This month, I get to highlight two of my favorite things – new music and Fall weather! As it gets cooler in Portland and the rain starts making more frequent appearances, it's time to prepare with some new tunes. Four recent selections for the HQ hi-fi this time... A perfectly diverse collection of similarly subdued records.
First up, Warpaint. This LA quartet is one of my favorites. Complex, immersive, someone called them 'smoky' and it's all so good. Their last self-titled album knocked me over completely... this one needed a little time to grow. I feel like there's less hooks, but after continued listening, I'm really smitten with Heads Up. Rating on a Portland rainy scale: A+ (complex enough to distract you from the sadness of the weather)
There's not much that Sam Beam can do wrong in my book. Even after evolving into a more polished production since his beginnings, I feel like the evolution is delightful. Not for better, not for worse, but a perfect example of a true artist's desire to grow with new projects. With Jesca Hoop involved, the duo shines with Love Letter For Fire. Their voices are distinctively different, yet blend wonderfully. Production by Tucker Martine really polishes this release. Rating on a Portland rainy scale: B+ (ultimately suited for naps or making out)
I have such huge admiration for Jeff Tweedy and Wilco since watching I Am Trying To Break Your Heart in 2002. I liked them before, but after seeing inside the band and the struggles of an artist, I felt an even greater allegiance. Their albums meander rather than evolve, but that's not a bad thing artistically. Schmilco is a solid, cohesive, happy (in that super-subdued Wilco way) record. Rating on a Portland rainy scale: A (great for working on DIY projects indoors)
Lastly, let's chat about this new Local Natives record, Sunlit Youth. First of all, even before listening, you're gonna be knocked out at the album jacket and all the goodies packed inside. Thank you for commanding a bigger budget from Loma Vista! This is the pure enjoyment of owning vinyl that so many productions forget, or just don't have the budget. It's a wondrous experience to flip through all the inserts, the record is magically clear, the photos are weird and amazing. Okay, let's talk sound. I really like this record, yet it is still quite different from my go-to Local Native's record, Gorilla Manor. It's way happier than Hummingbird, which I'm thankful for... However, it seems to glaze everything with the added synths and this removes the spikes that I liked in their first record. Still good, but probably an album I need to listen more to appreciate. Rating on a Portland rainy scale: B- (play it in the morning when you're trying to rally for the dreary day)