Godspeed You Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!
It’s tempting to look at Allelujah! through the lens of politics, especially since Godspeed themselves have so often encouraged this viewpoint. When we last heard from them on record, it was a year after 9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan was well underway, and the war in Iraq was just around the corner. We were settling into a decade that was, from an American perspective, defined by two wars started by an increasingly unpopular president and an inflating economic bubble that would pop just as he was leaving office. Their music and presentation drew some of its energy from this anxiety. So listening to new music from Godspeed now– during an election season, when the wars and the aftermath of that economy are still being argued every day by two presidential candidates grappling with the legacy of the early 2000s– you can’t help but allow the political moment to shape how it’s heard. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos
“Sunken Condos” begins with a familiar lyrical dilemma: perils of dating young women when, like Wooderson in “Dazed and Confused,” Fagen gets older and they stay the same age. “Slinky Thing” posits that everyone at a party is wondering “what she’s doing with that burned-out hippie clown.” This has been Fagen’s default position since he was in his 20s, and it always works, because there’s something compelling about someone who can be both a dirty old man and a practitioner of immaculate music. But elsewhere, as he did on 2006′s “Morph the Cat,” Fagen is dealing with new pressures buried in his timeless grooves. “They may fix the weather in the world, just like Mr. Gore said/ Tell me what’s to be done about the weather in my head,” Fagen sings in “Weather in My Head,” one of his best songs in years, against a crystalline modified blues progression.
Read the full review on NewsOK
Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives
Gibbard knows he has a good thing going for him, and after more than 15 years in the indie trenches, he knows how to play to his strengths. On his first proper solo album, Former Lives, Gibbard once again showcases the nuanced, nice-guy indie rock that has made him a central figure of the genre’s new wave. His tepid, sweet vocal delivery is intact, while musically the album continues to chip away at the pleasantly emotive indie pop the singer has long made his bread and butter. He might be going it alone this time out, but fans should be pleased to find he hasn’t strayed too far from home. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound