Captain’s Log: Favorite recently released albums

emmythegreat-secondloveI don’t really read rock reviews or take in that many outside opinions when it comes to music. What I like to do (same with movies, TV, and games) is head over to Metacritic, see what’s been scoring high, and give it a listen. It doesn’t always work, but by and large I’ve found it to be a great way to help me find albums and bands I might not have found otherwise.

After listening to quite a few albums over the past few weeks, here are some of my favorites among recent releases. Hopefully you will find something here that you enjoy that you may not have discovered otherwise.

The Coral – Distance Inbetween (Metascore: 83)

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This is the first album in six years for The Coral, and it’s a strong return indeed. I’ve already featured a track from this album as our Song of the Day (“Connector”), and I’m still enjoying what this album offers from start to finish. Loving the 60s and 70s psychedelic vibes on this album. (Release Date: March 4)

Favorite Tracks: “Connector,” “White Bird,” “Chasing the Tail of a Dream,” “Distance Inbetween,” “Million Eyes,” “Beyond the Sun,” “Holy Revelation,” “Fear Machine”

Mount Moriah – How To Dance (Metascore: 76)

The third album from this North Carolina trio is a pleasing listen from start to finish. It’s a soothing album of Southern-flavored rock carried along by the voice of lead vocalist Heather McIntyre. This is one where you can put your feet up and just enjoy. (Release Date: Feb. 12)

Favorite Tracks: “Cardinal Cross”, “Higher Mind,” “How To Dance,” “Precita”

Radiation City – Synesthetica (Metascore: 80)

Another album where one of its tracks (“Oil Show”) found its way into a recent Song of the Day, this is an album with an irresistibly dreamy, bubbly pop sound that I’m enjoying quite a bit. It tails off towards the end, but not before giving you your fill. (Release Date: Feb. 26)

Favorite Tracks: “Oil Show,” “Sugar Broom,” “Butter,” “Milky White”

Milk Teeth – Vile Child (Metascore: 88)

The full-length debut album from this British 90s-flavored alt-rock/punk act has gotten its share of praise. It’s a bit hit and miss for me, although when it hits the mark, it hits hard and offers up some delicious angst. There’s a lot of promise here, and the album is certainly worth listening to fans of the genre. The album switches vocals on occasion between bassist Becky Blomfield and the punk howlings of former guitarist/vocalist Josh Bannister, but I have to confess I’m much more interested in it when Blomfield is behind the mic. (Release Date: Jan. 29)

Favorite Tracks: “Brickwork,” “Burger Drop,” “Brain Food,” “Swear Jar (again),” “Crows Feet”

Emmy The Great – Second Love (Metascore: 78)

This album took a few listens, but eventually it got me. The third release from British singer-songwriter Emma Lee-Moss, Second Love is a gentle, ethereal listen that has at least six tracks I’m really digging right now. Emmy described the album as a “magical snowglobe”, and I suppose if a snowglobe had a soundtrack, this might as well be it (“Shadowlawns” in particular is like a snowglobe in music form). If you’re looking for a good chill-out album, give this one a try. (Release Date: March 11)

Favorite Tracks: “Constantly,” “Swimming Pool,” “Less Than Three,” “Social Halo,” “Never Go Home,” “Shadowlawns”

Turin Brakes – Lost Property (Metascore: 78)

This is the seventh album from Turin Breaks, a band I haven’t explored until now. I don’t know yet if I’ll dig into their backlog, but there’s some stuff worth hearing here. (Release Date: Jan. 29)

Favorite Tracks: “96,” “Keep Me Around,” “Brighter Than the Dark”

Lucius – Good Grief (Metascore: 68)

Two albums in, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Lucius… There are times when the Brooklyn band really nails it and others when it doesn’t quite work for me (sometimes both over the course of a single song). Their harmonies can be gorgeous and striking at times while feeling like a bit much at others (sometimes both over the course of a single song). Good Grief is, like some of these other albums, a hit-and-miss affair but still one worth digging through to find the good stuff. And the good stuff here is quite good, indeed. There are plenty of different styles and flavors here, and much of it works, from the ready-made radio pop goodness of “Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain,” to the funky flow of “Truce,” to the country-esque ballad “Dusty Trails,” to the vintage rock-flavored album closer “You Were on My Mind.” This group may have a classic album in them, but it’s not quite here yet. (Release Date: March 11)

Favorite Tracks: “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain,” “Madness,” “Something About You,” “Truce”, “Better Look Back”, “Dusty Trails”, “You Were on My Mind”

Margo Price – Midwest Farmer’s Daughter (Metascore: 85)

This is the debut full-length album from rising country star Margo Price, who is a part of the roster at Jack White’s Third Man Records. I rather like what I’ve heard here, although I don’t have the best ear for country, so it’s not surprising that my favorite track “Hands of Time” is the one that might be furthest away from country. It’s quite a powerful song, in which Price brings despair with the best of them:

Soon I settled down
With a married man
We had a couple babies
Started livin’ off the land
But my firstborn died
And I cried out to God
“Is there anybody out there looking down on me at all?”

This is a talented artist who at 32 is finally getting a chance to shine on a national stage. Big things could be ahead.

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