Alright, finals are over! I figured I’d try something different since a bunch of stuff has been building up during my unintentional hiatus. Also, there’s just a lot of good albums that come out this month. I’ve already talked about a few of my favorite upcoming August releases, all of which happen to come out on the 21st (which has turned out to be rather disproportionately concentrated day for album releases). Here’s a little overview of some other albums you should check out this month:
Okkervil River – The Stage Names (Aug 7th)
I’ve never really gotten around to listening to Okkervil River all that much, but The Stage Names is making me feel like I’ve made a huge mistake. Will Sheff has enjoyed a fair amount of critical success over the past few years and again he’s crafted an album that is already being called one of the best of the year. His emotional, folk-tinged power pop recalls the force of Springsteen at times (“Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe”), yet the album also manages to balance that with a fragile sweetness that’s sure to draw you in again and again. The smooth and poignant integration of the Beach Boys’ “Sloop John B” into the closing “John Allyn Smith Sails” is not to be missed either.
M.I.A. – Kala (Aug 21st)
I don’t know if M.I.A.‘s been engaging in consciousness-expanding activities or what, but this new record feels a lot more spacey and psychedelic than her 2005 debut. I’m not sure if I can say that I like it more than Arular, but it does have a number of bangers on it, not to mention some seriously impressive production pretty much throughout the whole album. At the very least, M.I.A. has definitively shown she’s got the talent to expand on her already diverse sound. Peep the tribal drum-heavy, squawking insanity of “Bird Flu” (yep, she’s still reppin’ the Third World) and that awesome Clash sample on “Paper Planes”.
Download: M.I.A. – Bird Flu
Download: M.I.A. – Paper Planes (removed on request)
Buy: Pre-order Kala from Insound.
The New Pornographers – Challengers (Aug 21st)
It’s fitting that The New Pornographers would release an album in what has become an extraordinary year for indie pop. If we can accept their oft-given title of indie rock supergroup, then Challengers is further evidence that they’re one of just a handful of active supergroups worth listening to (Velvet Revolver, anyone? *gag*). But really, both of these tracks are absolute gems — one from each of the primary songwriters. It seems almost unfair to other pop acts that A.C. Newman and Dan Bejar are writing for the same band… it’s gotta be tough to top that.
Rilo Kiley – Under the Blacklight (Aug 21st)
Indie pop darlings Rilo Kiley are also back this year with Under the Blacklight. The first released track, “The Moneymaker”, has inspired some mixed responses from internet taste-makers, but I think most will agree that the soulful pop of “Silver Lining” is much more enjoyable, if a bit a familiar. I’m such a sucker for hand-claps though.
Animal Collective – Peacebone (Aug 21st)
And let’s not forget the “Peacebone” single. It’s hard for me to call this “one of the best songs” off Strawberry Jam only because all of the songs are just so damn good. A ferocious opening track, “Peacebone” is a straight up onslaught of the twisted, sugary experimental pop that characterizes the fantastic new Animal Collective album. I’m posting the song, but honestly… if you’re still on the fence about this record, I don’t even know what to say to you. Included on the single is the sprawling B-side “Safer” and remixes by Black Dice and Pantha du Prince.
Liars – Liars (Aug 28th)
“Plaster Casts of Everything”, the opener of the upcoming self-titled Liars album, is probably the most straightforward rock song they’ve written since their 2001 debut. And yet, that is somehow the most unexpected thing they could have done. But fear not, dear readers, although they’ve adopted more traditional song structures and trimmings for this record, they’ve still maintained their experimental tendencies. The dense, droning krautrock of Drum’s Not Dead is still a heavy force on the Liars fourth effort, and even gets blended with a little 90’s trip-hop (!?). In other words: yeah, it’s still one of the weirder albums you’ll hear this year.
Phew. And after all that there’s still some more good albums coming out in August that I won’t go into detail about, including:
And here’s the stuff I already have gone into detail about:
On top of all the albums that come out this month, the FREE Panda Bear Live DVD is now available over at Eat Tapes. Beyond the stellar basic package, you can also order a version with a bonus disc of uncut performance footage for a cheap donation ($5-10). This is clearly the better (and moral) choice of the two. Don’t miss out on this, head over here and order a copy.