Archive | Album Previews RSS feed for this section

Bridging Ears Back to Soul

24 May

Leon Bridges

When I first heard Leon Bridges my immediate reaction was that Sam Cooke had come back from the dead. I’m serious. The black-and-white soul sound sent me back to that magical moment when I first explored the inception of Soul music: the early 1960s sounds of names like Cooke, Wilson, and King. Then, I shook myself out of this initial daze. Sam Cooke – A man widely regarded as one of the finest vocalists of all time!?! How could I make such a wild comparison? But, as I took more time to listen to some tracks off Bridges’ soon-to-be-released debut album Coming Home, I realized that the comparison, while lofty, was not ridiculous. Bridges’ voice “sends me” to the soul-saturated sounds of the early 60s, and, while it may not in full bring back the mainstream popularity of slow horns and vocal harmonies, the music is certainly bridging that sounds to the ears of soul ingénues.

Bridges, who was born in Atlanta and now resides in Fort Worth, reached viral success with his song “Coming Home,” which caught the ears of several and helped him secure a record deal with Columbia Records. The overflowing bucket of talent that Bridges exuded did not stay hidden for long. With the help of Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block from White Denim, Bridges recorded his first few tracks – employing the aid of vocalists and bands that helped complement the 60s sound. His renown and success will only skyrocket with his release in June.

Coming Home” immediately takes on the feel of “You Send Me” with tastes of “A Change is Gonna Come,” and Bridges soft croon, a smoother Hozier (to make a modern comparison), has a rich Gospel feel to it that is just the right kind of sweet, not mawkish and not overpowering – it’s a voice that you can sink into, like silky gelato. The song itself is classic early Motown. It is carried by a bluesy piano and guitar mixed with traditional percussion. It is not difficult to imagine Sam Cooke or Otis Redding singing this song, and Bridges’ voice is not really a step down; heck, I am almost willing to go so far to exclaim that Bridges parallels the singers in a sense. Not too shabby.

From the slower “Coming Home” to the early Marvin Gaye-esque “Better Man.” The song features a literal doo-wop backdrop that is combined with a sweet horn section. It is almost minimalistic in its approach, and perhaps that is what I like so much about Bridges and his throwback tunes. In a musical world dominated by heavy electronics where artist after artist attempts to impress with eclectic sounds and instrumentation, Bridges takes a more traditional approach, fitting a wonderful track into a little more than two minutes.

Bridges is an artist worth tracking. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, or his Website.

Advertisements

Violent Femmes Want Love

8 Apr

Violent Femmes

When one hears Indie Rock, he/she immediately thinks of the plethora of eclectic music that crowds the airwaves today. Violent Femmes has a lot to do about that sound you hear; the band served as a major forerunner to Indie music that bent genres and refused to give into mainstream sounds. Violent Femmes, who has developed a tremendous fan-base that can’t really be termed cult, is on the comeback train, releasing its first new music in 15 years – a 4-track EP – on April 18. The EP, HAPPY NEW YEAR, was recorded this past New Year’s Eve in Hobart, Tasmania, after the band performed a sold-out concert at the Sydney Opera House.

The EP is highlighted by a cover of Jake Brebes track entitled “Love Love Love Love Love,” a gritty track that highlights one of the Femmes’ greatest strengths – creative eccentricity. The Femmes, who returned to action in 2013 with a renowned Coachella performance, will now tour the new EP (as well as all the old stuff) as a guest on The Barenaked Ladies’ “Last Summer On Earth 2015” tour. That’s a killer show.

The track has a neat edginess, which is amplified by the eery percussion and jazzy, deep horns. Gordon Gano’s voice has always been something special, and it is in full force with this track, which feels like it might be out of a quirky HBO crime drama. It is exactly what I would expect from the Femmes first release in years – different and infectiously unsettling. For a song about “love all around me,” there is definitely a little malicious intent hidden beneath the surface, and this, magnified by the dirty sax solo at the end, is excellent!

Great new release. Keep tabs on the Femmes on the website or on Facebook or Twitter.

2015 Albums Preview – January and February

28 Dec

How was your 2014? As demonstrated by the Top Songs/Albums countdown, 2014 was an exceptional year for music. At the end of each year of this blog’s existence I have always found myself questioning how the following year will one-up the previous year, and every year I am surprised by the following year’s ability to exceed my expectations. While many contemn modern music, I always exclaim that good music exists when you life the veil of mainstream mediocrity, and The Music Court exists to help you strip off this superficial covering. Let us help you get a jump start on your 2015. Here are some albums you should check out during the beginning of 2015.

Absent Fathers by Justin Townes Earle – January 13.

300x300

Absent Fathers is the apt follow-up companion LP to Single Mothers from the Americana troubadour Justin Townes Earle (Steve Earle’s son). Earle’s alt/country croon and guitar-driven tracks are worth a few listens to and, considering the success of Single Mothers, there is no doubt that Absent Fathers will be a solid release.

