“The Weight”, Mikal Cronin, MCII

Best known for his collaborations with modern day Marc Bolanite, Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin is starting to carve a name for himself with his own homage to the music of old.  His debut 2011 LP, Mikal Cronin, was a home-spun affair, a psych-garage rock album that brought the roll back in rock.  

This time around Cronin is armed with a full studio production (and major indie label Merge) on the suitably named MCII, a continuation and evolution of his previous work.  "The Weight" benefits from the studio soundscape, there’s tight harmony lines and bristling dynamics, but Cronin is wise to not let the song be overdone with studio polish, the raw energy is still there.

The Weight – Mikal Cronin

RIYL: John Lennon, Elliott Smith, The New Pornographers, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

MCII comes out May 7th, 2013 on Merge Records. You can Pre-order it here:


Merge Records

iTunes

“Big Love”, Matthew E. White

Label: Hometapes (released August 21, 2012)

Big Inner is by far one of the more intriguing debut albums to come out this year: it’s equal parts experimental Beck, cynical Randy Newman, brooding The National and Big Easy celebrating Allen Toussaint.  "Big Love" grooves with a percolating bass line and a fantastic jazzy piano hook that could have found a home on a Nina Simone album. It’s an arrangement that you want to stick around for as it bounces from “Tomorrow Never Knows” territory to a loose gospel-influenced call and response. Surely one of the better cuts of the year and coming from a man who looks like he could have been a cult leader. Check out the beautiful brass/string arrangement on the epic “Brazos”, one of the more enjoyable nearly 10:00 songs perhaps ever and surely a call to inherit Harry Nilsson’s long lost throne.

Big Love

Brazos

RIYL: Harry Nilsson, Beck, Randy Newman, Allen Toussaint, The National

Treat Her Fine: A Mixtape

As finals draw near and the first semester comes to a close, here’s a little playlist to get you through.

1. Hank – Treat Her Right (off of Tied to the Tracks)

2. Maybe Baby (Buddy Holly Cover) – Justin Townes Earle (off of Rave On Buddy Holly)

3. Let’s Go Young – Hundred Visions (off of Permanent Basement)

4. Don’t Stop Loving Me Now (Floating Action Cover) – Juston Stens (via Everybody Taste)

5. Who’s Gonna Find Me – The Coral (off of Roots and Echoes)

6. Thought and Commonsense – Cheers Elephant ( off of Like Wind Blows Fire)

7. Where’d All the Time Go – Dr. Dog (off of Shame, Shame)

8. 50 Lashes – Floating Action (off of Floating Action)

9. Lonely Lonely Night – Juston Stens (off of Trash or Treasure)

10. California – Cheers Elephant (off of Man Is Nature)

11. Hot Love – T. Rex (off of Electric Warrior)

12. You Never Know – Wilco (off of Wilco)

13. Leaves, Trees, Forest – Dan Mangan (off of Oh, Fortune)

14. No Voodoo- Allah-Las (off of Allah-Las)

15. Soul Sister – Allen Toussaint (off of Life, Love And Faith)

16. In Living Color – Lands & Peoples (off of Pop Guilt)

17. Big Bad Love – Andrew Combs (off of Worried Man)

18. Leap – The Cave Singers (off of Welcome Joy)

19. You Had Me At Hello – Mystery Jets (off of Radlands)

20. You Silly Git – Dan Mangan (off of Nice, Nice, Very Nice)

21. Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen (off of Nebraska)

Listen to it on Spotify

Treat Her Fine (.zip file)

“California”, Cheers Elephant, Man Is Nature (2011)

The eighth track off  Philadelphia based Cheers Elephant’s 2011 release, Man Is Nature, “California” is an absolute stunner of a pop melody. Starting off with a bouncy jazz guitar riff, “California” bursts with the energy of Beatlesque harmonies and sly, tongue-in-cheek, lyrics that are reminiscent of Queen’s “Killer Queen”. A stellar track on a stellar album you might have missed last year.

California – Cheers Elephant

 Cheers Elephant’s latest album Like Wind Blows Fire may well find itself back here on a Best of 2012 list, so prep yourself by grabbing the album on Bandcamp!

RIYL: Dr. Dog, Queen, The Beatles