Three Incredible First Listens This Week

Courtesy of NPR

Three Incredible First Listens This Week

Revel in that October magic – check these out on NPR and then buy them next week.

The Avett Brothers – Magpie and the Dandelion

The Avetts get the award for “Best Music To Listen to While Taking a Walk Wearing a Warm Scarf and Sipping a Pumpkin Spice Latte.” Its the Avetts as good as they’ve ever been, with harmonies that evoke nostalgia and optimism, ballads that make you smile warmly and with each track an overall feeling that things are going to work out alright.  People go through hard things but they come out on the other side, and sometimes they write great songs in celebration. Really enjoyable album.

Lucius – Wildewoman
My favorite of the three.  Atmospheric without being haunting, lots of ethereal folk goodness with excellent female lead vocals ala First Aid Kit or Emiliana Torrini. Lucius masters a vintage 60s sound with elements of 80s Europop and, of course, that uber modern indie schtick. But they also bring that brightness that you really want during this time of year, without devolving into full-on wintertime navel-gazing. There’s still a soft, persistent sun shining through the brooding storm-front in the background.

Tim Hecker – Virgins

With sweeping builds and often atonal, plinking piano, this composer is definitely doing it his own way and creates a haunting electronically-driven soundscape just about perfect for gray skies and cold wind in the trees. It may not satisfy a brain’s pre-programmed expectations for resolution or release (read: this is NOT Explosions in the Sky) but delivers big on creativity and honesty, with a sound that may best be described as dystopian.  Think more of a millenial, post-industrial Philip Glass. Hecker once commented that his music is like “church music for atheists.” This sheds light on an album full of songs that sound as if, at any moment, everything could fall apart and end up in a pile of stray notes, out-of-tune synth, with maybe some crumpled steel and glass in there. Perhaps a perfect metaphor for a universe without a deity. Even so, it’s music that is mightily original and altogether compelling, under an unsettling October sky.