2008 might not be such a boring year for music after all. Notable self-titled debuts by Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend got the ball rolling and the momentum continued with good releases by the Hold Steady and My Morning Jacket. Even with that, the year hasn't been as strong as 2007. Maybe a few of this fall's new discs can change that.
Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line
I haven't made my mind up about this group yet. They have been getting some buzz from the blogs and music magazines. It sounds a little generic, but they do incorporate a smorgasbord of noises - violins, synth sirens and acoustic guitars. "A Manner to Act RAC mix" is catchy, sounds a lot like Vampire Weekend, but not all the songs do.
You can listen to tracks on their myspace page here:
Okkervil River - The Stand Ins
Okkervil River isn't just another one of the innumerable indie rock bands littering the Austin, Texas landscape. Released last year, "The Stage Names" introduced me to the band and their sneaky-clever lyrics, gloomy lead singer and surprising guitar. They are a happy middle ground between the Arcade Fire's all-of-the-universe-in-a-pop-song-sound and Spoon's economic perfection.
Ray LaMontagne - Gossip in the Grain
Ray's sandpaper voice goes great with the conventional acoustic guitar and soul-flavored folk he's been peddling for a while now. I only have one of his discs, "Trouble," but I think I will get this new one, if not just for the strength of that album's title track.
Kings of Leon - Only By the Night
In 2007 the brothers Followill continued to smooth out their raunchy southern rock on "Because of the Times" with (gasp!) 7 minute songs and bass lines reminiscent of U2.
The band is starting to write songs about things other than fucking groupies, not fucking groupies or thinking about fucking groupies.
You can hear two tracks off the new disc here:
The sound is becoming a little more conventional with each release. Caleb Followill's previously inaudible squawk/scream sing might actually be based on the English language after all.
Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty
Critics love to comment how the Cold War Kids have some blues in their sound, likely because so much indie rock is so fucking white. But, there's probably more blues in concept than in execution. You can tell these guys like the blues, but this is not a White Stripes or Black Keys garage-blooze band. Honestly, they sound like another bunch of guys who likes Spoon as much as the rest of us, and that's ok. "Loyalty to Loyalty" is the follow up to the debut that featured "Hang Me Out to Dry," one of the better songs of '06.
You can hear "Something is Not Right With Me," the first single off the new album at the band's myspace:
or download the mp3 here: http://coldwarkids.com/
Old Crow Medicine Show - Tennessee Pusher
Another release by the buckets-of-gloom/fun blue-grass outfit.
Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul
The seventh album from the Brit-pop group.
Q-Tip - The Renaissance
Former Tribe Called Quest emcee's latest release.
Deerhunter - Microcastle
Deerhunter is wild. Fans of Animal Collective and Panda Bear need only apply. Cole Alexander of the Black Lips has a guest turn on a track named "Saved by Old Times."
Many of the new tracks are available here:
The songs feel less ambient, more straightforward than 2007's "Cryptograms."
Other fall releases:
Mogwai, Metallica, Gym Class Heroes, Of Montreal, Keane, AC/DC, Ben Folds, Travis, Rise Against, TI, Nelly, T-Pain, The Game, Missy Elliot, Sixpence None the Richer (haha), The Verve, Young Jeezy, Calexico, The Cure, Blessid Union of Souls (haha), Pink, Plain White Ts