From my perspective, 2010 is off to a pretty good start in terms of new music. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been listening to — five new albums released this month and last, plus a bonus album from the archives.
1. Basia Bulat, Heart of My Own. I discovered this lovely Canadian singer-songwriter in 2008, one year after her debut album Oh, My Darling. I was awestruck by her throaty but ethereal vocals, and by the beauty and simplicity of her compositions. Heart of My Own is her second album, and it’s even better than the debut. While the melodies are still spare and spacious, she incorporates more instrumentation in this new album. Highly recommended for any lover of folk, Americana or just plain great music.
Listen: Basia Bulat – Go On
2. Yeasayer, Odd Blood. Yeasayer is an odd band. Their last album, All Hour Cymbals, didn’t quite resonate with me. But Odd Blood is different. It’s poppier, catchier, more accessible. The tunes are danceable, even. It sounds as though Yeasayer has been listening to a lot of Passion Pit and has smoothed over the rougher edges of their previous efforts. Odd Blood is good stuff.
Listen: Yeasayer – O.N.E.
3. Spoon, Transference. This Austin band just keeps cranking out solid stuff. But fans who went ga ga for their previous release (the awkwardly named Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) may be disappointed with Transference, because with this release Spoon returns to their roots. No Memphis horn section in this album, and very little noodling and dubbing. Just clever lyrics delivered in painful earnestness by lead singer Britt Daniel, underlaid by straightforward foot-tapping rock with high reverb.
Listen: Spoon – Written in Reverse
4. Field Music – Field Music (Measure). This just came out on Tuesday, so I haven’t had time to absorb all of this 20-track effort yet. But on first listen, I’m impressed with what the brothers Peter and David Brewis have accomplished. The tunes are artfully arranged. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about this album in the coming months.
5. Vampire Weekend – Contra. Yeah, I know. We all thought the over-hyped music blog darlings of 2009 would fold their tents and fade away, a la Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Instead they reinvented themselves in the mold of Paul Simon. Seriously. They sound like Paul Simon’s The Rhythm of the Saints.
Listen: Vampire Weekend – White Sky
Bonus: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Deja Vu. OK, who released my inner hippie? I don’t know why, but for some reason I decided to listen to this album last Sunday. It’s been a long time, maybe even four and twenty years ago, since I last listened to this in its entirety. But I have been listening to it again and again, and I’m struck by the wonderful melding of four unique talents into a single, cohesive statement. I forgot how wonderfully the harmonies were on this album.
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So, that’s what’s on my playlist. How about you? What’s catching your ear these days? Any recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them.