This post is a little bit late but perk up your ears because here’s what was on repeat this June (and the first half of July). And sorry not sorry it’s basically all albums.
Kane Strang – Two Hearts and No Brain
Kane’s new album Two Hearts and No Brain is finally out and it’s been more than worth the wait, taking everything you loved about his first album and turning it up a few notches. If you haven’t jumped on his excellent indie-pop bandwagon yet, I urge you to check out this album because you are in for a really incredible musical treat. Kane’s second album sees him opening up his songwriting process, recording with NZ producer Steven Marr (Doprah and Nakey) in the iconic Chicks Hotel down in Dunedin and including contributions from his really talented band. The result sees Kane move away from the D.I.Y, lo-fi sound of his debut Blue Cheese and exploring a more polished and richer soundscape. Two Hearts also amplifies the charm of Kane’s tongue-in-cheek, self deprecating song writing. The album is a short listen, clocking in at only 35 minutes and all of the 11 songs would work well as singles thanks to Kane’s signature tight, catchy indie pop/rock sound. It’s hard to pick a real stand out tracks because the whole album is so solid but Lagoons, Not Quite and Oh So You Are Off I See, My Smile is Extinct, Don’t Follow Me and Two Hearts and No Brain are some tracks I’ve had on repeat since the album came out. The only criticism I have for the album (and it really is the only one) is that I was really hoping that the part in Two Hearts and No Brain where the song switches from just Kane and his guitar to include the whole band would have had a bit more of an oomph than it does. But at the same time it’s got me dying to see the song live because I know it’s most likely going to have that oomph that I’m craving. #hottip: Little birdies tell me Kane might be in Christchurch for a gig in September… TLDR version of this review: listen to this album, it’s amazing. Also if you can still grab this album on red vinyl do, because its fucking beautiful.
Mitski – Puberty 2
Fun story that is actually a great segue into the next mini review: I first heard about Mitski in an interview with Kane who is on the same label as her, Dead Oceans. He was talking about hearing her song Your Best American Girl and being completely blown away by it. I immediately looked up the song, because I just assume any song Kane recommends I am probably also going to enjoy. And I really did. So from there it was a natural path to the album the song features on, Puberty 2 (which came out mid 2016). Puberty 2 is amazing. It’s a real confessional album about anxiety, depression, love and not knowing what the hell you are doing, that as a lady in my twenties really spoke to me. Mitski lyrics, voice and guitar feel so raw on each and every track but a wry smile lurks underneath which stops the album for heading for embarrassing, over-share territory. While Puberty 2 has a low-fi vibe sometimes, you can tell every little thing you hear is part of Mitski’s perfectly executed musical game plan. She’s an excellent song writer. Your Best American Girl sounds reminiscent of Weezer at their best, while on other tracks she has harnessed that kind of weirdly beautifully sound that used to make St. Vincent so interesting. My favourite track is I Bet On Losing Dogs, which I’ve been singing aloud at work because I love it so much. Puberty 2 has been meet with basically universal acclaim so it’s a pretty solid bet you will enjoy listening if you haven’t already checked her out.
Sufjan Stevens, Nico Muhly, Bryce Dessner, James McAlister – Planetarium
It’s no secret I heart anything Sufjan related in a big way. So I probably don’t have an unbiased opinion about this album but even so here’s what I think: it’s great. This interstellar project sees Sufjan team up with his go to percussionist James McAlister, guitarist Bryce Dessner (the National), and composer Nico Muhly to create an ambitious album out of what started as a commissioned live project back in 2011. Planetarium explores our solar system over 17 songs and a lengthy 76 minute run time. Each song focuses on a different celestial body like Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn and Mercury, with Sufjan’s lyrics often centering around the classical Greek and Roman myths about them. For example, Venus explores longing, love and sexual awakening while sounding like a lost track off Age of Adz. A lot of the tracks are very Age of Adz sounding actually (particularly Jupiter), so if you don’t like that auto-tuned Sufjan vibe you might not enjoy this album as much as me (Nick for one is not a fan). While it is undeniably a little bit long, Planetarium soars and swells with the grand, cinematic sounds you would expect from these musicians. So if you have free afternoon and are in the mood for something pretty epic, this is the album for you.
I managed to pick up this album on vinyl the day it came out from Flying Out and if you are wondering about getting a physical copy I really recommend you do. The cover art is very cool and inside are about 12 artist prints inspired by the project (some of which I am thinking about framing and hanging up around the house).
Every single Arcade Fire is releasing at the moment
Arcade Fire are dropping singles all over the show at the moment. I am so ready for the new album, just put it out already.
Indi – Tablelands
Tablelands is Indi at her best and most accessible. This is the second single off her upcoming debut album. It’s a stripped back ballad which highlights both her incredible voice and her skills as a composer. The intro to Tablelands is breathy and fragile with no musical accompaniment before soft piano chord begin and the music slowly beings to gently build. The final moments of the song are really beautiful. It’s a really atmospheric piece and perfect to listen to on a chilly winter days. Very excited for the album to be out later this year!
And Lisa Mitchell put out a really great cover of Phantom Planet’s California!
Oh the #ocfeels. Lisa Mitchell is a really lovely singer-songwriter from Australia who has been putting out some great twee pop since 2009 (please see Coin Laundry and Clean White Love). She also has really great hair and I might have spent the better half of 2010 wishing I was her. Her cover of California is perfect and I’ve had it on repeat all day. (Goes and watches all four seasons of the OC).