It’s official. My taste is turning solidly toward the folk and folk rock quarter. I still need dense enough instrumentation to keep me going (full-on acoustic singer-songwriter down-tempo on every song still doesn’t to it for me), but with nearly five months straight of my top album being in the folk/folk-rock/alt-country vein, it’s time to stop pretending it’s unusual for me to like this stuff. A couple of years ago, I didn’t really, which is why I keep being surprised. Tastes change. I’m learning to accept it.
One Little Plane – Into the Trees
I have a few different ways of finding new bands to listen to – friends recommendations, music blogs (though I’m bad at keeping up with them), Pitchfork reviews (I rarely agree with their reviews, but they turn me onto some good bands), NPR’s First Listen. Sometimes I just look up all the releases coming out in a week and randomly add albums to my Spotify playlists because I feel like I’ve vaguely heard of the band before, or just because I like the sound of their name. It’s a total crapshoot that sometimes pays off. That’s the case with this band. I have no idea why the name “One Little Plane” struck a chord with me, but I took the plunge and started up the first song and was in love within five seconds. Led by folk singer Kathryn Bint from Chicago (whose gorgeous voice easily slides into the same zone as Amy Millan or Emily Haines), this album is folk rock with just enough contemplation mixed with just enough rich orchestration to keep me enamored.
Garbage – Not Your Kind of People
I’ve been kind of a casual fan of Garbage for a while, enjoying the songs I heard, even owning an album here or there and listening once in a while, but I hesitate to claim any more fan-status than that. Still, when I heard they were coming out with a new album, I was pretty excited to get a chance to get into an album from scratch, as it were, rather than coming to it years later. And I wasn’t disappointed…I really like pretty much every song on this album, and it’s one of the few May albums I’ve really had on repeat.
Norah Jones – Little Broken Hearts
Norah Jones has always been someone on my radar who never quite hit my repeat playlist. I think her voice is lovely, often perfection in the right song. I won’t necessarily say that Little Broken Hearts is a better record than her previous ones; I don’t have the experience necessary to say that, but perhaps thanks to the Dangermouse influence as producer, it’s a big closer to my personal taste than her earlier, more straight jazz/folk leanings. There’s more going on in a lot of these songs (“Little Broken Hearts” sounds like a Southern gothic noir song straight off a Neko Case album by way of True Blood, and I love that), but then when she strips it down, like in “Miriam,” it’s some of the most beautiful and ethereal stuff I’ve heard this year.
Silversun Pickups – Neck of the Woods
I was a big fan of Silversun Pickups’ Carnavas (though I admit to being a bit behind the curve on getting into them), but was sort of meh on their follow-up Swoon, which had a few songs (“Panic Switch”) I really loved, but largely hit me as kind of repetitive. So far, they’re back on my good side with Neck of the Woods. There are a few samey-sounding songs, but by and large, I’ve been quite happy listening through this multiple times over the past month. And the songs that are on (“Bloody Mary,” “Skin Graph,” “Mean Spirits”) are very, very on.
Best Coast – The Only Place
Oh, Best Coast. I’m not sure I would enjoy them as much as I do if they weren’t such an unabashed Los Angeles band. I mean, the title track from this album is basically an ode to how awesome living in Southern California is, and that’s something I can’t really argue with myself (a lot of people could, but I can’t – I love it here). Bethany Cosantino’s lyrics aren’t any more deep than they were on their debut album, and the songwriting’s pretty similar in scope as well. But everything’s so gorram catchy.
Beach House – Bloom
I’m not quite sure what to do with Beach House, frankly. Every time one of their songs comes on or I listen through the album, I settle back and think “yeah, this is really great, I’m loving this.” And then the next one of their songs comes on, and it sounds the exact same. And then the record ends, and I can’t differentiate any of the songs apart or remember any of the melodies. The same thing is true of their previous album. So yeah. I really like listening to them, I like their sound, but I also find it highly unmemorable.
Violens – True
This was another random “let’s throw this on the Spotify and see how it is” band, and while it obviously didn’t hit me in quite the same way as One Little Plane, I really like the sound and enjoyed the album right the way through. I haven’t been back to it as often as many of the others this month, but I’ll definitely recommend it as worth a listen or two, and it could very well grow on me in the future.