Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Your directory of the best new music being released this winter.
By Alex Nagorski

The Decemberists, The King Is Dead
Decemberists_king-is-dead Gone is the overly-ambitious rock opera/concept album band that tried a little too hard with 2009’s The Hazards of Love. In their place is a folk band returning to its origins as a beacon of contemporary Americana. Listening to The King Is Dead is like hearing a harmonica and ten tracks worth of poetry fall in love. The band’s literary lyrics and breezy, acoustic instrumentation serve as portals to transport their listeners to the romantic worlds that seem to only exist in frontman Colin Meloy’s mind.

Standout tracks include the fiddle-tinged “All Arise!,” and the up-tempo harmony laced “Down By The Water” and “Calamity Song,” both featuring R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar. 

Adele, 21
Adele-21 The world’s huskiest chanteuse follows up her Grammy Award-winning 19. 21 is a strong testament to Adele’s musical maturity. With this record, she sheds her skin as just a smokey-eyed blues-club singer and evolves into a cross-genre sensation. While Adele’s sound primarily courts the boundaries between pop and jazz, 21 features undeniable surges of R&B, soul, rock, and even 1960s-inspired girl group bubblegum. 
with a triumphant sophomore album.

Standout tracks include the bouncy “Rumour Has It,” the gorgeous Ryan Tedder collaboration “Turning Tables,” and the inspiring Stevie Nicks-esque rock track “Set Fire To The Rain.” The album’s highest point, however, is “Someone Like You,” a piano ballad that has the ability to temporarily freeze the world outside of your headphones and knock your wind out the way music too seldom does anymore. 

Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean
Iron-Wine-Kiss-Cover Be forewarned: Kiss Each Other Clean is not only Iron & Wine’s most eclectic album to date, but is also their best. Back In October, frontman Sam Beam described the record to Spin magazine as sounding like “mid-70s FM radio-friendly” music – and there’s really no better way to put it. On the band’s major label debut, they layer their tracks with various instrumentation – ranging from organs to synthesizers to all sorts of percussion. And although this is a new direction for Iron & Wine, Kiss Each Other Clean is brilliant in that it serves as a logical evolution for them without ditching the sound their legions of fans know them for. The little band that softly crooned a cover of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” on the Garden State soundtrack is still in there – just all grown up, gone to college and ready to experiment. 

Standout tracks include the dynamitic lead single “Walking Far From Home,” the bruised and haunting “Tree By The River,” and the electronica-infused “Me and Lazarus.”

Honorarable Mention
Peter-bjorn-and-john Gimme Some, the sixth album from Peter, Bjorn & John, brings the band back to their indie pop/rock roots after their sharp, dark and experimental turn with 2009’s Living Thing. Tracks like “Dig A Little Deeper” contain an undeniable surf pop feel, while album highlight “Eyes” sounds like a mash-up between The Beatles’ funkier tunes and a Nintendo theme song.

CC-ZONOSCOPE-COV-02 Zonoscope, the third album from experimental Australian psychadelic rockers Cut Copy is stuffed with enough trance to feel like you’re Black Swan’s Natalie Portman spinning out of control at a rave and enough disco-rock to feel like the disc has personally sliced off a ray of sunshine for you. It’s a sugar-dusted trip to outer space that solidifies Cut Copy at the forefront of the new-wave pop movement.

3413427102-1 Newcomer Corinna Melanie’s Primal Kitchen Film, is a refreshing blend of indie piano pop with a dark jazzy twist. Blending together a pinch of Sara Bareilles, a dash of Regina Spektor, a spoonful of Tori Amos, and a hearty serving of Amanda Palmer/The Dresden Dolls, Corinna Melanie has concocted a daring and near-flawless debut. I promise that after one listen of the EP’s phenomenal opening track “Don’t Dare Darling,” you won’t question that Primal Kitchen Film was the best way you could have possibly spent those four dollars.

Originally Published on Crazytown Blog