Let It Rock: Pleasant Surprises

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This week’s new releases left me pleasantly surprised. From an album by an artist I had never heard of, to one I thought I knew very well, to one I resisted listening to for oh so long. Sometimes you need to open up a bit and take a few risks in order to find joy, and that goes for music, too.

Not sure where to start? Well, you could just choose a new artist or album based on how cool their name is. I’ve been doing it forever and it hasn’t failed me yet. Or you could listen to your friends when they rave about a band; turns out, they know what they’re talkin’ about.

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Patrick Wolf- Bachelor

I’ll admit this week was a rough week when it comes to new releases. I hadn’t heard of many of the bands with new albums, nor was I overly interested in many of them. So I randomly decided that Patrick Wolf sounded like a super cool name and could be an interesting artist. I also liked the name of his album, Bachelor. Plus, I learned that Wolf was once in a Burberry ad. I know, so scientific. But, hey, I ended up liking this little British boy. He sounds a bit crazy, a bit techno, and kind of like David Bowie; I almost wanted to see him running through a labyrinth.

The album: good stuff. I really enjoyed “Damaris,” which is a really great build-up song and the lyrics are lovely: “My goddamned Damaris/Killed with last kiss/Goddamned Damaris/I loved you.” So, I figured I should learn who Damaris is. Interestingly she’s a woman mentioned in the New Testament and nobody’s really certain why her name was recorded, except that she may have been of high social standing. Hmmm. It’s also a lingerie brand, so who knows about that. I love the slow smoothness of “Thickets,” which reminded me a bit of Star. And “Vulture,” which is set to be the album’s second single is also a lot of fun in a super techno, strange way. I love strange men. I love Patrick Wolf.

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George Strait- Twang

I generally enjoy me some George Strait. He’s definitely not my most favorite country singer, but I think he’s a lot of fun. So when I heard he had a new album, I obviously needed to listen to Twang. Aaaand…I have sort of mixed feelings about it. I’m definitely not sitting over here going crazy, but there are songs I would absolutely put on repeat. “Living For the Night” is a really beautiful song and George hits every note just right. I couldn’t decide if “The Breath You Take” is extremely cheesy or really sweet. I hate songs about boys playing baseball, but once the song hit the chorus, I almost cried a little. I may also be PMSing, but still, the tears were there.

At the same time, some of the songs did seem very cliche country, like “Hot Grease and Zydeco” and “I Gotta Get to You.” And the title track, which I totally expected to love based on that fact alone, well, it just didn’t really do much for me. Surprisingly, it was George’s slower, less fun songs that I like the best. Sniff, maybe he’s just growing up.

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Passion Pit- Manners

Ughh, so you know when you keep hearing about a band so much that you don’t even want to listen to them? That’s how I felt about Passion Pit. Enough was enough. Shut up. At first I thought I was just hearing about them because they’re local. But then people from outside of Boston started talking about them. So, I finally listened. Better late then never right? Seriously. Because I. am. instantly obsessed.

Why, oh why did I take so long to listen to Passion Pit? I never like albums upon first listens, especially from bands I’m not familiar with, but this was true love upon listen #1. I guess if I had to compare them to anyone, it would probably have to be MGMT, but they’re also pretty different. They do have that fun techno-y, electronic sound, though. “The Reeling” is the first single from Manners, so I gave it a listen first. It started off kind of strangely, but it wasn’t long before I totally got into the groove. There are what sound like kids singing in the background. A little bit strange, but it just worked so well. I love that “Little Secrets” starts off sounding like a video game. And I love how ridiculously high lead singer, Michael Angelakos’s voice is, especially in “Sleepyhead.” The bottom line is that I love Passion Pit and I will no longer ignore people when they tell me to listen to a band. But it’s better late than never for this one. That is for sure.

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