Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now
This week's curator: Kevin Bronson of Buzzbands.LA
Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Kevin Bronson of Buzzbands.LA, the blog he spun off the music column he wrote for seven years at the Los Angeles Times.
1) Frightened Rabbit, The Winter of Mixed Drinks
Anthemic rock is my comfort food, and few recent albums wrapped big metaphors into widescreen sonics quite like the third effort from this Scottish quintet. Frontman Scott Hutchison's big, hopeful voice — all aching and miserable on the band's well-regarded previous effort The Midnight Organ Fight — here soars over trembling and finger-picked guitars as he wrestles with his sense of identity and fear of isolation. Almost arena-ready.
Listen: "Nothing Like You"
2) Fitz & the Tantrums, Pickin' Up the Pieces
Old-school soul gets a nifty makeover courtesy of skinny-tied frontman Michael Sean Fitzpatrick and his Los Angeles sextet. The brainchild of Fitzpatrick, a veteran studio hand, the Tantrums boast a guitar-less lineup, with backup singer Noelle Scaggs and saxophonist James King as not-so-secret weapons. Their deliriously catchy tunes are the stuff of shaking and shimmying and sweating your blues away.
Fitz & the Tantrums
3) Baths, Cerulean
The nom de tune of twenty-one-year-old Will Wiesenfeld, Baths emerged this year as a rising star on the Los Angeles "beat scene," a loose collective of artists whose electronic music features forays into pop, hip-hop, funk, and a few other genres they're still trying to name. Baths' buoyant psychedelia stutters and soars on intricate beats, ornate instrumentation, and Wiesenfeld's boyish tenor. Somewhere in the young beatmaker's forested arrangements, you can even hear his classical training.
4) Sea of Bees, Songs for the Ravens
There's a story about Julie Baenziger — aka Julie Ann Bee, aka Jules, aka Sea of Bees — learning Pro Tools and self-recording her first EP all in one day. It's pretty much true. The twenty-five-year old from Sacramento made her debut album with a proper producer, though, and whether she is dabbling in folk, fuzzy pop, country, or electro, hers is a uniquely engaging voice, clear and guileless and exceedingly tender in its pleas for human connection.
Sea of Bees
5) Ride, Nowhere: 20th Anniversary Edition
Ride were better than My Bloody Valentine. There, I said it. Like the widely lionized Valentine, the Oxford, U.K., quartet Ride fashioned its wall of sound out of distorted guitar tones and reverb, but beautiful pop songs lurked beneath the noise. Later in their career, Mark Gardener, Andy Bell, Laurence Colbert, and Steve Queralt would go in a pop direction, but this debut album is a shoegaze classic. The anniversary edition (out Dec. 21 on Rhino) includes a second disc with a live recording from 1991 at Los Angeles' Roxy Theatre, a show I am deeply sorry to have missed.
Listen: "Vapour Trail"