Although the Super Bowl half-time show and the Grammys usually dominate music headlines in February, this month tends to be chock full of left-of-the-dial new music. 2017 was no exception. Yes Gaga, Adele and Beyoncé; and yes Ryan Adams, Alison Krauss and Future were among those that debuted with top ten albums; but also a big “YES” to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Tinariwen, Thundercat, Grails, Sun Kil Moon, Dirty Projectors, Moon Duo, Chuck Prophet, Jens Lekman, Xiu Xiu, Son Volt, Bing & Ruth, etc. Of course the trouble is discovering all that is new and exciting. To this end I asked various music journalists, bloggers, columnists and the like a simple question, “what music stood out to you in February?” As with the January edition, the intention was to get their immediate reaction, a quick response that could be anything: an album, or several; a new song or music video; a mind-melting concert. What pops into mind without having to think?
Read on to see who and what they did name. Every album is linked to a page it can be bought (such as bandcamp or iTunes) and all songs are linked to a stream (YouTube, Soundcloud etc). Thanks to everybody who participated!
Finally, what stood you out to you dear reader? Sound off in the comments below…
Founded in 2006 as a free monthly magazine in Austin, Soundcheck Magazine has since expanded to the interwebs. Follow at twitter.com/SoundcheckMag.
“For February, our site has currently reviewed 47 albums with an average rating of 6.9. Not bad, but as usual, some albums stood out more than others. For our site, we absolutely loved the new Sun Kil Moon record, Common As Light and Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood; though, our writer Tom Alexander could understand why many would loathe it also. Personally, I enjoyed Dirty Projectors self-titled record largely because of Dave Longstreth’s upped production game. The album’s main theme (mostly dogging former ex Amber Coffman) is a little harsh, and some of our staff felt the same way when reviewing it in our Roundtable review of the album.
Middle Kids debut EP really poises the band as one to watch when they release their debut full-length. Thundercat’s new album, Drunk, seemingly exists in the same universe as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead!, so if you enjoy those records, you’re going to love Drunk, especially with many of its references to geek culture. The Cairo Gang continue to be one of those under-looked great bands consistently putting out solid rock albums. Their latest album, Untouchable, is a good one to start on if you’re unfamiliar with the band. Citris reissued their debut LP, Panic In Hampton Bays, and it’s a must listen for fans of ’90s alt rock. The Antlers’ frontman Peter Silberman released his debut LP, Impermanence, dealing with a period of hearing loss that smothers listeners with the somber sounds they’ve come to expect from his main band.
Another stellar month of new music for 2017 though. I feel like it’s definitely proving 2016 was a lackluster year all together.”
Want a one-stop website to discover the latest indie music? Become pals with Earbuddy. With its steady influx of new reviews and online streams it’s been “opening ears to good music” since 2011. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/earbuddy.
Psych Insight Music
Psych Insight Music is an essential reference for staying updated on psychedelic music, especially that of under the radar ilk. Read their reviews of the aforementioned new albums from Stupid Cosmonaut, Skyjelly and 10000 Russos and follow at twitter.com/psychinsightmsc.
“Definitely the new Shinyribs album I Got Your Medicine.”
Since 2002 Glide Magazine has covered music across genre lines (consider the albums on their “20 Best Albums of 2016” for example). Read Maeri Ferguson’s review of I Got Your Medicine here and follow Glide at twitter.com/glidemag.
“One album I really love from February is Porcelain Raft’s Microclimate. It gives off some Slowdive Souvlaki vibes, with some great synthy new wave and pulsing yet spacey 4-on-the-floor beats. Awesome melodies everywhere, and super strange and awesome vocals. Vince Clarke of Erasure and Depeche Mode wrote a great piece about this record for Talkhouse, and Porcelain Raft made us a really cool playlist. I’m new to Porcelain Raft even though he’s been around for a while, so this feels really fresh and fun for me. Also I’ve been listening to “Love Is” by Dude York, a new signing on Hardly Art Records, who have an incredible roster. Great anthemic ‘90s style garage rock, super catchy tune and a fun, sparkly music video.
Dave is marketing manager for Talkhouse, the internet’s premier destination for discussions between artists and reviews of music and films by peer musicians and filmmakers. A few recent examples: conversations between Peter Hook (Joy Division, New Order) and Andy Rourke (The Smiths), Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) and Emil Amos (Holy Sons) and Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips) and producer Prince Paul (De La Soul). Dave also plays guitar and writes songs in the band Twiga. Follow him at twitter.com/TwigaMusic.
“February was stark and rainy out here on the coast of California. Not entirely gloomy, as it washed away years of drought, and gave a slight respite to our starving watersheds. A ray of light was provided by the return of Modesto’s Grandaddy, offering up their first album in over a decade, and a return to touring for the first time since a comeback festival run in 2012 that set the table for The Last Place. Thanks to the good folks at NPR, it was available to preview prior to its release. With all the key band members back in the fold, it’s comfortable like rediscovering a favorite hoodie, with old friends reappearing (“Jed the 4th”) and in “Lost Machine”, an anthem for our current drifting state as surely as “He’s Simple He’s Dumb He’s The Pilot” summarized the GW Bush years. A welcome return from a singular entity.”
