Listen Up! December Wrap-up and New Music Arrivals

Petite Noir Cover

December is here and I’m catching my breath. It’s been a long busy year at the library, and I’ve had a blast working with our music collection. It’s been amazing to see how the unique character of our community influences the music that passes through our doors. Our users help determine what makes it to our shelves via donations, purchase requests, or simply checking certain items out more than others so we know what they like.

Some casual observations: Rock, Country, Latin, and Christian music do a booming business. Hip-hop and Electronic acts are steadily gaining in popularity; there are rarely any purchase requests (hint hint), but the stuff that’s been added goes out quickly and those shelves can look completely ransacked at times. People around here love reggae and Hawaiian music (I think all the rain makes people long for warm sandy beaches). Everett also can’t seem to get enough holiday music – the carts have been out since just past Halloween because people kept asking about them.

One issue that I’ve noticed is that some genres are becoming more difficult to purchase due to changes in technology. Within the Indie, Electronic, and Hip-hop communities, many artists are choosing to go digital-only, or to scrap the use of CDs for throwback media, such as vinyl records and cassette tapes (I’m waiting on the 8-track and wax cylinder revivals). This came into play while working on developing the Local Music collection, because many bands only had digital releases of their albums. The digital-only trend is also a big hurdle for libraries when it comes to adding music from international artists making music in developing countries. Digital releases are far cheaper to produce, market, and distribute, so they’re a natural fit for musicians who are working with a tight budget. There are online services available that allow libraries to loan digital music. They wouldn’t do much to remedy this issue, however, since they mainly provide pre-selected packages of albums from major labels. Hopefully this is something that will change in the near future, because there’s a lot of great music out there that we’d love to share with our users.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 brings to Everett. We’re a vibrant city with a lot of creative people and a thriving musical scene. You can help be a part of that growth: if you hear of a great new act, local or otherwise, drop our reference librarians a line and we’ll see what we can do. Now on to those December picks (I’ll keep it short!).

Empress Of CoverEmpress Of – Me (Terrible Records) – A lively combination of dance, pop, and rock, very reminiscent of Bjork’s early material. Lorely Rodriguez’s voice somehow manages to be strong and ethereal almost in the same breath. Her lyrics are deeply personal and rich in storytelling, flitting through scenes of a failed romance while making you want to dance away her angst.

Petite Noir – La Vie Est Belle (Domino Recording Company) – Bright, beautiful, and insanely catchy. Yannick Ilunga calls his sound Noirwave, and you can definitely see his New Wave influences winding through, track by track. In the end, the album really defies description. New wave, hip hop, electronic, or rock, plus subtle hints of Ilunga’s Congolese and Angolan musical roots – each element fuses together into a satisfyingly-complex new sound.

Car Seat Headrest coverCar Seat Headrest – Teens of Style (Matador Records) – After releasing an impressive 15 albums on the indie music selling site Bandcamp, former solo-artist Will Toledo and his band have come out with their first album on the legendary Matador Records. Did I mention that he managed all this before turning 23? Bright, airy, and guitar-driven, I expect to hear more wonderful things from this band in their 2016 release, Teens of Denial.

Future Shock – Secret Weapon EP (Future Shock) – Continuing on the new wave tip, this mysteriously-masked Seattle Duo calls their sound Afro New Wave. With production by RayGun and lyrics by The Doctor, this EP comes across sounding like David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, and Duran Duran got together and laid down some tracks. From start to finish the Secret Weapon EP is a solid album that leaves you looking for more.

Protomartyr CoverProtomartyr – Agent Intellect (Hardly Art) Dark, brooding, driving post-punk. This album sounds like a grey winter day – perfect for your winter angst.

Roots Manuva – Bleeds (Big Dada) U.K. hip-hop pioneer returns with his first release in nearly four years. Stripped-down, tight production showcases the kind of political lyricism I’ve come to expect from Roots Manuva.

