guitar pop hit a chord in people, including myself, and ended up on many or that year’s Top Albums of the Year lists. His 2020 release finds him moving into another direction entirely. Think of Beck switching from Odelay to Hyperspace. This one moves away from the guitar driven sound of his previous LP and into a decidedly more electronic sound. It’s different, but still very catchy and effective. Oh, did I mention he sings as a gas mask wearing alter ego named “Trait”, because that’s a thing. Yeah, check it out.
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Reunions- After years with the Drive-By Truckers and more time as a solo artist, Jason Isbell spent the last few years slowly building his fanbase and popularity with albums like Southeastern & Something More Than Free. With 2017’s The Nashville Sound, he finally busted into the mainstream with an album that hit on every cylinder and showed what a fantastic songwriter he was. His new LP, Reunions, is another fantastic album and cements him as one of the best songwriters of this generation. The stress of these sessions is something that Isbell has already talked about, and that stress shows in these songs. They’re tightly wound, lyrically brilliant and shows the band pushing itself to truly showcase each track. The guitar work alone on this album is worth checking it out for alone.
Brendan Benson - Dear Life - For the casual fan, Brendan Benson is probably best known for being the co-leader of The Raconteurs with Jack White. Those that know him as more than that go back with him to his first LP, One Mississippi, from 1996. His 7th solo LP, Dear Life, finds Benson doing what he does best, which is crafting excellent pop songs and delivering them in the earnest way that he does best. Dear Life features a few new sounds and styles, but the songwriting is always there to back it up. This album is a lot of fun and is going to sneak into my Top 20 of the Year list for sure.
Fake Names - Fake Names - I love punk rock, so when a band comes out and features members that have been in bands like Dag Nasty, The Refused, Embrace, SOA, Bad Religion, Girls Against Boys, Soulside and Minor Threat, I’m automatically in. Fake Names is a “supergroup” in every way. Fast, melodic, instantly singable and over in under 30 minutes, this is an album I’ve been kind of obsessed with. If you like any of those bands or need something new, please check this one out because it hasn’t left my turntable much over the last few weeks.