LP Release Tuesday: November 15th, 2011

By Joseph Giannone 2011-11-16 09:18:34
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As fall creeps closer to winter, it’s obvious that this season’s record releases have gotten better with each week. Albums like Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter 4 and The Muppets: Green Album started off the fall season with a bang, and also proved that artists who don’t Watch the Throne can overcome any expectation. Even though Kanye and Jay-Z’s foray into egotism failed, last week's albums like Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Pink Floyd’s reissue of Wish You Were Here, and David Lynch’s Crazy Clown Time overcame those expectations and brought a diverse, yet great originality. That was just preamble though, because an album that spans multiple genres and hits the most unsuspecting listeners with large doses of sincere lyricism, hip beats and Donald Glover is coming out. Let’s just say that Glover didn’t stop rapping after his ingenious collaboration with Abed from Community ended.

Last week’s releases allowed me to talk about my favorite bandPink Floyd at great length. Yet as delightful that was, today’s release of Childish Gambino’s newest album Camp has proved to be one of this year’s best, and has solidified his growing reputation. Another band that’s highly respected is Athens, Georgia’s own, R.E.M. This week they’re releasing a retrospective from their genre defying career, while the Community star’s competitor Drake unveils his sophomore effort Take Care, which might not be able to keep up with the comedian's alternative persona. Also on this installment of LP Release Tuesday, the reissue and re-master of The Who’s historical rock and roll epic Quadrophenia is hitting stores. For more valuable insight on this week’s releases, look below.

LP Release Tuesday
5) Sigur Ros Inni
Even though the Sigur Ros hasn’t made much of an impact in American markets, countless people recognize their songs because no other group sounds quite like them. Once you hear a song like their smash hit “Hoppípolla”, you instantly know it’s them. Like an indistinguishable breeze from the winter cold, Sigur Ros’s sound couples vibrant guitars, an epic string section, a high falsetto voice and synchronized orchestration. Unlike most post-rock bands who utilize common instruments like the guitar, drums, bass and organs to create a symphonic sound, this group uses these instruments instead to evoke an image of the freezing tundra. The band has come out with only five albums since their inception in 1994. Though some might consider that a lazy work ethic, with each subsequent album the band has released, they've evolved their sound further towards some unknown entity. Also, every record they’ve released has passed the hour mark.

Don’t be surprised by their excessive album times though, because like any memorable orchestra concerto, the recording takes its time to build upon its soundscape. Each song starts off stripped down and almost an acoustic bare-bones version of what it will become. As the album progresses, each strum of the guitar and every harmonic melody from the string section builds on their walls of sound, creating an orchestral “movement” before your ears. Like every band that experiments in soundscapes such as Sigur Ros, their live show is also unpredictable. The Icelandic band's latest album Inni, is their first live recording to be produced and is probably their most interesting release to date as well. The record captures everything on their previous works, but blends it into a live setting that adds even more intricacies and textures to the bands evolving sound. This live album is also accompanied by a film which not only captures the sound of their music, but also acts as an outstanding film alone. Like many of their records, Inni needs to be heard in order to be understood.

LP Release Tuesday
4) Drake Take Care
After Watch the Throne and Tha Carter 4 came out earlier this year, the next major rap record to be released was this week’s Take Care by Drake. The hype behind this album has been tremendous, and no matter how you looked at it, critics and audiences alike were excited for the rapper's sophomore effort. The hype behind his latest release wasn’t by accident either. After 2010’s Thank Me Later, the rapper made a major name for himself among the hip hop scene with other performers like Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross. His previous album featured a smooth blend of R&B with hip hop influences.

Drake’s latest album takes his unique sound into a different direction by adding trip hop and downtempo elements to his dreamy, slow burning music. This time around on Take Care, he stays away from trite lyricism on topics like boasting and criticism, and instead raps about his friends and family, wealth and fame, failed romances, relationships and his concerns about leading a hollow life. Even though Childish Gambino achieves greater highs with his highly introspective music, Drake clearly knows how to make an infectious beat with some honest lyrics as well.

