of Montreal — Paralytic Stalks
Ever since they abandoned backward-looking indie pop for a collage of influences and personae, of Montreal have been dividing critics. The reception for Paralytic Stalks, we imagine, will be no different. Full of long, prog-rock digressions, theatrical flourishes á la Queen, dark revelations, and brief moments of hooky perfection, it’s certainly not for everyone. But we are big of Montreal fans here at Flavorpill, so let us be the first to say, “Whatever.” We’re loving it. Find out which side you’re on at Spin.
Sharon Van Etten — Tramp
We’ve been listening to Van Etten’s third album for a few weeks now, and it’s undoubtedly the best of her career. The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has a voice reminiscent of wind — powerful but also protean, diffuse, and propelled by its sheer emotional force. Tramp showcases Van Etten’s range, encompassing driving rock songs, peaceful lullabies, and meandering folk tunes, without ever sounding disjointed. Stream it at NPR.
Blondes — Blondes
If you’re looking for some prime space-out music, then you’ll want to give electronic duo Blondes’ self-titled debut a spin. Somewhere between ambient and dance floor-ready, it’s comprised of a series of sprawling song pairs with titles like “Lover” and “Hater,” “Business” and “Pleasure,” and “Wine” and “Water.” This may sound like a gimmick, but it never gets in the way of the record’s flow. Check it out at Drowned in Sound.
Mark Lanegan Band — Blues Funeral
Former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan has been involved in so many high-profile collaborations it’s difficult to keep track of them all. He’s teamed up with ex-Belle and Sebastian singer/cellist Isobel Campbell, formed The Gutter Twins with Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs, and spent some time in Queens of the Stone Age. Blues Funeral finds him calling on Dulli, Queens’ Josh Homme, and other guests to round out his first solo album since 2004’s Bubblegum. The result sounds dark and gritty, incorporating more synthetic sounds than we’re used to from Lanegan. While he cites Roxy Music and Joy Division as influences, we’re also hearing some Nick Cave on the record. Hear it at Exclaim!
Knew You Were Waiting: The Best of Aretha Franklin 1980-1998
From “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” to “Freeway of Love,” nothing on this late-career greatest-hits compilation will surprise long-term fans. But is there anything you’d rather have soundtracking your work day? Didn’t think so. Have a listen at Spinner.
Bonus track: If you ever wanted to hear the Flaming Lips, Erykah Badu, Biz Markie, and Siri — yes, the voice of your iPhone — on the same track, well, now you can.