Music update, January 2018.

My AL Central org reports and top tens went up this morning for Insiders.

January was a huge month for new music, especially the latter half, with new albums and singles coming out in a deluge from about January 19th on. As usual, I’ve pushed the heavier material to the end, although I’m starting the list with one of the most important bands in metal history. If you can’t see the widget you can access the Spotify playlist directly.

Judas Priest – Lightning Strike. Three of the current members of these New Wave of British Heavy Metal stalwarts are age 66 or older; Glenn Tipton, their lead guitarist, turned 70 in October. And this song, from their forthcoming album Firepower (their 18th), absolutely rocks.

Turbowolf, Mike Kerr – Domino. This lead single from Turbowolf’s upcoming album features Royal Blood bassist/vocalist Kerr, with a hard-driving, psychedelic, bass-heavy rhythm line that hooked me on first listen.

Black Space Riders – Another Sort of Homecoming. This song was my introduction to this German stoner-rock act, with a keyboard-driven but still moderately heavy sound that should appeal to fans of QotSA or Kyuss.

The Wombats – Cheetah Tongue. The Wombats really can’t miss with me; this is the third single from Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, their fourth album, due out on February 9th.

INHEAVEN – Sweet Dreams Baby. INHEAVEN’s debut album made my top 10 for 2017, and even though it came out in September, they’ve already produced this new single which is more of the same good stuff.

Public Access T.V. – Lost in the Game. This quartet is from New York but sounds almost comically British in their channeling of ’80s New Wave on this track.

whenyoung – Silverchair. An Irish trio that reminds me tremendously of London-based trio Daughter with their acoustic-punk, ethereal sound on this, their second single after October’s “Actor.”

Belle & Sebastian – Show Me The Sun. The songs from the first two EPs these Scottish icons have released under the How to Solve Our Human Problems moniker have been all over the place in style and tempo; this song would fit more with their 2015 album Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance, which had a more electronic, pop-oriented sound that I loved but many longtime B&S fans disliked.

Van William – Cosmic Sign. Van Pierszalowski’s solo debut, Countries, dropped on January 19th, featuring this country-leaning track, “Revolution,” “Fourth of July,” and “The Country.”

Ride – Catch You Dreaming (Shorter). Ride went away for 21 years, came out with a new album last year, and since then have already released two more new singles, this track and “Pulsar,” which will appear on the EP Tomorrow’s Shore, due out 2/16.

Sunflower Bean – Crisis Fest. The New York indie darlings will finally release their second album, Twentytwo in Blue, on March 23rd, featuring this driving, politically-themed track.

Car Seat Headrest – Nervous Young Inhumans (Single Edit). Car Seat Headrest, which is really just Will Toledo’s project, has re-recorded their sixth album, 2011’s Twin Fantasy, in its entirety, with this as the lead single. The new version, retitled Twin Fantasy (Face to Face), drops on the 16th.

Cœur De Pirate – Prémonition. This Quebecois singer-songwriter sings in both French and English, with “Carry On,” from her 2015 album Roses, my favorite song to date from her; this French-language track is a bit less immediate but still has a great poppy hook.

The Crab Apples – Open Your Mind. This Catalonian quartet’s sound reminds me musically of the Cranberries – as does their name, of course – although the vocal style is very different. Their second album, A Drastic Mistake, came out last month.

Hinds – New For You. Another act from Spain, Hinds comprises four women who all look and sound like kids and produce a unique, guileless sound that doesn’t always work – sometimes it sounds amateurish, but sometimes it just hits the right balance of polish and rawness as it does here.

Preoccupations – Espionage. Formerly known as Viet Cong, this Canadian act, born of the ashes of art-rock band Women, will release an album of new material called New Material on March 23rd.

Porches – Goodbye. Aaron Maine’s third album as Porches, called The House, dropped on January 19th; this song starts slowly, but hang with it, as it picks up about a minute in.

Desperate Journalist – It Gets Better. Another band new to me, Desperate Journalist is already working on a five-song EP that will come out on March 30th, barely a year after their second album came out. The sound here reminds me of the edgier, more rock-influenced side of Britpop, similar to acts like Echobelly and Sleeper.

Pond – Fire In The Water. This new song appears as a bonus track on the psych-rockers’ 2017 album Weather; they’re inextricably linked to Tame Impala and a band you’ll probably like if you like Kevin Parker’s work.

Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs. I’m lukewarm on this track, which doesn’t completely come together, but there’s enough here to make me curious about the Baltimore duo’s upcoming album of the same name, due out April 6th.

Radkey – Not Smart. This punk/post-hardcore trio of brothers just got a big boost from Mastercard, who helped fund the video for the single after this one, “Can’t Judge a Book” featuring SZA.

Dream Wife – Hey Heartbreaker. A London-based punk trio with an Icelandic lead singer, Dream Wife’s self-titled debut dropped last month; it’s uneven, but there are some great Sløtface-like punk/pop tracks like this one.

Lady Bird – Spoons. It seems like a great time to launch a band named Lady Bird, even though this group is British – very, very British – and are the first act to appear on Girl Fight Records, the new label founded by the British punk duo Slaves.

Wooden Shjips – Staring At The Sun. This experimental/art-rock band made my top albums of 2013 list with Back to Land; this seven-minute epic offers more of the same spacey, meandering, often mesmerizing music.

of Montreal – Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia. I believe this is actually two songs smushed together, which produces a 7-minute track that is typical of Montreal weirdness.

King Buffalo – Centurion. Stoner/psychedelic rockers from upstate New York, King Buffalo just put out a new EP, Repeater, which leads with this track.

Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe. This stoner/punk act from southern California’s twelfth album, also called Clone of the Universe, comes out on February 9th.

Weedpecker – Molecule. Stoner rockers from Poland with one of the greatest band names ever. It’s also the third seven-minute song on my playlist, and it sounds like a marriage between Sleep and late Opeth.

Cynic – Humanoid. Cynic’s Focus was a seminal record in the subgenre of progressive or technical death metal, but the 1993 album was their only official release until 2008’s Traced in Air. “Humanoid” is their first new track since 2014 and the first since founding drummer Sean Reinert left the band.

Tribulation – The World. These Swedish melodic death metallers have a very specific, classic rock vibe with death growls rather than clean vocals, increasingly eschewing other trappings of death metal like blast beats as they’ve matured. Their latest album, Down Below, feels utterly mainstream for any act that still accepts the death-metal label, with tremendous guitar riffs and lots of nods back to 1970s and 1980s metal pioneers. I’ll need a few more listens but I’m guessing it’ll end the year as one of the top three metal albums of 2018.

Comments

  1. I remember that Wooden Shjips album–loved it at the time but they sort of fell off my radar. Thanks for letting me know they have new stuff out!

  2. Whenever anyone does a “whole league” feature, it’s always NL then AL, and East to West. Ergo, the AL West is ALWAYS last. It’s like being he kid with a last name starting with ‘Z’

    • I think we usually do AL first, but this year I asked to switch to NL first, in part because I had some extra work to do on a few AL clubs.

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