LP Release Tuesday
3) R.E.M. Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011
If it’s the end of the world as we know it, I’d feel perfectly fine sitting back and relaxing with some R.E.M. playing in the background. If you don’t know who R.E.M. is, then you probably didn’t grow up in the 90’s. Though I won’t blame you for being way too young, we will cease to be friends if you don’t at least give them a chance. After thirty years of creating music, making Bono look like a jerk with their endless contributions to world causes and political activism, and especially the group’s success in bringing alternative, indie and college rock to the public’s ear, they’ve finally called it quits. Just looking at the group's resume instantly reminds you of how prolific they’ve been over the years. Though most people are upset over R.E.M.’s demise, let me point out they released fifteen studio albums, sixty-five singles and fifty-eight music videos throughout their entire career; an impressive feat that most bands can’t achieve.

After thirty years of making music though, it’s finally all come down this; their last compilation album. Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982–2011 brings together hits like “Gardening at Night,” “Radio Free Europe,” “(Don't Go Back To) Rockville,” “What's the Frequency, Kenneth?” and countless other timeless R.E.M. classics. Surely most of you reading this love the Athens, Georgia band, but I couldn’t think of a better time to end the group's career than shortly after their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their last album Collapse Into Now which showed off their strong musicianship and songwriting skills. Buy this record.

LP Release Tuesday
2) The Who Quadrophenia
With the same impact as Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, The Who is also a prolific group from the late 1960’s and 70’s who shaped rock and roll to what it would become today. These bands created rock history by working on sounds not yet developed in the industry. For instance, The Who’s anthem style hard rock was a precursor to many groups like Bruce Springsteen and Journey or more recent groups like The Killers and Muse. Unlike those who take their influences from them, The Who constantly changed their sound and developed it on each release, progressing as musicians. From My Generation to Who’s Next, the Who experimented with sounds, styles and genres that ranged from hard rock to opera, exploring each soundscape thoroughly on separate releases. Up until Who’s Next, which came out in 1971, the band was at a crossroads though.

Their decision to change direction could have been tough, but when the “Baba O Reilly” hit makers quickly realized with Tommy they could explore the more theatrical side of their band, Quadrophenia was inadvertently created. The album's take on progressive rock was refreshing, because with groups like Yes and King Crimson starting to diverge into the more indulgent side of that genre, The Who wanted to make an album that relied on song structure, but with the experimental side of progressive rock. Written entirely by Pete Townshend, the album continued with The Who’s famous “bigger than life rock opera” sound they created with Tommy, but on Quadrophenia the band utilizes more synthesizers, organs, unique editing techniques in the studio. The story takes place in London between 1964 and 1965, and involves all of the transcending social and musical happenings that were occurring at that time, entirely from an English teenager’s perspective. Quadrophenia is The Who’s most celebrated album to date, and is being reissued today with newly re-mastered songs, along with some extra goodies to accompany this Pete Townshend epic.

LP Release Tuesday
1) Childish Gambino Camp
Donald Glover is an actor, comedian, writer and rapper. Though many fans of his show are familiar with the alternative persona, Childish Gambino, there are a lot more people who are none the wiser of Glover and his genius NBC comedy Community. This is all about to change though, because while most of his newer audience sadly won’t watch Community, his music will definitely continue to get bigger. On his latest record Camp, the comedian proves that with hard work, perseverance and insane talent, anything is possible; even for a guy who started his career on YouTube and giving away his first five records for free. Delving into his personal insecurities, life as a star, his Jekyll and Hyde personality, and his affinity for Asian women, Glover takes a serious step towards musicianship and metaphorical lyricism on his debut release.

Camp is the best rap album since Yeezy’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The genius behind this record is shown in Glover’s lyrics, through the way he uses his comedy to point out the ludicrous nature of what he’s rapping about, but also the darkness that stays within him. Some of the lyrics are so dense with meaning and complex pop culture references; you might not understand on the first listen. Another aspect to the album which adds a special layer of individualism is the catchy riffs, eccentric string section that encompasses the choruses, and Glover’s unique use of choir singing on certain tracks. Taking ques from his predecessor Kanye West, Gambino utilizes a live band to record his music which makes his unique sound authentic in every way possible.

Go listen to it, or buy it, now. Like Childish Gambino says: “I’m like rap’s step father. Yea, you’ll hate me, but you’ll respect me.” Word.

Other Albums Released This Week

Ray Charles Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles
Can Tago Mago [Reissue]
Bry Webb Provider
Elvis Costello Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songboox
Tycho Dive

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