Check out more information on the album

What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World by The Decemberists – January 20

the-decemberists-what-a-terrible-world-608x608

If “Make You Better,” the Decemberists’ first single from its seventh studio album, is any indication of  what Colin Meloy’s new creation will sound like, I am happy to report that the music will blend The Decemberists’ recent drive to a more pop sound with its alternative roots. The music combines a Death Cab for Cutie sound with a little R.E.M. and even some Carbon Leaf. Then, of course, in typical Decemberists fashion, the song features some diverse instrumentation and creative harmonies.

Check out more information on the album

Vestiges and Claws by Jose Gonzalez – February 17.

vestiges_claws-cover-881

I am so very much looking forward to Vestiges and Claws. The album, Jose Gonzalez’ first solo LP release since 2007 (has it been so long?), is bound to be a 10-track testament to 60’s throwback acoustic music. “Every Age,” the official video of which is available on YouTube (and below), is classic Jose Gonzalez, relaxed and melodic with light percussion.

Check out more about this album

 

 

Lyon to San Francisco, All the Girls, My Casiotone

26 Nov

Odessey and oracle

In today’s society of instant gratification, it can be hard to branch out your musical taste. Instead of giving new music a chance, we tend to just skip to the next track that is better aligned with a genre or style that we have connected with in the past. Lose that mindset right now, because unless you already operate on a hearty diet of chiptune and toy instruments, you won’t recognize the greatness of Odessey & Oracle and the Casiotone Orchestra.

This album is a little weird, but in the absolute best way. The first track,”2016,” is dripping with psychedelia and ambience, held up only be the melody of the vocals. That is only the beginning, though; what follows is a collection of endearing and occasionally somber songs, making good use of drones and casiotones. It can at times sound like Rennaissance fair music, but there is something deeper happening beneath the flutes and tambourines. The lyrics, though cohesive and organized, are sometimes spat out in run-on sentences. There is a strategy here, but it depends on every aspect of the music converging to make this vision come to fruition.

Taking their name from an album by The Zombies, this French trio is intent on emulating ‘60s psychedelia. Odessey & Oracle currently have a five song EP up on their Soundcloud, which is representative of the strongest tracks to be released on their full length effort with the Casiotone Orchestra. Once you buy the record, though, give your attention to the series of Inventions that weave between the other tracks. They are not the most staggering songs among the other gems, but I do feel the Inventions provide some much needed grounding for the album. This is a testament to a well-structured album.

Odessey & Oracle and the Casiotone Orchestra will be out 12/12 on Carton Records. You can pre-order the album here. Find more information on Odessey and Oracle on their website.

P.S. The title of this article is a nod to Crystal Fighters’ “Solar System.”

Happy 2014 – Some Albums to Look Forward To

2 Jan

2014

After finishing 2013 with a list of top sings from the past year, The Music Court is ringing in 2014 with a few album previews for exciting new albums to be released in the coming months. Will these albums feature songs that appear on the top 10 songs of 2014 list? I can’t think that far in advance! Before we swing back into new band profiles and other new, rich content, let’s check out three albums on the platter of melodies for the new year. We start with a duo of accomplished musicians who will look to pin their respective ability against the dreaded sophomore album slump.

Broken Bells

Broken Bells, the Indie rock side-project of Shins leadman James Mercer and multifarious producer/musician Danger Mouse (Brian Burton), is coming off an uber-successful eponymous release back in 2010. After the Disco, the much-awaited second release from the duo, has already received some serious buzz from music lovers (The Music Court wrote about the first single from the album – “Holding on For Life” – back in November). The album is a bit spacier and implements elements of disco (Mercer’s airy vocal helps for this). Will it be a second revelation for the band or spell an end to the project? Check out for yourself on February 4th

High Hopes

This is Bruce Springsteen’s 18th studio album. Yes, 18. The Boss will never stop working, and he clearly has high hopes for this unprecedented release. Unprecedented, you say? This is the heartland rocker from Jersey’s first studio album composed entirely of covers, unreleased material, or reimagined versions of past songs. For other musicians this may be considered the beginning of the end, but for Springsteen it is a celebration. Tom Morello joins Springsteen on eight out of the 12 tracks, and late saxophonist Clarence Clemons (the big man) and organist Danny Federici (Phantom Dan) appear on two tracks. If you haven’t already gotten a copy of the leaked album it comes out for real on January 14. 

Fanfarlo

Fanfarlo has had a dear spot in my musical heart since the release of its debut album in 2009. The London-based band that defies all genre defining (the band describes its sound as Space Opera meets Spaghetti Western, so do with that what you will) features a plethora of rich instrumentation and potent vocals. Not band for a quartet of multi-instrumentalists. The band’s last release was a concept EP that explored the past, present, and future of humanity. Let’s Go Extinct comes out on February 10. 

 

%d bloggers like this: