Two sentence reviews of new albums released in and/or listened to by me during June:
Blitzen Trapper — Destroyer of the Void: This album is what would happen if Queen and the Band had a musical baby, and it’s pretty awesome. I like this more than Wild Mountain Nation but less than Furr, so we’ll see how it grows on me as the year goes by, but it’s strong bottom-of-the-top-25 year end candidate.
Behind the jump: Tift Merritt; Gold Motel; The Love Language; Twin Tigers; the Henry Clay People; the Lions Rampant; Anna Rose.
Tift Merritt — See You On The Moon: my guilty confession is that I have previously never loved Tift the way I felt I should; something about her songwriting just never quite clicked for me, even when I enjoyed her stuff. But this album is exquisite, delicately sad in parts and deceptively rollicking over heartbreaking lyrics in others, and it’s exactly what I’ve always wanted Tift to be for me but never quite felt she was, before.
Gold Motel — Summer House: the new project from ex-Hush Sound keyboardist Greta Salpeter; catchy and echoing indie rock that’s pretty much nothing but a background to Greta’s startling, tremendous voice. Her voice is plaintive and powerful, and this is a great full-length debut that pulls a lot of what I loved best about the Hushies — swinging backbeats over heartrending lyrics — while still sounding very different from the Hush Sound’s stuff. Actually, it has the kind of quirky guitar edge that She & Him carries, so if you’ve enjoyed those albums, you might like this one.
The Love Language — Libraries: Stuart McLamb makes impeccably perfect summer pop — this album jangles and shines its way through 35 minutes of drive-with-the-windows-down songs, and lead single “Heart To Tell” deserves immediate placement on a list of greatest foot stomp hand clap songs of all time. God, these guys are going to be huge, and I’m still utterly bemused and vaguely baffled by it.
Twin Tigers — Grey Waves: for people who like fuzzed out melodic heavily instrumental indie rock, this Athens, GA band is coming through the CH in a few weeks (Tuesday July 13 at the 506, locals) and I’m curious to see how their droney, spaced-out debut album plays live; their music is solidly performed and interesting in studio, and there’s a lot of space in it that I’m hoping will sound bigger on stage. I’m guessing that I’ll feel about it the same way I feel about Baltimore’s Wye Oak: I like them in studio, but I flat out love them live. Preview track: [Passive Idol]
The Henry Clay People — Somewhere On The Golden Coast: picked this up because the internets told me that they were amazing, and to be honest, I found it a little uninteresting. There’s other bands out there doing the same thing more dynamically, I think; it’s not a bad album by any means but it didn’t blow me away like I expected it to from their press. Holding onto it because the internets have also told me that they absolutely destroy live, and I’ll check that out before I decide yea or nay on them for myself.
The Lions Rampant — It’s Fun To Do Bad Things: this isn’t the lyrically strongest album I’ve listened to this year (by about seventeen miles), but there’s something charming about the surf-ish guitars, the weird repeating choruses without any verses, and the crashing drums — I’d go see ’em live just to see their drummer work. If you’re into odd fusions of surf and garage rock with added organ lines, this album is for you.
Anna Rose — Nomad: to be totally up-front, when I got the press for this album, I was a little hesitant — tell me that an album is released by Alan Menken’s daughter, and I’m going to brace myself for a pop album that’s more twee than I generally like. But this surprised me; it’s got enough twang, it has moments of surprising darkness, and Anna Rose has enough songwriting chops and enough voice, to take it outside of the realm of what I might dismissively call “pop”; fans of Kathleen Edwards or Brenda Weiler (like I am) would probably dig this one.