While we're all waiting for the warm weather to officially take hold (we've been given an enticingly cruel taste of it here in Northwest), Vampire Weekend has created the perfect summer album to fuel your anticipation. At times wistfully nostalgic, percolatingly peppy and even fiercely energetic, Modern Vampires of the City is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year so far. KEXP Music Director, Don Yates, calls the NYC band's third album their "most mature and musically adventurous release to date" with its "impressive variety of beautifully crafted, intricately detailed songs with imaginative arrangements featuring colorful instrumentation, tricky time signatures, odd vocal effects, heavenly choirs and more, with typically smart, often dark lyrics about love and mortality that also carry more emotional resonance than before."
Modern Vampires of the City is a contemporary masterpiece and available today at your favorite record store, where you'll find other excellent new releases out this week, from bands like LA production duo Classixx, whose debut full-length, Hanging Gardens, Don Yates calls "an intoxicating set of breezy electro-pop steeped in funk, disco, house and Prince, combining propulsive grooves, sparkling synths, sunny yacht-rock melodies and occasional special guest vocalists"; Brooklyn band Small Black, whose sophomore effort "finds them moving away from their hazy chillwave beginnings with a more polished and cleaner-sounding set of wistful, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop, featuring dreamy, subtly rendered songs with lush synths and occasional live instrumentation"; and New York duo MS MR, who believe it or not, are only just now releasing their debut LP, and it's "a strong set of moody, goth-tinged pop with a dark, beautifully produced sound combining synths, piano, strings, brass, martial-influenced rhythms, Lizzy Plapinger’s powerful, slightly husky vocals and lots of potent song hooks."
Other interesting new albums out this week come from John Grant, former front man for The Czars, whose new album was recorded in Iceland with Biggi Viera of GusGus producing (you might recall, both bands were on KEXP's broadcast from Iceland Airwaves in 2011) and which "dramatically expands his sound by injecting his ‘70s-inspired pop-rock balladry with large doses of chilly synth-pop... and Grant’s sonorous baritone croon and ruthlessly honest lyrics of lost love, shame and regret, delivered with a fair amount of dark humor and self-lacerating wit." British producer Bibio offers his seventh album, a "dreamy, mostly gentle blend of ambient folk and summery electro-pop with delicate guitars, atmospheric synth textures and occasional vocals," while New York based, Vermont born Sam Amidon continues to rework folk ballads with his distinctively "spare, atmospheric sound combining delicate finger-picking guitar and other acoustic instrumentation with occasional bursts of dissonant electric guitars and other avant-garde touches accompanying his haunting vocals." Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner joins producer Jon Ehrens on new project Dungeonesse, whose self-titled debut is 'a breezy set of modern R&B dance-pop with sparkling synths and hip hop-influenced rhythms accompanying Wasner’s breathy, elastic vocals." LA-based duo Kisses return with a second album that's "a darker, more melancholy take on their smooth, ‘80s-steeped electro-pop, combining atmospheric synths and ‘80s freestyle R&B rhythms with wistful melodies and lyrics exploring the emptiness behind the glittering facade of Southern California’s more affluent youth."
And there's more from The Features, Wild Nothing, Eluvium, The Handsome Family and too many others to list, plus the 30th album (!!!) by The Fall, a kids album by Les Savy Fav's Tim Harrington (???) and big-time anniversary editions of Huey Lewis and The News's Sports and R.E.M.'s Green -- all available online and in record stores today. Check out samples from some of the highlights here:
ADULT. - Idle (Second Thoughts)
Sam Amidon - My Old Friend
Among all the new releases this week, it's hard to escape the one from Daft Punk. Their new album, Random Access Memories, is the first by the band in eight years. The 13-track record begins with a bang via its track "Give Life Back to Music", a funky, 70's-inspired song with trademark robot-styl...
It's funny that while we're getting some of our brightest days right now here in Seattle, some of this week's most exciting new releases are some of the year's darkest. Buzzy new British band Savages tops this week's list with one of the best albums so far of the year. Our Music Director, Don Yat...