Your Fall playlist
From the modern jangle-pop of The Kooks to the highly-anticipated sophomore release of indie-rockers alt-J, the past month has seen a number of exciting and stimulating records let loose to the public.
The Kooks, Listen (Sept. 8)
Over the past decade, The Kooks have churned out a handful of albums chock-full of jangly guitar pop and acoustic rock. Their newest album is a lively, experimental departure from the group’s typical indie-pop sound. Listen is a veritable smorgasbord of pop, rock, hip-hop, and even R&B-infused tunes.
Album-opener “Around Town” is a synth-laden gospel number, which is succeeded by the dance-worthy grooves of “Forgive & Forget.” Listen’s most vulnerable track is the ballad “See Me Now,” written in the format of a letter to frontman Luke Pritchard’s late father. “It Was London” showcases a noteworthy guitar performance and the more straight-ahead rock feel characteristic of the band, while lead single “Down” is as close to hip-hop as The Kooks have ever gotten. The group even dabbles in Latin sounds with tracks such as “Sunrise” and “Sweet Emotion.”
Other notable cuts from Listen include “Westside” and “Bad Habit.”
Interpol, El Pintor (Sept. 9)
Brooding post-punk revivalists Interpol released their fifth studio album earlier this month. Although it is not the group’s magnum opus by any means, El Pintor is a welcomed addition to the group’s sophisticated discography.
Tracks such as “All the Rage Back Home” and “Breaker 1,” although excessively angst-ridden, are intricate pieces worthy of mention. “My Desire” is driven by meritable guitar work, despite a forgettable vocal performance by lead singer Paul Banks. “Same Town, New Story” features hypnotic riffage paired with haunting vocals, while “Everything Is Wrong” is overlaid with chunky guitar distortion.
El Pintor may tend to stagnate with tracks such as “Anywhere” and “Ancient Ways,” but on the whole, it is an admirably consistent record featuring bounds of dense, layered orchestrations.
Additional standout cuts include “My Blue Supreme” and “Tidal Wave.”
This Will Destroy You, Another Language (Sept. 12)
The instrumental maestros of This Will Destroy You delivered to fans an assortment of spacey jams with the release of their third studio album. Another Language is a fine collection of sumptuous compositions sure to evoke a response from the patient audience member.
Principle track “New Topia” transforms from a fragile lullaby into a loud, pounding cacophony of cymbal crashes and drum rolls. “The Puritan” provides a much-needed break from the arresting heaviness of filler tracks such as “War Prayer” and “Serpent Mound.” The detached “Mother Opiate” would make terrific soundtrack music, and “Invitation” is a climactic arrangement held together by a rigid drum cadence and harsh feedback.
Ultimately, closer “God’s Teeth” is a somber berceuse ending in a soaring, distorted wave of dissonance.
Alt-J, This Is All Yours (Sept. 22)
From the mesmerizing, New Order-esque sound of “Intro” to the dark tenderness of “Pusher,” alt-J’s newest release is probably the finest album of Fall 2014.
This Is All Yours – perhaps a concept album, although left ambiguous – is an elaborate tapestry of heavily-refined arrangements, one whose variety of sounds is both respectable and exquisite.
“Arrival in Nara” is one particularly outstanding tune – tender, lilting, and reminiscent of a folky Led Zeppelin fantasy sequence – which segues into the dark, electric instrumentation of “Nara.”
“Left Hand Free” is a twangy track which just as well could belong to any rock radio station from the mid-1970s. “Hunger of the Pine” is an exotic choice for a lead promotional single, but is nevertheless an interesting (if not bizarre) musical adventure.
While at times it may be difficult to distinguish what exactly it is that frontman Joe Newman is singing, the musical experience of This Is All Yours is all that matters. What this record lacks in lyrical content, it makes up for with its consistently exceptional production value.
Johnny Marr … Playland … (Oct. 6)
Flying Lotus … You’re Dead! … (Oct. 7)
Philip Selway … Weatherhouse … (Oct. 7)
Weezer … Everything Will Be Alright in the End … (Oct. 7)
Wampire … Bazaar … (Oct. 7)
Foxygen … And Star Power … (Oct. 14)
OK Go … Hungry Ghosts … (Oct. 14)