When I started this blog, I had grand visions of posting about a bunch of new and newish bands, then posting updates whenever they released a new album. Obviously, that hasn’t happened yet.
But three bands that I wrote about in the past all happened to put out some solid releases at the start of 2012, and I had to make everyone aware of them. Coincidentally, all three were included in “threeplay” posts, so, it seems fitting that their updates would be part of another three-pack.
On their second album, fun. answer the question: “What would Queen have sounded like if they were an emo band?”
Nate Ruess’ signature Mika/Freddie Mercury vocals are still ever-present throughout Some Nights. But this time around, they’re complemented by some very strong, complex instrumentation.
The big single, “Tonight”, which features some backing vocals from Janelle Monae, is a great, slow-building anthemic pop-rock song that has the potential to make some end-of-the-year lists.
The title track includes some harmonizing that conjures memories of “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Other strong songs include “One Foot”, “Carry On” and “Why Am I the One” and the bonus track, “Out On the Town”.
On a less-than-positive note, in case you were wondering how annoying Ruess’ voice would sound auto-tuned, just listen to “Stars” or “It Gets Better”. It certainly couldn’t get any worse.
Whatever made me originally think of Joanna Newsom is no longer present on First Aid Kit’s latest album, The Lion’s Roar.
The Sisters Soderberg have taken their folk roots and added several layers to create a richer, deeper sound. On several tracks, they channel their country-folk influences, especially on the big first single, “Emmylou”.
It’s pretty cool to hear a couple of Swedish girls in their late teens/early 20s name-checking Emmylou Harris, Graham Parsons and June Carter and Johnny Cash.
While that song will almost-definitely make my Best of 2012 mix CD, there are several other solid tracks on the album. They include the title track, “Blue”, “I Found a Way” and “King of the World”, which includes backing vocals by Conor Oberst.
Considering how much hype this album received — or at least on the indie scale of hype — I’m hopeful the band can parlay this into a bigger following.
Plenty of bands change their sound from one album to the next. That’s just natural and to be expected. But the transformation that Cloud Nothings have gone through in less than a year is nothing short of amazing.
After two albums filled with lo-fi pop created on a computer in his parents’ basement, Dylan Baldi hastily assembled a band and hit the road. And after playing countless shows, he apparently realized that his songs didn’t lend themselves to very much improvisation in concert.
So he and his crew headed to Chicago and teamed with legendary producer Steve Albini to create an album full of songs that he could bend to his every whim whilst on stage.
The end result was Attack On Memory, an eight-song disc loaded with grungy, distortion-laced, shoegazing, heavy rock that harkens back to the early ’90s.
Or, as a friend of mine simply described the new sound — “it’s raunchy.”
Personally, this album isn’t exactly my cup of tea. It’s too much fuzz and not enough heart. That being said, there are a few songs I dug, such as “Stay Useless”, “Fall In” and “Our Plans”.
I’m certainly not going to push this band aside. Baldi’s output has been somewhat prolific thus far, and I’m eager to see in what direction he takes his band in the future.