The Shins — Port of Morrow
Port of Morrow is The Shins’ first album for five years, and the wait has had hardcore fans going crazy. So there’s been plenty of interest this morning in the fact that it’s up for online streaming, a week before release. But is it any good? Well, we’ve been digesting it for the last hour or so, and our initial reaction is that it’s… um, well, it’s OK. There’s the occasional track that could nestle on the glorious Chutes Too Narrow, but there’s an abiding air of sentimentality that we wouldn���t have expected from James Mercer, a lighters-aloft anthemic quality that pervades songs like “It’s Only Life” and “40 Mark Strasse.” If such things are your cup of tea, you may well enjoy Port of Morrow — we don’t hate it, we just feel Mercer is a more interesting songwriter than he demonstrates here. Anyway, listen here.
THEEsatisfaction — Awe Naturale
Reinventing hip-hop without resorting to oh-so-shocking rape fantasies and naughty words? Who’d have thunk it, eh? Seattle duo THEEsatisfaction have been getting a heap of good press of late, and their debut record Awe Naturale justifies the hype, and then some. It’s spacey, cerebral hip-hop with production that to our ears recalls a slightly less abstruse Flying Lotus — they’ve also been compared a lot to fellow Seattle-ites Shabazz Palaces, whose Ishmael Butler features on a couple of tracks here. Anyway, whoever you compare THEEsatisfaction to, this is the business. Highly recommended. Hear it via NPR.
Daniel Rossen — Silent Hour/Golden Mile
We’re generally all for anything Grizzly Bear related, so we’ve been listening with interest to Daniel Rossen’s latest solo project, a five-track EP that’s his first release under his own name (he is also, of course, a member of Department of Eagles). At first listen, the songs here could be Grizzly Bear outtakes — they share the same spacious, pristine production that characterized Veckatimest — which as far as we’re concerned is high praise indeed. And, of course, Rossen’s voice remains instantly recognizable. Listen here.
Paul Weller — Sonik Kicks
If you were alarmed by Weller-goes-Bowie single “That Dangerous Age,” well, you weren’t the only one. Weller takes his newfound love of psychedelia to all sorts of extremes on Sonik Kicks, as well as an apparent affection for Neu! and Blur. And Bowie. Lots of Bowie. It’s a strange combination, alright, but it yields some moments of unexpected interest (based on what we can tell from the “stream,” anyway, which is annoyingly limited to snippets of songs rather than the whole record). And, hey, our erudite friends at The Quietus like it! Make up your own mind right here.
Fanuelle — Fanuelle
And now for something completely different — outsider music from Manhattan via Sweden, courtesy of one Matthew Fanuele. We found this via The Fader, who describe the artist as like a “synth-armed Daniel Johnston” — it sounds vaguely like the guy who gets onto the subway with a Casio keyboard and proceeds to sing something that’s as plaintively beautiful as it is unadorned and musically simple. This album was originally from 2005, but is being re-released next week. We’re not sure if Faneule really is this person or it’s some sort of persona, but either way, the album’s fascinating. Listen here.
If there are any Madonna fans who still read Flavorwire, they’ll be excited to know that MDNA is apparently going to be streaming on Wednesday and Wednesday only. Details here.