two sentence reviews of new albums i listened to in april

hollow

I swear I listened to more than this, but apparently I didn’t write about them. I’ll do better in May. Anyway: boom, new albums, including two from my beloved This Is American Music.

Carolina Chocolate Drops — Leaving Eden: Triangle GRAMMY winners follow up 2010’s spectacular Genuine Negro Jig with this one, which is a technical masterpiece that lacks, in my opinion, some of the previous album’s unpolished soul. There’s certainly no track that shines like CCD’s cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style”, but there’s lots to love in their gothic and modern take on traditional Appalachian music, particularly in what I hope is the first single, the near-dance-track “Country Girl”, which grooves and shines with Rhiannon’s voice and the modern sounding backing strings. Great fucking track.

The Hufton Brothers — self-titled: part bluegrass (great picking), part Texas slide guitar, part frantic punk vocals, this full-length from Wilmington’s the Hufton Brothers is another marker that the coastal town is picking up a great roots and DIY scene, one band at a time. If a West Coast punk band made a record with an East Coast bluegrass band, the result would be this — luckily, it just took one band for us to get it.

The District Attorneys — Slowburner: pealing and guttering modern guitars with Garth Hudson organ and ’50s doowop backing vocals and handclaps, this is a phenomenal follow-up from Atlanta’s District Attorneys to their 2011 EP. If you liked early Dexateens records or the Mister Heavenly record from last year, you will like this album, and you should go buy it from This Is American Music.

The Only Sons — When The New Wears Off: the third album from Murfreesboro’s the Only Sons (under that name, at least; I have this vague memory that they were called something else before Steel Hearts came out), this is a sharper edged, more rock and roll record from the steeltrap songwriting of Kent Goolsby and his bandmates than their previous heavily twangy efforts, and it surprised me a bit; I listened to it for the first time a little warily. Goolsby is a great songwriter, though, and there are a couple of tracks that sound nothing so much as they sound the Band-ish, all horns and organs, and a delicious rocker in album opener “Devil’s Circus”. Buy it here.

Field Music — Plumb: there is something about this album that reminds me most strongly of Neil Finn’s best songwriting with Crowded House, and that is the best possible thing I could say about something. (I love Neil Finn. Can we talk about how I love Neil Finn so much that I was tongue tied upon meeting his son? I am an idiot.) It’s falsetto vocals and rain showers of guitar lines, and hand claps. Hand claps are the best in the spring, you guys. Don’t sit on this one, or everyone else will beat you to telling the world that it’s one of the most intimate, intricate, well-crafted and brilliant records of 2012.

Of Monsters And Men — My Head Is An Animal: accordian heavy, summer shined Euro-indie-pop. Chorus of horns and shouts make it feel like Beirut, the harmonizing male/female vocals a little like a dual-gender First Aid Kit, and the shimmer of it all together with the guitars like Fanfarlo — another great indie pop entry into the Euro-flavored canon.

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