LP Release Tuesday: February 8th, 2012

By Joseph Giannone 2012-02-07 22:07:41
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If there’s one thing about the music industry that really upsets me, it’s when bands that have been long disbanded come back unexpectedly. What makes this more tiring is that people never ask for these reunions, comebacks, and reinventions. Imagine if Hollywood did this; oh wait, they do. Similar to remakes, re-boots, and Black Sabbath’s recent revival, the whole idea of your favorite band returning when nobody asked for it, is unbearable. More than likely this band that comes back into the limelight after twenty years of no productivity, multiple front-men, and new line ups will make music that's just as dated as them. This is true in so many cases, but without a shadow of a doubt, I’m absolutely wrong with this week’s returning band.

Unlike Black Sabbath’s reboot which is destined to fail, Van Halen is releasing an album this week that is just as good or even better as the albums they released back in the early 80’s. Surprising, right? Van Halen isn’t the only act that’s still churning out work this late in their careers. Paul McCartney is taking another stab at song craft, with his fifteenth solo album thus far in his fifty-five years as a musician. Also, the lesser known indie groups Dr. Dog and Of Montreal are releasing records this week. They might not be as well known as McCartney or Van Halen, but these groups are still as interesting as their aging counterparts. Here’s my latest installment of LP Release Tuesday, for February 7th, 2012.

LP Release Tuesday
5) The Fray – Scars & Stories
Many people don’t know this, but The Fray originally started off as a Christian rock group. While this doesn’t impair their music in the slightest, I do think that their excuse for not continuing in the “Christian market” should be noted. According to the band, before they started working on their debut album How To Save a Life, they were contacted by god to pull away from the “Christian music genre and into a secular market” .

What’s the closest thing you can get to Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam mixed together? Apparently the latest The Fray release, Scars & Stories. The band has been touring a long time since their self-titled sophomore release, and finally the group has halted their extensive touring to record this latest offering. Brendan O'Brien is producer this time around, who’s worked with Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam, which makes sense considering the obvious influences in their new music. While the band can be compared to a piano rock outfit, the apparently God-led group most commonly falls within the jaded indie and alternative genres. Yet, their mix of those genres still sounds uniquely their own.

LP Release Tuesday
4) Dr. Dog – Be The Void
Indie-psychedelic-rock group Dr. Dog has been making buzz throughout American festivals and European concerts with its eclectic style of lo-fi rock music. The group's previous album Shame, Shame was received with praise by most media outlets that enjoyed the off brand style of music. With excessive touring and a few albums in stores, Dr. Dog has learned to perfect its instrumentals and epic vocals, which has certainly prepared the band for more mainstream audiences.

Dr. Dog's latest offering Be The Void is hitting shelves today. Though many people haven’t listened, Dr. Dog has played late shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon, Be The Void will definitely be that hit album the group needs to succeed. Dog's latest work is similar to its previous effort Shame, but this time around the lo-fi mix of hazy guitars and ethereal drums are heavier than ever before. While most audiences might not appreciate the brand of rock music, it’ll surely be a rewarding album for those daring enough to endure it.

LP Release Tuesday
3) Of Montreal – Paralytic Stalks
Consider this: Dr. Dog is the ugly cousin to rock music. The band's distant, psychedelic sound is grungy and ugly at times. Yet, if Dr. Dog is the ugly cousin to rock, then Of Montreal is the eccentric gay brother who dresses in drag and takes to many drugs during music festivals. Of Montreal features psychedelic pop tendencies within a cacophony of electronica, odd editing, hard to swallow soundscapes, and the escalating bizarre vision of front-man Kevin Barnes. Like The Flaming Lips, who are equally as bombastic with their eclectic music and endlessly different styles, Of Montreal makes weird music. Yet the difference between the Lips and the Kevin Barnes-led group, is that the former's weirdness has a beacon of light in its highly poppy and sunny disposition. Which can accurately be compared to a contemporary version of the acid laden Pet Sounds from The Beach Boys, but Montreal is far more futuristic.

Their previous album The Satanic Panic In the Attic is a modern classic in the psychedelic pop genre, and was a starting point to the group's experimentation in funk derived electronic grooves and its growing distance from normal instruments like guitar and drums. Of Montreal’s latest work Paralytic Stalks is a defining album in its evolving sound. Unlike anything its done before, this album has almost all electronic instruments and Barnes' creative, yet eccentric control. Which is exactly what fans expected from Barnes anyway. Like all Of Montreal's records though, Paralytic Stalks takes a considerable amount of time to appreciate, but once you do, it’s the record that keeps on giving.

LP Release Tuesday
2) Paul McCartney – Kisses on the Bottom
Paul McCartney made a glorious career for himself after the Beatles disbanded. After his initial post-Beatles albums, Ram and McCartney, he shied away from the types of music that his seminal band made famous; psychedelic and hard rock. Considering his constant work and impressive catalog of albums, he’s made quite the name for himself. It’s not surprising, considering he was a part of the most famous group in the world, but he’s also a generally talented guy.

On his latest solo album Kisses on the Bottom, the famous Brit tackles some new genres while also sticking tightly to his previously untouched formula. For one thing, McCartney adds a bit of jazz to his repertoire. He utilizes simple jazz instruments in some songs, like horns and piano, but he also sticks fluently to his pop aesthetic that never proves wrong for audiences. Though I’ve never been a fan of his solo work, I never have anything bad to say about him because he does works very hard to keep up with the respected title, “world’s most famous musician.”

LP Release Tuesday
1)Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth
It’s funny how the one band you’d think was destined to return in flames not glory, is actually the group that makes a record that’s not only good, but reminds fans of everything they used to like. Van Halen for a while was in this awkward limbo when Sammy Hager wasn’t in the group, and Eddie and Alex Van Halen were just doing their thing. Now the group has most of the original members again, and it seems like they have everything together creatively. Van Halen’s latest album A Different Kind of Truth was mostly made from old recordings dated before their debut record. Maybe that’s why it’s so damn good?

Some purists might be upset about this, but I personally think that digging deep into the group's back catalog and reinvigorating the sound that fans initially loved, is a valuable and smart move. Not all of the songs are directly based off old recordings, but the ones that aren’t, still grow as hard rockers. The album in general is a heavy hitter, with only one acoustic song that might throw some listeners off. Van Halen’s latest album A Different Kind of Truth took me by surprise, but I’m glad that it exists. Plus, I could always use more music that sounds like Eruption. We’re glad to have you back Van Halen.

Other Releases This Week:

Air – Le Voyage Dans La Lune
Pretty Good Dance Moves – LIMO
The Twilight Sad – No One Can Never Know
Mux Mool – Planet High School
Dierks Bentley – Home
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