“This month’s standout album for me is a closely fought battle between Grails Chalice Hymnal, Julie’s Haircut Invocation and Ritual Dance of My Demon Twin and Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic. I also think that the new [self-titled] album from Crystal Fairy (a band featuring members of Le Butcherettes, Melvins and ATDI) is well worth a listen. I know everyone is wanking themselves silly over Rag ‘n’ Bone Man as if authenticity and gospel sung in an alright way by a bloke with a beard is a new concept but I’m not convinced. It doesn’t seem particularly authentic, that beard is not that impressive, and his songs lose their lustre after a couple of plays. If Rag n Bone men still existed, they’ll be refusing to take copies of his album this time next year – “fuckin’ loads of ‘em mate, can’t shift em….’Arold, it’s another one of them albums”. That kind of thing. Thinking about it, I can’t call which album I prefer this month – I love the Power Trip record because it taps into the Thrash metal scene that I was absolutely obsessed with when I was a nipper. The Grails album on the other hand displays a cinematic quality and a depth to the band that they’ve hinted at up until now. Call it a draw, and a tip of the hat to Julie’s Haircut it’s well worth checking out. I’m somewhat indecisive today – I’ve not had a coffee yet. That’ll be why. In terms of live stuff. It’s not music this month that impressed me, but Daniel Kitson’s spot as compere at the Resofit fundraiser at Leicester Square Theatre was an absolute joy and still has me giggling now. That man is a genius.
Sam reviews new albums, mostly for musicOMH (but also Sings The Browns). Read his reviews of the aforementioned albums by Grails, Julie’s Haircut, Power Trip and Crystal Fairy Follow Sam on twitter at twitter.com/socksinhell.
“Blending styles is nothing new. It’s been happening in music for decades but rarely does a combination go down as smoothly as it does when Charley Crockett starts singing. The Texas singer landed in Oklahoma City on opening duties with the Turnpike Troubadours, and I could’ve listened to his incredible band play all night. There are elements of classic country, soul, boogie woogie and even a taste of Bourbon Street in the mix. Check out his 2016 record In The Night, which just landed on vinyl.
Oklahoma has a supernatural amount of music talent and my first WTF moment this year came from Net. The band features longtime Okie musicians, and they tap into a krautrock vein of rock that’s rarely touched in the Bible Belt. Give this debut song a listen.
When I first heard Terry Allen’s music, I figured he was a contemporary to the rising indie country wave that’s headlined by the recent works of Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell. I was way off. Allen released two knockout records in the late ’70s named Juarez and Lubbuck (on everything). Both were recently re-issued by Paradise of Bachelors, but Lubbock is my favorite and holds up with an abundance of humor and wit. I enjoyed this excerpt from the record’s Pitchfork review: ‘Terry Allen released Lubbock (on everything) via the minuscule Fate Records in 1979, just as the outlaw country movement started to run out of gas. Allen never was an outlaw. He was an outsider, a visual artist who wrote songs on the side and played museums instead of honky-tonks.’ Allen recently performed selections from both at Dallas’ Kessler Theater, and it felt as if my concert buddy Matt Carney and me were time traveling. Maybe it was because of the high point beer. Maybe it was because Carney’s Goodwill shirt belongs in a Western history museum. Almost certainly it was the great classic music.”
Writer/ photographer Nathan Poppe is editor of LOOKatOKC and a reporter for The Oklahoman, as well as house photographer for Oklahoma City’s Criterion and the cinematographer behind Spy FM and Fowler Volkswagen’s VDub Sessions (in which a band creates a performance video while driving inside a VW van). In other words, he’s busy. Read his recent pieces on StevenSteven and Horse Thief, see his pictures from the aforementioned Turnpike Troubadours show at The Criterion and follow him at twitter.com/NathanPoppe.
“Wow… ok… so… new things and old things continue to fill up my play bin and review cycles…
Excited about Creeper Lagoon (Dreamworks, Nickelbag Records) reunion.. One of my favorite Bay Area bands seems to be back together for a tour and — hopefully — a new album. The matinee show I saw at Bottom of the Hill was fabulous. They tossed out some fun surprises including choices covers of Guided By Voices, The Pixies and The National.
Picked up Caspian’s 2009 album Tertia recently which is nice, spinning at 45 RPM ’n all that audiophile type stuff… review to come… looking forward to seeing them soon…
Steven Wilson’s remix of Chicago’s second album was really nicely done…
Mike Watt’s recent live album Ring Spiel Tour ’95 was a cool surprise treat…
Got a copy of the Beck Song Reader tribute album on discount at Popmarket so will check that out — I hadn’t even heard of its release.
Was happy to find a vinyl issue of Philip Glass & Kronos Quartet’s soundtrack to Dracula, which I’ve heard as part of the film on the Blu-ray edition, but it will be nice compare and contrast the different versions.
