by: John Penny, KUCI Music Director
I'm tired. I only had one day off this week and today was filled with fielding work calls even though I wasn't there. If you're still a full-time student, try to stay that way forever. Anyhow, there are five new records this week including a couple anticipated releases.
Tegan and Sara - The Con (Sire)
My ex-girlfriend insists that Tegan's name rhymes with the last name of our 40th president, just so you know before you go announcing it over the air. Until now most of the Quin sisters' success has been relegated to background music on "Grey's Anatomy" and my ex-girlfriend's car. I have a feeling that this record might not be long for our library shelves, however. Straying away from the psuedo-lo-fi power-pop of their last record, Tegan and Sara have enriched their sound with more layers and additional instrumentation. You have to listen a little harder for the hooks here, whereas on "So Jealous," any song could be a single. The stand-outs on "The Con" prove to be more rewarding and fans of the twins will not be disappointed.
SW: 3, 6, 13
RIYL: Psapp, Azure Ray, sororal twins, my ex-girlfriend
OPI: Needs review
Okkervil River - The Stage Names (Jagjaguwar)
This Austin, TX, band continues their progression towards a more straight-forward rock sound. Much like Spoon's most recent release, it seems that Okkervil River is out for greater acclaim and a larger fan base with "The Stage Names." Die-hard fans shouldn't fret though, this album is still rough enough around the edges to keep you from yelling "sell outs." There are hooks all over the place here as virtually every song is immediately catchy. Say goodbye to post-country and hello to (relative) fame and fortune.
SW: 1, 2, 3, 7
RIYL: Shearwater, Great Lake Swimmers, rock bands with xylophones, Russian poetry
Marisa Nadler - Songs III: Bird on the Water (Kemando)
I kept hearing a lot of hype about this artist, but never actually got around to listening to her songs 'til now. Guess what? She's good! This probably will get that annoying "freak-folk" tag by many critics/obsessive-compulsives, but her sound is much richer that most of those artists. The songs are slow, moving, and gorgeous; she builds upon a familiar American folk sound, adding cello, organ, electric guitar, and 12-string acoustic to create an atmosphere all her own.
SW: 2, 4, 7
RIYL: Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, birds, midnight
Art In Manila - Set The Woods On Fire (Saddle Creek)
A couple weeks ago I caught the documentary "Spend an Evening with Saddle Creek" on one of the movie channels at about four in the morning. While I wouldn't recommend it to people who aren't fans of the label's stable of artists (the movie really isn't that great), it reminded me of how vital and almost-life-changing some of those early records were for me. I always liked Azure Ray, but wasn't too sad when they broke up in 2004. Unfortunately, when Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink went on to create their own solo records, there were only a handful of decent tracks between them. Well, now Orenda Fink is back with some new and old friends in tow (members of The Anniversary, Mayday, The Good Life, and more) and is calling the result Art In Manila. After all that build up, all I have to say is that this covers very familiar territory and if you're familiar with Azure Ray, then you're familiar with this. However, you should check out the cover of Les Savy Fav's "The Sweat Descends."
SW: 2, 3, 5, 8
RIYL: St. Vincent, Azure Ray, friendship, Art Bell
Prints - Prints (Temporary Residence)
You may remember a couple weeks ago when I added a split between Howard Hello and Greenness. Well, Howard Hello main-man Kenseth Thibideau (Tarentel, Pinback) is proving to be just as prolific as his buddy Rob Crow, as he's back already with a collaboration with Zac Nelson. The duo takes the sound of their other projects and throws it in a blender with Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, and Brian Eno to create "Prints." This album seems mostly improvised, but it's also an exercise in restraint, as it never becomes unlistenable or gets too carried away. The lyrics are another story: I have no clue what the hell they're singing about.
SW: 1, 2, 3
RIYL: Pinback, Sleeping People, thumb piano, nonsense
OPI: Needs review