Sunday, December 30, 2012

Coachella or Not, Hear This!

There have been countless rumors racing around the internet about some of the artists that are likely to play at Coachella 2013 with BlurGrizzly Bear, Alabama Shakes and Beach House definitely a big part of that online buzz-fest. But no matter whether any or all four wind up in Indio this April their latest high profile releases are definitely worth picking up. All are available now.

Artist: Blur
Title: Parklive - Deluxe Edition (EMI)
You might be interested if you like: The Kinks, XTC
Tell me more: Few bands have returned from an extended hiatus with the kind of fiery excitement that greeted Blur when they returned from a six-year break to reconquer in 2009. The latest leap in Blur's revival is gloriously chronicled on the five-disc Parklive, featuring a fantastic concert film that captured their turn at London's Hyde Park in connection with the closing of the Olympic Games in August 2012. Four other CDs featuring live performances captured in summer 2012, including a couple of new songs ("Under the Westway," "The Puritan") that showcase a band still at the top of its game. Housed in a fantastic hardbound book loaded with color photos, Parklive is worth its price. Note: a single-disc DVD set and two-disc CD featuring the aforementioned Hyde Park show are each available. Information: or

Artist: Grizzly Bear
Title: Shields (Warp Records)
You might be interested if you like: Radiohead, Other Lives 
Tell me more: Those who thought Grizzly Bear's fantastic 2009 album Veckatimest would be the Brooklyn, New York outfit's crowning masterwork can be forgiven because that genre-defying album was so strong. But praise for the quartet's more recent offering Shields is equally widespread with the 10-track disc rightfully landing on many rock critics "best of 2012" lists. "Shields" boasts retro-meets-experimentalism via gems such as "Yet Again," "Gun-Shy" and "Sleeping Ute" that challenge and delight with each listen. The mix of traditional acoustic sounds, emotive vocals and electronic instruments is handled with the skill of noted masters such as Radiohead and Moby. Information:

Artist: Alabama Shakes
Title: Boys & Girls (Ato Records)
You might be interested if you like: Gary Clark Jr., Otis Redding, Joan Osborne, Amy Winehouse
Tell me more: Fans of classic soul, R&B, blues and roots rock will all find something to love on the debut album from Alabama Shakes. One of the biggest breakout acts of 2012, the Athens, Alabama-spawned quartet has been able to mine the past and blend its collective influences into something modern and relevant. From the rollicking old time rocker "Heavy Chevy" to the glorious soul ballad "I Found You" and spirited blues folk rock of "On Your Way," Alabama Shakes' debut Boys & Girls is a sensational disc.   Information:

Artist: Beach House
Title: Bloom (Sub Pop)
You might be interested if you like: Cocteau Twins, Mazzy Star, Other Lives, Grizzly Bear
Tell me more: An intimate and beautiful recording awash with a lush quality that has been dubbed "dream pop," Baltimore, Maryland-based duo Beach House's 2012 offering "Bloom" recalls an artful cross between Mazzy Star and Cocteau Twins in that the recording is as much about the sound itself as the individual songs. To close your eyes and play this 10-track album with headphones is to be immersed in an atmosphere awash in pop perfection and sonic ambiance.

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