Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Anathallo, Arctic Monkeys, Asobi Seksu, Blitzen Trapper, Fun, Mew, Releases of the Week, Steel Train, the Format
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Every week, 20 Watts rounds up the new releases on our radar; click the link for our full review.
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The Format‘s Nate Ruess is back with new project, fun. Featuring Anathallo‘s Andrew Dost and Steel Train‘s Jack Antonoff, fun. looks to pick up where we last left The Format. Progressively more confident and less emotionally damaged, it appears Ruess has picked up all of the pieces on Aim and Ignite. Blending an entertaining mix of 80s rock, and his old standby jangle pop, the album is everything you’d expect and then some from his debut under this moniker.
Four years removed from their last record, Danish alternative/indie rock band Mew is back with yet another achievement. This time, it’s in the form of one of the years’ longest album titles, the overwhelming and pretentious No More Stories/Are Told Today/I’m Sorry/They Washed Away//No More Stories/The World Is Grey/I’m Tired/Let’s Wash Away. However, don’t let that intimidate you. The spacious and expansive soundscapes are as inviting as they are mesmerizing, while still maintaining a gleeful and accessible pop vibe listeners are sure to enjoy.
Following up on 2008’s Furr, a great album in its own right, comes Blitzen Trapper’s Black River Killer EP. Showcasing seven separate tracks from various portions of the band’s career, the collection brings together its various forays into different subgenres of rock, into one cohesive and impressive group. For such a varied sampling of material, the EP pulls it off perfectly, and it should be a must-have for any longtime fan.
After listening extensively to Cream and Black Sabbath, the Arctic Monkeys decided to take a different route with their third full-length album. Humbug, a noticeable departure from the band’s poppy indie rock, attempts to harness aspects of classic rock, all while maintaining their own unique sound. The results are a somewhat mixed bag of darker, moody tracks which, depending on who you ask, either succeed mightily or fall phenomenally short. Either way, for any longtime listener, it’s a worthwhile endeavor, which is at the least, intriguing.
On the coattails of Hush, which was released earlier this year, comes Asobi Seksu’s Transparence EP. Revolving around the single, “Transparence” from this year’s full-length, the EP gives listeners the original song, a remix and two other, unrelated tracks. Overall, it is another effort this week which speaks louder to those who are already fans of the band than those who are new to the New York shoegazers. Still, for those individuals, the remixed version of the title track may be worth the price of admission.
Adoption of new styles of music into sophomore albums can be a tricky prospect for any musician. For Hasidic Jewish reggae singer Matisyahu, hip-hop might have been an unwise route to take at this juncture in his career. Most of the songs aren’t that great, but a few gems — while they don’t save the album — make its finale worthwhile. Perhaps some skipping might be in order?
After a successful debut and compelling sophomore album, Impogen Heap’s latest release fails to impress — or really do much of anything. Described as elevator music, her third solo effort showcases a pop singer who’s apparently perfectly comfortable with putting out boring music. While that might not have been her intention, it definitely represents the majority of what’s to be heard from her on Ellipse.
— John Cassillo, Reviews Editor