January - The Month @ Pop Headwound (Part 1):

In retrospect, I picked a great time to start Pop Headwound. January 2007 was a top-notch month for new music. So good in fact that it deserves a little recap to give you folks a chance to catch up on some great albums/tracks you may have missed the first time through. Here’s a recap of some of the best albums released over the past few weeks:

First comes Of Montreal. Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is my first experience with this band, despite the fact this was their 10th album since 1997! This is pretty much the album I was hoping for from the Shins, a reckless pop album that goes off in hundreds of different tangents, shifting in sound and tempo every chance it gets. This is actually much more synth-driven than the Shins too, with more of a soul/80’s influence taboot. Under all the beautifully discordant music are the desperate lyrics of a man at the end of a relationship, very quickly coming apart at the seams. An early contender for a top-ten spot at year’s end.

MP3 - Suffer For Fashion
MP3 - Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse

Menomena is another reason why indie rock is off to a great start in 2007. Friend and Foe was released on 1/23, and my local Brooklyn indie-record store got one copy that day. Needless to say when I got there sometime after 6 it had long since been sold. I’m still without a purchased copy. Luckily it’s streaming here. Pitchfork claimed that this is the first great indie-rock record of the year. Another early contender for the Top 10.

MP3 - Muscle n Flo
MP3 - Wet And Rusting

San Francisco rock band Deerhoof released Friend Opportunity on 1/23. The album continues their move away from the more dissonant sound of their early albums to friendlier song structures. Much more concise than 2005’s The Runners Four, the album maintains that album’s focus on short, tight, pop-rock songs. However, it’s Satomi Matsuzaki's childlike cooing that will be the deciding factor in whether you get Deerhoof or not. Underneath the voice is some really interesting rock music, full of complex chord progressions and odd time signatures.

MP3 - Matchbook Seeks Maniac
MP3 - +81

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released Some Loud Thunder this week, and it’s been garnering reviews all week that sound eerily similar to the one I posted last week. The aesthetic choices they use on several songs are disappointing, especially the fuzzed out album-opening title track, but the album does boast a denser production and some sharper musicianship than the brilliant debut. It just doesn’t have that album’s barrage of really-good-to-great songs from start to finish.

MP3 - Emily Jean Stock
MP3 - Underwater (You and Me)

The Broken West released I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On this month as well. The album has an endearing, workmanlike sense about it, and sports the best 1-2-3 punch in a while with opening tracks “On the Bubble”, “So It Goes”, and “Down In The Valley” . Lacking the unpredictable genius or virtuoso musicianship some of these other albums feature, the album simply gives you strong melodies wrapped in 70’s A.M. radio power-pop. Reminiscent at times of The Pernice Bros., Teenage Fanclub, & The Honeydogs, the band shows great promise for the future.

MP3 - So It Goes
MP3 - Down in the Valley

And sneaking in under the radar was the Kill Buffalo EP from The Roadside Graves, What Happened To Him Could Happen To Anyone. Basically a way for fans to catch up with the band before April’s release of the No One Will Know Where You’ve Been LP, the EP does a good job of highlighting a few of the band’s old favorites and wetting appetites for new ones with the new album’s first single, “West Coast”.

MP3 - West Coast
MP3 - Jesus Is A Friend Of The Family

Buy these albums from Amazon, Insound, or Emusic. The Roadside Graves EP is available at Amazon, Itunes, or thru Kill Buffalo.

Check back tomorrow for a round-up of some of the great tracks that 2007 has offered so far!


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