Babyshambles – Sequel to the Prequel (Parlophone; 2013)
Despite a rocky six year hiatus, Babyshambles released their latest album Sequel to the Prequel. The album features 12 new tracks showcasing the band’s maturity as musicians and lyricists. The tracklist holds a handful of different genres, all the while staying true to their British post-punk, alternative-rock sound. The opening track “Fireman” sets up listeners for a good time with its fast-paced beat, pounding drums, slick guitar riffs and lead singer, Pete Doherty’s, signature semi-inaudible vocals. “Dr. No” is an infusion of ska, reggae and rock with slightly menacing and unsettling lyrics.
While Doherty was battling his own demons, bassist Drew McConnell was recovering from a near fatal accident which served as inspiration for “Picture Me In a Hospital”. The track stands out on the album with its warm, English country feel and violins. Safe to say that the Brits’ third album boasts a musical maturity hardly seen on previous Babyshambles work. The album dropped Sept. 2.
Trial Track: “Picture Me In a Hospital”
Jack Johnson – From Here From Now To You (Brushfire Records; 2013)
It has been three years since beloved Hawaiian musician (and surfer) Jack Johnson has released an album. It could be said that he doesn’t bring much variety to his sound, but imperfections are sometimes what build up the greatest things. In fact, Johnson has an ability only a few artists have these days: he stays true to himself. He doesn’t make music for business but for his own pleasure and for those who appreciate it most.
This is proven when hearing the beginning of his first single “I Got You”. It’s mostly a mix of mellow guitar, catchy whistling and soft percussion for listeners’ enjoyment. Not entirely different from his previous work, but still worth listening to. Why? Simply because his music is filled with sunshine and soothes the soul. It was created to make our hearts at peace. Keeping everything casual, nobody would be surprised to learn that Johnson records his music barefoot and goes surfing while on break. From Here From Now To You is the perfect album for an endless summer. It comes out on Sept. 17.
Trial Track: “I Got You” or “Radiate”
– Béatrice Viens Côté
Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You (ANTI-; 2013)
With her sixth studio album and first release in over four years, Neko Case demonstrates what an artist in the clutches of deep personal loss and depression sounds like. During the inception of The Worse Things Get, Case experienced the death of both her parents and grandmother. However, don’t expect a mournful album in the traditional sense. With her distinct brand of fire and humour, the alternative-country queen reveals the tension and intensity that arises from facing loss, regret and isolation.
Deeply personal without becoming self-indulgent or sentimental, this album is not as immediately accessible as her previous releases. What it lacks in ease, it makes up for in wit, audacity and passion.
Trail Track: “Where Did I Leave That Fire”
– Paul Traunero
MGMT – MGMT (Columbia; 2013)
How can a band such as MGMT evolve after the success of their first two albums? Even though they won the 2010 Grammy Award for
Best New Artist, the duo promise not to fall into the commercial side of the industry. Their latest self-titled album will still provide that psychedelic signature sound not intended for mainstream radio.
Their first single “Your Life Is A Lie” is a two-minute tune featuring cowbell, grunge-like guitar and bass, and repetitive percussions. Add to this a curious solo and you get the entire sense of the song. At least we can appreciate the goofy video they made for it. Some fans might regret the synthesizers and catchy melodies of their previous songs (think of the most famous “Electric Feel”), but we can’t judge the entire album simply off the one single. Let’s say we’ll take the time to listen to the leaked tracks before buying MGMT’s third opus – unless you’re an unconditional aficionado. The album drops Sept. 17.
Trial Track: “Your Life is A Lie”
-Béatrice Viens Côté