OUTSIDE THE HEARD - JUNE 2011

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The Decemberists
The King is Dead
Capitol

When The Decemberists completed their wildly ambitious 2009 song cycle The Hazards of Love (a narrative suite that grew out of old English folk tunes), frontman and primary songwriter Colin Meloy said that “doing this album took a lot out of me, and I’m definitely curious what will come out now that I’ve gotten it out of my system.” Inspired by a move to a more rural area outside the band’s base of Portland, Oregon, Meloy took a few songs that had been left off of Hazards and started working on the kind of project he had long been thinking about—a set of more stripped-down, country-based songs. Despite the title’s obvious nod to Meloy’s Anglophilia, The King is Dead is pays tribute to traditions sprung from The Decemberists’ home turf – namely the percussive strums and chimes of R.E.M. (Peter Buck guests on two songs), Camper Van Beethoven, The Byrds, and Neil Young (Meloy ranks Harvest as “the quintessential barn record”). The King Is Dead also employs fiddles borrowed from the band Black Prairie and the inimitable voice of Gillian Welch. Though The King is Dead recalls The Decemberists earlier, less conceptually-driven records, this is still a step forward – and it’s nice to see them exchanging the enchanted forests for a home on the range.
The Vaccines
What Did You Expect From
The Vaccines?
Columbia

What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? is the debut album from The Vaccines. Eleven songs, eleven tones of excitement recorded "quickly and painlessly" in just under a month in London late last year. “If You Wanna” cuts through with a sharp simplicity, so much so that the demo version the band put online in the summer of 2010 was rapidly noticed. It was a starting point for the band -- Freddie Cowan (guitar), Arni Arnason (bass) and Pete Robertson (drums) who, alongside Justin finally kick-started The Vaccines in the spring of 2010 after a fair few months of rehearsals honing their sound. "We never set out with any sort of mission statement, but when we first started playing we quickly realized that through our shared love of the 'perfect pop song' there was a real bond, we all felt really invigorated and excited by the music we were making," says Justin. "If there was ever any quest, it was to create direct pop music with depth and emotion, the sort of stuff that the Moderns Lovers, The Velvet Underground and The Clash made sound so easy." What did you expect from The Vaccines? Excitement, thrills, melody, power, romance? You'll find all contained within their debut.
Amos Lee
Mission Bell
Blue Note
For Amos Lee, the key to his fourth album, Mission Bell, was time—taking the time to reflect, to write , and to record songs that lived up to his own expectations. "My last two records were a little rushed, because I was touring so much and running around a lot," he says. "On this one, I took a year and a half and I just sat at home and wrote. I spent more time alone with these songs than I ever did in the past," he continues, "which I think was really helpful. It was like going to a yard sale or a thrift store—you go through the first time and you might see something, but then you have to keep going back and forth because you always find something else there." Mission Bell is Lee's richest and most fully formed album to date. Produced by Joey Burns of the acclaimed band Calexico, Mission Bell displays both range and cohesion, an array of emotions unified by Lee's eclectic taste and distinctive vocals. With a remarkable set of guests-including Lucinda Williams, Willie Nelson, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Priscilla Ahn, Pieta Brown, and James Gadson-and the musical backing of Calexico, Mission Bell marks the arrival of Amos Lee as an artist of the highest order.
Iggy Pop
Roadkill Rising: The Bootleg
Collection 1977-2009
Shout! Factory

Known to many as the "Godfather of Punk" for his groundbreaking albums with the Stooges, Iggy Pop helped defined New Wave with his late-'70s recordings with David Bowie. He began to gain real commercial success in the '80s, and the with the advent of grunge in the '90s, he became more popular than ever. The 2000s saw Iggy's critical stature rise even higher, with the reformation of the Stooges and their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, Iggy refused to be pinned down, following the Stooges reunion album The Weirdness with Preliminaires, a jazz-influenced solo album and a true departure. Roadkill Rising: The Bootleg Collection, 1977-2009 is a comprehensive 4-CD set of newly remastered bootleg concert recordings. Roadkill Rising features the best of concerts recorded over four decades and from venues all over the world. All his Stooges and solo classics are covered, as well as deep album tracks and offbeat covers. It's entertaining look at one of rock and roll's most vital performers on stage and completely in his element and a must for fans. You need this.
Glasvegas
Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\
Columbia
The second album proper from Glasvegas, EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\ sees a leap beyond their trademark Phil Spector wall-of-sound into glittering new towers of electronic rock ‘n’ roll, even bigger, bolder, brighter and infinitely more personal, luminously sprinkled in the shimmering stardust of production titan Flood (U2, The Killers, Depeche Mode). 11 stadium-ready thrillers reflecting on love, loss, suicide, longing, sexuality, shame, hope, redemption and choosing the path of happines. A story of darkness into light. “The new songs are aspirational,” decides singer / guitarist James Allan. “Personally, for me, it was like an adult’s wish-list for Santa. Longing for a state of mind. For relief, release and happiness. Like everybody. Songs about a love gained, a love lost, a love longed for, a love unwanted. I’m not sure I ever was a social commentator. More a social day dreamer!” The album, he adds, is “two years older and stronger than the first, like the elder brother”, a glorious achievement in emotional maturity which befits our culturally chaotic era. This is no time, after all, for meaningless music.
Peter Murphy
Ninth
Nettwerk
Peter Murphy's Ninth is his first solo album in seven years and the first since the permanent dissolution of Bauhaus in 2009. Produced by David Baron, Ninth is a culmination of where the singer has been and where he is now, all imbued with a confidence that has been Murphy's stock in trade. There's a sophisticated energy and psychic urgency to tracks like "Seesaw Sway," "Slowdown" and "Memory Go." Equally exciting are moments like "Velocity Bird," where Murphy gets his swagger on in the same wild kingdom where Iggy Pop's "streetwalking cheetah" prowled; the rocking "Peace To Each," where the singer ramps up his sinister quotient a few notches; the slow grooving head-nodder "Uneven & Brittle," and the brooding, atmospheric noir of "Secret Silk Society." On the convex, Ninth also features moments of warm poignancy, like the lover-comforting "Never Fall Out" and the melancholy closing track, "Crème de la Crème." But it's the album s first single, "I Spit Roses," that reconciles Murphy's melodic genius.
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