Every Monday, Ghettoblaster is looking back to new albums released the previous week. Below you’ll find several albums released on Friday, August 12th that we believe are definitely worth a listen.
Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits (Castle Face Records)
Thee Oh Sees is a roller coaster ride of a band. In the recent past they announced that they were going to go on an indefinite hiatus, which lasted less than a year and their output since has been some of their most solid work. Thee Oh Sees thrive on kinetic energy, both for their live shows and studio albums, which are both fascinating and unpredictable. A Weird Exits is classic Thee Oh Sees, containing 8 tracks of fast psychedelic rock music, which is one of the best albums they have put together. Not only is it vintage Thee Oh Sees they also have a new flavor in A Weird Exits. The albums succeeds in two interesting ways: capturing the absolute chaos and energy of their live shows and at the same time allowing their songs to breathe with some nice peaceful passages. A Weird Exits works for longtime fans and newcomers alike as it both plays to their existing audience, while at the same time serving as a great gateway album to a band with an intimidating to get into catalogue. This is definitely a win-win album all around: it showcases something new and retains their classic magic; it satisfies newcomer and old timer alike; and it’s just plain great music to listen to.
Blind Pilot – And Then Like Lions (ATO Records)
Three is a magic number when it comes to the arts. In photography and filmmaking you frame a shot based on thirds, in comedy you callback a joke according to the rule of threes, and in music there is a phenomena where an artistic breakthrough happens on the third album. Obviously there are many exceptions to this rule, but it can be seen with Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, Childish Gambino’s Because The Internet, Radiohead’s OK Computer. The third album often finds artists trying new things, taking new risks, and coming into their own as artists. That is the case with Blind Pilot’s third album, And Then Like Lions. Their first album in five years sees the band at their most rocking and their most restrained. Previously, the band was known for making catchy folk-rock, and that is still the case yet this album contains their most elaborate arrangements, and their weightiest lyrical content. Frontman Israel Nebeker sums up the albums theme perfectly when talking about the lead single “Packed Powder,” in which he compares his childhood experiments with gun powder to people finding their way through life, “we are simply stretching forward in our own dark, getting to discover what we are made of as we go.” The band has done just that, and on this album we see their existing knack for infectious and insightful folk songs reach new heights and show new colors.
of Montreal – Innocence Reaches (Polyvinyl Records)
The music of Kevin Barnes has undergone many changes over the course of his two-decade-long career. He started off as a kind of folk act while a member of the Elephant 6 collective in the late 90’s. His seminal album Hissing Fauna Are You The Destroyer? demonstrates the indie-synthpop sound that he trafficked in for most of his career, until 2013’s Lousy With Sylvanisbar, a guitar driven, classic rock style album. On his fourteenth album, Innocence Reaches, Barnes takes pieces from all the genres and styles previously explored and assembles them into a mosaic of eclectic compositions. The Spotify playlist of inspiration songs Barnes posted proves this, containing everything from Roxy Music to Kendrick Lamar to ZAYN. While the instrumentation takes on many forms, Barnes’ harmonizing, layered effect-drenched vocals make these songs soar. Known for his wordy, astute lyrical style, on this album Barnes uses topics of love, sex, and gender to connect to social and political issues. Whether it’s the unifying thoughts on the album opener, “how do you identify?” offering, “let’s relate,” the examination of gender inequality on “it’s different for girls,” or “def pacts” in which societal myths are debunked, “…to survive in this world you don’t have to become a parasite. You don’t have to be so mercenary so cruel.” For a prolific artist with such a storied career it must be challenging to grow and evolve while meeting your fans’ expectations, but Barnes has pulled it off with this album.