As fun as it is to complain about “music these days,” and how it’s all been downhill since The Chronic came out, it’s even MORE fun to listen to — wait for it — good music. Every Tuesday (yes, we're a little late with it this week), a.k.a. Music Release Day, we’ll highlight five albums worth (legally) downloading or driving to the local Best Buy (lolz) for.
Today, we've got selections from My Bloody Valentine, Frightened Rabbits, Jim James, and more.
Pedestrian Verse by Frightened Rabbits
Frightened Rabbits have existed between indie darlings and mainstream success story for years now. They're far more interesting than, if somewhat similar sounding in their earnestness to, Mumford & Sons, and yet they receive a quarter of the "cool" press that bands like Arcade Fire and fellow gloom-wallowers the National do. That ought to change with the gorgeous Pedestrian Verse, one of 2013's finest albums to date. For the first time, the Scottish band, and not just singer Scott Hutchison on a self-determined exile, wrote the album together, making it their most collaborative work; there's more going on beneath the surface of every song (a welcome increase in keyboards and perky percussion, a necessary decrease in acoustic strumming), and while Frightened Rabbits is still a drunken sad bastard band, in the best way possible, it's less obvious on Pedestrian. It's taken them some time, but at last they're ready to admit, "We've still got hope, so I think we'll be fine." Hopefully the public agrees.
Regions of Light and Sound of God by Jim James
Neither as rocking nor as grounded as his work with My Morning Jacket, Jim James' largely solo down-tempo debut album tries out a variety of sounds, including R&B and something between folk and jazz, like on the eerie "God's Love to Deliver," but while it never nails one perfectly, James' transcendence voice carries you from song to song, as Stan Smith did to him on American Dad! Regions of Light is the result of a man who wanted to experiment with expectations, but couldn't with his super-famous band, so he tried them out all at once by his lonesome.
mbv by My Bloody Valentine
More much on the powerful, overwhelming, near-perfect mbV, and what it means for the music industry as a whole, tomorrow. Hey, you waited 21 years for the album. You can do one more day.
Music From the Lost Scrolls Vol. 1 by J. Dilla
For more on Dilla, and his many posthumous soon-to-be releases, check out the Smoking Section.
II by Unknown Mortal Orchestra
An upgrade in fidelity from their out-of-nowhere debut, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s singer Ruban Nielson vocals still sound like they're being filtered through a layer of haze before reaching the microphone. II is a warm, fuzzy-feeling album, landing between folk-pop and psychedelia, that details with intensely personal, yearning themes (and lyrics like, "Isolation can put a gun in your hand"). It's a fitting juxtaposition for a band that began as a viral mystery, and even now, after two albums, we're still trying to figure them out.