Saturday, 22 January 2011

Some Supremely Satisfying Saturday Streams? Splendid.

When in the name of all that's good and right will I mature out of alliteration as a principal title-writing device? Unclear, although that one must have purged a good amount of the urges....for now.

Moving swiftly on from free flowing verbal laxatives, the point of this post is to introduce a few album preview streams that have been hogging the H-T-A stereo during the first few weeks of the year. 

Some of these albums have now been released, so hopefully this might help a few of you decide whether or not they're worth your hard earned. Or not so hard earned, if you're this speccy Brooklyn chancer.

Stream: British Sea Power - Valhalla Dancehall

BSP's comeback after the misfiring Do You Like Rock Music? wastes no time in nailing its colours to the mast, belting out of the traps  with the bristling effervescence of Who's In Control? Great start to what proves a triumphant return.

Though still not inclined to expand on the poetic beauty they found on Open Season (my favourite album back in 2005), the band do prise open the rock treasure trove here, making Valhalla Dancehall an energetic, feisty listen. Stunde Null and Observe The Skies provide fine examples of that side of the record, where as Georgie Ray and Living Is So Easy show off the more genteel elements of which it is also capable. 

Buy it at Insound!

Without blowing minds, British Sea Power have overseen a confident return to form that should serve them well as they delve deeper into their multi-faceted exploration of indie-rock.

Stream: Social Distortion - Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes

In all honesty, I know little of Social Distortion beyond the road-warrior status of leader Mike Ness and that they released albums with memorable covers during my 90's formative rock education. Given that the band haven't released a thing since 2004, however, I don't feel all that wanting and simply jumped into Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes as label Epitaph have this neat little Amazon pricing model experiment working alongside this stream.

Regardless of motivation, this is a listen I'm glad to have taken. A punk rock band of 30+ years, Social Distortion have crafted quite the bluesy rock n roll record this time around. In the wake of The Gaslight Anthem's appropriation of blue-collar rock, Hard Times & Nursery Rhymes comes on like a West coast response to New Jersey's latest and greatest. It has more of a swagger, lower slung guitars, and speaks of the past more through its music than lyrical content. Songs like Machine Gun Blues and California (Hustle & Flow) stand out through their cocksure licks, where as the more reflective Bakersfield has that languid, heat-stricken weariness often communicated so clearly by those hailing from the Golden state. 

Buy it at Insound!

It matters little whether or not you have any familiarity with the band, as this album has a universal appeal for any of us that crave a good old fashioned rock record. That something so invigorating and enjoyable comes from a group that have been paying their dues for longer than many of us have been alive....well that just makes it all the more satisfying, my friends. 

Stream: Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean (player below)

Undoubtedly one of the more eagerly awaited early 2011 releases (albeit a bit further back in the queue, straining on tip toes for a peep of Bright Eyes), the intricately-inclined Sam Beam's fourth album is being heralded as his opportunity to step into the indie big leagues. Headlining Radio City Music Hall next week won't hurt that aspiration either.

Buy it at Insound!

Me & Lazarus provides the first notable moment early on, all halting beats and endearing vocal lilt conveying the playful side of the singer's spiritual pondering. Elsewhere, the jarring, 70's inflected Rabbit Will Run and the more exotic tones of Monkeys Uptown provide some offbeat yet effective head turners. The overwhelming feeling, however, is of simply pleasant music that will sit unassumingly in the background until you mention it. 

By no means a bad record, just not the all-encompassing journey into the acoustic soul that some folks might have been anticipating.

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