THE LO DOWN: Top 5 June Albums You May/Should Have Missed
As July is just around the corner, this week The Lo Down brings you the Top 5 June Albums you may (or should) have missed. There’s nothing like reflecting on the passing of another month by reviewing all the goodies and duds therein. Know of some doozies releasing in July? Hit me up and I’ll give it a listen. Happy halfway through the year, Owlitas…
Nonesuch Records (June 11, 2010)
Remember when we all got down to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack for about five minutes in 2000? Meet the real — or at least hopefully more timeless — deal. Chris Thile, mandolin virtuoso formerly of Nickel Creek, sings like a more technically trained Chris Martin with indie appeal and chops to boot. I know, I know, Nickel Creek doesn’t do it for me either, and a “contemporary country” categorization by iTunes makes me throw up a little in my mouth… but this album rocks — hard enough, in fact, that you’ll forget there’s not even a drum set among the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. Bluegrass, man. So hot right now.
Hellcat Records (June 9, 2010)
Hel-lo soundtrack to summer. I’ve been bumping this in my Mazda (yes, possible) since its release, particularly fond of “What a Complex” and “Wild Time.”Â The album surprisingly captures much of the energy that makes them such a kick-ass live band (review here), recalling the best decades of reggae, soul, and rocksteady with edge and grit. Dirty reggae, indeed. My only complaint? 21 tracks. I may be alone here, but I top out at about 12 or 13. Can there be too much of a good thing? You’re going to have to let us know on this one.
To The Sea
Brushfire Records (June 1, 2010)
Oh, JJ. All Music Guide called you a “soft-rock superstar” — words, I feel, that should never appear in the same sentence. I was so with you in those touring-with-Ben-Harper-Brushfire-Fairytales-days — I even kinda followed you with 2003′s On and On and tried not to hate when you blew up the Curious George soundtrack in ’06. But c’mon now. We get it. You’re a surfer. In Hawaii. All relaxed and sh-t. If I want to reminisce about the college days, I’ll throw on your first album – otherwise, the mellow mumble just isn’t doing it for me anymore.
Let Loose The Horses
Universal Republic Records (June 22, 2010)
I had high hopes for this album after catching The Rescues a few weeks ago (review here), but I gotta say – wa wa waaaaa. Maybe it’s because we can’t tell that they’re each playing all of the instruments, maybe it’s because the harmonies feel studio-produced, or maybe it’s because I can finally hear the lyrics… Regardless, the forces have conspired to dumb-down some pretty awesome musicians into an easy-listening plateau. The album starts strong with “Let Loose The Horses” (also featured on the 2009 EP)Â but loses me in singer-songwriter land pretty quickly thereafter. I want to like it more than I do. Really. But I’m gonna throw that first track on a mix-tape and call it a night.
We Are Born
Monkey Puzzle/Sony Music (June 4, 2010)
My favorite part about this album is the video, not the song, for “Clap Your Hands.” I find it both hilarious and disturbing, and it kind of has that can’t-look-away quality of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” but with, you know, less face melting. Otherwise, hmmm. Sia got super dance-poppy on this go-round and the jury’s out. I still love her for 2004′s “Breathe Me” (which made a reappearance in every commercial during the Winter Olympics) and find myself looking for softer edges and more subtle vocals. But I get it. The Black Eyed Peas made it clear that techno-dance-jams make the moo-lah, so bust out your glow-sticks and awkward Euro dancing for this one, kids. Sia can totally hold it down vocally, but I can’t help wonder: just because she can, doesn’t mean she should.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
I Learned The Hard Way
Daptone Records (April 6, 2010)
Ok, psyched you out with lucky number six as this f-cking brilliant soul album was released in April, not June. (Carnie’s album review here, Sadia’s show review here.) If you don’t have it yet, well. I’m not sure you deserve it.