Summer CD Roundup

What to download (legally …) and what’ll make your ears bleed

PHOTO COURTESY NONESUCH RECORDS

Ashley Goetz

PHOTO COURTESY NONESUCH RECORDS

While the student populace is boozinâÄô, sunbathing, and workinâÄô 9 to 5, some of our favorite artists are releasing new albums, and A&E has a sneak peek at whatâÄôs new and whatâÄôs to come. ARTIST: Wilco ALBUM: âÄúWilcoâÄù LABEL: Nonesuch Records RELEASE DATE: June 30 STREAMING AT: http://beta.wilcoworld.net/records/disco.php Naming both a song and an album after yourself? CâÄômon, Wilco, whatâÄôs that about? Perhaps a loss of creativity in your twilight years as a band? Well, not really. âÄúWilco,âÄù the bandâÄôs seventh album (and their only one with a camel on the cover), features more of WilcoâÄôs trademark sound aesthetic, marked by mid-tempo rhythms and singer Jeff TweedyâÄôs smoke-tinged voice. âÄúWilcoâÄù follows the release of âÄúSky Blue Sky,âÄù a slowed-down version of the easy alt-country/rock fusion that has them playing both the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and 10KLF. It harkens back to the days of pleasant âÄô70s AM radio, what with frontman Jeff TweedyâÄôs tenor, alternating between reedy wailing and rough crooning, and the bandâÄôs precise, time-honed backdrop. It includes both sweet duets with Feist (âÄúYou and IâÄù) and driving, classic-rock (âÄúBull Black NovaâÄù). Were A&E to compare âÄúWilcoâÄù to a month, this is most definitely WilcoâÄôs golden August album. ARTIST: Regina Spektor ALBUM: âÄúFarâÄù LABEL: Sire Records RELEASE DATE: June 23 Regina SpektorâÄôs back catalog is a crazy experience, packed with hyper-literate references and all-over-the-map vocal stylings. Listening to early Regina, like âÄú11:11âÄù and âÄúSoviet KitschâÄù clues a listener in to what a lyrical psycho she is, but with the advent of big-label signage and heavy rotation on âÄúGreyâÄôs Anatomy,âÄù she had to bind her freewheeling pianistâÄôs hands to appease the slightly less avant-garde public. Regina diehards complained that âÄúBegin to HopeâÄù was far, far less quirky and touched by genius than their belovedâÄôs previous releases. Possibly to appease those devotees, ReginaâÄôs upcoming album âÄúFarâÄù dips into that back catalog, with reworked versions of live favorites and a few new songs, too. One new piece is âÄúLaughing With,âÄù a treatise on the nature of God (âÄúGod can be funny/at a cocktail party when listening to a good God-themed jokeâÄù). Regina loves to toy with the idea of religion. However, most of âÄúFarâÄù consists of old fan favorites, which previously existed only via bootlegs, like the stuttery âÄúDance Anthem.âÄù On âÄúFolding Chair,âÄù Regina sings in that supple, far-reaching voice of hers about wanting a silver bullet trailer and a baby boy with safety-pinned clothes and graffiti ties. Her creativity and lyrical brilliance havenâÄôt been stymied by her increasing popularity, and âÄúFarâÄù is certainly worth hearing. ARTIST: Mandy Moore ALBUM: âÄúAmanda LeighâÄù LABEL: Storefront Recordings Oh, poor Mandy Moore/Mrs. Ryan Adams. In the heydey of blonde pop princesses, she was always third or fourth fiddle, always desperately grappling to find her voice. So Mandy tried her hand at rebelling against her record label, released a couple albums of âÄúrealâÄù music like the mildly schmaltzy âÄúWild HopeâÄù and a âÄô70s covers record, and finally returned to the studio to create âÄúAmanda Leigh.âÄù ThereâÄôs no cameo from husband Ryan on this album, which is full of the chick-centric throwback singer-songwriter (your Carly Simons and Carole Kings) aesthetic Mandy loves and cites as an inspiration. âÄúAmanda Leigh,âÄù MandyâÄôs real name and clearly a statement on her musical identity, is contemplative and emotional but still hopelessly romantic. MooreâÄôs latest effort signifies a firm grounding in the music Mandy wants to make: boppy, harmless, smart-girl pop like âÄúI Could Break Your Heart any Day of the Week,âÄù which is certain to get fair radio play. ARTIST: Grizzly Bear ALBUM: Veckatimest LABEL: Warp Records What does âÄúVeckatimestâÄù even mean? Well, according to their interview in this monthâÄôs âÄúSpin,âÄù itâÄôs the name of a Spanish prostitute. Okay, cool. But Pitchfork claims itâÄôs a small Massachusetts island , which is the true story. Either way, âÄúVeckatimestâÄù is not only incredibly difficult to pronounce and spell but also one of the most eagerly-awaited indie albums to drop in the past few months. As is the case in the music industry as of late, âÄúVeckatimestâÄù leaked way before its release date and it has proven to be one of the most popular searches on music blog search engine the Hype Machine. The Hype MachineâÄôs most-downloaded track is âÄúWhile You Wait for the Others,âÄù which creeps and grooves along like a Hendrix outtake. Even singer Christopher BearâÄôs vocal line slips and pauses as though itâÄôs taken a few cues from Jimi himself. âÄúVeckatimestâÄù is a swirl of intricate melodies (âÄúReady, AbleâÄù) and oldies rock âÄònâÄô roll (âÄúTwo WeeksâÄù). ItâÄôs like the Beach Boys on (more) acid, a Hendrix-Wilson fusion that goes well with mind-expanders. Also notable: Neil Young, âÄúFork in the Road :âÄù Neil Young has a project, and that project is getting his old Lincoln to run âÄúgreen.âÄù So what does Mr. Heart of Gold do? He writes an entire concept album about this car, heavy on the Crazy Horse guitar shredding distortion. Lil Wayne, âÄúRebirth:âÄù Weezy goes rock âÄònâÄô roll? What? Well, Wayne does what he wants, and at the rate he churns out music, we should be expecting another âÄúCarterâÄù within the next few months, too. âÄúRebirthâÄù you can throw away, unless you like listening to WayneâÄôs subpar guitar murdering and attempts at singing sans vocoder; it isnâÄôt always pretty. (Okay, itâÄôs never pretty.) The album has been pushed back a few times, and its current release date is July 21. Kevin Devine, âÄúBrotherâÄôs Blood:âÄù Kevin Devine has a voice that would be perfectly at home within the confines of some awful pop-âÄúpunkâÄù band, because itâÄôs relatively high-pitched and whiny. Instead, Devine creates jangly, harmlessly fun, guitar-heavy indie pop.