Music fandom for me, has admittedly taken a slant to being about always looking for the next big thing. Sometimes, that causes you to forget the next old things you’ve always loved. This year has already had some excellent album releases, and these are all followup albums from some of my favorite artists:
Phantogram – Voices: Their debut album back in ’09 was one I could not help from spinning constantly. It was a huge part of my quarterlife crisis years, so I was curious to see what would happen listening to a new full-length album of there’s as a fall precipitously close to my 30’s. I’m happy to report their sound has grown up with them. Still got all the same synthy beats, but they are more adventurous with them. I think it’s a perfect late-winter album.
Best Track: Never Going Home
Pharrell Williams – Girl: My love of Pharrell goes back to high school. N.E.R.D I was convinced was the future of music, and if it wasn’t produced by The Neptunes, I wasn’t into it. However, like many of the enduring artists, Pharrell grew up. He took chances and always zagged, where everyone else zigged (Daft Punk album for example). I’m happy to see his latest solo album is just plain nice. It’s light and airy, but you can still feel the level of professional expertise that went into the production. I defy you not to love Happy either. It’s great to see an album come out of the hip hop lens, that is by and large positive.
Best Track: Happy (did you expect something else?)
St. Vincent – Self Titled: Annie Clark’s body of work speaks for itself. Every 18 months she comes out with a new album and it’s either good or great. I’ll take that kind of output any day of the week. The only flaw in her discography for me is St.Vincent and David Byrne’s collaboration. However, she’s really rebounded from that as her newest album might be one of her most complete albums yet. It goes all over the place (funk, dreampop etc etc.), but feels like an album constructed by someone who is wholly aware or her strengths. If you like her, there’s no reason not to pick this up immediately.
Best Track: Bring Me Your Loves
Beck – Morning Phase: Welcome back to the land of the living. Beck hasn’t released a traditional album in a half decade. In that time he’s experimented with making an album of sheet music for others to play, which I never heard because I quit piano and violin about ten times in my life, but I heard it was good. Morning Phase has a lot more melancholy in it than I would expect from the guy who made Guero, one of my all-time favorites, but it seems like a logical progression. Beck has joined the likes of Radiohead on his latest album by having mostly downbeat folky and operatic tracks that are still have replay value. I’m happy Beck is back and hope this is the first of many more albums.
Best Track: Wave
So there you go. Good stuff is out there. Go get it!