The Music Wrap-Up is a monthly summary of my favorite and other notable new releases. Having trouble keeping up with all the new music? Need some music suggestions? Then the Music Wrap-Up is for you. And please support these musicians as that's the reason I'm featuring them in the first place.
There's no time to catch up this month, there were more than enough new releases to keep up with. Sure, you probably heard all about Arcade Fire's new album, but there were plenty more great CDs you may have missed. Also, I sort of debuted reader contributions this month by spamming Twitter a few days before the end of the month. In the future, if you'd like to write about a new release you've been enjoying, or at least just send me a tip and maybe some YouTube links, shoot an email to CerebralPop [at] gmail [dot] com with the subject "Music Wrap-Up." Now, onto the music.
The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
#1 - Empty Room
#2 - Deep Blue
I obviously don't need to inform you of Arcade Fire's existence. Hell, it was impossible to escape them on the Internet the night they played Madison Square Garden and streamed it live on YouTube, all directed by Terry Gilliam. If you've never listened to them before, this release is a fine place to start. Still, I don't think it really captures the emotion that their past albums did.
David Dondero - # Zero with a Bullet
#3 - Jesus From 12 to 6
#4 - Just a Baby in Your Momma's Eyes
It's crazy to me that David Dondero is barely known. He's released eight albums as a solo artist, and well known artists like Conor Oberst list him as an influence. Yet, when NPR invites him to record a "Tiny Desk Concert", they write that he slept in his car the night before. Buy this man's music, he deserves success.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game - Original Videogame Soundtrack
#5 - Rock Club
#6 - Just Like in the Movies
Submitted/Written by: Matt Giguere
Videogame soundtracks sure have evolved over the past 30 years. What were once an ensemble of SID beats and MIDI synthesizers, are now backed by full orchestra pits and sometimes mashed in with bits of contemporary music to fit the mood. While a few exceptions are present, most game soundtracks today are more comfortable with their movie inspired sounds and tend to shy away from the "beeps" of earlier years.
Enter New York City based chiptune punk band Anamanaguchi and their latest release Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game - Original Videogame Soundtrack. The album is an interesting blend of old school synthesized video game sounds mixed with live bass, drum, and guitar rhythms. As this is a soundtrack to a videogame, all of the tracks present a quick melody and then loop back to repeat -- the main reason why many of the tracks are less than 2 minutes long. Despite this, a lot of the songs hold up well on their own merit. Songs rush by in whirl of nostalgia that never overstay their welcome and even show a slight tinge of depth. All of this culminates to a soundtrack made today and then sent back in time to learn from its 80s brethren. Catchy and upbeat, fans of the chiptune scene or of videogame soundtracks in general should definitely check this one out.
Ra Ra Riot - The Orchard
#7 - Massachusetts
#8 - Shadowcasting
I've known about Ra Ra Riot since there were only live recordings on their Myspace page. I say this not to be "the ground-floor guy", but to help explain that it sort of feels like they've lost a little bit of their drive and passion. I don't know, The Orchard just seems too "produced." Which is obvious, given their steady rise in fame and success, that they would gain access to more production. Still, despite my misgivings, it is a solid album that I can easily recommend.
The Drums - Self-Titled
#9 - Best Friend
#10 - Forever and Ever Amen
I've never listened to The Smiths, but apparently they sound like this. The Drums definitely capture the essence of another decade, and I love that about them. Being able to recreate the sounds of the past when music is created in completely different ways with each generation is certainly a talent.
Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World Soundtrack
#11 - Sex Bob-Omb - We Are Sex Bob-Omb
#12 - Crash and the Boys - We Hate You, Please Die
Just like Matt was impressed with the soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim game, I was blown-away by the movie's soundtrack. Edgar Wright clearly took his time to find the right artists to craft the music of the fictional bands from the comic, as well as using real-life bands that helped inspire, were referenced in, or fit the mood of the books. Beck does an amazing job of crafting Sex Bob-Omb's music to be both entertaining to the movie-going audience, but terrible sounding to those with mainstream sensibilities. The thick distortion sounds like it came straight from the cheapest, piece-of-crap amplifier ever made, and their random whoops and yells give the feel of a band that has no idea how to structure a song and just add flourishes whenever they decide they want to. And please, I would love for the Broken Social Scene guys that created Crash and the Boys to cover those songs in real-life.
Eels - Tomorrow Morning
#13 - Spectacular Girl
#14 - This is Where it Gets Good
This is the third Eels album in just over a year, and apparently it closes out a trilogy of concept albums. I love trilogies. Anyway, I didn't know that until now, so I couldn't exactly tell you what the story is about. Also, I missed out on Eels until this year, so I couldn't tell you how this release compares to their past work, either. Amongst the things I can tell you, is that I really enjoy the slow, somber sound on this CD, and I'm kind of excited to try to analyze the concept of this and the previous two releases, now that I know they're a concept album trilogy.
Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic
#15 - Don't Need No
#16 - Me and Us
The Punch Brothers last CD, their debut, fell into a bit of a gap. It was much more technically complicated than most bluegrass fans enjoy, but the songs were too long and meandering for a lot of casual indie fans to rally behind. A majority of the CD was made up by a huge song, broken up into four movements, all almost 9 minutes or longer. Antifogmatic is a clear change in direction, with the entirety of the release consisting of more easily digestible songs, both in length and structure. I don't necessarily think that's better, but it's certainly easier to recommend to new listeners.