New Releases 2.15.2011
A Skylit Drive _ Identity On Fire
Fearless' latest emo-core benefits from slick production.
Beans _ End It All
Founding member of Anticon gets help from Fourtet, Tobacco, Tunde of TV on the Radio, members of Interpol, Flying Lotus, DJ Nobody and more.
Justin Beiber _ Never Say Never (the Remixes)
Ft. Kanye, Usher, Chris Brown, etc.
**Bright Eyes _ The People’s Key
Brown Recluse _ Evening Tapestry
Quality guitar indie-pop.
Bullet for My Valentine _ Fever (Tour Edition)
Cowboy Junkies _ Demons
Bland female-fronted Canadian rock outfit.
**The Dears _ Degeneration Street
Critically-acclaimed Canadian indie. See “Omega Dog.”
Deicide _ To Hell With God
The blackest metal.
**DeVotchKa _ 100 Lovers
Critically adored fusion act keeps the poignant, catchy folk tunes coming.
DOM _ Sun-Bronzed Greek Gods
Ratatat tour-mates play stylish up-beat but inconsistent rock. See "Burn Bridges," Bochicha."
Drive By Truckers _ Go-Go Boots
Joyous American art blues/rock.
**East Coast Avengers _ Present: DC the MIDI Alien -Avengers Airwaves
Impressive Massachusetts hip-hop.
Emmure _ Speaker of The Dead
Ginuwine _ Elgin (2.14)
P.J. Harvey _ Let England Shake (2.14)
PJ takes a dark folksy look at English history.
Korpiklaani _ Ukon Wacka
La Sera _ La Sera
Airy, sparse, female-fronted indie rock is bound to charm. RIYL Feist.
**Mogwai _ Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will (2.14)
Massive, beautifully atmospheric guitar-centric instrumentals. See “Rano Pano,” “Too Raging To Cheers.”
Mr Big _ What If
Stuck in the '70's in a bad way.
Nelson _ Lightning Strikes Twice
Glam band takes a break from playing on Caribbean Cruise Ships for a new studio album.
Ben Ottewell (GOMEZ) _ Shapes and Shadows
Rev Theory _ Justice
Brutally derivative nu-metal.
Runner Runner _ Runner Runner
Pop punk; the latest reincarnation of A Simple Plan?
**Josh Ritter _ Animal Years
Stylish, somber folk/rock.
Saigon _ Greatest Story Never Told
Promising rapper is plagued by inconsistent production, see “The Greatest Story Never Told,” “Bring Me Down.”
Sonic Youth _ Simon Werner a Disparu (Soundtrack)
Sonic Youth score a French flick.
Eddie Spaghetti _ Sundowner
Country/rock with a dark edge.
Stryper _ The Covering
Twilight Singers _ Dynamite Steps
Interesting, dark indie-rock from former Afghan Whigs frontman Greg Dulli.
The Warriors _ See How You Are
Victory Record's latest angst-y hardcore.
Yuck _ Yuck
Fuzzed out album from London blog sweethearts.
Bright Eyes _ The People’s Key (4.0/5.0)
Since Omaha, NE native Conor Oberst began recording as Bright Eyes in 1998, the moniker has taken on a life of its own. The pale, sickly looking teenager has evolved into a full-blown American rock icon, and has gone from playing introspective angst-filled folk, to alternative country, and now full-circle to upbeat, impassioned, existential rock. In a Rolling Stone interview last year Conor stated that this is the final Bright Eyes album, and The People’s Key, which plays as an aural tour of the band’s catalogue, is a lovely, nostalgic goodbye.
The record opens as all Bright Eyes records do: noise, a spoken word passage, and uneasy building. Layered guitars, distorted drums, pedal steel, and otherworldly noises are organized for maximum dramatic effect. The second track and lead single “Shell Games” begins with a minute of Conor and a piano before opening up into a blissful synth line and a chorus highlighted by dancing palm-muted guitars. The next track “Jejune Stars” is an early highlight in an album full of great songs, and after a thrashing intro reveals a concise, straightforward pop-tune.
Darkness returns with “Approximated Sunlight,” and finds Oberst reaching into his past for the dark, dusty, Midwestern soundscape that he perfected and nearly exhausted in his earliest records. The drums march slowly while Oberst’s lyrics explore spirituality yet avoid preaching. “Haile Selassie,” “A Machine Spiritual,” “Triple Spiral,” and “Beginner’s Mind” keep the pace up, and the tracks are kept interesting through unique vocals and adventurous yet stylish instrumentation. “Ladder Song” dips the listener back into the darkness, before the brilliant “One For Me, One For You” skips happily off into the sunset.
The influence of Saddle Creek Records and the music of Oberst and his early cohorts (now leading indie rock giants The Faint and Cursive), has been massive within the American music scene. The People’s Key finds the band using every songwriting trick in the book; building tension and releasing it, repeating themes and stripping sections to create space and emphasis. While Bright Eyes may not be able to provide us with the answers to all of life’s questions or explain the origin of human life, they can definitely make a damn good rock record.
Highlights: “Jejune Stars,” “Haile Selassie,” “Triple Spiral,” “One For Me, One For You”
*Also available through Saddle Creek records on February 15 are the 7” singles “Singularity” and “In the Real World.”