Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick Spins

The Hold SteadyHeaven Is Whenever
There is something different about my favorite Brooklyn band’s fifth record. Gone of course is Franz Nicolay tickeling the ivories like Ray Charles and his showmanship during the band’s live sets. However, Heaven is Whenever is filled with less anthems and more heart, not that they ever lacked heart, but this is much more of an introspective record and sound for a band that is known for having their audience’s throw their arms in the air and screaming each word – when they are just sitting in their car or enjoying the record at home. What stays constant through this record and all Hold Steady records are Craig Finn’s dense lyrics, the man is the Jack Kerouac of songwriting. What is also gone are the stories of the band’s central characters Christian, Gideon, and Charlemagne; which for the first time marks the band not doing a concept record. Yet, the concept is clear The Hold Steady maybe a different band now but still a very forceful one.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way
Over the past few years, Sharon Jones has taught us a few things, one of them is, she is a not a person to fuck with. Plain and simple. This former employee of Ryker's Island has pretty thick skin and can pretty much withstand anything in the face of adversity. Jones and her Dap Kings band have brought funk and soul back to the streets of New York and around the world and on her latest, I Learned the Hard Way, her thick skin is a backbone of perseverance and confidence over a record of heart break, loss and how to get back up again.

Dillinger Escape Plane - Option Paralysis
This New Jersey technical math metal militia is back at it again. Proving to be one of the most brutal bands and live shows around, no wonder they boast fans from everyone from Trent Reznor to Daryl Palumbo to Geoff Rickley. Option Paralysis is their latest adventure into making their audience's ear's bleed, but they do it with suck charisma and clarity that they maybe a heavy band, but can appeal to so many.

Jakob Dylan - Women and Country
Former Wallflower and son of music's greatest lyricist tries to step out of the shadow that has plagued him for so long. It is a blessing and curse to be the son of Bob Dylan, why because everything you do, people will compare you to him - much like I am doing now. It is also harder to break away from that after you were in a successful band and then your solo work gets compared to that - again, what I am doing now. But for Dylan, he does not care what you think of him, and Women and Country proves why. Recruiting the help of Oscar winner T. Bone Burnett to produce this record and getting vocal help from the lovely Neko Case, Dylan has crafted a country - folk - almost bluegrass record that is far from anything he has done before. Something, that even his biggest critics (me) will enjoy.

Reni Lane - Ready
A collaborator of New York artist Joseph Arthur, Reni Lane steps into her own spotlight and is ready for her close up. This alternative folk artist makes her major label debut with Ready via Universal Motown. Yet, before the album was released she was already deemed by VH1 and several music outlets as "someone to watch in 2010," and that she is. Her debut is a nice one two punch of great lyrics and catchy hooks. A worthwhile record to listen to.

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The indie dance party craze set by LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy has spun out of control since the release of his band's first single "Daft Punk is Playing at my House." Always a party starter, Murphy and Co. know how to have fun, there is no doubt about that. However, what I have noticed with this band is that live they are incredible and are an act to truly be witnessed but on record, it tends to fail to capture the intensity and raucous of their live sets. This is Happening arrived which much hype and I was a bit unimpressed.

We Have Band - WHB
These London electro rockers have been cranking out remixes of some of our favorites for years across the pond, now they finally capture their own originality on wax. WHB is a fun album but the beats tend to get a bit redundant and not as fresh as their remixes.