Monday, October 11, 2010

Some old, some new: Belle & Sebastian, Beach Fossils, Sufjan Stevens, Syd Barrett

There are a bunch of new releases coming out tomorrow (Tuesday October 12, 2010) and a lot of them I know nothing about. There, I said it. Here's what I can confidently recommend:

Belle and Sebastian are quite good, but you probably knew that already. I think The Life Pursuit and If You're Feeling Sinister are classics and Push Barman To Open Old Wounds is a rambling collection of great tunes, and even their "lackluster" albums have some hidden gems. Their newest, Write About Love seems to be a return to form, of sorts, a good and consistent hybrid of the more hooky pop songs you might find on The Life Pursuit, like "Funny Little Frog" or "Another Sunny Day", with the more directly emotive songs you find scattered across their catalog, like "I Don't Love Anyone" or "Is It Wicked Not To Care?". I plan on downloading it tomorrow on eMusic, but if you order the vinyl version you can enter a contest that may get Stuart Murdoch to spend a day with you and then write a song about you. Seriously! Also check them out here and below playing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon with ?uestlove on drums. Pretty cool.

[Update: Stream Write About Love here all week on Spinner's New Releases page!]

Beach Fossils are one of those bands that got some considerable indie blogosphere buzz or whatever way back at the beginning of this year, and I kinda ignored the whole thing, thinking it was just another one of those bands that everyone would like because others liked 'em and ... you know the deal. And in a way, they are that band. But later on I heard some of their songs in full and saw a video or two and ... just really liked it. The angular guitar melodies are so catchy and mathematically engaging, in a way. I ended up buying their record and have played it many times since. Tomorrow, they have a new 7" (or mp3, of course) single, "Face It" b/w "Distance". I've heard "Face It" (download it here) and it does seem like it wouldn't necessarily fit on their album, but it's not a big departure from their sound. You'll probably either love this or be wholly content to hear it once and then never again. Either way is fine with me.

Sufjan Stevens has a new album out, too, called The Age of Adz, but now that I think about it, I'm actually pretty unqualified to pass judgment on it. I liked Illinois and Michigan when I first heard them a few years ago, and Seven Swans was solid, too, but I haven't really gone back to them since, and I haven't even heard BQE or All Delighted People, and I haven't heard anything from Adz. So, there ya go. If you like him, you'll like this one, I presume ... ?

Syd Barrett's solo album The Madcap Laughs. Okay, this one I can comment on. I recently read the 33 1/3 Series book on Piper At The Gates of Dawn, that classic debut album from The Pink Floyd (that's right, they had a leading The back then) and I also saw a DVD recording of The Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett Story. Both were really enlightening about the role that Syd played in Pink Floyd's style and sound, at least in the early days, and I'm sure they barely crack the surface of the true story behind one of rock's most interesting and enigmatic characters. Tomorrow, you can get a newly remastered, reissued CD version of the first solo album he released after parting ways with the boys in Floyd. It goes a long way in showing how important he was to their first couple of albums, in case you were blissfully ignorant of that influence, like I pretty much was until recently. I haven't actually heard any of the bonus tracks, so I can't make any claim as to whether it's worth your while to plunk down some extra dough for the "remastered" and "extra" tracks, so ... I guess this is really just an excuse to talk about Syd Barrett. So what?

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