Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: Circulatory System, Elephant 6, Everything Goes Wrong, Heartbeat Radio, In Prism, Jay-Z, Mister Pop, Polvo, Popular Songs, Releases of the Week, Signal Morning, Sondre Lerche, The Blueprint 3, The Clean, Two Dancers, Vivian Girls, Wild Beasts, Yo La Tengo
PREVIEW: DOWNLOAD Polvo’s “Dream Residue/Work” MP3
Every week, 20 Watts rounds up the new releases on our radar; click the link for our full review.
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After a decade of inactivity, Polvo reunited permanently in 2008. The results, predictably, were explosive. As edgy and loud as the band may have been in the past, In Prism could possibly surpass anything they’ve ever done in both categories. The noisy, electrifying collection is a testament to the band’s accomplished career, of which the best offering may be this one.
Another band returning to the music fold after an extended absence, Circulatory System picks up where they last left us in 2001. Their trippy, experimental folk, hallmark of the Elephant Six Recording Company, is back in full force, but with a few more elements thrown into the ring. Electronic noise, and big, loud brass litter the release, as it makes a statement that the band, and their Elephant 6 brethren may in fact be back.
Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel with their latest album, Popular Songs, Yo La Tengo attempts to perfect what they’ve already proven to be so good at. Their psychadelic, dreamy pop, mixed with layers of noise has had hipsters swooning for a quarter of a century, and this is no exception. It’s the summation of a glowing career sure to bring us more spacious and soaring soundscapes for years to come.
Trying to shed his contemporary jazz persona, or maybe trying to merge it with his pop-rock alter ego, Sondre Lerche has succeeded on Heartbeat Radio. After years of flitting between two separate music personalities, the album finally finds him in a new comfort zone. It’s an organic mix of jazz and rock which he seems all too suited for, and who knows what it might lead to, save another deal to write a popular movie soundtrack.
Bent on redefining the music scene as we know it, Jay-Z embarked on The Blueprint 3. Though the mission may not be fully accomplished, he at least went a long way to redefining his sound. In a refreshing turn of events, the album harps on pop sensibilities, rather than your typical club hip-hop. The results are, with some exception, surprisingly positive. Jay sounds incredibly comfortable in his new element, and it can only be a foreshadowing for what he attempts to do next.
Embracing their experimental pop sound, Wild Beasts attempt to make you sit up and listen while changing very little about themselves. Consider it done. Distinctively impressive vocals, catchy hooks and expert guitar work take Two Dancers from being just another release in the band’s catalogue to an all-encompassing monster. The aggregation of influences, superior range and even surprising moments go a long way to making it a standout.
The kiwi punk veterans return for the first time in eight years with a release sure to keep them churning out albums at a lot quicker a pace than recently. Mister Pop is a collection of addicting melodies, repetitive in all the right spots, and as straightforward as it is existential. For the time off, the band had very little rust to shake themselves of, and it’s almost as if they’d never left.
Back for more, the buzz-worthy band tries to live up to the expectations that come with their sophomore album, Everything Goes Wrong. For the most part, they succeed, testing themselves where possible, and exploring the outer reaches of their sound. The album is quick, yet creative enough to hold your attention, maybe even more so than their self-titled debut.
— John Cassillo, Reviews Editor