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New Adds: Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, and More!

SPACE ROCK: Pink Floyd – Meddle: The Floyd played an undeniable role in the creation of Space Rock, but the band would ultimately reject the moniker once it properly came into use by the music press. Piper at the Gates of Dawn could be considered proto-Space Rock due to its themes and instrumentation, but it lacked the jazz influence and druggy weirdness, which is why I still consider Gong to be the one true Space Rock band. Meddle is perhaps the closest the Floyd ever came to Space madness and it’s the album where the band self-consciously changed themes to avoid accusations of space rockery. Here we see the band finally coming into their own post-Barrett. Meddle is a clear indication of the masterful compositions to come, namely Dark Side of the Moon. One of the outtakes would actually become “Brain Damage”. The clear standouts on here are “One of These Days” and “Echoes”, but the others exhibit some important elements of space rock – jazzy feels on “San Tropez” and heavy reverb on “Fearless”. “Seamus” is admittedly a pretty stupid track, featuring Steve Marriott’s (of the Small Faces) dog howling along to the music, but it does show that the band was willing to experiment with unorthodox instrumentation. “Echoes” is the result of months of experimentation with cutting edge recording equipment and perhaps the most cohesive creative cooperation between band members other than Dark Side. “One of These Days” is my personal favorite track off the album because of the more sinister vibes; Nick Mason growls “One of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces” over an incessant double tracked bass line and an oscillator. So, basically Pink Floyd is like Gong’s mature older brother. By this time they had traded psychedelics for pot and settled down to focus on the craft. SHILL

Recommended Tracks: all

CLASSIC: Nina Simone – I Put A Spell On You: Nina Simone is an artist that I feel everybody has heard in some capacity, but has never really listened to. Her 1965 album, I Put A Spell On You, features some of her most well known works including the title track as well as “Feeling Good” (although there is the notable exclusion of “Strange Fruit” of “Blood On The Leaves” fame which appears on her other 1965 album, Pastel Blues). Simone’s is largely praised for her lyrical content often celebrating her traditionally black features. There is an unshakable confidence in much of Simone’s music, especially this album, which I was especially powerful during the Civil Rights era, partially explaining her influence on contemporary black music. I Put A Spell On You is probably the most pop oriented album that Simone has, with large orchestral arrangements contrasting with full instrumental piano driven tracks (“Blues On Purpose”). Simone cannot be discussed without briefly mentioning the power of her voice, with its unique tone being the perfect instrument for expressing emotion on tracks. While Simone is a blues artist, her music intersects with classical and jazz, while hinting at the R&B that would develop later inspired by her music. I Put A Spell On You is a great introductory to an artist whose discography is littered with gems and whose legacy is still clearly felt across many genres today. KEN

RIYL: Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald

Recommended Tracks: All, but especially “I Put A Spell On You” (1),“Feeling Good” (7), “You’ve Got To Learn” (11), “Blues On Purpose”(9), “Gimme Some” (6)   

La Sera - Music For Listening To Music To: La Sera’s fourth studio album is sure to satisfy fans and attract a handful of new followers in the process. The most recent installment of chill indie rock features a bit of a rockabilly sort of feel to it. Consisting of reverby guitars and fairly lowkey drums, the sound may seem surf-rocky at first. However, La Sera definitely pushes their retro sound more towards classic rock n roll, vaguely reminiscent of Elvis Presley. Frontwoman Katy Goodman sports pretty solid vocals and respectable basswork. For fans of the band, Music For Listening To Music To will probably be a solid addition to their library. It is recorded and produced well, especially considering that it was supposedly squeezed last minute into producer Ryan Adams’ tight schedule. As far as my personal take goes, I think the album sounds a little homogenous and I’ve heard better indie rock. But still worth a try for sure, it could just be my taste! BONE DADDY

RIYL: Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls

Recommended Tracks: "A Thousand Ways" (2), "Too Little Too Late" (10) 

Nada Surf – You Know Who You Are: These indie rockers have been doin' the damn thang for as long as a lot of us have been alive. You Know Who You Are is their eighth studio album, and it's full of an irresistible youthfulness and fun that the band has managed to maintain over the years. What I love about this album is the way it balances that youthfulness with the maturity the band has gained with experience. Rock doesn't always age well on people. When I reviewed The Libertines last semester, it was honestly depressing as fuck - those guys are past their party days prime and they know it. Sometimes, it goes the other way, and bands don't know it. That is possibly even more depressing. In contrast, You Know Who You Are exemplifies aging gracefully. While some acts who have stuck around this long try to hang on to something they had in the past, Nada Surf is trying to perfect their craft - and they're getting close. I put my two favorite songs in the recommended tracks, but the album is a short 40-minute listen that's worth listening to the whole way through. NIPPLE MAMA

RIYL: The Lemonheads, Modest Mouse

Recommended Tracks: "Believe You're Mine" (2)"Friend Hospital" (3)

M. Ward – More Rain: I put off listening to M. Ward’s latest release More Rain because I had an important midterm to study for, but afterwards it was exactly what I needed to calm down from a stressful few days. M. Ward is originally from Portland and this album definitely sounds like it was made from someone there. M. Ward is known for being the guitarist and producer for his indie duo with Zooey Deschanel, She & Him. Compared to She & Him’s music, this is much more full sounding than theirs, but overall has a similar sound.  The album starts off with a track that is a minute of just rain and bells. From here the music flows into a really nice ballad, with the rain lasting the entire time.“Time Won’t Wait” definitely picks things up with a pretty heavy drumbeat and distorted guitar. On this album the guitar is used pretty effectively with lots of simple and relaxing melodies. A lot of the time when this was used it reminded me very much of the Artic Monkeys. In addition, the combination of acoustic and slightly distorted guitar on songs like “Confession” is done well. Overall, the album is very calming and I would recommend this to all indie lovers. HARRY

RIYL:  She & Him, Bon Iver, Monsters of Folk

Recommended Tracks: "Pirate Dial" (2), "Time Won't Wait" (3), "Girl From Conejo Valley" (6), "Temptation" (9)