I’m still needing to play Flaming Lips’ “Space Oddity” single which I may wrap into a review of Bowie’s Hunky Dory reissue which I finally got…
Digggin’ on Reverend Peyton’s slide work and new Front Porch Sessions album.
Also liking Whitney Rose’ albums and EPs – she’s a Canadian country western singer songwriter more or less discovered by Raul Malo of The Mavericks, who produced her last album. She has a new self produced EP reflecting on her new home in Austin, Texas. She seems to be the real deal so it will be interesting to see how she evolves and develops as an artist..
Have a bunch of things on my radar for this month including the four LP edition of the recent live Kate Bush album as well as the Sigur Ros’ Von reissue on vinyl.
Have a bunch more of the Zappa reissues to dig through this month, so I’ll probably be reviewing Sheik Yerbouti and Weasels Ripped My Flesh next. My reviews of Freak Out, Joe’s Garage and Meat Light ran and seem to have got some people buzzing about them, which is a good thing. Especially Joe’s Garage which is a major restoration.
Oh.. heh heh… I still have to crack open that Kinks Mono box set!”
Among many other pursuits – including creating the rock opera dial with his band ing – Mark writes for audiophilereview.com specializing in commentary specifically for vinyl collectors (very helpful for making purchasing decisions). Want an assessment not just of the music, but also the package? His reviews are what you’re looking for (often with photos of the vinyl or sleeve included). Read his audiophilereview.com reviews the aforementioned albums by Chicago, King Crimson and Mike Watt. Follow Mark at twitter.com/Smotroff.
“A friend recommended King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard’s new one, Flying Microtonal Banana, and I’m loving its psych-rock grooviness. My wife and I keep randomly launching into singing, “Rattlesnake! Rattlesnake!””
Downtown Randall Brown writes a weekly column for the USA Today network’s Knoxville News Sentinel and fronts the band Quartjar. Here’s his recent report on The Flaming Lips’ new “Brainville” Rye Whiskey. Follow him at twitter.com/RandallMBrown.
Auditorium – “Never Wrote a Diver a Poem”
“Boy what an incisive little piece this is, with its mix of arcane pronouncements (“Never helped a builder learn the dirt’s a liar”) and aphoristic gems (“‘Kindly’ is a word that makes me doubt my deeds”), set to a rolling melody that spikes almost astonishingly with a one-off hook (the “once in generation” segment, starting at 0:54) before cuddling back into its determined groove. And even while barely reaching 1:40, the song is concise enough to first offer up a wordless melody in the introduction and then, at the end, bring that motif back into the song, now with lyrics (1:24).”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
W I N C H E S T E R – “I’m Not Ready To Go Yet”
“Now this is how to start a slow song: with a stately, centered, melodic line, via a deep but elusive synth tone, in unhurried 6/8 time. Add, without fuss, some subtle digital noise, and then a piano (acoustic or electric, can’t tell, but it sounds acoustic, which is the important thing)—and then, unexpectedly, an acoustic guitar, strumming crisp chords. We’re already a minute and twenty seconds into the song, there is still nothing but introduction in sight, but I am on board.”
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Billy the Zombie Kid – “Golden Rainbows/Diamonds in the Fire”
“Every now and then a song comes along that’s as shiny and pop-saturated as can be and, somehow, all the things that bug the shit out of me when it comes to a lot of 21st-century pop just melt away. It’s often kind of a mystery but with “Golden Rainbows/Diamonds in the Fire” let’s see if we can puzzle out why. To begin with, the cold a capella opening is not only a nice touch but quickly demonstrates some harmonic sophistication—take a listen to how that wordless countermelody snakes around the main melody, complicating what you’re hearing so that you are given the song’s central hook while also having it partially hidden.
Read more and download the song at fingertipsmusic.com
Zoya Feldman from Hype Machine linked us to Stack, the site’s weekly “mix of the most interesting new music on the web, handpicked by the Hype Machine team.”
- Stack #127 with Fazerdaze, Smino, vōx, KAMI, and Kiefer
- Stack #128 with Superorganism, Tornado Wallace, Oumou Sangare, Andy Shauf, and Sampha
- Stack #129 with Roland Tings & Nylo, The Internet, Julia Lucille, Kaiydo, and Clark
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to Stack by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.
Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle linked us to his monthly playlist:
- Catching Flies – Daymarks
- FKJ – Go Back Home
- M83 – Bibi The Dog (Fabich Remix)
- Absofacto – Light Outside
- Spoon – Can I Sit Next To You
- Talaboman – Safe Changes
- Ruby Empress – Escapism Deluxe
- Powers – Heavy
- Parcels – Older
- Ary – Childhood Dreams
- James Chatburn – Omens
- Eelke Kleijn – Home
- Humons – What I’ll Find (Jon Zott Remix)
- The Trp – lavender
- SATELLITE HEARTS – 16:12
- Jonwayne – These Words Are Everything
- Obliques – Are You Still Mine?
An essential site for discovering the greatest of the latest new music, Indie Shuffle uses a unique music player powered by SoundCloud to facilitate carefully curated listening. Follow Indie Shuffle at twitter.com/indieshuffle.