There is an incredible amount of potentially great albums coming out in the next 8 weeks. So, I figured I’d highlight the ones that I’m most looking forward to in this week’s Pick Six.
Heaven is Whenever – The Hold Steady (May 4)
The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn has stated that Heaven is Whenever would be more of a guitar-driven record, and the power-chord crunch of the pre-released songs “Hurricane J” and “Rock Problems” validate that statement. The album promises more straight-ahead rock with the hyper-literate lyrics delivered in a unique style that fans have come to expect from the band.
Sample Cut: “Hurricane J” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bG4ABgTuCqA)
High Violet – The National (May 11)
If “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” the first single off of High Violet, is any indication, the album will feature a more robust sound than The National’s previous records. In fact, the instrumentation is beginning to sound a bit like The Arcade Fire, but not in a derivative way. Industry buzz is escalating around this band, and there is a lot of pressure on them for this record to be a breakout for them. If the quality of the rest of the album is as good as the first cut, they will have delivered on that pressure.
Sample Cut: “Bloodbuzz Ohio” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBGaIMQcyvQ)
Infinite Arms – Band of Horses (May 18)
Band of Horses has been known as a band with a serious knack for mellow rock. That trend seems to continue on Infinite Arms, as the two tracks released as an album sampler are somewhat mellow, with a bit of somber thrown in. They are also quite beautiful, which is a good sign that this will be a strong album.
Sample Cut: “Laredo” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNSt1Wz1758)
Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots (May 25)
This eponymous album will be the band’s first since Shangri-La Dee Da, which was released almost 9 years ago. The first single, “Between the Lines,” has that classic STP style with perhaps a hint of Velvet Revolver thrown in, which would not be surprising considering Scott Weiland’s history with both bands. The reunited STP sounds tight and confident, giving fans a real reason to believe that this album will be killer.
Sample Cut: “Between the Lines” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBx1CTSe7ic)
White Crosses – Against Me! (June 8 )
White Crosses continues Against Me’s movement away from the screaming folk-punk sound (but not the attitude) they brought on the Reinventing Axl Rose album. While this will undoubtedly cause some of their long-time fans to revolt, the quality of the music written in their new punk style is undeniable. The bottom line is that this is a more accessible record, and one that will likely gain them a whole new set of fans.
Sample Cut: “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTbK2L4xNfg)
American Slang – The Gaslight Anthem (June 15)
This could be the album that elevates The Gaslight Anthem into the mainstream. American Slang opens up the band’s punk sound and drops in some motown and soul influences, especially in the vocal melodies/harmonies. Lead singer/songwriter Brian Fallon is beginning to tire of the Springsteen comparisons, but they are tough to avoid when his lyrical writing style shares some similarities to Bruce’s, especially in Fallon’s ability to write straightforward-yet-poetic couplets. The band has carved out their own sound, playing and writing with a confidence that shines through on this album.
Sample Cut: “American Slang” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSBhrinnwVs)