The Kills-Ash & Ice (2016)

My Rating: 81% (B+)

Pitchfork Rating: 62%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 68%

Average Rating: 70% (C++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Doing It to Death
  2. Heart of a Dog
  3. Hard Habit to Break
  4. Bitter Fruit
  5. Days of Why and How
  6. Let It Drop
  7. Hum for Your Buzz
  8. Siberian Nights
  9. That Love
  10. Impossible Tracks
  11. Black Tar
  12. Echo Home
  13. Whirling Eye

Label:

Domino

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Getting ready to go out for the night.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Very cool.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Absolutely.

Final Thoughts:

I have no idea how I originally found The Kills, it must’ve been around the time that I was getting into bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys, and Alabama Shakes. Ash & Ice continues suit, a really solid album that is really easy to put on to appeal to a large audience, but nothing too different or impressive that it stands out than more than a solid album. The Kills are great musicians and Ash & Ice is a really enjoyable album, but it’s not something that caught me off guard or that demanded a second listen. I’m hoping that their other work gives me a couple tracks to sink my teeth into more than Ash & Ice did.

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Bombay Bicycle Club-Flaws (2010)

My Rating: 91% (A)

Pitchfork Rating: 40%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 63%

Average Rating: 65% (C)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Rinse Me Down
  2. Many Ways
  3. Dust On The Ground
  4. Ivy & Gold
  5. Leaving Blues
  6. Fairytale Lullaby
  7. Word By Word
  8. Jewel
  9. My God
  10. Flaws
  11. Swansea

Label:

Island

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Sad.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Fits the album so perfectly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly.

Final Thoughts:

Bombay Bicycle Club caught me off guard with their second release Flaws. Known for being a alt rock pump up band, this down-tempo acoustic album may come as a shock to those exploring this bands discography, especially the fact that a lot of these songs are actually just striped down versions of tracks from their first album: I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Flaws may not be everyone’s cup of tea, especially for those who have been fans from the very beginning, but to those that it caters to (Death Cab and Sufjan fans come to mind) it is a truly wonderful album.

The Shins-Heartworms (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 76%

Rolling Stone Rating: 70%

Metacritic Rating: 73%

Average Rating: 80% (B+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Name for You
  2. Painting A Hole
  3. Cherry Hearts
  4. Fantasy Island
  5. Mildenhall
  6. Rubber Ballz
  7. Half a Million
  8. Dead Alive
  9. Heartworms
  10. So Now What
  11. The Fear

Label:

Columbia

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Feeling like a mix of Arcade Fire and Empire of the Sun.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Anything acid art is pretty much a win, so this one really works for me.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Just bought it! So stoked on it.

Final Thoughts:

I hate when a band I’ve loved for a long time releases an album that trumps all their previous work, why? It always makes me sound like an amateur fan and I lose 100 pretentious points. Heartworms is The Shins best album yet, it’s a good mix of awesome instrumentals and really unique vocal performances. The album reinvents the band in a good way, they rolled the dice on this release and won big. It’s like we got a little bit of both worlds between The Shins and Breaking Bells on Heartworms. Controversial claim or otherwise, The Shins have never been this good, Heartworms is a huge accomplishment from this instantly lovable band.

Alberta Cross-Songs Of Patience (2012)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 65%

Average Rating: 83% (B++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Magnolia
  2. Crate Of Gold
  3. Lay Down
  4. Come On Maker
  5. Wasteland
  6. Ophelia On My Mind
  7. I Believe In Everything
  8. Money For The Weekend (Pocket Full Of Shame)
  9. Life Without Warning
  10. Bonfires
  11. Rambling Home
  12. Wait

Label:

ATO

 

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Driving on a sunny day.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super trippy. I love it.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

The first song I heard of Alberta Cross was Hard Breaks and I liked it enough that it entered my 25 most played songs on iTunes. Usually when a band has a really catchy song, I’m cautious to explore the rest of their work because I’ve been burned one too many times. It wasn’t the case with Alberta Cross, their music has been shockingly enjoyable. Songs of Patience may be their most friendly album yet, anybody should be able to start with this album and understand the band a couple tracks in. It shocks me that this band isn’t bigger based on how friendly their music would be on the radio, it’s not too experimental and I’d be comfortable putting it on at a family gathering. Songs of Patience may be your new favourite record, it may be one that you put on shuffle, but I highly doubt it’d be one you’d end up disliking.

Eels-Shootenanny! (2003)

My Rating: 100% (A++)

Pitchfork Rating: 28%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 73%

Average Rating: 67% (C+)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. All In A Day’s Work
  2. Saturday Morning
  3. The Good Old Days
  4. Love Of The Loveless
  5. Dirty Girl
  6. Agony
  7. Rock Hard Times
  8. Restraining Order Blues
  9. Lone Wolf
  10. Wrong About Bobby
  11. Numbered Days
  12. Fashion Awards
  13. Somebody Loves You

Record Label:

Dreamworks

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Not really sure on what genre you’re currently in the mood for.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Reminds me of early Blues covers, nothing special, but kind of cool.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Yes!

Final Thoughts:

I went to college in Saskatchewan, a province that gets so cold that doors are frozen in the morning, and it was there that I discovered Eels. Maybe it was something about the dark utterly miserable conditions where I lived, or maybe it was being in a transitory part of my life, but Eels made a lot of sense to me. I loved the vulnerability in the lyrics, the openness to be sad and not try to cover up, but then following up with songs about how excited he is for Saturday is a really odd mix, but one that I really like. Shootenanny! flows from genre to genre, and to some these may work against Eels, but for me it kept the experience entertaining, if not a little jumbled.

Parquet Courts-Human Performance (2016)

My Rating: 88% (A-)

Pitchfork Rating: 84%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 82%

Average Rating: 84% (B++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Berlin Got Blurry
  2. Captive of the Sun
  3. Dust
  4. Human Performance
  5. I Was Just Here
  6. It’s Gonna Happen
  7. Keep It Even
  8. One Man No City
  9. Outside
  10. Paraphrased
  11. Pathos Prairie
  12. Steady On My Mind
  13. Two Dead Cops

Label:

Rough Trade

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Having a hard time waking up.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Super cool, I’m a big fan.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

So badly yes!

Final Thoughts:

Parquet Courts took awhile to grow on me, but Human Performance was really approachable. I figured them out and that makes it so much easier to listen to them. So here’s the answer so you don’t have to do the work yourself, Parquet Courts are Talking Heads meet Sonic Youth. It’s impossible not to hear a Byrne influence with the vocals and lyrical content, and the sedated instrumentation is very SY. Human Performance is the album I’d recommend to get to know these guys, laid back, funny, and just a real chill album to put on while playing Monopoly or drinking a beer with friends.

King Krule-The Ooz (2017)

My Rating: 84% (B++)

Pitchfork Rating: 90%

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 80%

Average Rating: 85% (B++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Biscuit Town
  2. The Locomotive
  3. Dum Surfer
  4. Slush Puppy
  5. Bermondsey Bosom (Left)
  6. Logos
  7. Sublunary
  8. Lonely Blue
  9. Cadet Limbo
  10. Emergency Blimp
  11. Czech One
  12. A Slide In (New Drugs)
  13. Vidual
  14. Bermondsey Visin (Right)
  15. Half Man Half Shark
  16. The Cadet Leaps
  17. The Ooz
  18. Midnight 01 (Deep Sea Diver)
  19. La Lune

Label:

True Panther Sounds, XL

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Sleepy and angry/confused.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s awesome, fits the music perfectly.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Already do, it’s awesome.

Final Thoughts:

I finally got to see this guy live and I was stoked out of my mind, I couldn’t believe how big the crowd was to see him, I kind of thought he was somewhat unheard of but I guess I was wrong. Well, maybe that was the case before The Ooz dropped this year, an album that gained considerable critical acclaim from both fans and music bloggers. It’s worthy of the praise, The Ooz is unlike anything you’ve ever heard, even previous King Krule albums don’t quite sound like it. This is one of those albums that an amazing pair of headphones would really bring alive. There are multi-layered tracks that are so hard to unpack, but I can’t wait to sit down and spend more time with it. The Ooz is an incredibly unique album, I’m so glad King Krule is gaining popularity!

The War On Drugs-A Deeper Understanding (2017)

My Rating: 100% (A+)

Pitchfork Rating: 87%

Rolling Stone Rating: 80%

Metacritic Rating: 81%

Average Rating: 87% (A-)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. Up All Night
  2. Pain
  3. Holding On
  4. Strangest Thing
  5. Knocked Down
  6. Nothing To Find
  7. Thinking Of A Place
  8. In Chains
  9. Clean Living
  10. You Don’t Have To Go

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Waking up.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

It’s alright, pretty classical looking.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

I already have it, it’s beautiful.

Final Thoughts:

The War On Drugs are a study band, you have to listen to them a few times until they start to grow on you, I’ve liked them but it took A Deeper Understanding to love them. A Deeper Understanding is easily their best album, it’s going to be their Illmatic (hard to replicate or top). I can’t really pin down why this album is much more easier to approach than their previous work, their songs are still unusually long and drowned in instrumentals, but if I had to venture a guess it would be just the pure professional sound of the album. Honestly they put $$$ into making this album, it sounds so crisp and epic. The production is jaw-dropping and probably the most noticeable aspect of the album. A Deeper Understanding is not only the best album from a critically acclaimed group, it may be the best album of 2017.

Jake Bugg-Hearts That Strain (2017)

My Rating: 77% (B)

Pitchfork Rating: N/A

Rolling Stone Rating: N/A

Metacritic Rating: 66%

Average Rating: 72% (C++)

Tracklist (Standout songs underlined):

  1. How Soon The Dawn
  2. Southern Rain
  3. In The Event Of My Demise
  4. This Time
  5. Waiting
  6. The Man On Stage
  7. Hearts That Strain
  8. Burn Alone
  9. Indigo Blue
  10. Bigger Lover
  11. Every Colour In The World

Favourite Song on Album:

Listen to This Album When You’re:

Driving through the prairies.

Thoughts on Album Cover:

Does little to nothing for me.

Want to Own on Vinyl?:

Not this one.

Final Thoughts:

Jake Bugg is a newer voice that I’m always glad to hear, for some reason I’m stoked anytime I catch wind that he’s succeeding, maybe just because I feel like he is his music: mellow, humble, and vulnerable, and if that’s the truth all the power to him. Hearts That Strain was another solid release by him, not as strong as other work I’ve heard, but still a good album. I found the album to take a weird turn from the normal from his usual sound, and sometimes that works for him (How Soon The Dawn), and other times against him (Indigo Blue). I want him to really go full blues, something like a good breakup album would put him on the map, but regardless he’s doing his own thing and I can respect that.

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