Monday, May 3, 2010

Ready, Steady, Listen! Three Album Previews on KCRW

Here's an impressive triple play of album previews for your listening pleasure: The National, New Pornographers AND Minus the Bear! Not sure what all this free music is doing for sales but if it's out there to be enjoyed, why not indulge?

The National's new CD, High Violet is available May 3rd - May 16th at the link below (release date is May 11th). Coming off a huge write up in The New York Times Magazine and embarking on a mega tour beginning in London May 5th supporting their fifth offering, The National might not just be critic fav indie darlings anymore. The guys grew up in Cincinnati but are now based in (where else) Brooklyn -- the line up includes two sets of brothers Bryan and Scott Devendorf along with Aaron and Bryce Dessner, who are even twins. Just listening to lead vocalist Matt Berninger's deep baritone singing over this group's mellow music makes my shoulders drop instantly into relaxation. The lyrics are always worth investigating, whether they're referencing Dostoyevsky or ruminating over poetic imagery.

Next up is another indie powerhouse -- the New Pornographers's 5th studio release Together, offered until May 9th. I loved their last CD from 2008 Challengers but this band of eight musicians from the Vancouver music scene has been collaborating since 1997. Carl Newman shares lead vocals with Dan Bejar and the distinctive voice of Neko Case. It was Newman that found the name of the band after watching a Japanese film called "The Pornographers." The CD also features collabos with St. Vincent, Beirut's Zach Condon and Okkervil River's Will Shef.

The last in the group, Minus the Bear's Omni, is on the site through May 18th with a CD that was released May 4th. It's the Seattle band's fourth full length release with a solid group of five guys who like to venture away from the indie rock label, pushing the limits of experimentation into prog rock's inventive time structures. The name comes from an incident when a friend joked that his date was like the 70s TV show "B.J. and the Bear" -- minus the bear. For this CD, the band wanted to capture the live energy of playing together as much as possible during the recording process and it shows. I love the opener, "My Time" with its synths playing off a solid grove provided by the drums before the journey happily continues.