Tunes Worth Hearing: January 2012

Most of my music posting ends up limited to the random music video I happen to come across when I’m in a posting mood and year end-lists. I still want to focus mostly on movies here, but I figured as I’m using Spotify heavily this year to try to at least listen through a whole bunch more albums this year, I could do a month-end post with the things I’ve discovered or enjoyed the most.

The one major caveat with music as opposed to movies is that music tends to jump around far more wildly on my lists than movies. Movies I can generally watch once and have a pretty good idea how much I liked it. My feelings towards specific music is far more variable, and depends a lot on how much I listen to it. Of course, if I really dislike something, I’m unlikely to listen to it again, but among things I like or love nothing’s ever set in stone. All I’ll say are these are all albums I’m enjoying now to one degree or another, and that deserves a mention in case you might like them too.

Also: ongoing Spotify playlist of my favorite songs of the year

First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar

The first album of the year that I’ve really loved, and after only a couple of listens, too. Usually it takes more than that, but this Swedish duo with their hippie-looking cover somehow snuck into earworm status almost immediately. The country-folksy thing doesn’t always work for me, but this is well within the indie style country folksy that I’ve grown to like. Beyond that, it’s got a touch of an almost medieval feel in cadence and intervals (at least in some of the songs – the title song in particular). And I love those close harmonies and epic orchestrations. Yeah, instant fan.

Watch video for “The Lion’s Roar”
Watch live performance of “Blue”
Listen on Spotify

Howler – America Give Up

This is just good old-fashioned rock. I didn’t even realize until I was just looking up videos for this post that these guys are apparently all 14 years old. Probably not really, but they definitely look young. Whatever, they make music that I can totally jam out to over and over. A scary number of the songs on this album have already made it on my ongoing Favorite Songs of 2012 playlist.

Listen to “Beach Sluts”
Listen to “This One’s Different”
Listen on Spotify

The Big Pink – Future This

I liked The Big Pink’s previous album, but I never quite listened to it enough for it to reach loved status, and I mostly remember the couple of singles off it. I’m getting the jump on this new one, and I quite like it as well. Some songs get a bit too “dance-y” for me, but for the most part, it’s bit anthem rock, and it’s pretty catch stuff.

Watch video for “Stay Gold”
Watch video for “Hit the Ground (Superman)”
Listen on Spotify

Imperial Teen – Feel the Sound

This video places these guys firmly within the quirky indie rock tradition, what with all the cut-out words and jumping around switching clothes. That’s all right with me! The rest of the album has the same upbeat feel. I only recently started listening to this one, but I imagine it will get a lot more play over the next few weeks and months.

Listen to “No Matter What You Say”
Listen to “Don’t Know How You Do It”
Listen on Spotify

Nada Surf – The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy

I actually remember picking up a Nada Surf CD from the library when I was back in college and beginning to explore what different music was out there. I couldn’t tell you now which album that even was, but I enjoyed it without really latching onto it. When I saw this new one pop up on NPR’s First Listen, I figured I’d give it a try, and it’s also pretty enjoyable stuff. Definitely worth a listen, and I might go back and try out some of their older stuff again as well. Also, the title is awesome.

Listen to “Clear Eyes, Clouded Mind”
Listen to “Jules and Jim”
Listen on Spotify

Kathleen Edwards – Voyageur

Not always do I get into singer-songwriter type stuff, but Edwards quite reminds me of Kathryn Calder, the New Pornographers singer who came out with a solo album I liked very much a couple of years ago. Similar pure voice, solid songwriting backed up by some really nice and often very full orchestrations. I think Edwards has actually been around longer, but whatever. This may not stay high on my list as the months go on, but I do like it.

Watch live performance of “Empty Threat”
Watch live performance of “House Full of Empty Rooms”
Listen on Spotify

Cloud Nothings – Attack on Memory

I’m kind of split on this one – some of the songs (like the ones I’ve included below – you actually have to click through to YouTube for them; embeds are limited) are pretty awesome, with strong instrumentation of the type that makes me not mind when songs have long instrumental sections, and raw vocals that work with the music. Other songs sound like a mediocre alternative band from the ’90s. Plus, the whole thing is rather short. Still, when this album is good, it’s very, very good.

Listen to “Wasted Days”
Watch video for “No Future/No Past”
Listen to “Stay Useless”
Listen on Spotify