WEGL Friday Picks Oct 21-28
1) Lowertown – I Love To Lie – Oct 21, 2022
Atlanta indie-rock and “alternative folk” duo Lowertown, of whom made an appearance in my year-end review last year, are here with their first full length LP. I Love To Lie is the groups first real attempt at creating a project that feels like more than a collection of singles, and they nailed it. Olive Osby and Avshalom Weinberg have spent the past few years defining their sound to the point of instant recognizability, which is always a sign of promising band. This latest record builds on that sound, but at a much more post-punk feeling with fast paced tracks, angsty vocals, and more distortion when compared to the skeletal folkness of last year’s EP The Gaping Mouth (which I absolutely loved). The lyrics on most of the tracks discuss having pride and confidence in oneself, sexuality, religion, and current political issues. While I don’t feel that Lowertown are reinventing the wheel with their sound, it’s the sheer level of emotion and personality in the lyrics and performance that really gives this record a sense of life. This is a solid album, one I will revisit, but its bright spot is the little moments of potential that will hopefully develop into unyielding displays on records to come.
Favorite tracks: “It’s It’s It’s” ; “Scum” ; “At The End”
- Will Lewis
2) Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loneliest Time – Oct 21, 2022
While all the attention was on Taylor Swift this past weekend, Carly Rae Jepsen dropped one of the most solid, vibrant, and downright groovy pop albums of 2022. After breaking out with her chart-topping hit “Call Me Maybe” Carly Rae Jepsen has failed to miss, delivering four amazing pop albums before The Loneliest Time. She looked to continue this streak with a couple of decent singles, “Western Wind” and “Beach House”. These tracks are a great listen but did little to reflect the pop perfection present in the full album. From slow burns like “Anxious” to driving hits like “Talking to Yourself”, The Loneliest Time is dense with moving beats and infectious hooks. On the title track, Carly and guest feature Rufus Wainwright combine to create a timeless hit that is some parts reminiscent of the early days of pop, and earnestly refreshing in today’s pop landscape. While the album is not perfect, its worst tracks are still better than most songs a lesser pop star would put out.
The Loneliest Time is just the latest in an extraordinary catalogue from Carly Jepsen that is just begging to be listened to over and over again. I truly cannot recommend this album enough, not only to pop listeners, but to anyone looking for a good listen.
Favorite tracks: “Anxious”; “The Loneliest Time” (ft. Rufus Wainwright); “Talking to Yourself”
- Cameron Kasprzak
3) Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork – Oct 21, 2022
Dry Cleaning is a contemporary post-punk quartet hailing from London, and they have just released their second full-length album. Last year’s New Long Leg was the band’s debut record, and it received some serious critical acclaim and even charted #1 in the UK’s indie category. Dry Cleaning is a band built on a foundation of weirdness, with singer Florence Shaw utilizing almost exclusively spoken word, telling oblique, surreal stories on each track. More of the same is found on Stumpwork, but I think we see the band take a step forward musically. The tasteful use of dissonance, tension, and resolution is something you don’t often find in their brand of rock, but it is used magnificently on this latest LP. The weird sense of humor used by the band, and Shaw in particular, adds a real character to the album as well. Dry Cleaning fits the mold of a lot of post-punk groups of the day, but Shaw sets them apart with her style and lyrics. Last year’s release was good, and Stumpwork is even better.
Favorite tracks: “Anna Calls From The Arctic” ; “Driver’s Story” ; “Liberty Log”
- Will Lewis
4) Arctic Monkeys – Car – Oct 21, 2022
I was a huge fan and supporter of the Arctic Monkey’s sudden and striking change of sound on their previous album “Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino”, the concept conjured up by the group of a hotel house band in space was executed beautifully, resulting in an odd comeback record that was fresh and endlessly relistenable. The problem is, however, much of what made that album so great was how it executed its very specific concept and not necessarily how much everyone just absolutely adored its vintage-minded noodlings and bizarrely confident abstract lyricisms (The delivery of “Whaddya mean you haven't seen Blade Runner???” on “Star Treatment” still kills me though). Here, the band doesn't seem to realize that, and as the initial shock of the band’s sudden style change wears off, the fantastical novelty present on Tranquility Base is simply lost. What we hear instead are a collection of songs so meandering and flavorless that on three separate occasions while listening, I found myself in the middle of an entirely new song, not realizing the one I had been taking active notes on had ended 3 minutes ago. The overall sound of this album feels like a watered down yet overblown interpolation of David Bowie’s “plastic soul” era, lacking any of Bowie's own self awareness regarding such a sound. The band delivers some nice rhythms, the hypnotic pulse of “Anything Goes” specifically grabbed my ear, and the keyboard/synth sounds across the album are absolutely fantastic. The most damning part of this album’s sound, however, has to be Alex Turner’s vocal performance. This bizarre freestyle poetry delivery worked wonders on Tranquility Base, it felt like Turner was just embodying a character perfect to the environment of the album. But here, there is no real worldbuilding or rising and falling motion in the tracklist, and Turner's vocals are front and center. This leads to the album sounding much less like the heartfelt confessions of a charismatic fictional character, and more the pompous ramblings of a jazz school freshman with a god complex. 37 minutes of uninspired suspended chord progressions, flavorless jamming, and entirely unfounded confidence.
- Thomas Averill