Basement Jaxx – Junto Remixed (Pias America) A full roster of clubby, dancefloor-ready tracks. The vibe of this release is about 50/50 house and techno, but there’s a little flirtation with footwork in there. Overall it’s a really versatile collection of remixes.

Place your holds now, and see you in the new year!

End of Summer New Music Arrivals

The Internet coverSummer was a busy time for new releases and filling some gaps in our collection in regards to older material. Thanks to some excellent requests and donations from the public, we’ve added many Hip-Hop, RnB, Punk, Electronic, and Metal titles that we hope you’ll enjoy. If there was something you couldn’t find in the past, take another look because it may be on our shelves now; if not, reach out and make a request – we do our best to fill them because we want the collection to reflect the unique tastes of our community.

OK, that housekeeping aside, here are some highlights from last month’s new arrivals. The fall release schedule looks pretty exciting as well, so I’m looking forward to more goodies to come.

Four TetFour Tet – Morning/Evening (Text Records: Temporary Residence) – This album is laid out more like a cassette tape of a live PA than an album. Instead of the usual 10-15 songs, this release is divided into two long tracks. The first ‘side’ is a peppy, psychedelic dance party with Indian vibes. The second side was more downtempo and ambient to reflect the ‘night’ theme of the track. I appreciate this interesting take on the LP that seems to be an homage to the genre’s roots in live performance of electronic tracks on synths and drum machines.

Dj Rashad CoverDJ Rashad – Double Cup (Hyperdub)– For those who are not familiar with Footwork, it’s a genre of dance music that originated in Chicago. Tracks are fast and complex – meant to showcase a dancer’s skills as they improvise and adapt to the quickly-changing sonic landscape. One of the biggest names in the genre was the late DJ Rashad; this was his last album released before his untimely passing. In a genre that can be fast-paced and aggressive, Rashad’s sound often took a more atmospheric path, with heavy RnB, jazz, techno, hip-hop, house, and old-school jungle overtones. While these tracks are made to be mixed into DJ sets, Double Cup is a good stand-alone listen from start to finish; showcasing the talent that was lost too soon.

The Internet – Ego Death (Odd Future) – Whether you want to call this neo-soul or just soul, that’s up to you – new or old, this release has plenty of soul to go around. Tracks are a little on the electronic side, with jazzy, funky, harmonizing, dreamy melodies. Singer-songwriter Syd tha Kyd packs this album full of fun and sometimes blush-worthy lyrics taking you through the turmoil of love and sex, like the inner monologue of a turbulent relationship.

Grace Potter coverGrace Potter – Midnight (Hollywood Records) – Grace Potter and the Nocturnals front woman steps out in her first solo release, delving into the oft-maligned world of “pop rock.” This album provides nothing of depth, which is actually its strength. What’s inside is a collection of poppy, sometimes gritty tunes that at times reminds me of an 80s movie soundtrack. Think workout montage before the big day/match/dance meets Britney Spears slightly improved by a rock-and-roll makeover. You might dance, you may break a sweat, and your mood just might improve a little. Still not getting it? Place a hold and find out what I’m talking about.

Lower Dens coverLower Dens – Escape From Evil (Ribbon Music) – Classified as ‘dream pop,’ a genre I’m not familiar with, but who can keep up? I enjoy this album’s throwback sound, which makes me think a little of the Cure and the Talking Heads. This is a synthy, smooth, laid back album with very minimal vocals and a lot of groove. Great for a rainy evening at home as we dip into fall weather.

Sean Davis Jr. CoverSean Davis Jr. – Universes (Ninja Tune) – Another electronic mashup of styles. Downtempo rhythms with a strong funk undercurrent. Minimal vocals, and a bit of sass. There’s a bonus disc of beats that may or may not be of interest to you; kind of atmospheric puttering around, but enjoyable. It’s a Ninja Tune release – it’s hard to go wrong!

Hopefully something here tickles your fancy – place your holds now!